The second reason this is an oddity, is that the piece didn't come to me through the usual channels. As some reading this may know, the art director for Magic is Jeremy Jarvis. Usually, he's the guy that sends the art order, makes the comments, and brings the pain. But on this set, he got a little backup, and for me, it was the best backup ever and came in the form of Dawn Murin. In fact, it didn't just come in her form, it was Dawn Murin.
Some of you may know the name. Others may not, but Dawn is easily one of my favorite art directors ever. It was Dawn Murin that let me into the Wizards of the Coast gates, which allowed me to survive as a full-time, freelance illustrator. You see, Dawn used to be the art director for Dungeons and Dragons, a game and a product that I hold pretty close to my heart. It's work I no longer get and certainly miss, but I feel fortunate to have gotten to do a stint working on the game at all, and even more so for the time I got to work with Dawn. She's an awesome person, a lot of fun to be around, and an artist's art director — something the world could use a lot more of.
Anyway, Dawn eventually moved on from DnD to art direct a bunch of stuff that my work just wasn't right for, so we hadn't worked together in years. I try and make a point of catching up with her every time I'm in Seattle, but we don't see each other very often. Then, suddenly, one day she shoots me an email wondering if I'd like to do a Magic piece for her. I didn't hesitate.
At the time, I had no idea what the piece was for. Turns out that it was for Planechase 2, and it was a piece that was about as free of drama as they come.
Essentially, I was being asked to do a young version of a Brindle Boar. The key was that it had to feel dangerous. In order to accomplish this, I decided the little guy needed to be charging and whipped this sketch up:
|©Wizards of the Coast|
The sketch was approved as is, and I went to finish. The finish looks like this:
|©Wizards of the Coast|
It's oil on paper on hardboard and measures 12"x9".
It's a simple piece and was pretty fun to work on. It was also a nice break from the horror and darkness that I'd been painting at the time. While I like doing that other stuff, it's nice to to step back from it a bit periodically. Especially to paint a pig. 'Cause...you know...pig.
Anyway, here's the card in all it's glory:
You'll note that Dawn pumped the contrast up a bit. She checked with me first to make sure I wasn't offended. She's good like that, and that kind of thing rarely bothers me. The client's gotta be happy, and the fact that the work was already done for me was pretty sweet.
Unfortunately, I suspect that it'll be another long while before Dawn and I have a chance to work together again. In all reality, it may never happen at all. But boy do I appreciate that I got to revisit, in some way, the early years of my career with one of the people who made it possible.