Good morning folks, and welcome back to another edition of the “Secret Layers of Secret Lair” here in the Mirror Gallery on Hipsters of the Coast. This is the third so-called “SuperDrop” of 2021, following both the one in February after Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and one in April after Streets of New Capenna. These multi-set drops always have incredible variety, from riffs off the latest set to the new Artist series, and Special Guest collections whose work is debuting in Magic for the first time.

This release is no different, made up largely of single artist contributions that are essentially love letters to their involvement with the game, whether storied veteran or excited newcomer. As the artist’s have written their letter to Magic with their brush, so have I written a letter to each of these artists. These letters offer a fireside chat of their triumphant additions to the Magic Multiverse, and a reflection on why I’m so glad to see them in this format.

Pull up a chair and let’s take a closer look. This is Secret Layers of Secret Lair: June Super Drop

Artist Series: Volkan Baga

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Volkan Baga has worked for Magic: The Gathering since 2006, and illustrated more than 200 cards for the game over the last fifteen years. Once a studio assistant to Donato Giancola (who is depicted in Patron Wizard, a card he himself originally illustrated), the student has now become the Master.


When I first saw your Patron Wizard, I nearly fell off my chair. I knew who it was, what it meant, and once I saw the translation of the flavor text (“Always watch out for the shadows of the old masters. They were there before you and will be there long after you,”) I knew how incredibly special this set of cards had to be for you as an artist. I know Elspeth, now hanging in your home, will provide that constant reminder of this specialness, and this Secret Lair is yet another summit in your mountainous and impressive career. These are all simply gorgeous. Magic is better for having you in it, and we’re all so glad you’re still here. 

Beste Wünsche,


Artist Series: Chris Rahn

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Chris Rahn has worked for Magic: The Gathering for almost fifteen years, and after 200 cards is officially one of the most prolific artists to have ever worked on the game.


I think I’ve written your name more than any other artist, from landmark sales in the Art Market Minute to regular Grand Art Tour inclusions. Your work in Amonkhet was some of the first I saw when I joined this community, and being able to follow the second half of your career to this Artist Series has been an absolute joy. These five new works show us why you’re among the best of the best: incredible skylines, exceptional expressions, and perhaps above all else, a mastery of light that is all but unparalleled in the game. This series is so well deserved, and I’ll be looking forward to watching you paint Magic’s most important moments for many more years to come.

With utmost congratulations, 


Artist Series: Livia Prima

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Livia Prima has illustrated more than 50 cards for Magic since her debut in Battlebond in 2018, and is a regular illustrator in all aspects of the game.

My dearest Dopaprime

Congratulations on this Artist Series Secret Lair! When I first wrote about your art back in 2020 I knew we as Magic fans would be in for something special as your career blossomed within the game. You capture the female form and all the strength, prowess and power that comes with it better than anyone working today. And the storytelling that’s woven into these works is literally like nothing we’ve ever seen before. I know what you’ve put into these, and that has not gone unrealized; these are your best works so far, and I can’t wait to see what you create next.

With anticipation and heartfelt happiness,


The Tokyo Lands

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To explore further, you can find each artist’s website hyperlinked here: Plains by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Island by Andy Williams, Swamp by Mr. Misang, Mountain by Yuumei, Forest by Nicole Gustafsson & Marija Tiurina. I encourage you to take a look before you move on; these are some of the most complex and creative portfolios of the entire group.

Hello friends,

I’m sorry to say that I’m largely unfamiliar with your work up to this point (save for Maija Tiurina, who I found via Secret Lair last year), but a warm welcome to Magic just the same! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed digging into your websites and socials, and what a wonderful little group this has become. This set of real-world inspired Tokyo scenes are the perfect blend of a cohesive theme, and yet varied enough for five distinct artistic styles that shine through and capture the city in their own way. These have been a hit online, and I bet they’ll look even better one we get to see them in print. I truly hope to see your name at the bottom of a card again sometime in the very near future,

Until next time,


Rule The Room by Peter Diamond

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Peter Diamond is a Canadian illustrator based in Vienna, Austria, and you can find his work on his website here. These are his first works for Magic.

Dear Peter,

I’ve always been a sucker for something out of a storybook, and your four reimaginings of these legendary monarchs immediately captured my attention. Queen Marchesa feels as if she’s stepped out of Wonderland, and from the pattern on her dress to that uncanny expression, she’s remarkable. Arcanis is one of my favorite legends, and to see him rendered in such detail takes his story one step further. You’ve captured the humility and resolve of Brimaz, the speaker-King of Oreskos, like none before, and the nod to Gustav Klimt in Savra’s first new artwork in nearly two decades is the kind of art historical tie-in I love to hear about. This is a brilliant set of which you should be justly proud. 

Royally yours,


Special Guest: Kelogsloops

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Hieu, who works under the moniker kelogsloops, hails from Australia and lives by the motto: “Be right back, chasing dreams.” He works both digitally and in watercolor. These are his first four cards for Magic: The Gathering.

Hello Hieu!

A warm welcome to you from this side of the globe, and thank you for this breathtaking Secret Lair and contribution to Magic. These four pieces are so enchantingly fluid, as we’re whisked away to somewhere only in our dreams, made possible by your imagination and your command of both color and negative space. Traditional watercolor is seldom seen in Magic; and to have an entire set in the medium is an overwhelming treat to the eyes and feast for the senses. I sincerely hope this is not the last we see of your work in the game. Please, continue chasing your dreams through the multiverse. 



Wrapping Up

With i’s dotted and t’s crossed as I seal these letters, here ends the Secret Layers of the June Super Drop. The continuing Artist Series and Special Guests of Secret Lair have really made this product sing for the Vorthos inside of me. I’ve always heralded Secret Lair for its opportunities to send Magic into the far corners of the fantasy art world, but to provide a place for artists old and new to just do themselves within the card frame, it’s just a beautiful thing. They may not be for everyone, but it’s inarguable just how beautiful, and just how special, these few sets especially really are in the larger picture of Magic: The Gathering art.

As we head towards the heat of the summer, I’ll be looking at some of the new blockbuster art from Double Masters 2022 by some of Magic’s most legendary past and present artists. I’ll share coverage of my trip to CommandFest Orlando with Andrew Mar, and we’ll likely see the return of the Mirror Gallery mailbag! Stay tuned for all of that; it’s going to be one heck of a Magic Summer.

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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