Good morning everyone, and welcome back to the first post-Magic30 Mirror Gallery here on Hipsters of the Coast! I am fresh off a red eye flight from Las Vegas to Baltimore; this article, above all else, will serve as the outline (read: brain download) for everything that’s happened over the last three days. I’ll do a bit of reflecting on the event that was, and tell you exactly what that means for this column moving forward.

The Event: Magic30

In two words, Magic30 was both electric, and overwhelming. It was not just a tournament, or a convention, or a World Championship, or a festival: it was all of these combined and squished (quite literally) into The Expo at World Market Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. A whirlwind of activities, meeting folks, interacting with real-life Wizards and seeing internet friends for the first time all aligned at this single convergence point—and what a time it was.

Holding my 10th Anniversary Life Counter at the entrance of Magic30.

Holding my 10th Anniversary Life Counter at the entrance of Magic30.

It had the casual atmosphere of a Commandfest, where folks wanted to find new friends, jam some games, meet cool people, buy some bling for their deck, and just generally have a good time. But the cherry on top was an air of specialness, being the first one of its kind, and was not without the opportunities and aura for those seeking competition, whether an Unfinity draft or the World Championship. I didn’t honestly think it was possible for an event to give something for everyone to this degree, but this was as close as they’ve ever come.

The hall also had fun themed areas, which you can see below from photographs posted on Twitter:

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Obviously an event of this size—the first joint effort between Wizards of the Coast, ReedPop and Pastimes, and the first major Gathering post-COVID—was not without its hiccups. But I was duly impressed with how fast the teams in charge were able to pivot to try and ensure a positive experience for everyone. And from what I can tell, they are ready and willing to listen to feedback to improve future iterations of this type of convention.

Art of Magic

As you can well imagine, the large majority of my time was spent here. Now I’ve been to many events, both as an art-centric Magic player and long before, and I have NEVER seen an artist alley (called the above Art of Magic for this event) bustle like this one. On Friday lines were dozens of people deep and hours long, winding in strange ways through narrow aisles as folks clamored to get their cards signed, buy prints, and say hello to the folks that make this game beautiful.

The Art of Magic Section at Magic30 on Friday.

The Art of Magic Section at Magic30 on Friday.

By Saturday, tape lines and stanchions appeared to help mitigate the traffic jams and ease the flow of eager fans still in search of signed cards and artist proofs. Again, artists were busy all day, with occasional lines needing to be capped with a physical sign-holding human to afford the artist’s bathroom break, or simply a breather.

The Art of Magic Section at Magic30 on Saturday.

The Art of Magic Section at Magic30 on Saturday.

And by Sunday those Line Cappers and Traffic Directors were permanent fixtures in the space, and once again the lines did not subside straight through to the end of the con.

I’ve honestly never seen anything like it, and I’ll have a full write up on artist sentiment alongside some pros and cons coming in another article. I can’t wait to see what the Philadelphia Art of Magic looks like, and while it may not be as busy, the rising interest in the game’s art and artists is unmistakable.


The panels, along with things like the Art of Magic, the themed rooms, and larger than life pieces of Magic were responsible for transforming Magic30 from a GrandPrix-esque tournament to the modern convention players have seemed to crave in a post-pandemic world. From Game Knights LIVE on Friday to panels featuring Mark Rosewater and Richard Garfield on Saturday and the Brother’s War Preview Panel (and trailer reveal) on Sunday, the main stage was a place to be; from what I could tell, it filled a majority of the 800 or so seats every time there was an event.

I attended three panels: What is Magic Art, the Brother’s War Preview Panel, and the Lore Panel focused on the upcoming trip back to Phyrexia.

What Is Magic Art panel featuring Sam from Rhystic Studies, Matt Cavotta, Ovidio Cartagena, and Cassie Murphy

What Is Magic Art? With (L-R) Sam from Rhystic Studies, Matt Cavotta, Ovidio Cartagena, and Cassie Murphy

What is Magic Art, moderated by Sam from Rhystic Studies, sought an in-depth look at art from both the game’s history as well as the upcoming set. Panelists included the legendary Principal Art Director Matt Cavotta alongside Senior Art Director Ovidio Cartagena and Art Director Cassie Murphy. It was incredibly illuminating, and I think may have given me the key to finish an article I’ve been working on for nearly two years.

The Brother’s War Preview Panel was exactly as it sounds, and featured those folks closest to its development: writer Miguel Lopez, Principal Art Director Taylor Ingvarrson, and Global Marketing Manager Light Humphreys. They explained how they have told the story of the Brothers through both word and image, and how we’ll see it brought into the world.

The Phyrexian Lore Panel featuring Mark Tedin, Grace Fong, Matt Danner, Roy Graham, and Jay Annelli

The Phyrexian Lore Panel with (L-R) Mark Tedin, Grace Fong, Matt Danner, Roy Graham, and Jay Annelli

The final panel was the Phyrexian Lore panel. Moderated by the Senior Creative on the Worldbuilding team, Matthew Danner, panelists ranged from longtime artist Mark Tedin, who was responsible for the original Phyrexian design to current Magic loremaster Jay Annelli. Grace Fong, who was the Creative Lead for Phyrexia: All Will Be One, as well as Story Lead Roy Graham rounded out the panel, and between the five creative took us through what we can expect from this next set, both from a perspective of where we came from, and where we’re going.

You can check out the panel in its entirety from the Hipsters Live Tweet thread here, and I’ll have lots more to talk about once Phyrexia: All Will be One is fully on the radar.


Organized through a joint effort of Hipsters and Wizards own PR, I had the good fortunate and opportunity to interview several of the panelists following their talks, including Art Directors Matt Cavotta, Taylor Ingvarsson, and Cassie Murphy, creatives Grace Fong and Jay Annelli, and even the Magic Man Sam of Rhystic Studies. These ten minute chats have illuminated some brilliant tenants on exactly what goes into making Magic from an artistic and creative perspective, how things like Brother’s War and Phyreixia: All Will Be One have come to fruition, and just general thoughts on art and art direction in the fantasy landscape of 2022.

There is no substitute for these in-person conversations, and I count myself so very lucky for the opportunity to meet and converse with these folks. These interviews will both get their own featured articles, as well as be sprinkled into things like the Grand Art Tour and Secret Layers articles that make up a large part of my regular writing.

Wrapping Up

I cannot thank Hipsters of the Coast enough for the opportunity to attend Magic30, interview these absolute legends of the industry, forge further relationships with artists of the game, and ultimately lay the groundwork to create something really special over the next few months.

Also, if you haven’t read my event partner in crime Zach Barash’s column and would like a taste of something a little different, you can find him here. This was my first time meeting Zach after working together for almost five years: he is a brilliant Magic mind and even better human, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations about the intersection of the worlds of Magic we inhabit.

And quick before I go, an extra thank you to my buddy Jay Annelli for your utmost kindness in introducing me to so many folks throughout the weekend, and the rest of the con crew Grace Fong and Kira (K. Arsenault Rivera, author of the Innistrad web fiction); I had an absolute blast with you three, and can’t wait to run it back in a few months.

The Con Crew on Saturday in Garruk’s Forest.

The Con Crew on Saturday in Garruk’s Forest.

I’m inspired, excited, and ready to dive head over heels into the incoming Magic of 2023. Which, speaking of, will be headed to the East Coast for MagicCon Philadelphia, February 17-19, 2023. I’ll be there in some capacity, either as Press, artist agent, or starry-eyed fan, but regardless I’ll see you all in Philly next year.

Next time here we’re back to regularly scheduled programming with the Brother’s War Grand Art Tour; based on what’s been shown so far and the sheer amount of artwork still to come, this looks to be another blockbuster set to continue telling the story of Urza and Mishra. It will also be my first chance to start sprinkling in Magic30’s insight, so make sure you read closely in two weeks.

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 (he/him) is a Senior Writer at Hipsters of Coast writing about all things related to the art of Magic: The Gathering and the larger imaginative realism genre. 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. When he’s not writing for Hipsters, you can find him traveling with his wife, petting his two cats, and watching the Baltimore Orioles.

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