Nils Hamm is our featured artist on site this weekend and he's been busy signing his fair share of Delver of Secrets, Grave Titans and … Gilder Bairn. While both of the first two cards have had quite an impact on the competitive scene, the latter seems to be mostly popular for its unique artwork.
He came here all the way from Düsseldorf, Germany. He's been creating art for Magic for the better part of the last decade, which means he does qualify as one of the veterans of the game.
Like many other artists, his favorite piece of art isn't necessarily the most popular card; he didn't take long to decide on Chancellor of the Spires, partly because the card has a history. A friend of his from California introduced him to some new techniques and after he received the briefing for the Chancellor, he was able to put them to good use and he came up with the amazing result on his very first take making use of these techniques.
He then looked through a big binder of cards and, after some pomndering, pointed to Briarhorn, explaining that it looked a little like a creature that could play a part in Princess Mononoke or any of the other movies of Hayao Miyazaki.
Nils is one of the many artists that started very early on. In his childhood days, he drew a lot, mostly knights that fought against each other and dinosaurs, so it seemed like he was on the right track. Later, in his high school years, when he got more and more into comics, he decided to become a comic book artist. However, that also wasn't meant to be as he then developed a strong passion for fantasy and that's how he ended up with the idea to instead specialize in this field.
He went on and studied graphic design and illustrations, but up until this point, he never tried to really up his own game. He admitted that he mostly just started drawing and watched how the artwork came together rather than going over several concept arts and refining those over and over again.
His professors introduced him to a number of different ideas and principles, trying to teach him what really made a great piece of art. He admitted that he probably wasn't the best student, as he often needed to see things in motion to better make sense of them. That's why his fondest memory of his time studying was a trip to the Bretagne where he was, for the first time ever, able to watch one of his professors draw and when that happened, all the pieces fell into place for Nils. After this important experience, he had little trouble making sense of the advice he received and that's how he was able to hone his skills quite a bit.
Nils was initially approached by Antonio, our tournament organizer for the weekend, to be one of the guest artists at a comic convention in Catania. Both of them were very happy how it all turned out and that's why Antonio invited Nils back for the MKM Series to showcase some of his great work for Magic: the Gathering.
Touring the World for Magic
I asked Nils whether he enjoyed attending conventions and he immediately nodded his head; he explained that he often spent a few more days in the cities he got to visit, often together with his girlfriend. He attends the events twice or sometimes three times a year, so he doesn't qualify for the frequent flyer club like some of the other artists, but at the same time, this is what makes the events and conventions so much more special for him.
He recalled his first ever invitation to a Magic event, many years ago. He was flown out to Japan, which was a very big deal for him and over there, players queued in long lines to have their Grave Titans signed. Prior to the event, Nils wasn't even aware how much of an impact the card has had on the competitive scene.
Apart from Magic, Nils is also working as a concept artist for a number of videogames, with the most popular among them being Wasteland 2. He also works with children at a day school and on top of that, he's now become a teacher himself, showing students how to create concept art for games at a university for game design. Although you can tell that Nils is keeping busy, Magic is still playing a major role when it comes to generating his income and that's why we'll hopefully see a lot more cards created by him.
The project that is most near and dear to his heart, however, is a graphic novel called Astro that he published in the same year (2006) he first started working for Magic. It's only available on eBay these days, so if you're a fan or a collector, make sure to grab your copy before they are all gone and unavailable!