I've been digging through the Facebook artist resource groups, following conversations of the COVID-19/coronavirus, and how it has been affecting artists. I have seen everything from an old-school Magic artist losing all online sales for the past two weeks, to other artists finally taking up alterations.
We are sheltered in place, not unknown for freelance artists who work at home, but losing their support structure of events and online buyers at the same time, is both unprecedented and devastating.
The United States of America has passed a bill giving up to $1200 to every American, and for many like those in the restaurant or service history, being quarantined or normal social distancing has annihilated their income. It will not fix the issue, but it is a temporary aid for them. Artists can still obtain commissions and gigs from companies, but with an upcoming economic downturn predicted, jobs have already been canceled with and without kill fees. This little bump will surely help our freelancing friends.
My wife and I are fortunate we can work entirely from home at least a few months and see minimal changes. We are lucky and privileged. We acknowledge that. A one-time stimulus won't change much of what we do. What this has changed, is that it has spurred me to reinvest this little influx into the community I feel deeply about, the artist community, especially our Magic artists. The drop in income from not being able to attend conventions is sizable for many artists. Instead of buying one painting, I can support a bunch of artists.
Here is my plan, and I hope this can serve as a good templated plan for future economic downturns and how to support an artist in a maximum fashion with minimal extra work on their part.
For every core and expansion set released, artists have received artist proofs with square corners and black borders. These are white-back Magic cards and while unable to be played in normal Constructed tournaments, unless you are a cop, they are perfect for Commander. Your commander playgroup who gives you guff about an artist proof in your deck should be made aware that artists often have dozens of these in giant boxes that are revenue generating items at conventions.
The problem is, due to our COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, all artist events are postponed or canceled. Those bits of revenue sit collecting dust. I will mention that shipping may be delayed quite a while for some artists who don't have a print-at-home postage situation sorted for the mail carrier to pick up. With that caveat aside, I decided to go through a few of my Commander decks and found some cards that could be easily replaced.
Daarken, ie Mike Lim, has a clean and user-friendly web store to pick up artist proofs:
I picked up everything from Ashes of the Abhorrent, which Erin Campbell will be angry at me about when I finish a enchantress deck, to Darken's Path to Exile promo from Gideon's Spellbook and even Druids' Repository, an underrated Commander all-star that you should know about. Turns out those Eldrazi Spawn 0/1s from an Awakening Zone or a Khalni Garden's 0/1, even Prossh, Skyraider of Kher's kobold tokens at 0/1 turn real good when you can use them for mana without sacrificing them.
Another quick way is to see who made your favorite basic lands in your Commander deck and pick them all up as artist proofs. You should not need a full forty because of nonbasics, and getting 8-15 is not a huge hit to the pocketbook either.
I reached out to Lars Grant-West because I only play his swamps in Commander. He doesn't list his artist proofs online but he is always very responsive to email from his website. I checked on Scryfall to see what I was looking at.
The ones I was looking for are boxed in red. I play those. But as long as I was there, I noticed Leechridden Swamp has been reprinted three times. For a player, that means they are generally cheaper than a normal proof.
For Steve Belledin, that card for him is Evolving Wilds. It has been printed over twenty times. At $3 for nonfoil and $8 for foil, it is an easy way to support an artist and is a card nearly every commander player in a three-color deck can play. Also, please note that in Steve's case, he temporarily has suspending shipping anything for a little while. He'll be back up and running soon though.
If you binged your third entire series on Netflix already, maybe you should take a walk outside and when you're back, try something new. Artists often have video tutorials where you can watch them paint a Magic artwork, explaining what they're doing and why, all for a few bucks.
Gumroad is the standard for on-demand video and four artists have stellar works there amongst the many.
Learn from Clint Cearley about creating Jace, Ingenious Mind-Mage for $15. You will learn how much more care and edits planeswalkers have compared to normal artworks. It's about an hour, a great little hour of a deep dive.
Make sure you check out Ryan Pancoast's whole series of videos. His nearly two-hour video on Azor, the Lawbringer is quite soothing and for $5, that's the cost of a cheap night movie, you get to support an artist directly.
If you are a fan of longer form content, artist Yohann Schepacz has an epic six-hour video on his entire process on making a dragon. It's ten dollars.
Not all Magic artists make their own prints at home or through a local printer. It is a ton of time, investment in the case of a great photo printer and is factored into how much space they have in their studio mixed with how many conventions they attend.
INPRNT fixes a lot of those issues.
Sure, the artist does not retain the entirety of profits, but they also don't have to do anything other than forward high resolution files for printing.
If you simply search for "mtg" in the search bar, you will see hundreds upon hundreds of options.
I would seek out artists that perhaps do not have a massive social media presence or web store.
We are all on this path together, let us unite as a Magic community and support our artists.