Friday, March 13, 2020

Art of Magic: the Gathering

The Temple of Serra at Epityr. Art by Christine Choi.
The illustrator Ted Nasmith once described the wonder and power of Fantasy in but a single sentence: "It opened up in me a dormant love of lost and misty times, myth and legend." Naturally, specifically, the quote refers to when his sister introduced him to The Lord of the Rings. But I have already posted on Nasmith and his renditions of Valinor and Valyria, and indeed one can see his work scattered throughout Star Uncounted. However, I am in an artistic mood and thought to myself: What is some underappreciated Fantasy art that I could post? Something well-known in its own circles but perhaps not beyond? The answer was obvious, the justly popular card game Magic: the Gathering. In fact Mtg is more than popular, it is downright world-famous, but that does not mean people know much about it. I knew about it since I was small, but only that it was thematically related somehow to Dungeons & Dragons. Yet even after seeing a few game played I did not truly appreciate what for many players include me, now   is a matter of critical importance. The art on the cards. Above you can see one of my favorites, the Temple of Serra at Epityr where the town is cradled in the lap of the of statue while the towers of temple itself can just be made out between her wings.

Quite elegant and in my mind no less worthy of wonder on an aesthetic level than Mr. Nasmith's depiction of the Argonath. Indeed, I would bet that The Pillars of the Kings directing inspired both the temple and the Memorial to Genius. But it is not just statues carved into mountainsides, oh no, for when Magic players think of the games art one of if not the first thing that comes to mind is the wondrous world of Zendikar, images of which flank this text. To be clear, gravity does exist in this world as otherwise the Elf to the left would not bother with ropes. Granted that I do not know how it works on Zendikar save that it affects everything except the floating chuck of terrain. (Those floating angular things are called hedrons, are not natural formations, and are another story.) I could include more, but posting solid walls of art is something I try to avoid, particularly when I can provide a link to a fair bit of it. Anyway, the point is that just as great Fantasy authors bring their created worlds to life in the minds of their readers, great Fantasy artists can do the same regardless of whether the world they depict comes from a book or game.

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