Happy New Year folks. Welcome to 2023 and my 400th article here on Hipsters of the Coast! Today we’ll be rolling through my annual Mirror Gallery Reflection; we all took the last week of the year off from writing and content, but the first week of the year is the perfect time to look back on what was and get geared up for what’s to come. Before I write this article every year, I go back and read all the previous versions, just to see where I’ve come from, see if I met my goals, and think about where I’m headed moving forward.

This year will close five years writing at Hipsters of the Coast, and while a lot has happened in the past, this year was nothing short of the most eventful ever. Let’s take a look:


I wrote 69 articles this year, which was the lowest count since my very first year but included much longer and more comprehensive pieces among those published. 2022 saw returns of all my regular features: The Grand Art Tour, Secret Layers of Secret Lair, and Behind the Brush. Because of the sheer amount of new artwork that dropped this year, these took up a large portion of my regular writing duties. It also required a bit of innovation, which came as the Never-Ending Preview, and then Part 2 as things didn’t slow down even into the holidays. I enjoy writing these regular pieces, and I think folks enjoy reading them; it’s a bit of consistency in a world of ups and downs, and in general I plan to keep up with all of them in 2023.

In January I published what may be my favorite (and in my opinion, best) article I’ve ever written: Donny’s 12 Rules for the Art Life. I love the opportunity to depart from product releases and set reviews to do something a little different, and this article seemed to strike a positive chord with the community. I only hope that I can find something similar to ponder on in 2023.

In March I wrote the first 4D article for the Mirror Gallery covering Kamigawa, and then another in May for New Capenna. These articles take Disney’s Four Levels of Detail, as pioneered by Imagineer John Hench, and apply them to the worldbuilding process for planes of Magic and the art we see in new sets. I found them revelatory as I was writing, and plan to revive the series when we return to Eldraine and Ixalan later next year.

In July I came back to my series on Artist Proofs with AP301: The Artist Proof Deck. This was a bit of a jump ahead, but was on my mind and who needs numerical order anyway. It turns out this article would become incredibly important for something later on in the year as well. Look out for AP 200 series classes next year.

In August I published a piece I had worked on all summer about AI art and its possible implications and applications as geared towards Magic: The Gathering. In the last six months the discourse and developments of this technology has changed dramatically, and while I don’t know how much I’ll be writing about it in 2023, it will certainly be on my radar, as it should be on yours.

September marked Hipsters of the Coast’s 10th Anniversary, and in addition to a silly article about the Baltimore Orioles now-dashed playoff hopes, I wrote about the best of the best in Magic art since Hipsters began publishing. This was an incredibly useful retrospective for me, looking back on the pieces that put Magic on the map in the larger imaginative realism genre. And to finish that piece, for 2022 I’m putting Ryan Pancoast’s Discover the Impossible just a tick higher on the pedestal amongst a half dozen or so amazing works. This piece just does it on all levels, and will be the way we remember this set, and this year of art. It’s also the only painting I’ve written about four different times, and that’s saying something.

October brought the annual IX art show, which I admittedly haven’t written about (but should have; just not enough hours in the day). It was also Magic30 in Las Vegas, which was far and away one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of. I was able to attend as Press entirely thanks to Hipsters, and got to meet the most fantastic Wizards, artists, and internet friends.

Some of those meetings have already led to wonderful things; I got to interview and talk with Sam from Rhystic Studies after years of chatting online, and was a part of his most recent video 100 Proof:

(Video)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnKSTON_JG0

This was honestly a dream come true, and I can’t wait for the next thing we work on together.

The year closed with the normal array of product releases and art reviews, chasing that newest thing that felt like every week but with no shortage of incredible things to look at. As monotonous of a grind as that might sound, it was actually instrumental in helping me set goals for next year.

Looking Forward

I’ve re-written this section like 19 times by the time this goes to publish. But nevertheless, this article would be nothing without a few goals for 2023. Let’s keep ‘em simple, or try to:

1 – Narrow the Focus, Widen the Gaze

One of my 2021 goals that feels only half achieved is to write more retrospectively, but through the vehicle of current events. I love writing the Grand Art Tour and Secret Layers articles looking at the new, but I seriously want to try and place what’s happening in a larger context, whether looking at Magic through a larger lens, or an artist’s oeuvre or evolution, or a combination of the two. I think this is the next step I need to take in my writing. As you’ll soon see Hipsters is refocusing and ramping our Magic content, and I intend to do the same.

As a part of this, it means coming to terms with never covering things like the artwork specific to Alchemy, or likely the BOOM Comics in general. There is so much art being printed on paper, I just don’t have the bandwidth to try and keep up with the digital-only releases of Magic Arena or art not directly related to a trading card set. I’ve tried to keep the Mirror Gallery as comprehensive as possible, but this will have to be the proverbial line, at least for now.

It also means the continued infrequency of the Art Market Minute as it undergoes some redevelopment and reimagining at higher levels. As the most exciting pieces of art continue to largely sell privately, and with the continued ebb and flow of the market, the column doesn’t quite serve the same purpose as it did when the tide was continually rising. For regular market updates, the Instagram page @mtg_original_artwork is doing a fabulous job, and I’ve still got plans to cover a few things later on this year. Keep an eye out for a fresh relaunch of some sort in the future.

2 – Collaborate and Listen

This year I worked on a quarterly series with Star City Games editor and old-school Vorthos Magic writer John Dale Beety. It was a ton of fun, and we may even run it back again this year in some way, shape, or form. I really enjoy working with folks on thought pieces, hearing their stories, and weaving different perspectives into a greater artistic story. If this is something you’re interested in for 2023, hit me up early and we’ll find a way to work together.

3 – Holiday Card

I still feel silly including this, but it eludes me yet again. Who knows, maybe 2023 is the year.

4 – Keep Getting Back Out There

Magic30 in Vegas was an event I’ll never forget, and has pushed in the missing puzzle pieces on things i’ve been working on for literal years (thanks Matt Cavotta). I’m already slated to attend MagicCon Philadelphia with one of the artist’s I represent, and it’s my goal to attend as many, if not all, of these large events. I want to meet folks, jam some games, see some art, and talk about the greatness that is the game of Magic.

5 – Write Shorter(ish)

My articles are long. Sometimes too long. I’m going to work on that in 2023, finding ways to get the goods out in bit size chunks for some things, and just more concise ways for others. Don’t worry, you’ll still get a couple ten minute sojourns on why something is the greatest thing since sliced bread. But there will be some shorties in there too. A balance, so to speak.

Wrapping Up

The Arch at Land’s End, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

2022 was wild. I got married, went on a honeymoon to Mexico, and started a new chapter with my wife. The world finally returned to in-person Magic: I attended my first event as an agent, my first event as press, and guest curated the first gallery show of Magic artist proofs. I saw new places, and returned to old favorites like IX, to both see new faces and enjoy company so dearly missed, all by way of Magic.

Ultimately I worked differently this year; for the most part I used to write during “Donny Hours,” as my editors called it, between 6am and 8am. That has largely flipped now, and I find myself writing between 8pm and 11pm in the living room, where I can spend time with my wife and cats as opposed to being sequestered in my office. The ‘autumnal slump’, as I’ve come to call it, where Daylight Savings Time turns off after con season, still kicked me right square in the ass, but as I mentioned last year I’m getting better at combating it.. I just write better in the sunshine I guess. Most of the thinking still happens in the shower or on the road, and the best ideas still come at the strangest of times, or from the tiniest bits of conversation.

I’m quite excited for 2023. Hipsters of the Coast as an organization has some incredibly ambitious things in the works, some of which have already begun by the time this comes out. I’m excited to be a part of it, and I hope you’ll be excited to see it come alive.

I’ll again wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2023; may you be well and continue to push onwards doing whatever it is that makes you happy. Stay safe, be excellent to each other, and let’s have some fun this year. Thanks for reading.

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 or working with artists, you can find him traveling with his wife, petting his two cats, and watching the Baltimore Orioles.a

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