You might be asking yourself, what the hell is the Sofa test? Am I talking about what to look for in a couch? Has Josh gone completely nuts?
Not exactly. At least not yet.
The Sofa Test
Having gone by many names in the past like the wife test or the girlfriend test, there is a factor that significant others play in the decision to purchase a particular piece of art. The Significant Other Factor, or Sofa test, for short.
Obviously it varies from person to person, but not everyone enjoys the art of Magic. I know, crazy talk, but they exist. Whether for aesthetic or even religious reasons, it can be hard to sell someone on the idea of hanging a painting of a wizard or a dragon on the wall. The collector without any attachment does not have to deal with this potential source of conflict, but for those in a relationship the opinion of their partner should be taken into consideration.
Failure to do so can have consequences. You have been warned.
My wife hates Putrid Imp.
There are several pieces I own that she is not a fan of, but this painting is the number one culprit. There have been threats of it ending up in the trash can. So far they have remained empty.
She tolerated it when we first started dating, put it in a corner when we got engaged and now celebrates the fact that I am trying to find it a new home.
I bought it a few years before we started dating and the little guy has always had a special place on my wall.
Would I buy it again if it came up for auction now? Probably not, and I’m ok with that.
Magic has some very dark themes. From zombies to vampires to ritual human sacrifice there is some really brutal art in the game of Magic the Gathering. I am a pretty commited collector and have a wide appreciation for the art of the game, but even I would hesitate before framing and hanging the art for a card like Pulling Teeth. Maybe if I was a dentist.
Living with someone and being in a relationship involves compromise. Give and take. While I might enjoy the art of Buried Alive from Weatherlight, I can understand why someone else would find depictions of people drowning in mud to be a bit unsettling. Personally, I find the art on Porphyry Nodes to be hauntingly beautiful, but I don’t argue when I hear that paintings of graveyards are morbid and “deathy”. There are thousands of images out there for Magic and the Sofa test might prohibit certain things like skulls, blood or the undead, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still collect some amazing Magic art.
It Gets Better
Another benefit to utilizing the Sofa test is that it can lead to more acceptance over time.
While I may have gotten strange looks and “ewwwww’s” when I showed off Buried Alive and the “angry” Gorilla Shaman, there was a grudging acceptance of a more recent purchase (which will be revealed soon) that has skulls and snakes on it. By showing the art that I pick up, as well as the art not picked up after failing the Sofa test, I have found that over time the resistance decreases and, albeit minor, an interest is developed.
You may have tried to get your girlfriend or boyfriend interested in Magic. You may have even gotten them to learn the basic rules and play a few games, but the level of passion involved that leads one to start collecting the art of the game is difficult to replicate in someone new to the game. If your partner is already into the game, or is more accepting of the darker themes found in the art, the Sofa test may be less of a factor for you.
For those that must abide by the Sofa test, make sure to communicate your passion for the game while at the same time showing your wife/husband that they are still most important part of your life. I know as a collector I can get pretty focused when I am on the hunt for a particular piece or when reaching out to a bunch of artists and if I am not careful that can lead to feelings of neglect or resentment developing. The surest way to get negative feedback on a piece of art you are interested in is to be in a situation in your relationship where your significant other thinks you are putting the art before them.
Involve them in the process, let them know about your excitement and include them in the celebration. They might not fully appreciate the joy of finding a piece of art, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy seeing you celebrate.
Have you ever encountered the Sofa test? Ever had an epic failure? Share your stories in the comments below.