Well, I was browsing through some of my favourite Youtube channels a few weeks ago and, since there weren’t any new videos on General Lotz’s channel , I decided to check out the link to Timpedia’s channel instead. And, to my surprise, there were “Magic: The Gathering” gameplay videos on there.
Like with how I rediscovered my old “Tintin” comics a few weeks before this, I suddenly found myself staring face-to-face with another almost-forgotten part of my artistic development.
The fact is that, back in my very early teens, I was absolutely obsessed with collecting trading cards. Initially, I used to collect “Pokemon” cards – but when they went out of fashion slightly and seemed a bit ‘childish’, I moved on to “Magic: The Gathering”.
And, as art goes, “Magic: The Gathering” cards contain some absolutely astonishing art. Seriously, each 15-card booster pack was like a little art gallery in it’s own right.
Of course, I didn’t see myself as an “artist” back then and I wasn’t consciously interested in art – but the art on each card was probably the main thing that made them worth collecting.
Not only that, I really wanted to make trading cards back then too. I’d easily fill entire notebooks with badly-drawn designs for “Magic” cards and “Pokemon” cards – hell, I even invented my own trading card game back then too.
I can’t remember the exact rules of it, but I think that it was a “Top Trumps”/ “Magic: The Gathering”-style game which was based on a ludicrously exaggerated sci-fi/fantasy version of my old secondary school. And, yes, I’m making it sound about ten times more interesting than it actually was – in fact, I felt that it was so nerdy, that I didn’t really show it to anyone else…
To my younger self, none of this frequent drawing was really “art” – it was just something I did for fun. But, in reality, it was regular art practice. Hell, I even produced trading card designs almost as regularly as I make art for this website and DeviantART these days. I was getting lots of regular art practice and I didn’t even know it!
Of course, now that I’m in my mid-twenties and actually interested in making art – I can only stand in awe of the amazing art on most of my old “Magic: The Gathering” cards and I’m more than aware that my old dream of actually designing them is, at the very least, a few more years of practice away.
Still, the reason that I’m mentioning all of this is because trading cards are a really fascinating format for art. Seriously, they’re one of the few areas (outside of comics) where dramatic/ fantastical/ futuristic art is widely and enthusiastically bought by a large group of fans. And most of these people probably don’t even realise that they’re buying art.
In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the artwork produced by the artists who work on “Magic: The Gathering” has probably been seen by more people than half of the modern paintings or art installations in prestigious art galleries have.
So, if you’re slightly geeky and looking to start a new artistic project – then why not try inventing a trading card game? Hell, even if you just post a few preliminary designs online for people to print out and experiment with, then it’s probably one of the best ways to get people to remember and engage with your art.
But, if you aren’t particularly geeky or you don’t want to invent a whole game as an excuse for making trading card-size art, then it might be worth looking into the whole area of “Artist Trading Cards“. I’ve heard of this type of trading card a couple of times before and I’ve never actually made any of these cards, but they seem like a really interesting way to make and share artwork.
Sorry that this article was so rambling and introspective, but I hope that it was interesting 🙂