A lot of folks have asked us how to become an artist for Magic the Gathering. Today we’re going to explore the subject in-depth so that you can get an idea what this amazing pays. We’ll discuss rates, royalties, and how you can go about finding this work for yourself.
Competition is fierce, however and while creating art for Magic The Gathering can certainly get you noticed, there likely won’t be enough work for it to be a regular gig (we’ll go into more on that later). On average, artwork for a single card pays around $400 to $600, with a possibility of up to $1500 dollars for more established artists.
This is just a ballpark figure, however, and there are a few other considerations. We’ll start with royalties and go from there so that you can get a closer look behind the art of Magic The Gathering.
Do MTG Artists Get Royalties?
While the ‘flat rate’ is certainly attractive when you consider the exposure, this is where your compensation stops. The art that you sell for a card will not earn you royalties and your work may be re-used as well.
For many, this means that providing fantasy art for Magic is really more of a labor of love. You can certainly get your work seen around the world, but with a flat rate for your work then you will need more outlets to make a living with this kind of art.
How Many Artists Work for Magic the Gathering?
The amount of artists working for Magic the Gathering changes on a regular basis. There are always new projects coming out where artists are being hired.
Although the definite number is not known, quite a few artists have contributed work to Magic the Gathering. For instance, for Shards of Alara 418 artists collaborated for the set. For the original Alpha Magic set, by contrast, only 25 artists were involved.
How Do You Become a Magic the Gathering Artist?
Becoming a Magic the Gathering artist is definitely a worthy goal but you are going to have to work hard for it. There is software that you are going to need and you are also going to have to work hard to get yourself noticed.
Let’s start with a few basics so that you can get an idea of what’s ahead of you.
You’re going to need Adobe Photoshop and investing in a Wacom tablet is also a good idea. Don’t think of pirating it, either, as this is extremely unprofessional. You might be able to get an educational discount on the tablet and Photoshop if you are attending art school, so this is something you’ll want to be sure to check on.
Bottom line, you will need this software so this is one step that you definitely can’t skip.
Familiarize Yourself With the Work of Artists Already in the Game
There are actually quite a few blogs from artists who’ve already done and continue to do work for Magic the Gathering. This is something that you’ll want to take advantage of, as the information there is exactly what you need.
Google a few current Magic Artists online and you can start taking advantage of this resource today. Look for one or more of the following artists to get started on reading their blogs:
- Steve Prescott
- Steve Belledin
- Ryan Pancoast
- Matt Stewart
- Omar Rayyan
If you only pick out one piece of advice, this could be the most important. These artists are already providing art for Magic sets and the things that can you learn here are invaluable. Check to see if you can find the artist’s twitters as well.
Little things like this can help you understand how to take a card description to a concept sketch and then to color it in a way that works well with a set.
It’s harder than it sounds, so don’t go it alone. Check out these artists and see what they have to share. You’ll be happy that you did!
Click here to check out the current price and availability of Magic the Gathering Booster Boxes on Amazon.
Magic the Gathering Art and Artist’s Board
Magic has an online community for aspiring artists and this is another resource that you’ll want to become very familiar with. The Art and Artist’s board is an online place where you can post your artwork and receive useful critiques.
This board is also monitored and can get your work noticed, just be sure to react professionally to any critiques which you receive there. If your work is well-received, it might well be your foot in the door!
Consider Online Classes to Take Your Art to the Next Level
The most important part of getting your work noticed is going to constant improvement. Classes are out there, such as the Illustration Master Class, but you can find a number of art tutorials for free online as well.
The important thing is practice, practice, and more practice!
You can also look for original sketch prints of Magic Art that you can view online or even purchase. This can give you a better idea of how a published work was originally developed and give you a better feel for the right color schemes when you transform your own works from your sketches.
Art descriptions are also going to be important. Magic’s senior art director Jeremy Jarvis is responsible for a number of sets and provides descriptions of the art that you can easily read online.
Apply for MTG Promotional Work
Tournament organizers often commission local artists but you have to be proactive. Getting in touch with these organizations occasionally pays off and might earn you a commission. This can help you to get noticed and increases your chances of an MTG commission, but even if you don’t get one right away, the notice that your work will get is worth it.
Fantasy art is a hard market, but if you can get your work viewed then you’ve already won half of the battle. Consider offering your artistic services for Magic Tournaments and even if the pay is minimal, the exposure is going to make it worth your while.
Some of the biggest frustration in art is getting people to notice what you do. A small commission that gets you a lot of exposure could be exactly what you need.
As you can see, it’s a rocky road but with a little determination you can definitely get your work noticed. Becoming an MTG artist is largely a labor of love, but the exposure you can get if your artwork is selected can be quite amazing.
Just get yourself started with your Wacom tablet and Photoshop and start posting your work online. Pay attention to the critiques that you receive and consider online course and don’t forget to read those online blogs from current Magic Artists. They really have a lot to offer and they are available online for free!
Finally, you’re going to have to be patient. These things don’t happen overnight but if you work hard and follow in the footsteps of artists already involved then this is definitely an attainable goal. So, hang in there, persevere, and keep putting your work out there. In a little time, you might just get to see your art in a card set on the game that you love!