Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions 4

Will you draw on my play mat?

Once again, I will start out by explaining to the uninitiated what this entails.  One of the interesting things about collectible card games is the market of peripheral items that exist to support them.  Everything from card boxes to store the cards in, to individual protective card sleeves can be purchased in a wide variety.  Another item that can be found are play mats, which are kind of like mouse pads (something that is almost an anachronism itself) on steroids.  They usually measure somewhere in the neighborhood of 14"x24" and come in a wide variety of colors.  Some even have images printed on them.  I suppose their purpose is to prevent the cards from getting scuffed on a given surface.  Either that or their purpose is solely to get signed and drawn upon.  I really couldn't say.

The short answer to this question is under certain circumstances, yes.  The circumstances are these: I must be at a convention or Magic event, present at my table, and have enough time to complete the task as requested.  Oh yeah, and it's helpful if you have money.

I know, I know.  I charge?  How can this be?!  Outrageous!

Before you grab your pitchfork and light a torch let me explain.  The fact is, the surfaces of play mats are less than desirable.  In fact, they're awful.  I have never drawn on a surface that is so destructive to the drawing tools themselves.  There have been instances where, while drawing, a play mat has destroyed a brand new Sharpie in a single go.  Now, I'm not talking about running out of ink.  No, no, no.  That's not such a big deal — it's to be expected with any given pen over time.  I'm talking about having the pen's tip shredded to the point where the ink contained in the pen no longer flows, and thus never has a chance to run out.  The result of this is that I blow through pens on play mats right quick, and getting through a drawing can be pretty frustrating.

Second, there is a question of time.  It takes me quite a while to do these things, and many of the requests can be painstaking at best.  For example, a common request I've had is to reproduce a given image I did as a Magic painting on a play mat, which can be quite tedious.  I'm not complaining, I'm just stating a fact.  The moment you have another image to live up to, things tend to take longer and the exactness required is increased significantly (provided you're attempting to do the original image any justice).

If the demands on my time are great, I will just go through the arrangements of the deal with the person requesting the drawing and set the mat aside to be worked on when I have some free time, and to be picked up at a later point.  The downside to this is that I may end up with no free time, or have so many play mat requests that I am forced to draw all night in my hotel room, after hours.  I can assure you that this is less than the pinnacle of fun — especially when there are a whole host of other illustrators present at said event who I want desperately to hang around with.

So, yeah, if you should stroll over to my table at a convention or Magic tournament or some such, I'll likely draw on your play mat if we can agree on all the particulars.  However, should I turn down your request for a play mat drawing, know that it is for a good reason.  It may be that I don't have the time, it may be that I have a wrist cramp (something that's been happening more frequently to me as I've gotten older), or maybe it's just because I'm not in the mood.  No matter what the reason, look at it this way: if I turn you down, I'm saving you from a mediocre final result.  If I don't have time, it'll be rushed and crappy.  If I'm in pain, it'll be ugly and crappy.  If I'm not in the mood, it'll be just plain crappy.  And in the end, who wants that?

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