On Magic Playmats

(Based on a Tumblr post c. 5/31/2016)

"Bearscape" artwork from Wizards of the Coast's CCG "Magic; the Gathering", circa 2001.  So very, very © Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro, Inc.  Trust me on this.

"Bearscape" artwork from Wizards of the Coast's CCG "Magic; the Gathering", circa 2001.  So very, very © Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro, Inc.  Trust me on this.

I know there's a lot of confusion about what Magic artists can sell and do with the art they create for Wizards of the Coast's collectable card game "Magic; the Gathering."  Historically - during my time in the artist pool, I mean -- MtG artists were contractually allowed to make limited runs of art prints, to show work in their portfolios, and to have their names linked to the art.  All other rights passed to Wizards, including any new rights that were invented after the contract was signed.  Until recently we did not have the right to use the artwork in making anything but art prints for resale.

(In the original version of this post, I used the term "swag."  This is classier.)

I'm told that Wizards recently announced that artists can apply for a license to have Ultra-Pro print and sell them a limited number of play mats for resale, at Wizards' discretion, using an art file provided by Wizards.  This means that artists can now legally sell (non-exclusive) play mats of specific Magic art, provided Wizards approves the image and the artist can afford to have a minimum order of 100 printed.  According to my notes, that would come to about 900 USD before tax and shipping.   A box of 100 play mats would also fill a lot of space in my not very big studio.  UltraPro can only accept art files from Wizards for these mats.

I don't think I will be selling MtG playmats any time soon.  The investment to produce 100 mats of any of my images is too high, and the turnover for vintage card art would, I suspect, be low.  I do not, both for legal reasons and as a courtesy to my old client, advocate using my Magic illustration to make bootleg mats.  I don't know how legal or illegal it is to create your own mats for personal use.  I think some of these issues were discussed on Reddit, which is why I mention them.  I am not a lawyer, just an artist who has found it best to respect her contracts.

I do know (yay knowledge!) that I have a contractual right to sell art prints of Bearscape and the other Magic images that I painted over the years.  If you would like to purchase an art print for your own enjoyment, I’ve got information on print sizes and prices and shipping costs here on my Studiowondercabinet site. 

Thanks to the players who still enjoy my work for the game and wrote to ask the questions that inspired me to write this post!