Welcome to the 38th installment of our Magic artists interview series, ‘There’s No Magic Without Art’.

For today’s interview we talked with artist Jason Felix, who has created over 100 Magic cards since the Zendikar expansion.

Here’s what Jason told us.

Tell us a little about how you got into art, and Magic more specifically.

I have always created things as far as I can remember. My parents and extended family were not artists, so they viewed my interest with “Oh! That’s what kids do.” More like a phase, but it was not.

What has been most important and remains the same all these years is that I have always been creative, curious, and imaginative. This mindset can be applied in so many ways and also for career choices. My focus tends to be art.

Sketch and final version of Hydroid Krasis © Wizards of the Coast
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Working with MTG happened in 2008 when I was attending a comic book show called San Diego Comic Con. Yeah, a small ant hill of a show many years ago that is now the size of a godzilla!!! At the time during the event, I was just presenting a concept artwork portfolio and had a small booth to display my work at.

Someone from Hasbro walked pass my booth, stopped, and flipped through the portfolio. A small chat, business card swap, and a hand shake happened. A week later I got a call and was offered small gig to create concept artwork for the Magic style guides, specifically Zendikar.

Runaway Steam-Kin © Wizards of the Coast

Were you familiar with the game?

Yep, grew up playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) as a kid. “PRE” Magic days. So the whole world of fantasy art was a big influence and inspiration all these years. I wanted to be a fantasy artist growing up, but destiny had other things in store for me such as doing video game development and film work. Yet, destiny gave me a Magic gift after all!

Do you recall your first card assignment?

Hm, first assignment? Yes, Ob Nixilis, the Fallen. A dream came true to be finally asked & paid to create a bad-ass enraged demon. Yes please!

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen © Wizards of the Coast

Give us a brief description of your painting process.

Key word: Mixed Media. I use traditional and digital tools. Traditionally, I draw with graphite. Then switch to canvas to paint with acrylics and oils. Then switch over to digital, bringing over the traditional work to be finalized in the digital arena.

Sometimes a piece will stay all traditional, some are all digital, etc. Just depends on my schedule and time constraints to how I can work. But, in a nutshell, there you go!

What makes for a great art description?

“Less is more” so the artist is able to have a platform to contribute more visually and design wise.

Creature design of Eldrazi’s and their home environments © Wizards of the Coast

Hydroid Krasis is a very cool card of yours from the latest expansion, and it’s seeing a lot of play. What can you tell us about this Jellyfish Hydra Beast?

It’s always super sweet to get a card that people like and want to play with. “Luck of the draw” as one might say. So thanks to the powers that be! The footnote that was sent over to work on stated: “A jellyfish… floating in the air(not in water) with traditional hydra features attacking some soldiers”.

Well all righty then! The door was wide open to interpret and design the creature which is really nice. In terms of creation, I just read the description… scratched my head, laughed a bit, and started drawing. Eventually switched to canvas and then finally to digital. Always a blast to envision creatures, especially a strange Hydra breed so my inner AD&D kid is proud!

Hydroid Krasis © Wizards of the Coast

What were some of the most challenging cards you painted, and why?

I really cannot narrow down on any ‘one’ card because each presents their own unique challenge. It’s true! For example I enjoy designing and painting creatures, but that’s just the design aspect.

Now factor in composition, lighting, mood, vfx, what is happening, a narrative, etc. Each element requires the artist’s undivided attention. So per piece, some elements go quicker while others can become an obstacle.

On the other hand, what were the smoothest paintings, from the art description to the final piece?

Excellent question, I wish creating artwork was a smooth process. It’s not. No joke, its true!!! Please refer to the answer above.

All is Dust © Wizards of the Coast

Of the art you made for Magic, can you name some favorites?

All is Dust, Endless One, Contraption Set of 9 cards, Kozilek’s Channeler, Sheoldred, Whispering One, and of course thee Hydroid Krasis!

You have a new project on Kickstarter called Salvaged: The Lost Ones. It depicts “humanity merging with machines and beyond”. What can you tell us about it?

Thanks for noticing and mentioning. Yes! This project is an ongoing art series that started back in 2001. An experiment to mix together traditional and digital media to find a new way of creating art. Subject wise: Mixing humans with machinery were a natural fit and now more relevant to our current embrace of technology.

Ironically these explorations lead to my current workflow of creating MTG artwork presently. So Salvaged, a personal project, opens the door to completed freedom to create freely without restrictions, to experiment, to be bold, and to have an unfiltered voice.

This time around, I am embedding the book project with a narrative so it goes beyond just being another art book. For curious minds, you can view the artwork and campaign here.

Unstable Contraptions © Wizards of the Coast
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Is there any Magic related stories you’d like to share with us?

Over the years, I have discovered that the MTG community is really amazing. After attending various MTG GP events it became clear just how active, inquisitive, curious, friendly, diverse, open minded and smart community is. It’s refreshing to be around such good people and gives me hope for the world at large. Thanks to all, keep on rocking it!

Thank you for reading!

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