I’m grateful to Jess for swapping days with me this week. It’s been a bit of a struggle to get articles written with so little Magic played and almost no Magic played well. A last minute substitution request for Team Draft League was an easy “yes” for two reasons. 1. They’d have to forfeit if I didn’t play (that sucks); and 2, it’d be a good reason to delay writing this article.

A delay in writing would hopefully lead to something better than the following:

I played eight matches, earned a 2-6 record, six of eight games were decided by flood or screw, and Magic sucks.

‘Cuz Magic doesn’t suck. It’s brought me some of my closest friends. My planeswalker buddies form the most diverse group of friends I’ve got (though still predominantly middle class white male—that’s an article for someone else to write). Hanging out with all of you is far more important and meaningful than winning Magic games. The flavor of Magic is probably second most important. I do like that we’re all powerful wizards (thanks Reid Duke for remanding me of the feeling!). The illustrations, even the bad ones, are convincing in forming the various worlds that players get to inhabit during their battles. Imagination is a powerful component of Magic. It’s my favorite part. The world. The characters in the game (and the characters I play Magic with).

Ramble ramble ramble.

Anyway, I decided I wanted to spend more time with Abe (subbing for Kadar last week) and Nick. I spent a couple hours drawing us from a photo I took after our match (or maybe Hugh took it). This process is pretty mysterious so I’ll break it down. I take a photo, fuck with it in Photoshop, print it out, tape it to a light box, tape some bristol drawing paper over it, coat the drawing paper partially in Gamsol, and trace into the paper with Ebony pencil. The pencil melts in the Gamsol and making the drawing feels more like chipping away at a wood block or maybe being a chainsaw sculptor.


Skill has never meant much to me as an artist (and as a viewer of art). All skill is achieved by training and anyone can train with enough will. Making something awesome is about finding the best mode to serve your idea (and having good ideas). These drawings are like meditations on an event, on a person, or on a place. It may sound weird, but I feel like I get to know people better when I draw them. I definitely get to know how I feel about someone when I draw them. Maybe that’s the whole thing, I get closer to how I feel about a person when I draw them and it isn’t actually about them or knowing them at all. Feelings aren’t facts but they’re interesting fodder for further expression.

Then I drew the J-Chan Allstars.

This drawing was more difficult because of their position in my studio and the amount of detail that showed up after playing around with the photograph in Photoshop.


It took maybe an hour more to complete. There are so many odd things that happen in this drawing. J-Chan Allstars wouldn’t get close for the team photo as the ScryDucks+Abe did. This creates more space in the composition. The pattern of Hugh’s shirt was an unexpectedly excellent thing to draw, the little white squares played well with the smaller details of the rest of the drawing and created a compelling bit of complexity to an area I expected to be all graphite and expressive marks. The giant hand over Jon’s right shoulder is the most surprising element to the drawing. I forgot it was there. There’s no way I’d have keyed into it when shooting the source photo as I was trying to get the three of them to come together, be a little more exciting … there was no focus in my eyes and mind for anything beyond the three clowns I was shooting. Only now, seeing it in this article as I write, did I notice its existence.

Anyway, I’ve talked your ear off about how much I love my fellow Magicians and how much I enjoy making art. Good luck this week, Team Drafters. Good luck all of you going to Somerset for the SCG Open, too!

Thanks for reading,

Matt Jones (born 1980, Rochester, New York) is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY.  Matt works between a variety of inter-related genres that explore mythology, archeology, ancient history, theoretical physics, comedy, and the paranormal—all developed and inspired by research and personal experience. Together his bodies of work form a way for Matt to evaluate, negotiate, and play with the world around him. You can check out his art at www.mattjonesrules.com.

Matt’s played Magic since early 1995, took a break for a decade or so, and came back to the game the weekend after the Scars of Mirrodin release. With Hugh Kramer he formed New York’s Team Draft League and is one of the original writers for Hipsters of the Coast. Matt’s been sober for seven years.


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