Posted in Event Coverage on January 23, 2004

By Toby Wachter

At this weekend's event, there is plenty to keep the players occupied. Aside from the main event and the Darksteel pre-release, Arnie Swekel is here to sign cards, and display some of his work. Artist appearances are especially popular in Japan, where lines to get signatures often become massive. Don't expect Arnie to be overwhelmed though, as he's had a bit of experience at Asian Grand Prix events. "This is my third Grand Prix…I've done one in Taiwan, one in Fukuoka, and now Okayama. I love coming here. The food is great, the people are genuine, and it's definitely a fun place to be."

Even before the event had started, Arnie had most of his pieces set up, and was ready to start signing an hour before he was scheduled to. For him, these events aren't just about his art or meeting Magic players in another country because he's a gamer too. Magic provides a bit of a vacation from his current work, which is helping to design Quake 4. "I'm making video games now. I've been stuck and immersed in first-person shooters that I've gotten so sick of them. I'm playing them for a living now." Interestingly, a lot of the work he's done with Magic has lent itself to designing video games. "It's pretty much the same thing. They give me a concept where I have to create creatures, vehicles or weapons. I just pull them out of nothing and just create something odd, aesthetic and interesting that people will find kind of cool." And what should we expect from this game he's invested so much time into? "It's going to be the next big thing. When it comes out, it's going to revolutionize video games in general. It's so cinematic and wonderful. It's going to sweep the world."

Clockwork Vorrac

Speaking of design, Arnie really likes the metal feel of Mirrodin Block. He had quite an impact on the set's look, creating the Clockwork creatures (Dragon, Vorrac, Condor, Beetle), Soul Foundry, Rust Elemental, Rustpore Ram and Grid Monitor. Looking at the set with his work combined with the other artists, Arnie is very happy with the finished product. "I think it's very cool. It was an interesting idea, and I think it's revamped the game and brought a whole new look. It's an original idea, and a great idea."

If a Grand Prix, a pre-release and artist signing isn't enough for you, Arnie throws in something extra. As an added touch to make the event a little more special, Arnie always gives away a piece of original art, to be given to the winner of the Grand Prix. This time around, the winner will receive the original art to Clockwork Beetle in addition to $2400 and the championship trophy. "It's kind of self-indulgent. Being a gamer myself, I can really appreciate winning something genuine. If I can provide that for someone else, and provide that enjoyment, I think I get more out of it than they do."

For more on Arnie Swekel, check out our Behind the Canvas interview.

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