It all started with Heritage Druid.
Ok, it actually started years ago with Sleight of Hand, but I’ve already told that story.
When I started collecting Magic art, it was all about finding good pieces at good prices. I didn’t really have a focus or objective for the collection, but over time I was able to pick up a few choice pieces like Wall of Blossoms and Sliver Queen. While these pieces are awesome and iconic, they have little in common and look extremely odd when hanging next to each other on my wall. They may make sense to an avid Magic player, but as pieces of art the monstrous, alien spike monster and the delicate hand reaching through flowers don’t exactly go together like peas and carrots for the uninitiated.
My collecting habits continued for a few years until I happened upon the original paintings for Heritage Druid and, shortly there after, Nettle Sentinel, both available directly from the artists. Before finding these pieces, I had been searching for art of powerful and recognizable cards, and the pull of Cccccccombo! was too strong for me to ignore. Yep, you heard me, the power of the cards directed my purchase. I am indeed a monster.
This dynamic duo sat on my walls for a few months and after a while I contemplated selling them for fun and profit, but, when I couldn’t find a home for both of them in a single collection and turned down several offers for each one individually, I rethought my motivations. I had never really considered my collection as more than a group of disparate images, but I just couldn’t let these two pieces go if it meant breaking up the team.
Left over influence from the power of the cards? Maybe, but nonetheless I kept the pair together and soldiered on.
Time passed, as it does, and I came upon a few more pieces of Elf art and came to an impasse. While my collection had some key pieces, it didn’t really have a theme. Sure, there was a focus on “blue” art with pieces like Vedalken Shackles and Academy Ruins, but nothing really cohesive. I had experienced the frenzy, been exposed to the gottabuy virus and taken the sofa test more times than I could count, but was I really going to be the guy that collects elf art?
While the pursuit of pieces can be energetic to the extreme, almost addictive at times, it can lead you to some crazy places if you let it. Structure in your collecting habits has to come otherwise you start drifting. What do i mean by drifting? Well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. You start at one place, buying, say, an original sketch and eventually you are contemplating Hellboy sculptures, original Comic pages and giant paintings of Sci-Fi landscapes. It’s all art, right?
While narrowing your collecting habits to just original paintings and sketches from Magic the Gathering may seem like a narrow enough niche to target, it was a surprisingly deep pool to wade into. The scope of Magic art, with its tens of thousands of images from hundreds and hundreds of artists with styles ranging from hyper-realism to almost comic strip zaniness reflects the years of growth and development that the game has been through. If you’ve ever collected cards from the game, you’ve probably run into this on a smaller scale when you first started out. Do I collect all the Dragons? the Angels? just the blue cards? Collecting Magic art works out in the same way and just like when you are building your card collection, it pays to have a focus as you grow.
Both Nettle Sentinel and Heritage Druid were powerful and recognizable cards with strong art, but they had become something more to me. Not just two separate images, but the beginning of a structure that I could build my collection with and focus my efforts and I jumped in it. Soon after deciding to commit some effort to aiding the Elf cause, I uncovered Quirion Ranger and Joraga Warcaller in quick succession and the elf horde was coming into focus.
Funnily enough, I had contemplated doing something similar back in 2008, when I first bought Sliver Queen. With Sliver royalty in hand, I got it in my head that I would get the rest of the Sliver art, All Them Slivers, if you will. Well, while I had what would probably be the crown jewel of such a collection, I lost steam quickly as I didn’t have the same attachment to the tribe. Why are All Them Elves different? I’m not entirely sure, but when I think back on my decision to keep my first two pieces, I’m glad that I embraced what, at the time, seemed like a radical direction for my collection.
Sadly, some of the key pieces like Priest of Titania or the Alpha Llanowar Elves may never be able to join their kindred, but having my growing family of woodland dwellers has added a special place in my collection. Instead of a disparate assemblage of illustrations, there was now a growing subsection of theme linked images which has given me a sense of momentum to my collecting efforts that was lacking in the past.
Do I still plan on buying non-Elf art? Sure.
Just like the game that started all of this, there are myriad ways to enjoy Magic and the art is no different. Collecting the art from the cards can be many things; from capturing memories of playing with friends, to showing off your passion for the game or holding a piece of the game’s history in your hands, you can enjoy the art as you please. Just because you have a giant collection of Angels doesn’t mean you can’t fancy a demon or two.
What are my plans for the future of my collection?
Well, to not give away too many secrets, I will continue to expand my retinue of elves and seek that ever elusive balance between the strength of the card and the quality of the art. Also, now that All Them Elves have some Natural Order and a Hoofy Behemoth, albeit only the sketch, to play along with, I might try piloting my chosen tribe at the upcoming Legacy Champs.
Have you found your focal point for your collection, be it Magic art, cards or otherwise? Tell me about it by leaving a comment below!