The Artist Who Created an Iconic Work for Magic: The Gathering as a Family Favor


How a famed Seattle artist wound up making artwork for a Magic card.

Back before the release of the first Magic: The Gathering set in August of 1993, a usual way to be an artist for the game was to be already known to someone at Wizards of the Coast or make some great fantasy or sci-fi art, get it out there, and hope to impress someone there.

Word of mouth, trade shows, and, in more modern times, sites like Deviantart really expanded how an artist can get into making Magic art, ranging from talented out of college artists to those making art for over half a century.

Occasionally there is another way too.

Some artists who don't do fantasy sometimes make it through due to being known for doing a type of person, creature, or scene very well. Other times it's just for fun, like when Mark Rosewater himself did art of a card.

And then there is the story of Fay Jones.

Jones is known as pretty much THE artist of Seattle. Active since the 1950s, she's done murals on Settle's public transit system, the Seattle Opera House, and in pretty much every major city in the Pacific Northwest.

She's basically the artist laureate of Seattle.

Back in 1993, the first Magic set was coming out, but Wizards of the Coast was short on artists -- especially the more well known ones that could drum up a little hype and really give a good variance of what was being drawn for the game. For big names like Jones, however, how do you get them?

Money? Premier placement? Money?

Well, Richard Garfield asked Jones point blank and she said yes for the regular fee and everything on the game she knew nothing about that had not come out.


Maybe because she is Garfield's aunt.  No, really.

According to Rosewater, "How exactly did she end up illustrating a Magic card? She did it as a favor for her nephew. You see, he had just designed a brand-new game called Magic, and he asked his aunt, as a favor, if she would illustrate one of the cards. She said yes."

And the final card wasn't just any card either - it was one of the most iconic artworks of early Magic on a rather formidable card: Stasis.

Decades later, Magic: The Gathering doesn't really call in family favors anymore to get things done. But, in the early years, Wizards of the Coast needed all the help they could get as the game was being prepared for launch.  And, luckily for them, family came through to help make the game be the success that it became after alpha came out.

The power of family can be amazing, after all.

Evan Symon

Evan Symon is a graduate of The University of Akron and has been a working journalist ever since with works published by Cracked, GeekNifty, the Pasadena Independent, California Globe, and, of course, Magic Untapped.