I will be attending Grand Prix Seatac—a mix of Seattle and Tacoma, for those of you who haven’t heard the term. Tacoma isn’t that close to a lot of the iconic Seattle sites, a good hour drive despite it being only about thirty-five miles away. If you’re visiting from out of town, you’ll probably be locked into the area, not unlike a smaller Grand Prix where you’re on foot. With an intense focus on the event, I figured a deep dive into something relevant to my interests, art, would give you, visitors and folks wishing to learn something new, a decent read today.
If you are not going to Grand Prix Seatac, there is some serious hype on some new offerings. Click on each artist’s name in this article, and it will lead to a page of his or her where you can contact that artist. There are twenty artists, so plan your days, as there will be lines, and they will be long!
You’re on your phone—I get it. Scroll and enjoy!
If you are an aspiring Magic artist, you could be in luck.
There are no formal sign-ups to have your portfolio reviewed by Wizards of the Coast art directors at Grand Prix Seatac, despite its proximity to Wizards headquarters. But a little birdie tells me if you have an iPad or print portfolio on Saturday, you might run into one or two of them if you’re lucky.
In case you didn’t know how to have your work seen by Jeremy Jarvis, Dawn Murin, Cynthia Sheppard, Mark Winters, or Sam Burley, they have a formal process. I’ve copied it from their form online to below:
As a former art director, I’ll say that if you’re an artist who thinks your work is ready, send them an e-mail. You may or may not hear back. Don’t let that get you down! They have thousands of submissions each week. You can submit again! I just would do so when you have at least three new works that are very strong and applicable to the brand you’re trying to break into. When you’ve broken through a plateau, those are the times to submit again!
Art Lightning-Round Questions
- How much should I tip? $1 per play set is common.
- How do I have cards signed? Refer always to Steve Argyle’s ten commandments.
- Who has the best alterations? That depends on your taste. Check their Tumblr pages.
- Will stores have the artists’ cards easily accessible to buy? Nope. Plan ahead.
- Are there any local art shows worth seeing? I’d argue no.
- How much money is average to spend with artists? $10 to $40 is pretty average.
- What’s the best way to bring art home? See below!
- How much is too much for an original sketch? $500 is almost always too much.
- How much is too much for an original painting? There is no too much if someone else wants it.
- If I have a few minutes to spend with an artist; what are some good questions to ask? Ask about the original art description, for hidden things, for Easter eggs, and who was the artist’s reference or model for the art.
Bringing Art Home
I can’t count how many times I’ve given advice to players on how to bring their art home. For things like that, I’m going to just start making shareable images, infographics really, that people can use and share with new folks. How does that sound?
As for the artists, I added three images for each artist. One is for the card that’s well known, one is lesser known, and the third is generally unknown. Gatherer is great to find artists who have done the same card name multiple times, such as for basic lands, but nothing beats MagicCards.info for finding tokens and promotional cards easily.
Artist by Artist Offerings
Nils, being the play-mat artist, is really going all out for Grand Prix Seatac. He now has over one hundred card arts, and beyond his pile of artist proofs, beautiful prints that you haven’t seen up close yet, he’ll have hand painted tokens:
One odd thing Nils will bring is a print of Delver of Secret in his cocoon. The upper part of the cocoon is in foil, and it’s turnable, like a book page. See below. It feels like foil and it will be the hotness. It’s an original, and if Delver is your boy, you best make it to his table day one to see if you can get it! It’s strange, and I love it!
A note to you if you’re into the play-mat/alteration game, Nils is much, much more comfortable and possesses a greater variety if you buy a sketch instead. He does hand-painted play mats but doesn’t knock them out like hotcakes. Think sketch over alteration with him—it’ll just be more value for you.
Since Nils has the side-event play mat, I receive some access to have his early sketches. Check them out—they’re pretty neat:
Nils will have other original paintings, not Magic-related, which will be at an affordable price point. He also has a collaboration with Mark Poole, which I’ll explain in his section.
Last, Nils will be doing a dice game at his booth . . . really. This is a must-visit. You pay $15 or so to enter and roll dice. You then move a counter in a simple play area to see what sketch you get. Sometimes, you can win a proof or print as well. He tried it in Sevilla, and people loved the idea.
You probably didn’t know that Zack does sketches on the back of his artist proofs that includes Planeswalkers and Beebles, did you? You could literally scan them, blow them up to 8" × 10", and have a coloring-book page for your kids. They’re really quite lovely.
He’s studying what people want, and while True-Name Nemesis will always be popular for him to alter, I would ask for him to “figure something new out,” and he’ll definitely rise to the occasion. It’s the same strategy the Wizards art directors used when he started. It worked then, too.
Jesper doesn’t go to many Magic events, though that’s slowly changing. Definitely plan when to ponder at his gigantic line he’ll have the whole time. I spoke to him briefly, and he said signed prints, including of Elves of Deep Shadow and some of his painted recreations, will be there. You can see one example below:
I really dig his “mini-Magic” paintings he’s been getting into. If you play Magic at work at all, having a mini-painting by your desk could be a calling card that says, “Hey, I play Magic—want to play over lunch?” It also isn’t yelling like a Pop Funko doll. He cycles through them quickly, and he has Island Fish Jasconius and an Armageddon. You can see how little and cute they are below:
You can absolutely order one ahead and have it waiting for you or contact his wife after the event with the e-mail below. You can see costs, too.
Ken will have a ton of original art from his long career from book covers and spot illustrations to all kinds of stuff. He doesn’t have any Magic originals, but he does have sketches and some art books, and he will do sketches and alterations, both of which are quite strong.
He has a ton of really interesting play mats that were at Grand Prix Las Vegas, and they’re expanding into Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and The Avengers. Finally, he has some new tokens, shown below, that are delightful.
Mark will have some custom play mats, some altered artist proofs, some newer original art, including some Magic if it doesn’t all sell at Illuxcon, and an original custom-art mat that Nils Hamm and he made together. This “artist-group-jam” idea has roots back in Magic’s earliest days when artists went to conventions together.
I’m interested to see if more collaborative-type efforts could emerge in the near future. I think a token series that makes a diptych of two images that connect, one in each style, could be a breath of fresh air. I’m eager to see this phenomenon more.
Yes, the originator of the exclusive will have some fire, as usual, at Grand Prix Seatac. His series is now moved onto Affinity as forty-print-run play mat and a two-hundred-count Spirit token of Curt Cobain.
I’d keep a few bucks to pick up some of his tokens. There are some really beauties in there, and for $.50 each, it’s just an easy play.
If you’re going into oddities of his, looking through the back catalog, he did a few Planechase artworks there are fun. Also don’t forget, if you play Vanguard, that he did one of the best cards, the Sliver Queen.
Mark has utter fire coming to Grand Prix Seatac. Yes, he’ll be signing stuff, and yes, he’ll have some extra play mats from Grand Prix Chiba along with prints.
What’s new is that he is making prints again of Chaos Orb. This has a long and tumultuous history, which I’ll cover soon enough, but what you need to know is that this print hasn’t been made since 1993. They just don’t exist.
It’ll be an 8.5" × 11" print, and it’s an open-run, meaning they aren’t numbered. They won’t be terribly expensive either. If you want him to do a more archival, higher-quality paper run, with numbered prints, absolutely ask him to do so in the future. He’s seeing if you, Magic art fans, want them. Other Alpha artists will be watching as well. So please, vote with your pocketbook!
Tyler has a full five Planeswalkers that you can have signed, altered, or whatever you’d like at his booth. His higher-end prints are rather nice, but that’s not why I’d visit him.
Tyler is the cover artist to Dungeons & Dragons Next’s two main books. I would definitely pick up a sketch on the inside cover if you have a copy. This is the type of thing that is handed down from mother to daughter, father to son, and a story goes with the book. That interior-spot illustration won’t cost you much in person—or in time, really—but the experience will live on for ages. If you’re into the new set, ask him every possible question you can—he was in a lot of the early stages of the set creation. He’s a font of knowledge on D&D.
Chuck did the phenomenal Theros marbles from the hero deck at the Born of the Gods time last year. These paintings are utterly incredible. The prints alone vary from badass feminist icons to a father’s wisdom to tragedy. I can’t hype them enough regarding how beautiful they are. Absolutely see them up close if you have a spare five minutes. Also, Chuck’s a jolly friendly guy.
He’ll have prints, his own personal line of play mats, a book called Fantasy Genesis with gaming dice, and some samples of his sketch work of really whatever you’d like. Since he’s an art instructor for a Character Design class at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, he has a few tricks up his sleeve for the Battle for Zendikar crowd. I heard something about Planeswalkers, so keep an eye open for what he’s up to.
Last, Chuck does satirical portraits called Portland Stink-Eye with all proceeds go to Raphael House in Portland. It’s a multi-faceted domestic-violence agency dedicated to ending intimate-partner violence for good. Not all of us can make giant donations to charities, and Chuck understands that, so he does portraits and donates the amount he gets to the nonprofit. He’s a big heart, and the portraits are cool. So if you want one or one of your good-looking dog, stop by, and let him know. It’d definitely warm his heart to see you on board to help something he feels passionate about.
Chris just received his Battle for Zendikar artist proofs, which is great because he’s quickly selling out of some his older ones, including Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Yes, that means he still has some Planeswalkers left.
He’ll be doing alters and token sketches on the spot, in a giant line, as usual.
Pete never travels with his original paintings, but if you’re interested in picking a bought original at Seatac, he’s happy to accommodate that, and you can shake his hand in person to pick it up. You’ll have to contact him about his originals directly if interested. He’ll have his artist proofs, and no, he isn’t sold out of any of his yet (those he was given, that is)! Note that Pete also does charge $1 per signature and allows up to forty cards—up from twenty—you can bring at one sitting.
Here are some notable pieces you may need a reminder on to have signed for Cubes and such that are outside the ordinary:
- Goblin token from Unglued
- The Forest from the Asia Pacific Land Program (red booster, Tempest)
- He made the Phyrexian Dreadnought, which is also a judge foil, of course.
- The Dark Barony, a Planechase card that’s gushing with flavor
Ant will have a ton of artist proofs, some illustrated proofs, prints, of course, and a couple rare things at Grand Prix Seatac. He’ll be bringing some originals, and I would absolutely ask him about his color-rough works and concept art—both if you make it to the Grand Prix and if you’re just interesting in buying some art that’s outside the ordinary print or original painting. They’re utterly stunning.
Snack Time with Mike and Ant interviewed him, and he is a master concept artist who goes into ecosystems, really nailing down how and why things work in a fantasy world. Ask to see what he has about that, and let him show you. It’ll make your weekend, I assure you. Also, if you’re there early enough, you might be able to buy one of his concept artworks—they aren’t silly expensive either.
If you want to throw some money, ask him to sketch on a play mat for you, trying to describe a certain Magic location on Dominaria or dealing with the Weatherlight saga. It could be more freeform, but that DaVinci page of thoughts and ideas would be truly unique.
He’ll also have a few books, including The Gathering and the 1990s Art of Magic book, which are growing rarer by the day. He even has a little image sketches on the inner covers . . .
Urzan Elven Temple, Marker and Pencil. Copyright WotC @ 1998.
Franz always brings a variety of fun originals to see, Magic included. Of course, he’ll have prints, but he generally brings the newer ones. If you want him to bring a few older prints or card artworks that aren’t as commonly seen, send him a quick e-mail. His prints are affordable, so it’s very much worth your time to contact him early if you’re interested.
Also note that his Tuktuk the Returned token looks a lot different in the two framing options. If you want one altered or signed, absolutely go with the Rise of the Eldrazi version. It just looks better.
I also attached a Planechase image of his because of the Keral Keep, which relevant to some storylines involving the Order of Heliud and Chandra. It’s also pretty, which is nice.
- Underground Sea - 16x20 and 24x32
- Oboro Palace in the Clouds - 18x24
- Sanctum of Serra - 18x24
- Wizards Return - 16x32
- Temple Garden - 20x30
- Exalted Angel -20x30
- Last Stand - 20x30
- Aerial View - 20x30
There is only one of each so you shouldn't wait till Sunday to look for them.
- Large 13x19 Prints of the 4 original Dual Lands, the 4 forests from Kamigawa and the 5 from the contiguous basic land set I did. All are available as individual images, as well as in sets.
- Prepared play mats of some of the black and white custom drawings and will be offering hand-colored versions of them as well as the regular black and white.
These following artists will all have artist-proof cards and some prints and will be signing and altering on site. None of them have mandatory minimums for card-signing fees, and they will all have some surprises. Due to the earliness of me looking into writing, many were still nailing down plans and scheduling on what to bring. If you think of anything, absolutely contact them early!
Things change rapidly when artists talk to each other, so expect some last-minute mini-paintings, sketches, original drawings, and, as always, other products from art books to other games.
I’ll see you there, and as always, if you have art questions and are a reasonable human, I’ll be happy to talk art with you and give you any advice I can offer!