If you like the Old School format you will know his art.
Even if you play formats like Legacy and Modern you will know his art.
One of our featured artists on site this weekend is Bryon Wackwitz. He is one of the first 49 founding artists for Magic:The Gathering and the man behind such classics as Pendelhaven, Urborg, and Force Spike. Since the professional artist and illustrator lives in Philadelphia, USA opportunities to see him in Europe are rare. So I didn’t hesitate and jumped at the opportunity to interview him at MagicCardMarket Series in Milan.
I was curious about his first contact with art and what first got him into art. Bryon told me that his father was an artist who gave it up for construction. As every child, Bryon wanted to be like his father and become an artist. Bryon also described himself as socially awkward so painting was always a safe space for him.
The start of Bryon Wackwitz’s career turned out to be a blessing in disguise:
“I went to the Art Institute of Philadelphia and graduated in 1987. It was a terrible place! But I had a wonderful teacher: Carl Lundgren. He was an fantasy illustrator and when he asked for an apprentice, I alone raised my hand.”
His Apprenticeship under illustrator Carl Lundgren lasted from 1986- 1989. His first job was for the “Weird Tales Magazine”. His first contact with Magic: The Gathering was in 1993 in form of a big bag full of Beta boosters and Decks. He then started to paint Magic cards for the Ice Age and Legends Edition.
I further asked Bryon Wackwitz why he started with fantasy art. It was a very quick answer:
“Dungeons and Dragons! I think the same is true for every other fantasy artist. The art just catches you and is important for the whole atmosphere of the Game. I was a passionate Dungeons and Dragons player and still play it today.”
His favorite pieces he has done for Magic are Force Spike and Angus Mackenzie:
“I have two favorite artworks. The first one is Force Spike because that illustration came the closest to what I thought the piece should look like. The second is Angus Mackenzie, but do you want to know piece I hate the most? It’s Urborg! At the time I painted Urborg I went from airbrush to oil paintings. So I had no experience with oil at all. It’s like comparing apples with oranges. I really don’t like Urborg and I have painted a new version to show how I would do it today.”
When I asked him how he would describe his style, he answered “all over the place”. Since Bryon Wackwitz is a very versatile artist, it is not possible to describe his style. He does for example airbrushing, sculpting, oil painting, graffiti, and acrylic painting. His styles differ from method to method.
My final question was about the digital art production. With more and more artists going to 100% digital production, I wanted to know how he thinks what the major differences of these two methods are?
Bryon replied that digital art can be done a lot quicker than old fashioned painting. It also has some advantages when it comes branding issues. But when you really paint something you have a finished canvas. If you do it 100% you just have a file. Sure you cant print it but that would just be a printing. And this is a big disadvantage!