It is that time of year again, when Magic artworks are nominated and recognized by the wider Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Imaginative Realism community as being standouts. I write about Spectrum, the art annual book that includes only paid submissions by both Wizards of the Coast and a few artists themselves on Magic: The Gathering’s card art and marketing art. If you wish to see a few past iterations of the art that a jury of experts found to be the best, see the below list:
Spectrum 18 — Innistrad, Late Mirrodin block
Spectrum 20 — Return to Ravnica block
Spectrum 21 — Theros block
Spectrum 21 — SnackTime Podcast Episode
Spectrum 22 — Tarkir Block
Spectrum 23 — Battle for Zendikar block
I write about this book because of its standing in the art community and what it does to an artist’s career.
Magic is a stepping stone for a career.
While leaving art school, being considered a “Magic artist” feels like a high achievement. And no question, it’s incredibly difficult to break in with one’s first commissioned card art illustration. All Magic art is good compared to the greater trading card game market. Spectrum shows us the great. With art being subjective, some objectivity is needed. What is museum worthy, or gallery promoted is not arbitrary. When colleagues universally agree that Die Young by Ryan Yee is a phenomenal work, opinion matters less because those in the know, the experts, the art critics, the artist community and panels of judges themselves agree.
The jury this year was a team of amazing artists to choose the best: Christian Alzmann, Laurie Lee Brom, Mark Newman, Victo Ngai, and John Picacio.
Spectrum is that point where art directors of novels or major magazines take note. Spectrum artworks often find themselves on the back of leave behinds and business cards of artists. They become known for a seminal work that stood out above the rest. And winning a category? You get phone calls for work, nearly immediately. If Magic is the high plateau, Spectrum is the top of the mountain for Magic style art
I wrote a little news item earlier this year about Magic being up for two awards in the book. How they separate sculpture from magazine covers is by categories. Magic is normally only in the Institutional art group, with its card art.
This year, as a reminder, Accursed Witch by Wesley Burt was up for a gold or silver award and Broken Concentration by Clint Cearley was up for an award in another category, Editorial. Neither won their category this year. Only Exalted Angel, the promotional From the Vault version by Tyler Jacobson has won a gold award.
You’ll note that most art comes from a certain time period and fits into one category. Then you see Forgestoker Dragon by Lucas Graciano, Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix by Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme, Smoldering Werewolf by Zack Stella, and Broken Concentration by Clint Cearley. Two are resubmissions from the past, Zack and Clint submitted their own pieces to separate categories and the rest Wizards paid to submit.
WIthout further fanfare, check out the inclusions that Magic had accepted this year.
Broken Concentration by Clint Cearley
Accursed Witch by Wesley Burt
Oath of Liliana by Wesley Burt
Saheeli's Artistry by Wesley Burt
Angel of Invention by Volkan Baga
Oil on board, 16.5 x 21.6”
Acrobatic Maneuver by Winona Nelson
Grave Upheaval by Vincent Proce
Herald of Anguish by Vincent Proce
Die Young by Ryan Yee
Natural Unity by Ryan Pancoast
Oil on board, 14 x 18”
Glint-Sleeve Artisan by Ryan Pancoast
Oil on board, 12 x 16”
Compelling Argument by Lucas Graciano
Oil on masonite, 12 x 16”
Experimental Aviator by Jesper Ejsing
Acrylics on board, 12 x 16”
Padeem, Consul of Innovation by Matt Stewart
Oil on hardboard, 14 x 18”
Original still available from the artist - $4000.
Master Trinketeer by Matt Stewart
Oil on hardboard, 14 x 18”
Pulse of Murasa by Matt Stewart
Oil on mdf, 16 x 20”
Asylum Visitor by Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme
Avacyn, Angel of Hope by Howard Lyon
Brisela, Voice of Nightmares by Clint Cearley
Smoldering Werewolf by Zack Stella
Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix by Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme
Forgestoker Dragon by Lucas Graciano
Oil on masonite, 11 x 14”
Eldritch Moon marketing art by Tyler Jacobson
Spectrum 24 comes out later this month, pick up your copy soon.