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Choosing Artists for Grand Prix Modern Masters 2


Finally, we hear the announcement of Modern Masters 2.0, the Las Vegas spectacular weekend of a Grand Prix with a drafted set that’s worth its weight in, well, gold:

What caught my eye in the announcement was not that it’s coming, no, but rather that there are simultaneous locations. That changes a lot for us Vorthos folk, especially my homies in central Europe and across the Pacific. A lot of Vorthos people in other counties don’t have Grand Prix with three to five artists. Most other Vorthoses don’t get to see Randy Post multiple times in the same season. However, I have yet to meet any Japanese or Chinese artist in the flesh either.

I decided to spend this article doing what I do: helping the community.

I do a few things well for Magic, and one of them is helping connect people. I wrote on this connecting just a little while ago, and it is well worth your time to read it. I do art stuff and help others do Vorthosy art stuff when people politely ask. I also offer up my aid to those who might need a little help, and tournament organizers have been going to the same well, for the same artists, for a little too long.

Spectrum Live Competition

This year will differ slightly for artist selection, as Spectrum Live, the convention celebrating the best in Imaginative Realism or fantasy art, is May 22–24, 2015. I did a write-up on that con in the past if you’re interested. In short, not all Magic artists go anymore to Spectrum Live because it’s in Kansas City, and foot traffic isn’t the highest. If you can’t sell an original or six as you could at Illuxcon, the best art convention for selling originals, and you don’t have a line a mile long for signatures, print sales, and such, it’s a difficult location. Flights to Kansas City for artists are expensive. Flights to Las Vegas are stupid-cheap. Add this to an artist’s mind: over four thousand players, who will easily attend Grand Prix Las Vegas, all able to buy artist proofs or a giclee print.

There is also the fact that many artists have already committed to Spectrum Live. These past and current Magic artists are going to be exhibiting a week before Grand Prix Las Vegas in Kansas City at Spectrum Live: Paul Bonner, Dan Dos Santos, Donato Giancola, Lindsay Look, Brynn Metheney, Karla Ortiz, Dave Palumbo, Mark Poole, Omar Rayyan, Dan Scott, Charles Urbach, Allen (L.A.) Williams.

There will be other artists there, with, no question, some Magic artists. Spectrum Live is a big deal, and asking the twelve exhibiting artists to attend a Modern Masters Grand Prix might be unwise and, frankly, a waste of time. They’re probably just out of all three GPs, but I could be wrong on that. Not everyone can be Randy Post and travel so prolifically.

Upcoming Overlap

The following graph shows what to look for with upcoming artist selection. May 9–10 is a Limited GP in the USA, a fantastic opportunity for any Magic artist to attend, as it’s guaranteed to have high numbers of players. Paris and Shanghai will have a bunch but not as many as Limited events. Florence, being a Team Limited event, will have quite a few players, but I’m fairly certain Italy, with its established player base, will swing for a Vintage artist or have someone with Vintage-level new and old card commissions. I think Chris Rahn, who’s done Tinker and Blightsteel Colossus, would come to mind; also, add to that the fact that he was at the last Modern Masters event.

May 9–10, 2015 Atlantic City, NJ, USA Limited
May 9–10, 2015 Paris, France Standard
May 16–17, 2015 Florence, Italy Team Limited
May 16–17, 2015 Shanghai, China Standard

Modern Masters Grand Prix All Over the World Weekend
June 13–14, 2015 Charlotte, NC, USA Modern
June 20–21, 2015 Providence, RI, USA Standard
June 20–21, 2015 Copenhagen, Denmark Modern

The Grand Prix
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, May 30–31, 2015

Last go around for Grand Prix Modern Masters, these artists were in attendance: Michael C. Hayes, Julie Baroh (unlisted below), Tom Baxa, Jeff Miracola, rk post, Steve Argyle, Anson Maddocks, Mark Tedin, Chris Rahn, and Daarken. Average card illustrations: over one hundred.

Las Vegas had Magic artists who were largely established, well-known names, with only a couple who were rising stars with iconic works. There were no non-Americans in the bunch, and there were four artists who illustrated for Alpha.

Images via wizards.com, Grand Prix Las Vegas Coverage Team

In order to keep a similar group of artists, some metrics could be known:

  • Artists with a lot of cards—like over one hundred
  • Artists whose work appeared in Alpha
  • Artists with Planeswalker illustrations
  • Americans, as international flights are expensive

I would ask:


  • Randy Gallegos – Randy has done a ton of Magic illustrations and a ton of boom-booms. He doesn’t travel to many of these, but this would be a great stop for him on his short list for the year. I noticed he isn’t going to Spectrum Live, so he may be free.
  • Greg Hildebrandt – The Hildebrandt brothers did a ton, and with Tim, Greg’s brother, passing away, he hasn’t gotten out to Magic much. Events like this will drive attendance on artists who can be guaranteed sales.
  • Ron Spears – He’s done over a hundred illustrations, and he freaking lives in Nevada—cripes. Just call him up, and see what he’s up to!
  • Christopher Rush – He’s back doing conventions, and his agent Jeff Ferreira is good people. Rush has done over one hundred illustrations for Magic and is an Alpha artist. He’d be a great draw.
  • Dan Frazier – Dan works with Mark Aronowitz of Mark’s Comics, who is a pseudo-agent/broker/all-around-friendly-art-guy who owns a shop. Mark would be a wonderful addition to Grand Prix Las Vegas, and he could bring . . . 
  • Richard Kane Ferguson – Mark also knows RKF, and he could bring him as well. Richard hasn’t done one hundred, but some of the most iconic works of the mid- to late 1990s are his. He also makes badass token drawings, and he’s improving on them all the time.
  • Doug Shuler – Doug has done over one hundred, he’s an Alpha artist, and he lives in Colorado! He’s literally a hop and a skip away.
  • D. Alexander Gregory – Boy, he’s done nearly one hundred Magic pieces, Planeswalkers to old traditionals including Spectrum-winning pieces. He’d be great at a massive show.

Chiba, Japan, May 30–31, 2015

Most Grand Prix events in Japan, as evidenced by current data below, consist of American Magic artists who are known, established names and need no introduction. Oddly, very few artists in Japan, China, or nearby counties are invited. That seems very odd to me, but there could be a great need for artists who paint iconic Planeswalkers or key staples like Thoughtseize, in Lucas Graciano’s case.

As Modern Masters will need more artists, I could see Chiba having a full six artists who would be amazing. To do so, a tournament organizer will need to save some money somehow, and choosing some local artists would allow them to swell artist count while saving money.

I would look into these people:

Treasure Cruise

  • Steven Belledin – He moved to Seattle in the past year, and that flight is cheap. It brings an established artist with over one hundred illustrations, and he’s ever so pleasant, even in massive GPs.
  • Franz Vohvinkel – Franz has done a bunch of illustrations in the past, over a hundred, and some are staples of the Modern format, including Blood Moon. I’m not sure he’s been to Japan, but maybe he and his wife could use a vacation! He also lives in the Seattle area.
  • Mark Tedin – Mark hasn’t been to Japan with Magic for a long while. Maybe he might skip Las Vegas and take a trip over the Pacific Ocean. He lives in Seattle, after all, and being an established name who started in Alpha, he’d be a great addition.
  • Heather Hudson – Heather is another of the Alpha artists with over one hundred illustrations, living in Seattle and who might make the trip overseas.
  • Phil and Kaja Foglio – They are 1990s Magic. I know, most Japanese Grand Prix don’t have artists from the past or who were huge back then, but these two artists would bring a crowd, and boy would it be huge. And yes, they live near Seattle.
  • Cynthia Sheppard – She just moved to Seattle. (Notice a trend?) She’s only done a few dozen pieces, but she’s done amazing work, including Planeswalkers. She’d bring the now power that people would want . . . including Treasure Cruise. I could see her being asked by all three tournament organizers to attend their GPs.
  • Shishizaru and Ittoku – Both Japanese artists have around twenty-five illustrations, and considering both have iconic cards, with Glimpse of Nature and Azami, Lady of Scrolls, they could be great artists to include, keeping flight costs low for the tournament organizer. Also, they make great art!
  • Michael Komarck – While he doesn’t live in Seattle, his work on Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, a probably Modern Masters (2015 Edition) inclusion, and his Planeswalkers would be dynamite to have him included.

Planeswalker's Favor

Utrecht, Netherlands, May 30–31, 2015

I know, I grabbed data from all over Europe, but as flights are so damn cheap, some trends emerge. Slawomir Maniak and Svetlin Velinov are like rk post and Steve Argyle of America—they’re everywhere! As access is so high, I’d go for coverage. Think of artists who made a Planeswalker, did an Alpha piece, did a lot of commanders, is iconic in making lands, or the like. I would try to get a piece of all aspects of a Magic card and go from there!

I would ask these people:

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

  • Volkan Baga – He doesn’t do very many shows, but he’s German, so he’s nearby, and with nearly a hundred illustrations, he’d be a great addition. I’d talk to Mark Aronowitz, listed above, to talk to Volkan about it seriously.
  • Winona Nelson and Anthony Palumbo – I’m counting them as a duo, as they live together. Maybe they could use a little vacation! I mean, it’ll save a tournament organizer a double hotel rental. Also, they’re both amazing artists.
  • Jim Nelson – He’s from Chicago I believe, and he’s had over one hundred illustrations in the past. Also, a lot of his cards could be reprinted in Modern Masters (2015 Edition), no doubt about it. Chicago to Amsterdam is a helluva lot cheaper than most locations, too, being a Delta airlines hub.
  • Kev Walker – Kev near has had enough illustrations to make a Cube from his just card art. It’s utterly absurd! That’s over three hundred illustrations! He would be fantastic for a spectacle like a Modern Masters Grand Prix.
  • Rebecca Guay hasn’t been to Europe for a Magic Grand Prix in some time. She might be interested if the crowd is that massive. She could spin a trip for fun or research after the fact, too, which might be very attractive for her!
  • Wayne Reynolds – I didn’t see Wayne’s name on the Spectrum Live list, so he may be interested in Utrecht due to the size! I know he’s mainly illustrating Pathfinder these days, but with thousands of potential players, it could be up his alley. Wayne’s made over a hundred Magic card arts; he’d have a crowd no doubt.
  • Aleksi Briclot – Aleksi is French, Utrecht isn’t that far, and his work on Planeswalkers would garner a crowd that would be a draw for a lot of players.

Chandra, Pyromaster

Art Show

Image via wizards.com, Grand Prix Las Vegas Coverage Team

I am also offering up my services to do a real art exhibition at the Grand Prix. I will happily be a chief curator to a real art show, complete with original art on loan from collectors and artists across the world. I’m not sure how it will all come together, but if Tim and Cascade needs someone to do so, I’m more than willing.

I’m not hard to get ahold of online. If that’s something to be done again, I’m all in.

I hope you could see some insight into choosing artists and look forward to seeing them in person. Send this to the tournament organizers. Make your requests known. Let them know you care and whom you’d like to see!



P.S. Art pro tip: Make sure you bring tip money! Four signed cards is $1 minimum.

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