The Artists of Magic: Noah Bradley

Posted in Feature on June 6, 2017

By Nicholas Wolfram

Nicholas Wolfram fell promptly in love with tabletop and video games when he was only two years old, and he has been writing about them since he figured out how words worked. Now he puts together words about Magic, which he started playing way back in 2000.

Since the inception of the game, Magic art has continually enraptured fans (and even non-fans) of the game. Not that I have to convince you, though. I'm sure that it doesn't take much pressure to get any of you to start gushing about your favorite card art. And honestly, it's no different among us at Wizards. I even know of at least one employee who tries to build her Limited decks around her favorite art pieces.

It is because this love of Magic art so pervades throughout our community that we've decided to kick off a new series of articles profiling some of our beloved artists. We want to give all of you a little bit of a deeper look into the art and the minds that give our cards such recognizable and memorable faces. And who better to start such a series than a man with a memorable face of his own?

Noah Bradley has been a contributing Magic artist for years, and he has spent that time as a favorite among the community (and at least one international superstar). So without any further fanfare, let's see what he had to say.

Noah Bradley

Nicholas Wolfram (NW): Thanks for agreeing to this, Noah! Let's start simple: why do you like creating art for Magic?

Noah Bradley (NB): So many reasons.

I get to work on fun assignments with great people that end up being seen and enjoyed by a massive and very supportive fanbase. It's a pretty sweet gig.

NW: After you get the art callout for a new card, what does your creative process look like? How long does the process typically take you per card?

NB: I read the assignment at least three or four times. This is because of the sheer number of times I have made sketches wildly different than what the assignment asked for. In my first sketches for Cloudstone Curio, for instance, I tried to make a 20' tall stone. Not what they wanted at all.

After reading the assignment several times, I move on to the thumbnailing stage. These are little pencil or pen sketches in my sketchbook that are just for me to get ideas out of my head and into reality. This stage is best done on or near a beach, ideally while lounging in a hammock. Cold beverages are also a welcome addition to the experience.

Once I have about 10–20 of these, I'll take the best one to three of them and work up color sketches in Photoshop. These are sent in to the art director so that they can approve it (hopefully) and potentially send me revisions for it.

Then I finish it! Easy as that. Most of the hours are spent here, but there's a lot less to talk about. I put something nice on to listen to and watch the hours slip away.

NW: Does your process or approach differ depending on the color identity or card type of the card?

NB: Not too much. I try to keep the color palettes somewhat in check, of course, but that's about the extent of it.

NW: What piece you created for Amonkhet are you most proud of?

NB: Dawn is my personal favorite. I know it's nothing overly original, but I'm a sucker for good clouds and I think those are some of the best clouds I've ever painted.

Dawn | Art by Noah Bradley

I actually put together a whole video on the Dusk // Dawn process.

NW: Beyond Amonkhet (or maybe not), what is your favorite Magic card that happens to feature your art?

NB: My favorite is probably one of the pieces I'm finishing up this week—but obviously we can't show those yet.

In lieu of that, I'd have to say Moat. Some people might not recognize it if they don't spend enough time on Magic Online, but I still consider it a damn good painting even after all these years.

NW: Near the beginning of the year, you announced your departure from social media despite a prolific presence on some avenues. How has life without Twitter been treating you?

NB: Wonderfully. I've absolutely, positively loved it. Best decision I've made in a long time.

The freedom of not having to think about social media has been so refreshing. I highly recommend it to anyone who's able.

The next stage is I'm going to shun the whole internet and live in a cave on a tropical island.

NW: Which commander have you been having the most fun with lately?

NB: I'm lame and have . . . never played a game of Commander. I know, I know. My experience playing Magic has only really been for the last year, and all of that has been strictly Limited. I'll branch out one of these days.

NW: Your Commander secret is safe with me. I swear. That said, do you have any particularly memorable Limited experiences from the last year? And do you ever try just a little harder to force your own cards into a Limited deck as you build it?

NB: Well I did, luckily enough, manage a win off of Approach of the Second Sun in this format.

In general, though, I'd feel happier forcing my own cards if they printed more Limited bombs with my art on them. Fingers crossed for future sets, though!

NW: Well that's everything I had for you this time around. Do you have anything else you'd like to say to the Magic community?

NB: Stay awesome, y'all!

I'd just like to close out with a big thanks to Noah Bradley for helping us kick off this new article series. See you all again next month with another interview and another artist!

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