"Everyone gets to do this. It's part of what a Grand Prix is." It was a bold statement describing what at a glace appeared to be a small part of Grand Prix Seattle-Tacoma, but one that held up when looking closer.
"Without artists it's not a Grand Prix," insisted Mike Linnemann, one of the many community members driven by Magic's art – a Vorthos. "It's a vital part to any Grand Prix. It's expected and celebrates part of the pageantry of playing your deck and getting cards signed, unlike any local Friday night event. Grand Prix are one of the ways to actually interact with artists and get things from them. Most don't even have online stores."
Mike Linnemann loved art in general, and as a player there was little more exciting to him than a fantastic new card featuring even better new art.
Linnemann had worked with the event organizer to help the artists in attendance enter prepared. While the main event of a Grand Prix is built for the players ready to battle for the Pro Tour and top prizes, artists had a much broader swath to satisfy.
"Things you're looking for as a player," Linnemann explained, "are artists with a high card count, like one hundred artworks; artists with Planeswalkers in Standard; artists that have Modern lands, like the fetch lands; artists with cards in your Commander decks so you can get cards signed without having to send them off for a long time."
"It's different for different people, but there's something for every type of player."
Fulfilling what players wanted was the challenge artists had answered in spades, even those at their first Grand Prix.
Jesper Myrfors had come to his first Grand Prix ready for the players new and old that appreciated Magic's oldest art.
Jesper Myrfors was one of Magic's original artists in attendance at Grand Prix Seattle-Tacoma. Recently returned to the event scene he still had a good sense of the amount of heads-down signing the weekend would bring. "It was exactly as I expected," Myrfors said. "I was in Spain signing for an event with 700 to 900 people. There's much more here."
While the original dual lands he illustrated were popular, the biggest surprise for him were the 'mini Magic art' cards he had started painting.
Jesper Myrfors illustrated some of Magic's first cards, and the miniature versions he brought with him hit a sweet spot in what players were looking for.
"Players have really taken to the mini artworks," Myrfors said. "They started when I was doing a commission and showed off a tiny piece of art on Facebook. People started asking for them so I started making them. They're all done by hand."
Not every artist was a new choice for players to visit however.
"I've been to quite a few Grand Prix." Unlike Myrfors ramping up into the events, artist Clint Cearley was a veteran of weekends filled with pens on cards. He was happy to see how big the show turned out for Seattle-Tacoma. "I wasn't sure how many would be here. I had heard 1,500 but it turned out much higher which was good to hear."
While artists proofs – including premium foil versions as well – were front and center, Clint Cearley's options went far wider for players.
Cearley had turned his experience from previous events into a veritable smorgasbord of art and options for players that came to see him. "You want to give players what they're looking for and what's popular," Cearley said. "But you also need new stuff every time. We can bring not just Magic but our original work as well to show off. It's a great freedom." The array of tokens, prints and playmats features both Magic and his own original art from elsewhere.
Clint Cearley was delighted by the surprising popularity of cards like Notion Thief but made sure to bring prints for players to take home.
"You never know which cards will turn out to be popular. Some cards turn out better than the art description seems to be, like Notion Thief," Cearley said. "For the description I didn't think it'd be anything special but players love it."
Another card that took its artist by surprise was Nils Hamm, undoubtedly the artist of the weekend. The most recognizable Magic illustrations he'd done became the centerpiece of the Legacy-filled weekend.
"This is my first event in the United States," Hamm, a native of Germany said. For his first time stateside his Innistrad art for Delver of Secrets and Insectile Aberration were used as the key art of the Grand Prix, adorned on everything from the double-sided playmat, prints, sleeves, deck boxes and even the round clocks timing the main event – which naturally transformed from Delver to Aberration art when the end of round time was met.
Nils Hamm got in on the Delver of Secrets show himself with a flip open "Delver Cocoon" art that captured how he envisioned the transformation occurring.
The focus put Hamm in a spotlight he wasn't used to having. "I feel honored," he said. "I've gotten a lot of attention, and the playmats are great. I'm just enjoying it since I may never get the change again."
For him, the most surprising turn of a weekend of surprises was easy. "This woman!" Hamm exclaimed. "I never thought I see Delver of Secrets like this!"
Art, as it turned out, wasn't limited to just the artists. Christine Sprankle asked Hamm sign her costume, just as she'd done for the artist-meets-art of her previous events. The signing was just another sign of what every player loved about the artists.