Could it be said that, because of my last name, I have a soft spot in my heart for artists who do card alterations? Sure, but that would be ridiculous. Next, you’ll be suggesting Mike Cannon and Abe Sargent love the military and Darwin Kastle has a penchant for medieval architecture. No, I enjoy a good card alteration because I think they look great; I don’t like foils, but I do like deck optimization (I hate to use the term “pimping” because I don’t understand the appeal of Xzibit, and I think “pimping” should refer to making someone pay you to borrow a deck for an event). How can you set your deck apart from others if you want to play cards printed before Urza’s Legacy and don’t like foreign cards? Paint it up; that’s how.
If you’ve ever looked at an altered card from a talented painter and thought, “Oh, man—I could never do that!” I’m here to tell you it’s actually harder than it looks. Being able to paint the card is one aspect, but having the patience to paint dozens of incredibly thin layers to avoid appreciably altering the thickness of the card and the skill to make the resulting alteration match the original design are skills that take the full twenty thousand hours that it takes to master a task. I rounded up some great card-alteration maestros to beautify your life with their masterpieces and give you something to look at when you’re procrastinating from vital tasks such as reading strategy articles and buying cards online.
First up, let’s revisit a game I call How Well Do You Know Your Own Alterations Writer?
Where You Know Him From: I hope you read his articles here on GatheringMagic.
Current Title: Professional artist
This is a man who scarcely needs an introduction these days. I’m sure you’re quite familiar with his work, but I hope I found a few outlets where he has posted work you’ve not seen before. In case you read the website where he is a contributor but have managed to avoid seeing anything by him before somehow, you’re welcome. Hailed as the “Finkel of card alteration” by me just now, Klug does the kind of alteration that makes lesser artist want to go home and burn their brushes. Established enough that people trust him with the precious Power Nine pieces, Klug is a master of turning ugly, torn, and beat-up cards into one-of-a-kind works of genuine art. His blend of classical art forms and styles sometimes complement the original art and sometimes supplant it, but he always manages to create something astonishing. If you have the time, watch one of the time-lapse animations that show the stages of his process. Here is one I liked. I feel that the artwork speaks for itself, and I don’t know enough about the art his pieces reference to do his work any justice, but I think you’ll agree he has a style all his own, and this has made him the most sought-after alteration artist in the business. If you’re not following him, you’re likely to miss something amazing.
Where You Know Him From: MJ Scott did an excellent profile.
Current Title: Alteration Artist Extraordinaire
If Eric Klug is the Finkel of card alterations, I present to you the Kai Budde. His trademark symbiote Spider-Man hoodie and my regular Spider-Man hoodie should make us natural enemies, but on the contrary, I’ve enjoyed several very pleasant conversations with him at various events where we discussed the proper paint to use (Gold brand liquid acrylic), the color-matching on an alteration my wife did for me (it was very good), and the thickness of her paint application (that was not good. At all). A brief scroll through his DeviantArt page and his Facebook fan site (I lack the power to make these things mandatory, but I can very strongly recommend them anyway) will reveal that, like the similarly-named Eric Klug, Eric Claar has a signature style. I feel this gorgeous set of Explorations epitomizes it.
The blueprint style has been adapted to dozens of cards by popular demand, and I can’t name a single card that wouldn’t look good this way. Quickly becoming a fixture at Grands Prix and other events, Claar is approachable and friendly, and best of all, he is booked solid to a lesser extent than is Eric Klug (although I don’t expect that to be the case for long). Whether you want a card for Commander or Cube or you want a simpler alter that will still be allowed in Constructed tournament play, this gentleman can accommodate. I sincerely hope you take the time to check out his work.
Card Kitty a.k.a Eva and Dereck
Where You Know Them From: Their work’s ubiquity
Current Title: Commissioned artists
The only card-alteration duo I’m aware of, Cardkitty is Canada’s best contribution to the card-alteration game.
And this is an example of their artwork. Take some time to fully peruse their pages; there are plenty more gems like this. As with the other cases, I feel that the artwork speaks for itself, so I am going to stop writing so much and give you all time to check out all the artwork.
There you have it: three (four?) more people I would follow if I were you. Since they are constantly producing more art, the galleries are constantly updated, which means following them all will give you the best chance of not missing something really nice that you’ll like. If you’re in the market to have a custom alteration done, all of them offer that service, and their websites have details about how to contact them to request an alteration. That wraps up this week’s contribution, and I’ll see you all back here next week for another exciting installment.