A lot of Magic cards get thrown out. I often think about reclaiming them for some art purpose. Recently Nick Forker, my non-Magic buddy Mark Gibson, and me ripped through two booster boxes while talking about girls and painting and the future. After mythic rare hunting we were left with piles of seemingly useless cards. After the boys went back to their studios I laid a sheet of plastic on a table,  spread out a few hundred cards face up on the plastic, applied a coat of Zinsser BIN primer to the surface of the cards, and took off for the night.

The next day I lifted the cards off of the plastic and inspected the backs.


You can’t really see how luminescent they are by looking at these photos, but the *blue* areas seem to radiate their own light. I kept looking at them.


The primer had partially dissolved the ink on the backs of the cards, most noticeably in the blue-based black ink at the borders.


The drying of the primer and the ink were different and that lead to the varied surfaces at the edges. My favorite drying time variation is cracking. This happens when a top layer of paint dries before whatever is underneath it and the under layer needs to breathe. Anthropomorphizing art materials is super fun. In its struggle for life the bottom layer breaks apart the top layer and takes a big gulp of oxygen.


The position of the cards on the plastic also affected how the paint related to the card. In certain areas the plastic wasn’t flat and pockets of air kept the card away from the paint resulting in organic looking bubble formations in the paint. There’re so many things to look at on the backs of these cards.

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Though my intention is to paint on the top of these cards primed cards I’ve been looking at the primed fronts and thinking they may be finished artworks as is.

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The images sort of glow through the paint applied to the front, too. They look ghostly and I do like to play with spirits (dual meaning as otherworldly beings and alcohol) so they’d fit in nicely with my practice.

Looking at these for a couple of days now, I think I’ll individually scan them at 1200 DPI and print them as photographs which will be framed. There’s a lot going on in them and I want to see how they feel when they’re 48 x 36 inches.

You can draw whatever conclusions  for yourself as to whether or not these *paintings* mean anything. Does it change their content when they become photographs? Is there a clear line between photography and painting? Does any of *that* matter, really?! I am not very interested in distinctions like this. Art is art as long as someone thinks it’s art. The distinction between painting, sculpture, photography, or whatever is pretty irrelevant to me. Art should be made in the manner that best serves the idea.

I have one concern: will I get a cease and desist order from Wizards?

I’ve received one cease and desist order in my career and it is from the creator of a “How to Draw Furries” web instructional website. I had used an image of some facial expressions after a google image search for “cartoon facial expressions” as a tool when shooting photos of models for some drawings I was working on. You can see the image here. I had printed it out so the model could hold it in his/her hand while being photographed. Over time the print out acquired heaps of resin, paint, dirt, and other studio detritus. It started looking pretty cool. After a couple of years as an invaluable tool I decided to scan it, blow it up, paint and color it, and present it as a finished work of art. One of these paintings was purchased by a collector and then exhibited at the Tampa Museum of Art when this collection was exhibited there. You can see this piece in a short documentary about the show here. Someone from the furry community took in the exhibition, was offended, and posted about it on Reddit. They said a lot of nasty things, most of them incorrect and unknowledgeable, but opinions are like assholes, and hey, whatever, I didn’t need the trouble. I decided to not make the works anymore. This was a mistake. At some point in the future I will make more works in this vein with this image.

Recently Richard Prince, a very successful artist, was sued by a photographer over Prince’s use of his photography in some very good and highly successful (financially) paintings Prince exhibited with Gagosian Gallery. The first court case ruled in Cariou’s favor (the photographer). The appeal ruled in Prince’s favor. You can read all about it here.

Jerry Saltz posted the following on Facebook the other day.

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“Images are materials; artists use materials; no material is against use or law.”

I couldn’t agree more.

This dialogue gives me the courage to make this work and the hope that as a culture we’ll be able to understand what Saltz said is true. Freedom, real freedom, is pretty fucking important.

Love to all,
Matt Jones
MTGO: The_Obliterator
Twitter: Die_Obliterator
Twitch: twitch.tv/mattjonesrules

Matt Jones is a sometimes PWP grinder, all the time spell slinger, and one passionate dude. He started playing at the end of Revised and quit at Exodus. Upon sobriety and running out of self-help groups to join, Jones picked Magic back up at New Phyrexia, found his favorite non-Necropotence card, Phyrexian Obliterator, and earned himself a nickname. He loves Constructed and tolerates Limited.

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