Where do I hang this “Mission Accomplished” banner?

In case you missed it on Twitter (@OriginalMtGArt), Jon Finkel is now the owner of the art for Shadowmage Infiltrator by Rick Farrell. Luckily, I was able to help make it happen with a little assistance from Wizards of the Coast.

You may not know about it, but many collectors of Magic art and artist signatures use the ” Artist Name C/O Wizards of the Coast” letter option when trying to contact artists.  It takes forever, usually doesn’t work and the cost of stamps adds up quickly, but every once in a while it comes through. 

Letter Storm

Last summer, in an effort to contact the more reclusive artists after exhausting my email, Facebook and Twitter resources, I sent out over a hundred letters through the Wizards contact program.  I knew that most would never get a response and that the odds of hearing back from any specific artist was not in my favor.

After three months of waiting, responses started trickling in.  By the end of 2012 the flow dried up and by then I had heard back from only ~10% of the artists I tried to contact.  I was expecting more, but I was very pleased getting any response at all.  I ended up getting a few pieces for my collection through the letter writing campaign and I chalked it up as a fun adventure.  Not something I would recommend, but a useful activity for the more hardcore collectors out there.

By March, I had written off hearing back from any of the artists via my letter barrage and just about given up hope of finding the Shadowmage.  Then I got an email from Rick Farrell in response to my letter which threw my expectations out the window.

From Pikula to Finkel

About a year ago, the call went out to collectors on The Mana Drain that Chris Pikula was looking for the original art for Meddling Mage.  Six months later, through a bit of an exciting turn of events, Nick Detwiler of TMD, was able to locate the painting and get it to Chris to much fanfare. (More on this in the coming weeks)

Soon after Chris had Meddling Mage, Nick reached out to his fellow collectors to let them know that Jon Finkel was now interested in acquiring his namesake sneaky wizard.  While I had not been able to get any traction in the search for the Meddler, I knew I wanted to do what I could for Jon. 

This was six month ago.  I had already sent the letter to Rick, but had figured nothing would come of it after my other attempts to reach him proved unsuccessful.

Little did I know.

When Rick responded that he had all of his originals remaining I was flabbergasted.  I obviously wanted to get Shadowmage for Jon but he was such a great guy to deal with that I ended up picking up every painting and sketch he had.

The Curse of Commonality

The Curse of Commonality

Seriously, he was a pleasure to deal with.  Prompt with communication and eager to work with me, he gave me one the best experiences I have had in my search for Original Magic Art.  He even took the time to dig through his archives to get some Artist Proofs to include along with the paintings.  When I got the paintings after he applied a fresh layer of varnish, I was blown away.

First off, all four of his paintings are large, especially for Magic paintings. (Shadowmage Infiltrator  is 12″x15″)  Being able to work in larger scale and have the piece look great at either size is amazing.  His style makes me wish he had been able to do more work for the game.  While a piece like Woodland Druid suffers greatly from the Curse of Commonality, the painting has an impact that befits a creature much more powerful than a vanilla 1/2. (You can see all of his paintings here)

I’ll have to admit, I did contemplate keeping the painting for myself.  The piece looks great, the card is very powerful and Rick hit it out of the park on the likeness and the feel of the piece.  There are only a few invitational cards out there, and this is definitely my favorite.  At some point, the Finkel on the painting was whispering “My Precioussss” to me but I resisted it’s charms and reached out to Jon through Chris.

A quick trip to the Post Office and a few days later, this happened:

Double Shadowmage

I am glad that Jon now has his rightful trophy for winning the 2000 Invitational tournament.  While the card allows everyone to experience his contribution to the game, I can’t imagine a more fitting way to commemorate the experience for him.  I am honored to have been able to play a part in helping to bring this amazing art to a good home.

Congratulations Jon!

Make sure to check in next week for my interview with Jon Finkel and Rick Farrell to learn more about Jon’s Invitational win and what went into making the art.