Hello everyone, and welcome back to another edition of the Mirror Gallery. If you’ve been following along with my other column this week over at the Art Market Minute, you’ve tracked the sales of Bitterblossom, Fulminator Mage, and yesterday Eternal Witness, all from the upcoming Ultimate Master’s set. Each of these works was successfully sold in a different way, and each brought a notable final price. But as I mentioned in the Eternal Witness Art Market Minute, there is one traditional work missing from the group, that of Filip Burburan’s Tarmogoyf.

The story on that work is as follows: Mike Linnemann posted that the painting and all preliminary pieces had been sold via Twitter last week on November 7th. Then earlier this week, while we were discussing an Art Market Minute, another MTG art collector that had made an offer for the painting informed me that the final price realized was $18,000. Yesterday, Vintage Magic posted this to their Instagram:

And then yesterday the artist announced on the MTG Art Market that the Tarmogoyf suite, the first original works for a creature that changed the game of Magic, sold for $18,000 to the highest private offer, Daniel Chang of Vintage Magic.com, LLC. They are an incredible few pieces of art; an absolutely exceptional color study, a super detailed sketch, and the tour-de-force final painting. As a trio, they are a phenomenal value for the price. The sale also included all the alternate sketches, seen for the first time in this post.

What I’m about to say next is going to surprise a few people. The lack of a public auction for these three pieces of art most likely left money on the table for the artist. In a year where we have seen Magic art reach prices never before imagined by auction process across all platforms; a landmark piece like this, where there is literally no ceiling, had unlimited possibilities were it to be placed on the block within a public forum. It has motivated me to write an article for buyers and sellers, collectors and artists, on where to find original Magic art to acquire.

The Venues

I’ve tried to cover all the bases and places where original Magic artwork can be found, be it collectors exchanging pieces or artist’s offering a painting or sketch for the first time. This is not comprehensive or exceptionally detailed, but the basics. The Exploration is half the fun

MTG Art Market

In 2018 the MTG Art Market on Facebook has become the place to find original pieces of Magic: the Gathering art, plain and simple. Many past and present artists are active here, and there are a handful of tried and true community members that act as brokers willing to help artists sell art. It’s where forgotten collections are unearthed, brand new pieces are sold, and everything related to Magic art is discussed. For collectors, being a member of this group is essential.

The Art Market is where many Magic artists call HQ for selling their recent paintings, including Volkan Baga, Ryan Pancoast, Sidharth Chaturvedi, Lars Grant-West, Lucas Graciano, Alexander Deruchennko, Milovoj Ceran, Howard Lyon, and several others.

Screenshots from a recent MTG Art Market auction: Knight of Autumn by Ryan Pancoast, auction facilitated by Mike Linnemann.

Some artists run the auction themselves, but many artists use an aforementioned trusted broker to run their auctions. The broker fields bids at all hours, makes payment and shipping arrangements, and promotes the auction on social media. Percentages vary depending on the broker, artist, and the work; but in my observation the right broker makes all the difference to the final sale price and is still cheaper than other outlets. Artists, if you need a recommendation, I’d be happy to give you one. I cannot recommend an MTG Art Market auction enough; it has simply become the best way to sell a piece of Magic art in this current marketplace.


For the last decade, eBay has been the go to place to auction or sell collectibles outside of a major auction house, and many artists use this as the vehicle to sell a recently released work. Chris Rahn, Matt Stewart, Terese Nielsen, and a handful of other artists use eBay for just about everything new they create. Other artists like Steve Belledin and Wayne Reynolds use it as an arena when there are enough interested parties, they must have an auction to determine the final owner and appropriate amount.

Screenshot from my eBay Watch List of closed items.

You’ll also find collectors reselling work and past MTG artists selling pieces found as they clean out their studios and storage. eBay has become famous as a place where you never know what will turn up, and the original Magic art on the site is no different. Many collectors have a handful of saved searches set to see things as soon as they enter the market, and often pieces sell within hours or even minutes.

From a sales perspective, eBay is worldwide, takes care of all the bidding, payment, and logistics, and provides a complete platform for selling. But this does come at a cost, usually no less than 13% and sometimes up to 15% of the final hammer price. There is no guarantee that the winning bidder will complete the transaction, and unlike the Facebook community or a private deal between collectors, there is no threat of banishment or blackball due to the anonymity of the bidding process. eBay works, of this there is no doubt. But sellers, artists included, must pay a premium for their service.

Heritage Auction

While having always been the “large” auction house of choice for Magic art, Heritage hadn’t been on the radar for a majority of Magic art buyers until the $72,000 sale of Shahrazad in July. Since then a handful of other works have crossed the block, and this venue is certainly going to be in the conversation for future auctions of high level and important works of Magic art. There is currently a painting on the block as of the writing of this article, Realms Uncharted by Volkan Baga. We’ll see how it fares in a future Art Market Minute.

Artist’s Websites

Some artists don’t use the MTG Art Market or eBay, simply preferring to field initial inquiries about previewed works and placing pieces unsold in their website store for later viewing and purchasing. In that same vein, there are lots of past and present MTG artists that maintain a digital storefront or PDF list with their old work that is still uncollected. There are simply too many artists and websites to list; but if you have a favorite artist, fire up a Google search and go looking for a store. If you can’t find one, ask the artist for a list, or what they might have. Only good can come from conversation, and you never know if your favorite piece might still be waiting for you.

Other Third Party Websites

There are a handful of other websites outside the artist’s own website where you can view, purchase, and discuss original Magic art. Comic Art Fans and Original Magic Art are two of the larger compilation sites with an larger than average offering of Magic art, and there are several others albeit a bit harder to find and with a more limited selection. If you are a collector, they are a great resource and something to check from time to time.

The Community

One of my favorite parts about collecting original Magic art is the community of artists and collectors, many of whom I now call my friends. In building these relationships we learn what each other collect, our preferences for art, and help one another find and acquire those pieces missing from our collections we want most. Sometimes it’s an ongoing conversation between a potential buyer and seller that eventually ends with “Sure, it’s available now.” Or maybe it’s a random 2pm Facebook message out of the blue that says “Go get it buddy” when a longed for painting finally turns up and someone doesn’t want you to miss out (Thanks again, Sid).

Pieces are sold, traded, and otherwise exchanged at a number agreeable to both parties, and amongst veteran collectors the process is usually smooth. While two people may not exactly agree on what a painting or sketch is worth, there is enough respect between collectors to have a civil discussion during a transaction. For me, this has transcended being a hobby and turned into a passion, and the people that are a part of this community have made all the difference. Whether you are buying or selling Magic art, getting to know the people and players in world of Magic art; for me that has been a privilege in itself.

My Tarmo-Take

We’ve looked at a bunch of places to find original Magic art, from Facebook groups to eBay, and easily searchable artist sites to other places on the web that might only have a handful of works available. Everyone has their preferences on how and where to buy. As a collector I think the best place to find things is the MTG Art Market and through networking within the community. And for a seller, I can think of no better way to have a work get the most attention and bring the highest final bid than being auctioned within the MTG Art Market, especially with the employ of a seasoned and trusted broker.

So let’s come around full-circle, back to the work that spurred this conversation in the first place.

I am not a “hot-take” kind of person. I like to think through things, to analyze them, find patterns, and to draw connections that construct narratives. My Tarmo-Take, a title suggested by my Art Market Minute editor David McCoy, is this: Tarmogoyf would have involved a larger audience of potential bidders, and in turn realized a higher price, if auctioned within the MTG Art Market with a broker. This would have resulted in more money for the artist with a still happy collector, even if that wasn’t the same person as before.

Is it easy for me to say that $18,000 isn’t enough for this group of works? Sure. This level is beyond my collecting means, and I have no skin in the game. It was agreeable by both buyer and seller, and at face value there is nothing wrong with that. I’m glad to see the work sell for a substantial amount. An artist got paid for their work, what else could I want?

But this year we have seen the following top-tier art sold, and this just scratches the surface:

  • Carl Critchlow’s Arcbound Ravager SOLD for $45,200 via an MTG Art Market auction
  • Kaja Foglio’s Shahrazad SOLD for $72,000 at Heritage at auction
  • John Avon’s Unstable Island SOLD for $20,000 via an MTG Art Market auction
  • Terese Nielsen’s SDCC Planeswalkers SOLD for a combined $157,720 at eBay auction
  • Julie Baroh’s Underworld Dreams SOLD for $31,000 via an MTG Art Market auction

That’s just this year, and just a snapshot of what was public knowledge.

What do I want?  An artist to achieve maximum value for their work whenever possible.

The market for original Magic art has proven time and time again the way to do that is by way of auction, and a strong frontrunner is through using a trusted MTG Art Market broker. Please don’t think I am against collectors offering money to artists for their work either—I’m not, and I do it all the time. For a lot of Magic art this is just fine, and everyone is happy. But some paintings just should be auctioned, and the proof is right here. This work is every bit as important as the one’s mentioned above. Will every auction be successful? Of course not. But the only ones that can’t be successful are the ones that never happen.

Many of us within the Magic art community are both collectors and advocates for the artist, and it creates an interesting position. I remembered something from a few months ago that has really stuck with me; the largest compliment you can pay an artist. I was able to reach out to the original person that said it to get it in his words. Here’s Rob, found on Twitter @BibliovoreOrc:

For the artists we love, we know that there’s a day coming, and coming soon, when the world is going to catch on to how great they are. And, when that day comes, even though it probably means that we’re not going to be able to buy all the paintings we’d love to buy anymore, no one will be happier about that than us, because these artists are our friends, and we want them to do well. Seeing their prices go up makes us happy. It means that they’re doing well.

There you have it folks. I can’t say it any better than that. Go follow Rob on Twitter and check out his fiction and his awesome #flavoradded. He’s an asset to the #mtgart and #vorthos community.

Wrapping Up

I’ll step off my soapbox with this:

If you’re a collector, old or new, let’s talk. I want to know what you’re looking for and help you find it.

If you’re an artist, old or new, let’s talk. I want you to get the most you possibly can for your work. Even if that means I can’t buy it.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time here in the Mirror Gallery on Hipsters of the Coast.

Donny Caltrider has been playing Magic since 2002 and collecting original Magic art since 2017. He has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and enjoys telling stories about art, objects, and the intersection of fantasy with real-life. You can find him on Twitter talking about #mtgart, museums, and other #vorthos related goodness. Follow along and continue the conversation!

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