As an artist who has not only done pieces for Magic the Gathering, but also Legends of Runeterra, League of Legends, and others, Marie Magny has become a notable name in fantasy art in recent years.
The French artist was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to do a little Q&A with Magic Untapped about Magic and her career thus far.
Magic Untapped: What inspirations and influences in your life drove you to becoming a professional artist?
Marie Magny: My earliest inspirations were Disney's animated movies I guess, and Japanese animation! I remember spending hours tracing over Pikachu, Simba, and Sailor Moon and wanting to be an animator! Seeing the Lords of the Rings movie also blew my mind as a child. I didn't know what fantasy was back then and after those movies, I couldn't draw anything but elves.
Then my interest shifted towards video games and game art. I remember there were game manuals with some concept art in it (Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft, Heroes of Might and Magic art by Olivier Ledroit, etc.) and I found it so awesome. I thought being a concept artist or an illustrator for video games had to be the best job in the world.
Mangas were also a big inspirations, and still are, I read them since I was 10. Series like Berserk, Vagabond, or Full Metal Alchemist played a huge role in defining my tastes/sensitivity as an artist.
MU: How did you get your start with Magic: The Gathering?
MM: I think I was lucky ! I didn't send a portfolio or anything, I thought I wasn't ready yet and wanted to wait to tailor it before reaching out to MTG one day. But then, I received an email from AD Ovidio Cartagena, sometimes during summer of 2019, to try to do some cards for Magic! They offered me to try on a card alt art, destined to [the] Chinese MTG Arena version. It was an alt art for Thought Distortion. The commission went well enough so that they offered me to do another one and then, gave me my first printed art in AFR, around 2020! It was Shessra, Death's Whisper.
Since then I regularly do art for printed sets.
MU: How long do you typically spend on a piece?
MM: Generally, I spend around a week and a half [to] two weeks on a piece, it depends on the complexity of the brief and the time I have with my schedule. It also spreads on an entire month so it can be hard to count precisely! Sketching and color roughs are quite quick to do (two days/three days), most of the time is dedicated to rendering and making the painting look polished and correcting mistakes or applying feedback.
MU: Have you ever tried a more "out of the box" approach to a card where you try a new perspective or style?
MM: I think I am not advanced enough in my career as an MTG artist to try a new style or experiment too much. Most of the time, briefs come in with challenging stuffs that I never painted before so I just try to paint it the best I can at this moment without thinking too much about "style". I just sometimes try to use a lighting I'm not used too or colors I don't generally lean towards.
MU: Of the cards you've illustrated that have come out thus far, including those of Innistrad: Crimson Vow, which is your favorite and which was the most challenging?
MM: Although Shessra will always have a special place in my heart as my first "real" card, I think Blood Hypnotist (from Crimson Vow) is my favorite so far! The setting of this set fits really well with my own tastes and aesthetic, the brief was also really cool to envision! This is one of those rare paintings were I had a clear vision of what I wanted from start to finish and the final looked the way I imagined. I also painted it after a quite difficult period, it helped me restore some trust in myself and my capacities as an artist.
The most challenging though was the Creepy Puppeteer, it was a constant battle with composition and lighting! The brief, albeit being super interesting in this idea of graceful moment vs horror, was hard to work with! I had a lot of trouble trying to make the puppet read at card size, knowing she had to be a replica of the puppeteer. And I remember we also had some issues because I wanted the scene to be a lot more bloody to make the point come across more easily at small size, but it was not possible because of international sensitivity checks.
But my AD had a lot of patience and in the end I think it worked!
MU: Do you have a favorite art medium? If so, does it make fantasy artwork harder or easier to create?
MM: My favorite medium has to be digital painting because this is the only one I use for professional work. I like the fact that you can always modify and adjust things, it makes painting and drawing a lot more enjoyable for me. I think it makes it easier to create fantasy because I am not afraid of trying things and retconning it after etc. It also allows me to use 3D and photobashing quite easily!
MU: What kinds of things are more tricky for you to create (landscapes, people creatures, etc.)?
MM: I would say landscapes! I find it hard to connect with my subject if there are no characters involved (being human, creature or animal). I am trying to acquire knowledge about landscape to make them more enjoyable to paint but they are still very hard for me to design! VFX are also quite hard, I'm always double guessing myself like "did I put too much? Or not enough? Is it too bright?" etc...
MU: What are some of the projects on which you are working currently that Magic players should be on the look out for? Do you have any future projects you are excited about?
MM: I think for now, the thing I am the most excited about is the Lord of the Rings Secret Lair! I was lucky enough to be invited to work on this set and so far, it has been a blast! I can't say much about it now but I hope the players will like it as much as I did, lot of love went into these pieces!
MU: While Thanksgiving is an American holiday and not typically celebrated in France, we would like to ask you if there is anything for which you are thankful that you would like to share with our readers?
MM: Ah yes I don't know much about Thanksgiving, I am sorry! But I would say that I am thankful for being able to live from my art for now and to have a wonderful family and amazing friends that supported me along the way and continue to do so everyday. Also, thank you, Ovidio, for giving me a chance with MTG!
Thank you to Marie for participating in this interview.
Magic Untapped's previous Magic: The Gathering artist interviews: