First, let me explain what this means to the uninitiated so we’re clear on what this entails. I do a lot of work for Magic: The Gathering, a collectable card game. Given the collectable nature of the game, it is often desirable to some people to have an artist physically alter the card’s image in some way, in order to have a unique version of the card. A very small original piece of art, say. Here is an example of what I mean:
|I mocked this up digitally. It does not exist.|
I hated doing it, but it's for clarity's sake.
So, to answer the question: no.
There are a couple reasons for this, but first and foremost is that I don’t like doing them. To my eyes, the end result always looks pretty bad.
For the most part, I’m asked to do alterations at conventions and other appearances. At these appearances, the tools at my disposal are very limited and usually include a variety of Sharpie pens, paint pens, ballpoint pens, and pencils. The ballpoint pens and pencils are right out due to the fact that they damage the surface of the cards. I avoid using paint pens at all costs due to the drying time. So, the primary tool for the job is the trusty Sharpie in all its various sizes and colors.
Even the finest point Sharpie is too unwieldy for the job, due to the fact that the printed illustration on every Magic card is a mere 2 1/16 inches wide by 1 1/2 inches tall. It’s basically like drawing with something the size of a broom handle on a standard letter-size sheet. No matter what you do, the alteration feels horsy and ham-fisted.
Another problem with the Sharpie is that it doesn’t play well with the picture. The ink just sits there on top of the surface, not even remotely integrating itself into the image. No matter what I do, at best it ends up looking makeshift, and at worst it looks like an afterthought. (For more about my complex on this matter, I invite you to read a previous entry, “The Circle On the Oaktag”).
At this point you might remind me that I have, in fact, done alterations in the past. This is true. It took doing them to realize that I don’t like to do them. Plus, I stumbled upon an alteration that had been done by someone on a card that I had signed. The fact that my signature and an alteration were done on the same card insinuated strongly that I had done said alteration. I hadn’t. It was enough to make me want to stop and so I did.
In all reality, I have no sense of whether or not alterations add value, subtract value, or have no impact. It is likely that it’s not even about value, so much as having something special and unique. While I appreciate that, I can’t bring myself to continue to create these little drawings that cause me to cringe.
In truth, I regret every alteration I’ve ever done, but am a little relieved to know that there are probably less than a hundred out there. But of those hundred or so, only one has written upon it, “Last Alteration Ever” and is thus the only alteration I kind of like.