Imagine being an artist for Magic: The Gathering. The calendar says June, 2006, and you're just starting to get the first commissions for an upcoming set called Future Sight. From what you've heard from Art Director Jeremy Jarvis, this set promises to be a little more out-there than the usual fare, so you're eager to see what he sends you. You open your email to find your first Future Sight illustration assignment...
And out pops a bunch of demons.
Grinning Demon - Art by Mark Zug
Reiver Demon - Art by Brom
Havoc Demon - Art by Thomas M. Baxa
The art description says:
"This card is an evolution of our baseline demon concept as seen on Grinning Demon, Reiver Demon, Havoc Demon, etc. (references attached). It should answer the question, 'How does the Magic demon concept look several years in the future?' Note: This card is a 'timeshifted' card with a nontraditional frame and aspect."
You take a breath. This must be one of those timeshifted cards Jeremy was talking about—cards that represent visions of possible worlds from Magic's future. They aren't telling you whether this means your big demon will belong to a world planned for next year, or twenty years from now, or who-knows-when, but you know you get to help design the look for that future setting. And not any random part of the setting, either—an enormous 5/5 demon part of the setting.
You roll up your sleeves. You want your vision to impress the Magic creative team, so you work day and night until your vision of a Magic "Demon of the Future" is a reality. You submit this work of art as your "sketch":
You've cleverly taken elements from all the past demons and incorporated them into your piece—a diabolical lord of horns and wings, curdling the blood with a hellish roar from his fanged maw. And you've evolved the design to the next logical step—vents tear open the skin, revealing veins of fire, a testament to his hellish origins and evocative of his ruling status among creatures of darkness.
The creative team oohs and ahhs, and before you know it you're submitting your final piece, which goes directly onto the card Tombstalker:
That is a baaaad man. Job well done! (Thanks, Aleksi!)