Good morning everyone, and welcome to the Mirror Gallery here on Hipsters of the Coast for my 200th article! I can hardly believe it’s been 200 editions of the Mirror Gallery and Art Market Minute, and I’ve got a very special piece I’ve written for you all today, complete with a very special guest.

Today we go Behind the Brush with an artist that’s worked for Magic since 1996 and illustrated now more than 150 cards, including the one in which this column takes its name. His unmistakable style at card size gets even wilder in real life, as you realize some of his “paintings” are three dimensional, some of them move, and many have hidden buttons, switches, or compartments.

Raging Spirit includes two sculpted skulls and a feather from his bird, Fred.

Coat of Arms has a switch in the hilt of the sword that when flipped makes the eyes in the skull glow red.

That’s right folks; today’s special guest is Scott M. Fischer!

Some of Fischer’s most famous MTG work, Left to Right: Kiora, Telling Time, Savra, and Pristine Angel. Image from his Muddy Color blog post.

I first met Scott and his wife Teresa (who is also an artist) at my very first IX three years ago; every year since their table has been a must-stop for story time. Scott would regale visitors with tales of pieces from days gone by like the ones above, and the Fischer table was always home to a plethora of interesting facts you’d never know without talking to him. These early encounters were very much part of the reason I started writing about Magic art in the first place.

Last year, he and Teresa were gracious enough to lend Telling Time, a work from the original Ravnica: City of Guilds back in 2005, to Whimsy, Wonder & War: A Magic Art Show.

It was the first time the painting had been out of their house since being shipped to Wizards for card photographing, and was a signature addition to the show. It was even our banner image!

Scott recently made a big splash return to Magic via Double Masters, and today we’re doing a deep dive into his three brand new cards and their associated artworks. He takes us through his artistic process, from conception to final work, and we’ll even get a sneak peek at something exciting he has coming on the horizon.

This is Behind the Brush: Scott M. Fischer!

Hi Scott, and welcome to the Mirror Gallery here on Hipsters of the Coast. First things first: who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?

Scott Fischer with his Serra Angel, painted for the 25th Anniversary Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan

I’m Scott M. Fischer. I am an artist illustrator who’s been creating art for MTG (and many other things) since the mid 1990’s. My studio is in beautiful Western Massachusetts.

You’ve just hit 150 cards for Magic, and it started all the way back in Mirage in 1996. What’s it like illustrating for someone for that long?

Well if you’d told me in 1996 I’d still be making art for MTG in 2020, I would have been shocked—but totally stoked! Even though there were times along that path where I was too busy to work for the game, I always wanted to keep a toe in it. And would try to get at least one card in here and there. Could be because I am an old school D&D player who loves fantasy art. Could be because I started playing MTG in 1994, before I ever worked for them, and had set it as a professional goal! But more likely it is because of the players. I have illustrated for many things, from novels, to comics, to animation, film and TV, and I have never met a fan base quite as ravenous as MTG players. They make me want to keep doing it. If fates will it, I want to be involved in some capacity until the day the day I am dead and buried.

Now that’s what I call commitment! I could write another entire article about the stuff you’ve created for Magic over the years, but do you have any favorite assignments or card along the way?

Pristine Angel was really the first card where I really found myself artistically.

Pristine Angel by Scott M. Fischer. Traditional.

I went with a vertical format way back then, knowing most of the art would be cropped of the card. But I did this because the way I looked at it—anything outside the traditional MTG crop was fair game for me to do anything I wanted, as long as they got what they needed in that little box. In a way, I was taking ownership over the art, making it personal and not just about satisfying the client, but also about satisfying me. The moment I started doing that, letting abstracts and patterns come into play, was the moment people started really noticing me as an illustrator. Funny how that works.

Not that I was a stranger to thinking outside the box. Many have heard the tales of my earliest work for the game having 3D elements on the surface. Like everything being sculpted on the red banner in Coat of Arms, to an actual candle being set into a shadowbox on Incinerate in the upper left. (If you look at the card you can see the candle is lit!)

Authors Note: Scott also lent this work to Whimsy, Wonder & War: A Magic Art Show last year. Here it is on display, where you can see it in full with the candle!

Double Masters

Now for your newest art! You had three cards in Double Masters, and I’d like to take a close look at each of them. The first to be previewed was the legendary Kaalia of the Vast. What can you tell us about her?

Kaalia of the Vast by Scott M. Fischer, acrylic ink and acrylagouache on cradled gesso panel sealed with Gamvar varnish, 24” x 36

What is not to love about an assignment like this? The icon shot of a popular beautiful and fierce demon/angel! Hell yes! I live for assignments like that!

The description was to basically make a bad ass portrait of Kaalia, wings outspread lifting staff and sword to “begin a ritual that calls upon the forces of heavens to exact vengeance for her dead family.” With the most powerful forces of the heavens at her command. Damn I love a description like this!

Fans may have even missed that she is standing on a giant rock/skull since it is under the text box!

Second we saw Chord of Calling, one of the Launch promos for this set, and a dynamic re-imagining of a fan-favorite card. Can you take us through it?

Chord of Calling by Scott M. Fischer, acrylic and ink on cradled board, 18” x 24”

This was a last minute assignment for me. I had completed Kaalia and Force of Will, and my awesome art director Tom Jenkot, said “You up for one more?”

I had a blast on this piece, but I wish I had painted it bigger! Kaalia and Force are like 24 inches by 30 and 24 inches by 36 inches respectively. Chord of Calling is like 18 inches by 24 inches, which, though big for MTG art, means those figures are so small on the surface that they are a pain to paint traditionally. I made a vow after this one “No more painting heads the size of coins!!” But I have made and broken that vow before, lol.

So what or who exactly are we seeing?

These are a group of Elf Druids lead by Emmara as they lift their staffs, chant and summon a huge armored Wurm. So I suggested, “The title is CHORD of calling, can’t we get some music in there? How about she is leading an orchestra to musically summon the Wurm?” Tom Jenkot, my AD, was like “Hell yeah, do it!”

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Were there any challenges along the way?

I had the painting basically finished, and at the last minute decided I did not like the head, so completely painted it out and did it again.

See: “No more painting heads the size of coins!”

And finally, perhaps the pièce de résistance, your new Force of Will. What a mind-blowing artwork. Please, give us some insight into this illustration!

Force of Will by Scott M. Fischer, acrylagouache and acrylic on cradled gesso panel, 24” x 36”

Well when Tom assigned me this card, I couldn’t say “Yes!” fast enough! I was like “Freaking FoW, are you kidding me!!! I am so there I am not even here, I am already there!”

There are very few times someone gets an assignment like this one. Like lottery rare. I know the game. I know how popular this card is and how important it is. I was probably more scared about how it would be received than any other art work I have done in my career. I did not want to let the players down, so I threw my whole heart into it and then some.

Check out some early ideas in this video.

The relief was immense when the feedback I got from the fans and from WoTC was super supportive. There are rumors out there that it is a portrait of Terese Nielsen. Alas it is not. That said, the subconscious is a mysterious thing.

If folks are interested in learning more about my technique to paint Force of Will, they can find a narrated process video on my Youtube, or you can watch below:

I was told to make the counter look “effortless”—otherwise they pretty much let me go nuts.

There was also an earlier sketch that had the mage blocking flaming eyeballs! That would have been a hoot! (Hmmmm…alter idea?)

The earlier sketch with the mage blocking flaming eyeballs!

 Just incredible. What was it like illustrating these three major card commissions? Was it any different than the regular Magic assignment?

I felt more pressure for sure on these cards. When you get a new card that no one has heard of, it is a party and you cross your fingers the card is actually playable. These three cards are no joke. They are well known. If I did a bad job I would have felt the wrath of the internet for sure.

Are there any particular breakthroughs or triumphs from these three you’d like to share?

Well, certainly the original art sales for these three works shattered all expectations. I know they were popular, but wow! As I understand it, FoW set a record for a new piece of Magic art being sold. Crazy. My thanks to the “MTG Whisperer” Phil Li for handling the sales! And a special shout out to the members the Facebook “MtG Art Market” for all the enthusiasm surrounding the art and the sale.

Authors Note: Kaalia of the Vast sold for $40,000, Chord of Calling was offered with a $15,000 Buy It Now and marked sold, and Force of Will was marked sold with the last publicly known pending price being $65,000.

Sneak Peek

I know you’ve just started an exciting partnership with Wentworth Gallery that’s going to bring some of your Magic art to galleries across the country. Can you tell us more about this?

I am stoked about it. Wentworth has been following the growth of fantasy art and wants to bring it to the fine art world. I am happy to be their vehicle to do so. I will be showing art and touring all nine of their galleries throughout the year. In addition to new art from me, we are doing a line of heavily worked over mixed media canvas giclees of my most popular MTG and D&D art. I gotta say I am loving revisiting classic MTG cards like Time Stop and Serra Avenger, and evolving them.

Check out this Facebook video of Scott working on Meloku, the Clouded Mirror for Wentworth Gallery.

I take these reproductions seriously, and put a lot of time in them—it is like picking up a conversation with a friend you have not spoken to in years. A total treat. You can find more info on the work here. And since all of the original card art sold long ago, this is often the closest you can get to the real thing. Plus these versions are usually much bigger than the original art was!

Well I’ll certainly be seeing you at the Wentworth in Maryland when you visit! So I have to ask—do you have more Magic work in the pipeline?

Yup. I have three cards lined up. All “big stuff” as I understand it.

That’s pretty exciting…and where can folks follow your work online in the meantime, if they want to keep up with what you’re doing or buy something?

We have a MTG specific website with a mailing list for those wanting to be kept in the loop with prints and proofs and the such. You can find it at And prints for these three Double Masters cards just became available!

And Instagram is the best place to keep up with my goings on. I am @scottmfisher there.

Scott, thanks so much for taking the time to explain and explore your brand new Magic art with us. It’s so very exciting to have you illustrating these important game pieces, and I know I speak for more than myself when I say we’re excited to see what you have coming next!

My pleasure. Thanks!

Wrapping Up

A gigantic thank you to Scott Fischer for taking us through his three blockbuster cards from Magic’s latest Masters set. It’s going to be a real bummer not seeing Scott and Teresa at IX this year, but hopefully I’ll be able to catch them on their Wentworth tour once things begin to return to some semblance of normalcy.

The reintroduction of classic MTG artists to the game over the last twelve months and the derivative dose of nostalgia for players of my generation that’s gone with it has been something to behold. Double Masters was the perfect venue to give folks like Fischer creative license and the space to do what they do best. As a result we’re seeing artwork that pushes every boundary and begins to blur the lines of illustration, imaginative realism, and fine art, and I can only hope it keeps up. I can’t wait to see what he has coming in the future—if it’s anything like what we just saw, we’re in for heck of a treat.

Next time in the Mirror Gallery, fellow Hipsters writer Ryan Sainio and I finish up our Basic Land series as we explore that last type on the list: Forests. We’ll lay out our favorites, and invite you to share yours as well!

Remember, to see original #mtgart and other #vorthos related things, follow me on Twitter. Feel free to ask questions or retweet to continue the conversation. Thanks and see you next time!

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