The death of original art?

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Computer generated Magic art.

Good for the game
Bad for the game
Not good or bad
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Big Games Supply
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The death of original art?

Post by Big Games Supply » Wed Jan 18, 2006 6:02 pm

I was just reading this article by Matt Covotta on

and I began to wonder, what is this going to do to the collectors? Will working for Wizards become less profitable for an artist in the future due to having no originals to sell? How confusing will it be for collectors when they find that some art does not have a tangible counterpart?

Just wondering where this will lead to in the future.


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Post by Lasbrook » Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:23 pm

I WAS going to make the comment that i thought Wotc only allowed the artists to sell prints but a quick googling shows i am wrong. Either way it's not like this is a new thing. The oldest example, Enrage, has been out for about 3 years by now. And who knows how long John Avon's been doing it (kinda odd he wasn't mentioned tho).

I don't really see lack of originals a problem as you can just do a limited print run on canvas or whatnot and charge higher than a regular print, this way you can give something close to a print and sell more than one.

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Post by random » Thu Jan 19, 2006 2:29 am

Funny thing, Matt just had a recent sale on his Daydream Graphics page and sold a lot of stuff. I picked up one of his original D&D covers for 800.
Matt has done some very nice work for D&D.
I think the trouble is that there's so much art coming out for the cards right now that there's just not enough buyers. I pick up original stuff and it's pretty easy to find. I think the tier 1 artwork and power cards have a good future value but that's only about 1-5% of the cards. It's also too expensive to collect art and cards at the same time.
The other trouble with MTG art is that the sizes tend to be small and the costs aren't relative. I can get a nice Fantasy painting from Larry Elmore or Clyde Caldwell for nearly as much as some minor MTG artist wants for his small card piece. Giancola, while being a great painter, wants about 2K+ per card art. You might as well get an actual painting for a few grand more. There's not a market for MTG artwork outside the hobby like there is for D&D/Fantasy - Dragon Magazine covers can go very high on the open market as well as covers to the old D&D modules. If Giancola becomes the present day Frazetta then his works will become iconic and original MTG art will be taken seriously.

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Post by Tha_Gunslinga » Thu Jan 19, 2006 3:05 am

Magic art used to be cool, but the current stuff generally sucks.

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Post by random » Thu Jan 19, 2006 3:21 am

That's a pretty popular statement Gunslinga.
I think people get sort of locked in to the artwork that is on the cards when they 1st learn to play. This becomes the old stuff(to them) and remains special to them. I think that Ravnica block art is outstanding but I still prefer the old AN AQ LE stuff.

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Post by phyconaut » Thu Jan 19, 2006 4:07 am

Ice age was the set i loved for art work and yea i think its true that we "latch" on to our first set and never let go such as me with my icys my first pack ever i thiought the icy was the rare cuse it was so cool to me. I would but the original A/B original but 2 probelms 1 is who in the world has it and i probly dont have about 5K to throw on it.
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Post by Dilligaf » Thu Jan 19, 2006 5:52 am

I liked how Ron Spencer put it when i asked him about his original art prices..

"You aren't paying me for the Art, you are paying me not to miss it when its gone."

Personally, if the art is great, you like it, you have the money to pay for it, you will enjoy it.. something about how size doesnt matter? *grins*
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Post by mintcollector » Thu Jan 19, 2006 6:00 pm

I am not sure if all WOTC artist contracts are standard, but I do know that artists have had limitations of the number of reprints they are able to contractually produce. I learned this the hard way. I had bought 2 signed print from Matthew Wilson a few years back. One for myself, which I got professionally framed, and the other for a fellow Dakmor Sorceress collector, whom is a dealer I know and gotten a really great priced Unlimited Ruby from, and I knew prices were skyrocketing on P9. I bought him the print to make up for the great deal I got. Well when I went to get my resin box done with the Dakmor art on it, I found that scanning a card itself did not scale very well. The printing circles and scale of the card gave the image a poor quality work when blown up. I quickly learned that I would need another print to work from. Well sadly Matthew Wilson had hit his limit and no longer could legally sell prints of Dakmor Sorceress. I also had lost the dealer's phone number to see if I could borrow his print to scan from. Luckily I ran into SylvanStu and got the dealer's phone number from him and then was able to borrow the print to get my box made. My poitn was that I was not going to bust into my professionally framed print to get it out for a scan and ruin the framing. The reason for my story....yes digital art can/will impact the community. The reason simply is the contractual agreements associated with this art format. The reason is that digital art has more restrictions placed on it as it can easily be produced ont canvas, photo paper, or other media easily. WOTC pays for the art and will be very strict in definining the artist's abilities to after market sell their own art. Digital media will strongly affect we collectors who collect a given type of art in the various forms you can get it in. Not having originals is a major downfall and digital media will even have stricter rules legally defined for it.

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Re: The death of original art?

Post by flatmatt » Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:05 pm

Big Games Supply wrote:Will working for Wizards become less profitable for an artist in the future due to having no originals to sell?
I think the answer to this question is a definite no. Wizards isn't forcing artists to work digitally. Both methods allow certain financial benefits. If you work with "traditional" media, you have the opportunity to sell the original. On the other hand, if you work digitally, you won't have to buy paints or canvas. You might spend less time working on each art piece (less preparation, not less work directly on the piece, mind you) and thus be able to produce more work in the same amount of time.

If an artist chooses his or her media based only on financial concerns, they will be able to choose whichever is more profitable, and therefore having the option of digital will increase profitability for some artists. Unless Wizards starts paying less for art in general (not too likely, I think), this will not happen.

The only people who will see a negative impact from this are the collectors who buy original art. And, let's face it--there may be a high concentration here, but among the Magic-interested population as a whole, there can't be that many who own more than one or two originals, and most don't own any at all.

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Post by random » Mon Jan 23, 2006 10:09 am

"On the other hand, if you work digitally, you won't have to buy paints or canvas"

But then you have to pay for your Computer(s) and Photoshop, Illustrator and all the other programs as well as up and coming programs.
Canvas and Paints really aren't that expensive for a pro-artist who's buying in bulk and will likely be using this medium for his own purposes anyways. I think the production costs either way are about the same for the artist.

The problem with digital art is that it's cheap because it can be made faster to a passable quality level. You can put together a background of sky and terrain or whatever that will look pretty convincing in a very short period of time compared to oils/acrylics. If digital art is currently expected to take 1/3 of the time it takes to do the same quality of oils then why not pay the artist 1/3 as much. The time gap is actually quite larger if the work is just passable and not equal quality to a real painting. So far, most artists are doing pretty good digital works of art. This is because they are already accomplished painters who don't want to be creating inferior works which aren't comparable to their "old stuff". The digital medium also has a sort of "fooled ya" factor right now. People are going to get better at picking apart digital artwork like we do special effects. If all the new up and coming artists start out with digital tools instead of "old school" training I think that illustration quality will decline notably.

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