My first (and maybe last) Card Art for MTG / Wizards of the Coast

I did not post or talk about that much since its official release, but here it is, my first 3 cards I did for Magic the Gathering!

It's an interesting story how this came to happen - and a sobering story to learn why it most likely will stay with these three cards.

It was around April 2022 when I got an email from the Art Director at Wizards, they found my work on Artstation and asked if I was up for a commission. First thought: OMG! Second thought: Just when I decided to even let the last client of mine know that I don't work for hire anymore, sigh...

Now WotC is not a company everyone gets his feet into and it would be snobbish or blissfully ignorant to turn that offer down. Instead, as I always do, I give others a chance to see if they can get me to create far better work than I would produce on my own. And I heard many inspiring stories about artists having reached their full potential because they worked for MtG. 

That is what I aimed for.

Unfortunately, after delivery of the finals, I had the feeling the opposite was true, in my opinion the final work turned out rather blunt. Maybe it was what they needed and my aspiration was just too high.

Now I also know that the company itself had more pressure on this, since it was done for an extended universe by BBC. From what I have heard, Wizards AD's are usually rather relaxed with briefings, changes and also publishing and comp copies. In this case I did not even get artist cards or proofs - no artists for extended universes does. I don't have a problem with that.

So in my opinion it was an unfortunate first gig to start this off, which brought unnecessary stress into a collaborative work environment.

Now you would argue these paintings are just fine, and maybe you are right because of the small size they are printed.

One big issue for me were the cards I had to deal with (pun intended;) 

When I did freelance work, I was used to get the Briefing first, accept, work, deliver, get paid.
This way I was able to decline if I knew for sure that the brief is not 110% up my alley (which I would have done in this case).
The problem is; as an artist for companies like WotC you have your NDA's & contracts first, then you get your deadlines and then you get your briefing. 

That is where I had my Henry Cavill moment; When I got the briefing I already knew this would end up mediocre. But how do you escalate this to your superior, especially when you are a new artist? You don't. You have deadlines. You just do the best you can do, deliver on time, get paid and leave. Like Henry Cavill did after Season 3 of the Witcher Netflix series. 

So in some way it is not so much disappointment of the final outcome but more about the collaborative environment. The general ways corporate structures work and how they force creative juices to flow for hire. 

And since I did not work for WotC after these 3 cards, which is over a year by now, I'm very sure they see it the same way. We parted for good. 

I just wanted to inform some of you who follow my work and feel so inclined to get some insights (as far as this is possible with all the NDAs). In my book it was the last nail on the coffin of freelancing work that I needed to let go for good. I'm really sorry if you hoped for new or more MtG Cards, but that will most likely not be the case, at least in the near future.

Wizards of the Coast was on my Bucket-List and not everyone gets the opportunity to work for them, so that is that. I'm thankful for the opportunity - there I said it! As far as future MtG work goes, I can't say for sure that I turn a new card down or not. There needs to be some changes in order to work for them again, like being able to read the briefing first.

So if you want to stay up-to-date, follow me on Patreon or Artstation.

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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook


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