Searching for your grail has become an honored quest for many collectors of Magic art. It may take years of scouring the world or just a simple email to an artist, but the end result, a unique monument to your passion for Magic and its impact on your life, is always more than worth the effort.
Since the hobby of collecting Magic art is still new to many players of the game, let’s answer a few questions before we dig deeper on the subject.
What is a Grail?
In terms of collecting Magic art, a Grail is the singular image from the game that has had the most impact in your life. It could be the first illustration that caught your eye and got you into the game, a prominent card from the first tournament you won, or even the last piece in your collecting puzzle for a Global set of a particular card.
When you ask yourself: “What piece of Magic art would I want to own (aside from value concerns, if your answer is the Chris Rush Black Lotus, you may be doing it wrong), if I could only own one?” There is a good chance you will uncover your grail.
How do I find my Grail?
The route to uncovering a grail is typically entirely unpredictable. Sometimes the painting will sitting in an artist’s closet, a week and an email away from you. Other times it might take more than a decade of relationship building, contacting artists only to get a whisper of a rumor of its location.
Don’t be too discouraged, no matter how long it takes, because you never know when the stars may a align and drop the piece in your lap.
Here are several Grail Hunting stories that OMA members have been kind enough to share:
The search for your grail will likely lead you to unexpected places, interesting people and almost always leave you with an interesting story.
(Insert plug for sharing your story here on OMA. No, seriously, I would love to hear it.)
As with any journey, your quest for Magic art must begin with a first step, hopefully in the right direction.
Where should I look for my Grail?
Since I started OMA, the landscape for locating Magic art has changed a bit.
Started in 2011, the Art Thread on The Mana Drain soon became the go to destination for Magic art collectors. While a dedicated crew still frequents those hallowed halls, the hobby has opened up a bit and new venues have appeared.
Not to toot my own horn, but OMA, with well over 1,000 original paintings and sketches in the Art Gallery, has the largest collection of Magic art on display in the world. With the search function now fully operational (sorry that took so long), you can check the galleries for your Grail with a few keystrokes.
Yes, you will still have to figure out a way to obtain said Grail from its current owner, but just knowing its location should give you a sense of relief. I know it has for me in the past.
The fine folks over at Comic Art Fans are next up with several collectors (that I hope to convince to come over to OMA some day) sharing their Magic art along with their Comic and Comic-related collections.
The perspective there is a bit broader and the Magic art a lot less plentiful, but it’s worth the time to search the site to see what you can uncover.
The Illustration Exchange is still operational but as a board it is essentially a ghost town. Several prominent pieces can be found there (I’m looking at you Elspeth, Knight Errant) but tracking down the owner, yeah, good luck with that.
The owner of the site, who also runs Illuxcon, has recently carved out a space over at Comic Art Fans and several of the active users have made the switch to their new home.
The MTG Art Exchange Facebook group has become the most popular and active hub of art collecting knowledge, commerce and communication on the web.
Started by one Jesse James DeMarco, the group has helped many people uncover their Grails and is an essential resource for those interested in collecting Magic art.
If you are seeking out your Grail, you’ve likely already reached out to the artist, but just in case, you should check out this article by Mike Linnemann over at Gathering Magic. Mike took the time to gather up the websites, emails, and social media contacts for a long list of artists and I can’t thank him enough for that effort.
Regardless of where you are looking, make sure to be cordial and look to build relationships in the community. These paintings have spread throughout the world and the wider you can cast the net, the more people you have looking for the piece for you, the easier and faster your search will be.
What do I do once I’ve found my Grail?
Buy it. Frame it. Hang it on your wall. Next question.
Ok, maybe it’s not always that easy, especially if the owner is not actively looking to sell, but making an offer is where you want to start.
Some pieces in a collection are easier to pry away than others. While money can’t replace memories, it can make a good enough substitute that you can readily trade it for Magic art, given the appropriate amount.
What makes for an appropriate offer? Somewhere around 125-150% of where you think the current market price would be.
Yes, you could offer less, but when dealing with Grails it is better to err on the generous side and avoid offending the owner and thereby crush your dreams.
If they accept the offer, great. If not, you can always ask that they keep you in mind and let them know how much the piece means to you personally. Making a lasting, positive impression is your best bet. You are playing the long game at this point, so settle in and get comfortable.
Talk with the owner and other collectors, contribute to the community, build relationships and establish a strong reputation and you might just end up with your Grail.
Even if you never uncover your Grail, you might discover some life long friendships along the way.