After last year’s wonderful Pride Across The Multiverse Secret Lair, which both gave us gorgeous art and introduced Huatli and Saheeli’s relationship to the world, I was missing a big proud Magic moment this year. Enter Original Magic Art, with their amazing Kickstarter project to create playmats based on Pride Across The Multiverse.

I reached out to Josh Krause (he/him) and Vianki Bruenderman (she/they) to talk more about the project, their connection to Magic, and what goes into a project like this—including some wisdom from Vianki about how the small, square art on a Magic card turns into a much larger, rectangular playmat.

Vianki and I got to have a long chat and covered so much interesting stuff that I’ll publish my full interview with them in several weeks. In the meantime, read on, and when you’re done, check out the Kickstarter and please consider backing.

Personally, I’ll be tormenting myself about whether I can really afford to splurge on Heartbeat of Spring, Collective Voyage, AND Alesha, Who Smiles At Death.

Tell me a little about yourselves. How did you get involved in Original Magic Art, and what’s your connection to Magic?

Josh:  I started playing Magic in 4th edition but didn’t seriously start collecting until college at the tail end of Onslaught block.  I can still remember the seemingly innocent invitation to draft triple Scourge that started it all.

My interest in Original Magic Art began at the Dissension prerelease in Richmond, VA when I came across the Artist table of Jim Murray and realized that each little rectangular art box on a card had a corresponding unique piece of artwork.  Artwork that I could collect and own, and there was only one of them while there were thousands of the card. I was hooked.

I eventually stumbled upon the nascent Magic art collecting community that was developing online and created the first Original Magic Art website to help bring together more enthusiasts like myself.  After a few years, I was able to turn my passion project into a business with the help of Vianki and a few good ideas and successful projects.

Vianki: I played Magic in high school But I didn’t have my own cards because I wasn’t allowed to have my own cards. I grew up really pretty religious, and Magic/D&D, anything that was vaguely reminiscent of magic, or witches, or wizards, or sorcery, or anything like that was “of the devil.” So I played in high school as kind of an act of rebellion slash self-expression with my friends at lunch. I loved the art. I loved that there were so many artists involved in Magic.

And then, years and years later, maybe more than 10 years later, my partner was working at Wizards of the Coast. I was just going through a career change, and ended up swapping into visual art. And so I had just gotten my graphic design certificate, and he pointed out that there was a posting at WotC now. He didn’t know anyone in the department, the job was in the web design team, but I applied for it.

It was really integral to my career. Being able to work, make this transition, even though I was such a junior designer, and a lot of people took me under my wing. It was great, but the coolest thing was working with the art.

When I left WotC, I realized I missed it. I missed the art. I missed the community. And so when Josh of Original Magic Art put out the word on social media like, “Hey, I know I’m looking for a unicorn. Is there someone with this skill set that knows magic and has the time to do these things?” I was like, “Yo. I’m here. Yeah, I am your unicorn. I’m your huckleberry.” And I’ve been working with him ever since.

How did the Original Magic Art team decide to take on a Pride playmat kickstarter? Why this project?

Josh:  The Pride Playmat Collection is a descendant of something we started in 2019, when we worked with Magali Villenueve and Bram Sels to offer playmats of their Guardians of Meletis and Hallar, with proceeds benefiting TheTrevor Project.

Two gigantic stone statues of men standing over a waterfall, swords raised to the sky, representing Kynaios and Tiro. Art from Guardians of Meletis by Magali Villeneuve

Two gigantic stone statues of men standing over a waterfall, swords raised to the sky, representing Kynaios and Tiro. Art from Guardians of Meletis by Magali Villeneuve.

With everything going on in the country and the release of the Pride Across the Universe Secret Lair, it seemed like a great opportunity to expand the initial effort and benefit the artists and a good cause at the same time

As soon as the secret lair dropped, I started reaching out to the artists to get them on board and Vianki started working on the overall project page design.

Sadly, we ran into a few delays and the timing didn’t work out for a launch in 2022, so we put the project on hold until Pride month of this year.

What goes into organizing a Kickstarter like this? From the idea phase up to the kickstarter completing, what are you and the Original Magic Art team doing?

Josh:  The overall project is very simple, with just playmats being offered, so the main organization effort was focused on getting all of the artists on board and coming up with a project structure that worked for everyone.

From there, we worked with the artists and Wizards of the Coast to obtain all of the necessary licensing through their Artist Playmat Program.

With the licensing secured, I reached out to Vianki to help with the design of the project page and she, as usual, came up with a great design that we iterated into the page you see now.

Once the project page was complete, all that was left was to spread the word to our previous backers, OMA Store customers, and a few content creators we’ve had the pleasure of working with in the past to promote our previous projects.

Vianki:  After working together on several projects, Josh has realized that it just goes more smoothly if he invites me to the Kickstarter page and just lets me go play in it.

I do end up building the page and putting big bullets, like “Josh, I need text here,” stuff like that, or I’ll see his wording that he’s using like one phrase on the rewards in a different phrase over here. And so I’ll have a little bit of just a gut-check editor role, and then we collaborate and we settle on it. It’s very much teamwork.

I make the assets. If there’s product, I make the products, So I would actually do print production as well, and talk to the printer. On this one, it’s UltraPro. Josh has got all of that on lock.

I’m not the one doing the [playmat] extensions for this project. So my contribution was being a queer voice. Should we include pronouns? Should we not include pronouns? I weighed in on some of those questions and helped guide some of those decisions, but I mostly made the assets.

I know you do extensions to existing artwork for playmats for projects like this. Could you tell me about that process? I didn’t realize that was a thing, but of course it has to happen to turn card art into a playmat.

Vianki: It does, it absolutely does.

So we’ve done two Kickstarters with Phil and Kaja Foglio, and almost all the art that we’ve been using has been a one-to-one square ratio. That’s the art from way back when. So now think about your 16-by-9  playmat ratio. And so what I have to do is, I look at the art, I throw it in the middle. I go, “Okay. If this is the side of a face, maybe I scoot it that way,” because there’s clouds over here and clouds are easier to reproduce than actual people or art or elements.

Sometimes you can’t do that, and you have to do the hard thing. I will play with programmatic tools a bit. I will use content aware fill, or Photoshop’s new content generation tool. If I’m really honest, they get me 20% of the way there. If you want it to look good and not stretched or repeated, or morphed or flipped, you have to do a lot of the work manually. Manually could mean that I’m digitally taking like I’m taking this part over here, flipping it, scooting it down, scaling it, and doing something over there. But if you do too much of that, people will see the repeats, they’ll see the disconnects.

And so I end up doing a lot of painting. And what’s fun is, it’s basically forgery. I feel like what’s-his-face in White Collar, because what I’m doing is I am doing art forgery.  Of course, it’s always with permission and feedback from the original artist; they get final approval. In the case of WotC licensed art, WotC has to approve the extension as well. They’re a service to the artist—the artists aren’t always in a place to want to revisit their work from years ago, so I dive in and get it done while they get to focus on their current projects.

And because people like you haven’t even realized that this happens, I must be doing a pretty good job.

Josh, what’s next for Original Magic Art?

Josh: The Pride Playmat Collection is our fifth project in less than 12 months, so most of the rest of this year will be spent fulfilling all of the outstanding rewards.

We may have one more project coming in the fourth quarter of this year, but currently all of our planning is for projects in 2024.

Nothing concrete yet, but we plan to continue making cool stuff that Magic players will enjoy.

Vianki, Tell me a little about your original art. What kind of work do you do, and where can people see it? 

You can find my dabblings in all sorts of different things–like I’ve done oil, I’ve done acrylic, my favorite is watercolor and ink, crafts, illuminated manuscript work…refinishing furniture!…at my Instagram, viankistudios. My portfolio site is and I will try to get that updated soon! One of the most available for other people to enjoy, I would say, is my redbubble. Two years ago, three years ago, I created a series of 5-by-7 watercolor galaxy Pride flags. You can put them on so many things. People have bought them as blankets, as T-shirts, as mugs, as puzzles. Do not buy it as a puzzle. Unless you are a masochist, do not buy that as a puzzle. That is a hard mode.

Dora Rogers (she/her) is a writer, game designer, and heart-eyes lesbo from Montreal. She is one half of Gal Pal Games, and you can find her solo TTRPG and interactive fiction projects on Follow her in all the places, or catch her on Arena playing questionable Vorthos decks in Standard.

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