Good morning everyone, and welcome back to the Mirror Gallery on Hipsters of the Coast. We’re right on the cusp of New Capenna previews that will begin to appear later this morning! Before we go full-steam ahead into this new set, I wanted to wind back the clock a bit to where things started. This article happens to be my four year Hipster-versary article, and on such an occasion, I thought it fitting to get a little retrospective.

A few weeks back I received a brand new painted artist proof, and I thought it the perfect point of departure to travel back to the early days of the Mirror Gallery, when I explored singular pieces of artwork in my collection: the artist, the paintings themselves, their new framing, and anything else ancillary that went along. I’ve refreshed that formula for 2022, and today’s subject is the work that appeared as the head of the very first Mirror Gallery article back in April of 2018, almost four years to this very day. It’s the second piece of original Magic artwork I collected, and one of my favorite paintings I have hanging.

Let’s get ready to explore the deep forests of Krosa; this is Christopher Moeller’s Crush of Wurms.

The Artist

The artist, Christopher Moeller. Image from his OMA Print Store.

Christopher Moeller began his career with Magic: the Gathering in 1998, and in the near twenty five years since, he created more than 250 illustrations for the game. This places him in the current top 5 (and comfortably in the top 10) of most prolific artists to ever work on the game. His contributions to Magic shaped much of our view of the people and places in Magic sets of the early 2000s, from the adventurers of Dominaria to the title characters of 2004’s Kamigawa block.

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In 2005 his very first land cards, a cycle of Basic Lands, were released. These lands are a testament to his range as an artist, and were something he wanted to paint for quite some time: not just so that he could try it, but so he could play a deck made entirely of his own cards! (As an aside, the Moeller Vintage Artist Constructed deck has been and still is one of the strongest in the format.)

Moeller continued to illustrate multiple cards per set for the next decade, and from his Umbra series to reimaginings of Vintage cards, and even a Planeswalker. There was no facet of Magic he did not touch, and no area of illustration that was not better for him being there. His graphical style, strong linework, and depth of color and shadow jump from the card even today.

Crush of Wurms, Detail.

Moeller officially retired from illustration in 2017 to pursue other artistic avenues in fine art, comics, and board games, but is still active within the Magic event circuit and artist proof community—more on that later!. He currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA, and can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The Setting & Subject

Crush of Wurms, Judgment.

Our chosen artwork for today appeared for the first and only time in 2002 in the Judgment expansion, the third set of the Odyssey block that follows the pit fighter Kamahl and his journey across Otaria. Kamahl eventually finds his way to the legendary Krosan forest, home to the centaurs, druids, and shamanic Nantuko of the plane. When he plants his sword with the mystical Mirari fused to the hilt into the soil, it’s power begins to emanate through the forest, driving its inhabitants to madness and creating the likes of the very scene we see illustrated here. The wake of the Mirari spared no living thing on the continent, and creatures large and small were affected by its great power.

Crush of Wurms, unframed.

A wide variety of wurms have appeared over the history of the game. But the wurms of Dominaria are instantly recognizable, and appear in more than a dozen individual artworks across the two blocks. Specifically, these tusked wurms of Otaria have long, cylindrical bodies, large, flat teeth, and short, stout tusks at the base of their maw. Their design is unmistakable, and they have only appeared during this short time period of importance for Otaria and the Krosan Forest. For a kid growing up and playing in the early 2000s, they were the epitome of a powerful green creature, and I cast many a Roar of the Wurm and Crush of Wurms at my kitchen table games. It’s for this reason that when the art became available back in 2017, I knew I had found something special.

The Framework & Frame

I started playing Magic during the Onslaught block, and know Kamahl’s story on Otaria better than perhaps any other Magic storyline. If you remember my Rules for the Art Life article from a few weeks back, you’ll recall Rule #3: Nostalgia is one hell of a drug. This nostalgia that was a major contributing factor in my desire to acquire this piece.

As I mentioned earlier it was only the second work in my collection, and when it became available on the heels of my first purchase, it was something I thought about—a lot. I was eventually able to make a deal with its original owner, the stellar collector Adam St. Pierre, with whom I’ve had many great art-related conversations over the last five years.

Once it made its way from Minnesota to Maryland, it was time to find an appropriate frame.

This work was framed five years ago, and was only the second piece of artwork I framed at my now go-to framer, Ain’t That a Frame in Westminster, MD. Lou is an absolute wizard, and to this day she is the only person I trust with my artwork.


For this framing project I wanted something to mimic the depth of color present in the artwork, as well as the textures seen throughout, both the wurm’s skin and the environment it’s passing through. A double matte of Green Olive and Loden Suede would create the green foreground/background contrast of wurm and forest almost perfectly, almost a window in which to view the artwork. The moulding itself was called simply Thunder Gray, and its silky highlights were the closest to Wurm skin we could find, and acted as a perfect compliment to the colors.

The Final Frame

The end result is a double matte and custom moulding that evoke the ideals of the Korsan forest and the wurms that live within it. This relationship is something I strive for in all my framing endeavors, and I couldn’t do it without the brilliant expertise of Lou and Andrew at Ain’t That a Frame.

The Proof

I mentioned artist proofs earlier; I love collecting artist proofs to compliment my original artwork, and Crush of Wurms has been on my list for quite some time. I technically have one proof already that came with the painting, a pseudo-COA (Certificate of Authenticity) that was acquired by the original buyer.

Crush of Wurms AP as Certificate of Authenticity.

Moeller most recently offered his Artist Proofs by way of Grab Bags, sold by his agent on their Facebook page. Randomly inserted in these Grab Bags were painted commissions, and I was fortunate enough to open one in my group of cards! Even amongst all the available proofs I knew this was the time to cement a complimentary Crush AP in my collection. I asked for a painting based on card art, vertical in nature, but not a direct reproduction of the front of the art. The final result is absolutely perfect, and better than I could have ever hoped for

Crush of Wurms Painted AP by Christopher Moeller. Mixed Media.

A Dominarian Shaman summons forth the literal crush of Wurms, a scene perhaps only moments before the illustration as we see it on the card.

If you have an opportunity to commission Chris for a painted AP, I cannot recommend his work enough. And to learn more about Artist Proofs & Where to Find them, you can read my primer here.

Wrapping Up

I hope you enjoyed this little time machine of an article, back to where I first began this column and the twenty year old piece of artwork at its center. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been able to do a deep dive on a work in my own collecting, but this micro-journey is a perfect representation on how I like to interact with traditional artwork: to collect a piece, learn as much as I can about the artist and the elements surrounding the work, and add one of a kind accouterments like artist proofs to enhance the collecting experience. Crush of Wurms is a card many may not know, but it’s artist is an absolute legend of the game. I’m proud to be able to display it in my home.

For the foreseeable future this column will be all about the upcoming artwork in Streets of New Capenna, and I’ll have my usual Grand Art Tour as well as the second edition of my 4D subseries I started last month. This month also marks the debut of a brand new collaborative column between John Dale Beety of Star City Games and myself, with articles appearing on both sites in a new column called X and Why. Our first pair of articles is due out at the end of the month, so make sure you keep an eye out for some exciting work coming soon.

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!

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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