Magic lost one of its pioneers yesterday with the passing of Christopher Rush. Christopher was an important member of the Wizards of the Coast family, and his comic book–inspired style helped create the look and feel of Magic: The Gathering from the very beginning. His work has appeared on many of the most powerful and memorable cards in the game's history, inspiring countless artists, players, and fans. His laughter will always be missed, but the joy he brought to the game will live on with smiling players around the world.
It is a very sad day for Wizards of the Coast. We’ve collected some stories and memories of Chris and his contributions to the game, click here if you would like to contribute to the Christopher Rush GoFundMe Memorial Fund
I had the honor of working with Chris when I first came to Wizards. He was kind, helpful and always enthusiastic about his work and his art. I modeled how I interact with Magic fans based on watching how Chris successfully did it. One of my favorite stories came about on a trip to Gen Con. I was seated next to Chris on the plane and we started talking about wild ideas we had. Chris told me his idea for full-art lands. He hadn't been able to convince anyone to make them. About a year later I was working on Unglued and I was trying to come up with offbeat ways to make Magic cards, and I remembered Chris's idea. Once it was clear we were going to do them, I went to Chris's desk and told him that the full-art lands were happening, and he had the biggest smile on his face. Chris was excited to illustrate one of them (the Plains). Turns out Chris was right, and the audience loved them.
—Mark Rosewater, Magic Head Designer
I first met Christopher Rush in 1997 at Grand Prix Tōkyō. Back then, I was just a fan of the game, and only beginning my involvement with the business side of things as a judge. He had a smile and friendly demeanor that shone through the language barrier and allowed him to connect with the Japanese players who lined up to get his signature on a Lightning Bolt or playmat.
We stayed in touch irregularly over the years, and I was happy to see that he was back on the circuit, having put behind him some of the health issues that had plagued him. After all the years, the smile and easy-going nature that created an instant rapport with fans was still there. It was good to have one of the originals, one of the giants, back with us at events. It won't be the same knowing never again will we see him hunkered down in his booth, sharing a laugh with a fan as he doodles on a card.
Farewell, Chris, and thanks for all the good times. You'll be remembered as long as anyone taps a land for mana or shuffles up a deck of the cards you helped create, made immortal through your works. And is that not the best any artist can hope for?
—Ron Foster, Wizards of the Coast Tournament Operations Manager
At Gen Con last year I was honored to meet Christopher Rush and play in a celebrity tournament with him. He was incredibly kind and generous with his time. Everyone who wanted a photo got one. Everyone who wanted an autograph got one. Everyone who wanted a story got one. My favorite of his contributions to the game is the mana symbols. It's a fitting tribute that he remains part of every card we print.
—Matt Tabak, Senior Game Designer, Magic R&D
Christopher Rush was a joy when I knew him back in the early days of Wizards of the Coast. He was hilarious, talented, and devilishly funny. He was fun to know and, while my heart is heavy at this news of his passing, I'm so very glad that he was about in this world.
—Matt Murray, Director of Web
I am heartbroken over the loss of my friend, former colleague, and fellow Magic artist Christopher Rush.
People should know that not only was Chris a prolific illustrator, but a talented designer and art director as well.
His work can be seen everywhere from Magic's logo and mana symbols to other Wizards of the Coast games like Netrunner and Guillotine.
Of course his iconic Magic illustrations will be what he is best known for, but he will be also known in my heart for his kindness, humility, and humor.
I met Chris at my very first Pro Tour, back in 1997 in Paris. At the time, I was a random Wizards of the Coast employee from the Paris office, and I was extremely impressed to meet a legend. Chris made me immediately comfortable with his kindness and I became a fan, especially since Lightning Bolt is one of my favorite cards. After a ten-year hiatus, I reconnected with Chris when he attended Grand Prix Phoenix in 2013; seeing him and Jeff (his manager) at events after that was a ray of sunshine. I'm already missing him.
—Hélène Bergeot, Director of Global Organized Play
You can't work your way up the mana curve of iconic Magic cards and not see Chris Rush's talent on display; from Black Lotus to Rukh Egg and every Lightning Bolt and Brainstorm in between. I had the good fortune to become acquainted with him at various Grand Prix, where there would always be long lines of fans waiting for his signature on their most precious pieces of the game's history.
He was gracious and humble about his contributions, which extend beyond his own illustrations to curating the work of other early cards. Without his art to draw us into those early packs of cards, we may never have discovered what a great game lurked in the text around his paintings.
—Brian David-Marshall, Pro Tour Historian
When I played in the 2005 New Zealand National Championship, I remember eyeing the trophies—first place was a premium foil Serra Avatar trophy, second place a premium foil Stroke of Genius, and third and fourth were gorgeous Christopher Rush original premium foil Lightning Bolt trophies.
I joked with the head judge about making Top 4 and then scooping for the better trophy. "Yeah right, you'll never make the Top 8," the head judge retorted.
I made the Top 4 for the first time and lost (legitimately) to win the best trophy.
Because I mostly covered Australian/APAC Grand Prix, I don't get many opportunities to meet Magic artists in the field. I'd always hoped to meet Chris and tell him my story, as that fourth-place finish was what lead me to the World Championships and allowed me to connect with the coverage team. I wanted him to know that my drive to win his Lightning Bolt trophy was what lead me to meeting him then and there.
And now I won't get to, and that makes me sad.
—Ray Walkinshaw, Event Coverage Reporter
I met Chris at GP Vegas and he was wonderful. I was on a mission from the moment I walked in the door to meet him and to get him to sign one of his new Black Lotus playmats. He did, and now I have the most beautiful playmat I've ever owned. I have something of a playmat obsession and own nearly 50, but this is the one that everyone loves the most. I've gotten countless comments about it. Just a small testimony to the great impact he's had on this amazing game.
—Maria Bartholdi, Magic The Amateuring
I will always remember the moment of watching Chis Rush sign a Black Lotus. I've witnessed it dozens of times, and even from the very early days (when it was less sought after than many current-set mythic rares are today) he always paused to focus entirely on making his signature add to the artistic impression of the card; it was never a rushed job. Chris was the first artist my husband and I purchased original Magic card art from—Junún Efreet and Ihsan's Shade have been keeping watch in our home for 20 years. We're honored to be able to hold on to a small piece of Chris's vision and imagination. He will be missed as an artist and a friend.
—Elaine Chase, Senior Director, Magic Global Brand Strategy and Marketing
Thanks for all the beauty you brought to our world. Rest in peace Christopher Rush. pic.twitter.com/P1V3wn4fG4— Gaby Spartz (@GabySpartz) February 11, 2016