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  • September 08, 2023 5 min read 0 Comments

    I think I read somewhere that the best icebreaker is to tell a joke, but I’m afraid I’m more punny than funny…get it? Pun...well, I think this is one of those things that plays out better when you say it. Please clap.

    Anyway, I’m Coda! I’m here to help cover all of the Magic art and artists we’ve all come to love so much over the years. My own journey of how I came to fall in love with the priceless art, printed on cardboard, has brought me here after many years!

    My love for Magic didn’t start until I was introduced to the game during Eldritch Moon in 2016. I was fresh out of the military and desperate to move on to another phase in my life. Magic introduced me not only to a game to play but to a sense of community as I navigated my LGS, making friends with fearsome opponents. I learned a lot (and spent a lot of money).

    Still, eventually, as life moved forward, I found myself at that inevitable point in the life cycle of a Magic player where I had to sell off all but a few of the most sentimental pieces I owned, put the cards down, and focus on other things. But I kept a copy of Gisela, the Broken Blade in a picture frame on my desk from a Two-Headed Giant event my brother and I had come in second place in at Grand Prix Rhode Island. For a long time, that was the extent of my dealing with Magic, a fond memory neatly arranged next to a pencil holder and desk lamp which started out at me through undergrad and grad school, as a little mental oasis when times got hard.

    growth spiral

    Seb McKinnon’s Growth Spiral was the card that did it. I can’t remember where I saw it, but that was the card that made me think about Magic again after what seemed like a decade. Something about the way he painted filled me with a sense of wonder. A dream-like mythology that drew me back into collecting. Though I wasn’t interested in the rat race of the Standard meta this time, chasing down this art which until recently had only been secondary to the card text.

    What began as a new obsession with this game's visual storytelling has persisted in earnest. I went out and started collecting Seb’s art in a binder. The Canadian illustrator quickly became one of my favorite artists, not just for Magic, but so much more. I found myself looking beyond his Magic work to discover a world of KINN Fables the movie project and art which adorns my wall. If you haven’t had the chance yet to watch Seb’s KINN Fables, I highly suggest you check it out because it is one of those rare projects which allows you to watch the same magic that you see in his artwork come to life. Not to mention his music project, which features music that’s just as haunting and beautiful as his art, and that I use for some of my DnD campaigns to help set the mood.

    kinn fables

    Seb McKinnon may hold the number one spot in my heart for amazing art, but he shares the spot with other legends such as Peter Mohrbacher, Anato Finnstark, and Jason Engle, just to name a few. Magic: the Gathering art was a gateway to all of these amazing artists that if we are honest don’t get nearly as much recognition as they are due. You can’t tell me you haven’t ever gazed upon Engle’s work on Theros and haven’t ever felt like it belonged in a museum!?

    heliod, the sun-crowned

    I have this Heliod, the Sun-Crowned in a gilded frame on my wall next to some of the Angelarium pieces by Peter Mohrbacher (Kokabiel, Angel of the Starts to be precise) and it looks like it belongs on a 12-foot-tall canvas overlooking some altar somewhere. One day, I truly hope that Wizards of the Coasts opens up a permanent gallery with all of the works of art of MtG throughout the ages, eras and planes (Mike Linnemann is one those who have brought a number of art galleries to Magic events worldwide!).

    There is so much to wonder at and I think that is why I keep coming back to this game not just as a player, but as an invested and eager collector of stories. Not only do the cards tell a greater story you have to piece together like some game of Darksouls, but in the cases of works like this picture of Heliod in my office, it feels like an artifact from the planes we spend so much time in with friends.

    Making Art Accessible

    This leads me to another point about the nature of the game and the art. The fact that these masterpieces are accessible!

    I know that some of the original artwork can go for thousands of dollars, but that is scraping the surface of interacting with all of the wonderful pieces from cards to prints, signed prints, artist proofs, sketches and on and on. There is something for everyone at every price point which means even if it means putting quarter cards in a binder like I do, the joy is never out of reach. And collecting for the art in my opinion is miles less stressful than collecting to stay up with the current meta or trying to break into competitive Modern. Lastly, far from being some removed entities beyond our comprehension, the artists are people you can reach out to whether it’s on social media, going to see them at expos or supporting them on Patreon – it all adds a special layer to an already special experience.

    But at this point I’m just geeking out.

    This is all a long way to say that I’m not just a fan of the game, I am a fan of all the artists who spend so much of themselves creating windows into planes that we can lose ourselves in. I’m happy to be here and share with all of you the art and worlds that mean so much to me and celebrate the artists who capture our imagination and give us the art that we make memories to. I’m looking forward to diving into it with all of you and continuing the conversation as we size up, admire or shake our collective heads at all the wonderful things to come in Magic.


    - Coda