The Ninth Sphere: What’s the Best Art in Magic? – Part One

Once my last article went up, I eagerly began preparing for this part of the series, where I get to talk about my favourite artists and artwork in Magic. Some of you know that I collect Magic art prints, and I’ve actively been on the hunt for my first real piece of Magic artwork. It’s surprisingly hard to come by popular pieces, and when you do they are NOT cheap, many selling for thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars. So I think that first piece of original art is going to have to be really special. Prints on the other hand tend to be much more affordably priced, so as a result, I’ve begun building up a good collection.
We’ll talk about some of the art that I collect throughout the next article I write on my favourite ‘modern’ artwork, since all the prints I own are from modern sets, so maybe we can just jump into the thick of things for this week, my favourite pre-modern artwork.

 

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Presence of the Master, Phil Foglio

Phil Foglio was one of my least liked Magic artists in the first part of this series, but I actually really enjoy this artwork. I think the composition of the image looks well-balanced, and I like the contrast of shapes between the seasons and the planets that orbit Einstein. It’s a really playful image that has nothing to do with Magic, but the first time people see this card they usually get excited about it.

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Juzam Djinn, Mark Tedin

Juzam Djinn is in my opinion, a great representation of early magic artwork. It draws heavily on the fantasy-style imagery that was really enjoyable and popular in earlier sets, as well as showcases the talent of the artist. Juzam Djinn is kind of scary looking, and at the same time aesthetically pleasing.

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Vesuvan Doppelganger, Quinton Hoover

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Regeneration, Quinton Hoover

Quinton Hoover is my favourite artist in Magic. That’s a big statement to make, because there are a lot of great magic artists out there, but his artwork was the first thing to introduce me to the game (through the art of Illusions of Grandeur), and his art has a lot of nostalgia for me. I always have difficulty choosing only one of his images as my favourite, but for now my favourite two are Regeneration, and Vesuvan Doppelganger. I’ve always liked the illustrative qualities of his artwork, and the obsessive tiny details that are reflected in many of his images. I also really enjoy the variety of subjects we see him create, his art varies between portraiture, landscapes, etc, but his art making style is always very consistent. 

 

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Wall of Blossoms, Heather Hudson

Heather Hudson is another artist that made my ‘worst art’ list a few weeks ago with Imaginary Pet, and I think Wall of Blossoms really showcases the opposite of that, and how much talent she actually has. Compositionally, this artwork is very attractive, and her flower making style reminds me of Georgia o’Keefe. If you guys have never seen this card in foil before, it’s definitely worth taking a look at.

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Hurloon Minotaur, Anson Maddocks

Hurloon Minotaur is another artwork that gets me in the feels, it’s a very nostalgic image for me, because the art comes from the early sets when I started buying magic cards for the first time. I really like the details in this artwork, and although it’s a static image, I appreciate the contrast between the fantasy and the realism.

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Plague Spitter, Chippy

I bought an Invasion pack at my LGS on a whim once, (probably because they had invasion packs and I’d never seen them for sale before), and this thing was in my pack. What the heck is this thing? I have no idea, but it’s weird, and awesome.

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Biorhythm, Ron Spears

I remember thinking the art on this card was really underwhelming, until I saw a larger sized version of the image and realised there were animals in his eyes. I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw the details that really went into creating this picture. It’s really difficult to see on the card itself, but the artwork up close is quite nice.

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Cartographer, Donato Giancola

Cartographer is another example of an image that from its downsized form is difficult to appreciate. On a larger scale, I think this is a fantastic portrait. I really appreciate the colour scheme, and the realism in the artwork. The arm and hand is so realistic looking, the effort that Giancola put into this image as a whole, even knowing how much detail would be lost in the downsizing, is impressive.

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Polymorph, Robert Bliss

This is another example of a card with really strange artwork, that I just enjoy. I think it’s fantastical, and humorous, I like the illustrative qualities of the drawing, and this card looks pretty awesome in foil. I’m sure some people will disagree with me on this one, but I think it taps into the satire of Magic, and it creates a good dichotomy between art like this and the more serious fantasy images other artists are presenting us with.

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Seedling Charm, Stuart Griffin

I originally wasn’t sure whether this one was going to make the list or not. I saw this one when I was at work sorting some Mirage cards, and it just struck me as an oddly ‘pretty’ image. I guess I like the motifs in the picture, and something about it is whimsical and attractive to me. Overall this is a nice looking piece of art, I’d be happy to have this hanging on my wall.

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Indestructible Aura, Mark Poole

This feels like one of those images that’s so bad it’s awesome. It’s so metal. I love everything about it. I tried to get a friend to pick up a print of this from Mark Poole, but sadly he didn’t have any. If he did it would be framed on my wall for sure.

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Dakkon Blackblade, Richard Kane-Ferguson

I don’t know if Dakkon Blackblade is the best example of Richard Kane-Ferguson’s artwork, but it definitely fits his iconic style of drawing, and is an accurate example of what a lot of his drawings look like. I enjoy his colour palette, and obsessive detailing, which are much easier to see on large scale versions of his drawings.

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Mindwhip Sliver, Jeff Miracola

Jeff Miracola illustrated a handful of the original slivers, and I feel this one is compositionally the best, although I think Mindlash Sliver is drawn better. I like the centred background with the sliver coming diagonally out of the side of the frame. It leaves viewers with the ability to imagine what the rest of the sliver looks like without giving us all of the information. I also like the use of the red in the background to make the sliver stand out more.

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Guru Lands, Terese Nielsen

It’s funny, I tried to purposefully avoid choosing lands for these articles, but the Guru lands are a great representation of Terese Nielsen’s work. At the same time, these images are loved by a large variety of Magic fans, and I’ve seen a lot of people request this so much for card alters it’s become a common “style” of altering in the community. It’s hard not to include these on a list of ‘best magic artwork’, because they’re fantastic.

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Hunting Moa, Di’Terlizzi

The last card on this list is Hunting Moa, a card that I really appreciate for its’ whimsical feel. I really enjoy the colourful background and the way it contrasts with the bird-beast. I also can’t tell what the scale of this is supposed to be, whether everything is HUGE because look at those tiny crane-like birds, or if the birds that are about to be eaten are just really small. Either way, I think this is a great piece of art by Di’Terlizzi, and he gives us a great selection of art to choose from, especially with other images such as his version of Brainstorm, the art for Noble Benefactor, or his cute giant growth.

Now that we have listed over 15 artworks I really like that are pre-modern, I think I should probably stop. This article is going to get pretty large if I keep adding things, and believe me, it’s really easy to choose artwork that I like. I hope at least a few of these were new for you guys this week.

Let me know what you liked! If you have a favourite artwork, share it in the comments below! See you guys next time for part two!

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