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The Art of Doug Chaffee


I went to a large university, and taking two courses taught by the same professor was uncommon. Finding a professor who taught multiple levels of a course was even rarer. In the art history department, one professor did just that. (Yes, art history; it’s reputable.) His name was Professor John Steyaert, and he taught medieval art. I took all three of his classes. His intro class was basically background information for Vorthoses on topical medieval religious culture . . . among other things. The next level of his class series was a trip to Paris, which included sorority girls, a few hipster girls, and me. John’s final class was a class that set out to teach us a single skill: connoisseurship.

His thought process suggested that it isn’t possible to memorize every piece of art during a period and that it’s even more difficult when assistants complete minor works. How can a connoisseur state that a piece is genuine or precisely pin the piece to a date and place? It’s quite simple, really: You learn styles.

Connoisseurship, with the elitist sound to it, is exactly what makes someone an art gallery owner. If you can’t understand what a piece is and, more important, what it’s worth, you won’t be in business very long.

I’m going to lend some connoisseurship to an artist who passed away this year: Doug Chaffee. He was a wonderfully nice man who deserves to have his art out in the community and cherished where it belongs.

I encourage anyone who wishes to purchase a piece to e-mail through the website contact page.

I have been able to get the sell-list prices, and we’ll talk about each piece.

In case you’re wondering, Sphere of Resistance is obviously already gone because of its tournament-playability.

Pricing will be categorized as overpriced, appropriately priced, priced to move, or underpriced.

Air Elemental, 9″ W × 8″ H, $250

Sets it appeared in: Portal Second Age, Classic Sixth Edition, Starter 1999, Beatdown Box Set

This is the start of a long explanation of how colors change on cards.

In every scan you see online of a card, especially in the case of foils, the colors have been corrected.

Notice how the card compares to the actual painting here. The original art is subtle. It almost reminds you of the old D&D spell Aerial Servant—more invisible than anything else.

Priced to move

It’s a good deal at $250 because the Air Elemental Alpha artwork is quite iconic, and the card has been reprinted with a ton of other artworks. Most pieces of this type would be in the soft $400 range.

Armed Response, 9″ W × 6.5″ H $200

Set it appeared in: Fifth Dawn

It’s a common combat trick that is really only usable in the original Mirrodin’s Limited format. The card’s lack of visibility really lowers its value.

Priced to move

That said, it’s absolutely priced to move. I could easily see it making $250 to $300 with time on the market.

Blinding Beam, 10.125″ W × 8″ H $650

Sets it appeared in: Mirrodin, Duel Deck: Elspeth vs. Tezzeret

This card represents a major invented race of Magic: Leonin. The figure is nicely portrayed; you get a thorough understanding of what a Leonin looks like. Think of a style guide—Doug really grabbed the Leonin parameters and brought you into the piece from the pectoral muscles connecting to the shoulder to the metallic tips of the ears. Despite the very clear depiction, it’s a minor piece.


Doug was focused on making great Magic pieces with equipment or figures in a landscape. This piece isn’t really either, so it’s a minor piece. That’s not a bad thing; it just needs its price shifted a little bit. It’s overpriced by $150 to $250.

Booby Trap, 9.625″ W × 7.375″ H, $350

Sets it appeared in: Tempest, Ninth Edition


Someone please buy this. Honestly, because of the very recognizable nature of the card, a steampunk homage, and the Johnnytastic nature of it, it should cost $200 to $350 more.

Boros Swiftblade, 10.5″ W × 7.625″ H, $750

Sets it appeared in: Planechase, Ravnica: City of Guilds

This is among Doug’s best Magic pieces. The figure is dynamic—it feels like Boros, and it depicts his bread-and-butter work: a figure in a branded environment.

Appropriately priced

This card art is strong. Every guild has a few iconic pieces. When you saw this card in Ravnica-block Draft, you wondered, “Huh, I should draft Boros with some Equipment.” Between this art and Jim Murray’s Skyknight Legionnaire, Boros found itself. If you’re a Boros, think about getting it.

Cheatyface, 9.5″ W × 7.25″ H, $550

Sets it appeared in: Unhinged

I love this card in Cube!

A quick question for everyone: What does this card look like in the actual painting?

Interesting, no?

Art directors have full control to change an artwork to fit an aesthetic when they need to.


Price of art piece in the Magic world is often dependent on the playability of the card. If someone wins a major tournament with a card, that player is more likely to buying the original art of it. That player identifies with that card and color.

In this case, it’s from an Un- set. This card does get played in Cubes, sure, but it’s not in the player conversation. There is some crossover into the market of the old school Magic player who might’ve collected the efreeti or djinni in the past, but it’s a limited market. It’s about $150 overpriced.

Confound, 10″ W × 8″ H, $300

Set it appeared in: Planeshift

Appropriately priced

Serious-business Vorthoses would see Tevesh Szat through the Power Armor glass and consider picking up the other Power Armor pieces as well. It’s a minor piece, but a solid three Benjamins feels right.

Corpulent Corpse, 9.5″ W × 7″ H, $325

Set it appeared in: Time Spiral

Priced to move

Figure in a setting? Check.

Multiple-audience piece? Check. (It’s a zombie—can’t go wrong with that.)

Suspend, weird-glowing-art thing that was iconic in the Time Spiral block? Check.

Crash, 7.75″ W × 6.125″ H, $200

Set it appeared in: Mercadian Masques


Doug, I love this piece. It has great use of color. A matte could bring out a red, orange, yellow, or brown. This will look amazing framed. This is among those cards that could fit into a future Legacy or Vintage metagame when a new card is released. The art will never be cheaper than now.

Look at the color. Just look at it! Someone, please purchase this.

Elvish Archers, 10″ W × 8″ H, $250

Set it appeared in: Seventh Edition


Seventh Edition had a ton of commissioned art. That said, for tournament-playable cards, it’s largely ignored.

It has figures in a setting, with broad elf appeal, for under $300. Are you sensing a pattern here?

The Shards:

Crystal Shard, 8.25″ W × 6.125″ H, $200

Granite Shard, 8.25″ W × 6″ H, $150

Heartwood Shard, 8.25″ W × 6″ H, $150

Pearl Shard, 8.25″ W × 6″ H, $150

Set they appeared in: Mirrodin

Skeleton Shard, 8.25″ W × 6″ H, $200

Sets it appeared in: Mirrodin, Planechase

When an entire cycle is available, I always wonder, “Hmm, how could I get these?”

For $850, I could purchase an entire cycle. Hell, if you asked for $800 shipped, it’d probably fly.

One problem with getting a cycle, though: You have to frame the entire set. Framing is $100 to $300 per piece.

Priced to move

I could see these as $50 to $100 more, but people who will buy these will want either just Crystal Shard or the entire set.

I’d love to get the entire set, but I haven’t got a spare $800 to buy art. Seeing an entire cycle on a wall is really, really impressive.

Enraging Licid, 9.75″ W × 7.375″ H, $600

Set it appeared in: Tempest


The figure and effect are nicely done, but the omitted background makes it a tough sell at $600. When all the art would sell, this could sell at $600, but it’ll take a serious amount of time. The entire art market has to recover before this could sell at $600. It’s a $300 to $400 piece.

Gerrymandering, 9.125″ W × 7.125″ H, $900

Set it appeared in: Unglued


This art, because it’s an Un- card and because of the whimsical map nature, unfortunately will not command a high price.

I love the figure; he looks fantastic.

Goblin Cannon, 9″ W × 6.5″ H, $200

Set it appeared in: Fifth Dawn

Here’s an expensive combat trick that’s only really playable in Limited.


Crazy gobbos and their Acme contraptions.

Doug does a concise figure in a landscape with high action. The mass-appeal factor is there because of the goblin.

At $300, it’s a steal. At $200, it’s just silly.

Goblin Machinist, 10.125″ W × 7.875″ H, $500

Set it appeared in: Onslaught

Appropriately priced

This is exactly where the piece should be. It’s odd, but it’s a goblin. You’re unsure of the background, but you look closer and see the Onslaught pit.

Kind of a neat piece.

Goblin token, Ravnica on MTGO, 8″ W × 10.5″ H, $400

What, you don’t remember seeing this token? Perhaps you’ve never seen a Hunted Phantasm on MTGO.

Priced to move

This is a relatively unknown gem in Doug’s collection. It has great movement in the form of the metallic pieces in the front that lead your eye. It could be priced a little higher, but it’s a cool-looking goblin that could really be an investment for a future collector or relevant if Wizards ever returns to Mirrodin.

Goblin War Wagon, 10.5″ W × 8.25″ H, $450

Set it appeared in: Mirrodin

Appropriately priced

It’s a complicated piece that fits the Magic-universe aesthetic. It’s a longer-term piece that fits with the Portal Second Age guns and invasion lasers on Power Armor.

Iron-Barb Hellion, 9″ W × 6.5″ H. $350

Set it appeared in: Fifth Dawn

Is that coming out of the ground? Neat.


Art isn’t free, but it has to fit a niche. This piece? I’m not sure what type of collector would want this piece. It’s maybe $50 to $100 high.

Leonin Scimitar, 10.75″ W × 7.875″ H, $600

Sets it appeared in: Mirrodin, Tenth Edition

Appropriately priced

The original isn’t as glowing, making the sword look a little more distinguished and less like card art. A gray matting with a black frame would look amazing with some grayish or light-blue card arts on a wall. A grave-themed area would also be neat. The cost is fitting, even for a Limited equipment card, because of Doug’s skill in making equipment.

Magical Hacker, 9.5″ H × 7″ W, $400

Set it appeared in: Unhinged


The Un- sets work in their vacuum. With art, it’s really just a geeky-looking kid’s face.

There really isn’t a broad appeal in the fantasy art world for art of just children.

This is likely to be among those $100 pieces you’ll see at a convention that people can bundle together when you buy three pieces.

No Quarter, 9.625″ W × 7.25″ H, $850

Set it appeared in: Tempest

Appropriately priced

Oh, biscuits. This card is awesome, and Chaffee Studios knows it. It has two major characters and goblins fitting the Tempest Block.

It’s expensive, yes, but Doug got an Eternal Commander card, and he knows it.

At $500, it’ll move quickly, but I’m not sure if the art belongs to someone who wants a deal. It needs a proper frame, and this piece could be something that would fit on a Wizards of the Coast, Inc. creative staffer’s wall.

Pariah's Shield, 10.25″ W × 7.25″ H, $700

Set it appeared in: Ravnica: City of Guilds

Appropriately priced

When you see this type of detail on a piece that doesn’t fit into the aesthetic, start wondering why. Did Doug try to get it into Spectrum or another award annual?

He went out of his way on it.

It’s a major work.

Phyrexian Grimoire, 10″ W × 7.5″ H, $350

Set it appeared in: Tempest


It’s about a standard deviation higher than normal.

How do I know? A piece in Time Spiral that he made is $150 cheaper. Yes, time has passed, and this piece is slightly better, but it’s not twice as strong. I wish this original art encompassed the entire book. Alas, you see a little more of the upper-right corner, but that’s about it.

Power Armor, 9.5″ W × 7.5″ H, $300

Sets it appeared in: Invasion, Duel Decks: Phyrexian vs. The Coalition

Priced to move


Magic was a little odd when Y2K happened. This mech-warrior does some overlap with some of Doug’s other commissions, and it would be great if you’re into mechs. That crossover appeal raises the price a bit, and if you look, if you removed the figure, the landscape would still be amazing.

Purify, 10″ W × 8″ H, $300

Set it appeared in: Seventh Edition

Priced to move

It’s a little confusing with the figure on the right. (Who is that?)

Seventh Edition art sits for a while because of its obscure depictions, but $300 is always a good price for Magic art.

Ray of Revelation, 10.25″ W × 8.125″ H, $275

Set it appeared in: Judgment

Priced to move

The cave creatures allow this piece to be so underpriced. Granted, there is no average price for Magic original art, but artists have ranges. It’s odd that it’s $25 fewer than you’d expect. That begs the question: Why isn’t this $175? Right?

It’s a decent price considering that Chaffee’s works are all going to be scooped up soon.

Riptide Replicator, 10.25″ W × 8″ H, $700

Set it appeared in: Onslaught


Should this be a cool $1,000? Yup. It’s a strong piece that looks like classic Magic art. I love the color. Whenever purples are used, I love the corresponding palette to go with it.

The sliver is cool, and Johnnys should love this.

Saprazzan Outrigger, 7.5″x5.825″ $200

Set it appeared in: Mercadian Masques

Priced to move

Pirate merfolk. They’re always neat.

The ocean looks amazing, but the ocean spray feels awkward. Look behind the boat.

The layers of the figures in the boat, the ocean water, and the fiery background boat create a lot of action in a small painting.

Without the small structural inconsistencies, it’d be a $250 to $350 piece, so it’s slightly less than that.

Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII, 9.5″ W × 7″ H, $200

Set it appeared in: Time Spiral

Appropriately priced

Two hundred bones. I’m sure that if you got the grimoire, you could hustle a deal for this piece, too, and why wouldn’t you? They connect to each other.

Searing Rays, 9.5″ W × 7.5″ H, $300

Set it appeared in: Invasion

Appropriately priced

Vorthos loves original information, and asking, “What artworks have lasers?” is a common question. I like this piece, and the price fits the figures.

Skyshroud Condor, 10″ W × 7.5″ H, $200

Set it appeared in: Tempest


$200 to pick up a fantasy painting seems good. I would love to have a natural-history museum worker to place this above his or her desk. Yes, I’m professional . . . also, I play Magic.

Slumbering Tora, 9.5″ W × 7″ H, $400

Set it appeared in: Betrayers of Kamigawa

Appropriately priced

Here’s yet another piece that should be on a museum curator’s wall. Why? It forces viewers to think.

I like jade figurines, and Doug, yet again, did his thing by placing a figure in a fantastic setting.

Spell Counter, 9.5″x7″ $400

Set it appeared in: Unhinged

Stone Rain, 8.625″ H × 6.625″ W, $650

Set it appeared in: Portal Second Age

Appropriately priced

I love Stone Rain just as much as the next guy. I’m sure Dan Bernard, Mr. Stone Rain himself, would love this piece.

If anything, it’s underpriced, but it was only priced once, and with so many options, collectors will find one they want.

I’m sure this piece won’t last long.

Storm Cauldron, 10″ W × 8″ H, $200

Set it appeared in: Seventh Edition

Appropriately priced

It’s another Seventh Edition artwork reprint. I love the painting realism in the lower-right corner of the cauldron. It reminds me of John Avon’s painted lens flares. It’s a good piece.

Weird control cards need a home in a deck in order to build hype, but strong depictions can sell themselves.

Swamp, 10.5″ W × 8.25″ H, $250

Set it appeared in: Onslaught

(Criminally) Underpriced

This piece could be $750 . . . seriously.

The fact that the color scheme was changed deepens the connection to the piece. The hidden city in the background comes alive. I won’t say any more.

This piece should not be available by December. If there are people here who are looking for a Christmas present, here’s one that’s a little higher than your average sweater but that will pack a loaded punch come Christmas morning.

Thopter Squadron, 9.5″ W × 7″ H, $450

Set it appeared in: Exodus


I could see this as a $350 to $400 piece. It feels closer to $400 than to $500. It’s a house in Limited if you’ve ever played Limited with Exodus. This piece could appreciate if Wizards would reprint the card, but very rarely are old art pieces being reprinted these days.

Tidal Surge, 9.5″ W × 7.75″ H, $300

Sets it appeared in: Stronghold, Classic Sixth Edition

Priced to move

Yes! It’s not a Hokosai wave, but it looks amazing.

The three figures create a very fluid movement that forces your eye around the piece without being caught anywhere. The color palette’s cool colors reinforces that intention.

This is a major piece, but it’s on a minor combat trick. Funny how that works.

Wormfang Newt, 9.75″ W × 7.75″ H, $300

Set it appeared in: Judgment

One of the better errata changes created this into a nightmare salamander beast. Awesome.


It’s a goofy piece . . . fair. It’s a little high . . . fair.

For those odd players who want weird colors or something out of place because, “How cool is that?”—this is the piece for you. The only problem is that those people aren’t normally art collectors. This could add to the pile of eBay art that is sitting for months on end. If you bundle some pieces you want and try to add this piece at a discount, you just might be able to because of its odd nature.

I wish Doug Chaffee’s family all the best, and I hope his fans cherish his artwork. It’s the holidays; buy a piece of art. It’ll make you happy all year.

As for me, I’m still unsure of which piece I want from Doug.

In unrelated business, yes, I’m still brewing a pair of articles.

A quick update on the Alpha Art Project: I “foundConsecrate Land.

I had a vague idea that it was one of the first paintings I'd sold, to an acquaintance of Jesper [Myrfors]’s (Magic’s original art director). Actually it had never even returned to me from Seattle, so I hadn't even a slide of it. And too much time had lapsed for Jesper to have any recollection of who it wound up with.

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