Card Signing Guide: Matt Stewart And Jason Felix

John Dale Beety returns to writing about the art of Magic. He provides a guide of which cards you should get signed by artists at the SCG Open Series: Baltimore featuring the Invitational and Grand Prix Salt Lake City.

Over the next two weekends StarCityGames.com is organizing a pair of important tournament sequences. From March 23rd through the 25th, some of the best players from across the United States (and Russian qualifier Nicolay Zlobnov) will converge on Baltimore for the StarCityGames.com Invitational, the marquee event of an Open Series that will pay out more than $64,000 in prizes total with $50,000 going to Invitational players alone. Offering slightly less immediate cash, though with the potential for a larger professional playoff down the road, is Grand Prix Salt Lake City with a "mere" $30,000 in prize money but also four coveted invitations to the Pro Tour at stake … Oh yeah, and a Standard Open on Sunday for those who don’t make the X-2 bracket.

Being an art geek, I noticed the artists scheduled for each weekend right away. Matt Stewart isn’t necessarily an instant-recognition name, but I guarantee you’ve played with at least one of his cards. He’ll be available for signings at the SCG Open featuring the Invitational in Baltimore. For Grand Prix: Salt Lake City attendees, three artists are scheduled: Steve Argyle, Jason Felix, and rk post. I’ve covered the first and last artists in previous articles; rk post hasn’t contributed to Innistrad block (so far) so "The Art of rk post" is up-to-date. There are only four illustrations on three cards to add to "The Art of Steve Argyle," namely Chosen of Markov | Markov’s Servant, Deadly Allure, and Falkenrath Torturer. Jason Felix, by contrast, is new to this series.

I’ll be covering the art of both Matt Stewart and Jason Felix in this installment, highlighting the tournament-playables, kitchen-table favorites, and flat-out gorgeous illustrations that make players lay down cards and ask the artists to sign. I don’t have specific information about signing limits for either artist, but choosing a group of ten cards is almost always safe. In my recommendations, I’ll divide cards into "four-ofs" (cards that see tournament play) and "one-ofs" that are Commander-oriented or well-illustrated but largely unplayable; two choices from the four-ofs list and two from the one-ofs will make a quality group of ten. Not all of the cards will be covered, but if you love, say, Matt Stewart’s Architects of Will and I don’t include that in my recommendations, don’t let that stop you from getting it signed.

Since Matt Stewart’s appearance comes first chronologically, I’ll start with him.

The Art of Matt Stewart

Here’s the shopping page for Mr. Stewart’s cards. Mr. Stewart made his Magic debut with a handful of illustrations in Future Sight, and after sitting out Lorwyn block, he returned for Alara block and has been a steady contributor since. He works in oils, and while it’s almost certain most of his high-profile illustrations have sold already (hello, Narcomoeba), it never hurts to ask!


Dungrove Elder (regular version) – Is Mono-Green out of fashion at the moment? Perhaps, but its time may come again; then your playset of Dungrove Elder will be the snazziest in the room.

Kor Firewalker – More solidly a four-of this time last year, but if red decks proliferate in Modern and you’re playing white this card will form the "kor" of your sideboard plans.

Midnight Haunting – I’ve seen a few W/B Tokens lists go with Blade Splicer instead of Midnight Haunting, but come next year this will be a defining card of both Tokens and Spirits decks. Get your playset signed while you have the chance.

Narcomoeba – Dredge players, you know who you are. If I were one of them, I’d want to get my metaphorical tentacles on a signed playset.

Rootbound Crag – How much longer will Rootbound Crag and its ilk remain the dual lands of the Core Sets? In any case, this is a striking enough illustration that even if you aren’t a red/green devotee, a singleton signing may be worth your while.

Skinshifter – Another Mono-Green card, this time with a compelling human portrait. The eyes really sell this one.

Slash Panther – Enthusiasts of older formats will want this card as a four-of selection. The New Phyrexia common is heating up Vintage Stax decks, which is why a Japanese foil copy is a $20 bill these days.

Viridian Emissary – Now out of favor in ramp decks, but the metagame could circle back to it.

Wall of Roots (July 2008 FNM Foil) – Perhaps a more literal interpretation of the card name than its Mirage predecessor, this Friday Night Magic foil will make a flashy addition to Modern Melira Pod decks. Get this one signed in preparation for next season.


Battlegrace Angel – A beautiful rendition of an Alara-style angel. I’ve seen her used in local Commander play.

Cliffside Market – His work on Planechase Plane cards such as Cliffside Market makes me wonder why he hasn’t received land commissions for the regular game. Maybe he just needs a setting that will suit his style.

Cobbled Wings – The art is beautiful in a creepy way, and as an Innistrad common this is an easy card to find. Read Mr. Stewart’s blog post for a better appreciation of this illustration.

Creepy Doll – One of the best expressions of Innistrad’s top-down approach to flavor, and the illustration sells it. With the foreshortening on the kitchen shears, I can’t look at the card for too long. In a word: "disquieting."

Druidic Satchel – I have a friend who’s forever trying to make Druidic Satchel work in Standard. In the meantime, I appreciate the skill and humor behind the illustration; the Satchel is sticking out its tongue like Einstein and throwing in a wink for good measure.

Echo Mage – The only thing better than copying a spell is copying it twice. I love the illustration, too; the Echo Mage seems far more like a real person than many of Magic’s portraits.

Esper Stormblade – For fans of the twisty-metal aesthetic.

Excommunicate – Gorgeous illustration. Get a Magic 2010 or Magic 2011 version signed; the flavor text is better.

Feeding Grounds – Another amazing Planechase painting. Dear Wizards of the Coast: get this guy a Plains commission, stat!

Invincible Hymn – I’ve seen more than one Commander player living la vie en blanc after casting Invincible Hymn. It isn’t perfect—it doesn’t heal Commander damage, for one thing—but it’s playable and has interesting art. Well worth a one-of signing.

Lambholt Elder | Silverpelt Werewolf – The real Granny’s Payback. The front half is one of the most sensitive illustrations of an older woman I’ve seen in this game.

Lost in the Woods – Monty Ashley explains the head-trip qualities of this card better than I could. Fun to look at, annoying to play against in Limited… I’ll order up one.

Mana Crypt (Judge Foil) – If you have one, get it signed. It is his "prestige card" without question and takes precedence over every other one-of on the list.

Manor Gargoyle – I love the pose on this one: the body still as the statue it is, and the head turned as if to say, "You’re next."

Marshal’s Anthem – Multikicker, with only a few exceptions, is a dream mechanic for multiplayer. I love this swingy card even if the art itself isn’t one of my favorites.

[Myr token] – I could see this New Phyrexia token as the rare "two-of" signing, to represent tapped versus untapped Myr. The hardcore tournament player may want to go that route.

Noxious Revival – The odd one-of card for both Constructed (as part of a Gifts Ungiven package not involving Unburial Rites and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite) and Commander. Bonus points for a Japanese foil version.

Ramosian Revivalist – One of the most elegant paintings of Future Sight, the Revivalist shows off one of the great strengths of Mr. Stewart’s style.

Reaper from the Abyss – Along with the Myr token above, the Reaper showcases Mr. Stewart’s ability to illustrate darkness as well as light.

Sacred Wolf – I wouldn’t shoot it, either. As a Magic 2012 common, this is a great card to get signed without committing much money.

Second Wind – Strangely static for a painting showing so much motion, this was a painting that inspired mixed feelings in a lot of art enthusiasts. I prefer the Revivalist, but I can understand if this is your choice instead.

Serendib Efreet (From the Vault: Exiled) – I came to the game too late to appreciate the Efreet, but players who love the old-meets-new vibe of the Exiled foil set may want to get copies signed.

Skyward Eye Prophets – A triple portrait of anguish. I’ve seen this one on playmats, which makes for another signing opportunity.

Talon Trooper – One of my favorite Aven artworks across all sets. The Trooper swoops like an angel.

Valeron Outlander – A deceptively simple portrait with placid beauty.

The Art of Jason Felix

Here’s your shopping page for Jason Felix cards. Mr. Felix started with Zendikar, bringing a surreal, creepy feeling to the game. His professional Webite has a whole host of high-octane nightmare fuel illustrations. I mean that in the nicest way possible… He’s good. Too good.

The list of four-ofs is far shorter than it would’ve been a year ago, as his commissions for Scars of Mirrodin and Innistrad blocks have not seen the same Standard play as his Zendikar art, though a handful of his work remains "four-of" important.


Archive Trap – Milling deck mavens, you know who you are. Until Mark Rosewater muscles through the "milling block," you won’t get much better than this. The small details of the illustration come out better in a large print than on the card.

Creeping Tar Pit – Now in the realm of Modern, but an uncounterable, unblockable manland will find a home as long as there is a viable control deck in blue and black. I admire the illustration as well; it’s organic and unsettling, with just enough light to reinforce the darkness.

Feast of Blood – Though it didn’t take off in Constructed, casual Vampire deckbuilders may want a full set. I’m with Sorin Markov, though; that isn’t my idea of a good dinner party!

Lashwrithe – If the B/U Zombie decks shift more to an all-black aggro-control build, this living weapon is well positioned to stand alongside Phyrexian Obliterator at the top of the curve.

Perilous Myr – Evil never looked so cute, and the Perilous one is begging for use with Heartless Summoning. Mono Red has slacked off on the cuteness with Kor Firewalker rotating from the format, but I don’t see any harm in picking up this playset. Some card, someday is going to break Perilous Myr, and I’d rather be ready with a signed playset than not.

Whispering Specter – While the Mono-Black infect plan has faded from tournament play, this entry in the great "specter tradition" of Magic has a place in casual spins on the mechanic.


All Is Dust – "I’m gonna sing the doom song!" Joking aside, this is one of the better "everything dies" illustrations in Magic’s history, and while the extended art doesn’t do much on the card, I imagine it looks amazing on a print.

Artisan of Kozilek – Ghoulish and Lovecraftian, with a Commander printing. Just remember, Mr. Felix didn’t do the Friday Night Magic version; that was Nils Hamm.

Butcher’s Cleaver – Simple and unclean, this equipment illustration tells a great story of rural Innistrad and its denizens’ desperation.

Crypt of Agadeem – I’m not usually a fan of "evil purple," but I’ll make an exception for this piece. The use of figures in the landscape is unusual, though not unprecedented. I’ve seen graveyard-oriented Commander decks use the Crypt to solid effect.

Death-Hood Cobra — A Phyrexian horror without the gore. It’s instantly recognizable, profoundly unsettling (perhaps because it doesn’t have blood or venom on display), and if you’ve bought any New Phyrexia packs at all, you likely have at least one lying around. A good, cheap option.

Demonmail Hauberk – On the opposite side of the gore spectrum, this chainmail shirt is fairly dripping with flavor and …other things. The wicked one-liner in the flavor text is the perfect underscore to the art. Feel free to get one signed, but please don’t make a Magic card hat of Demonmail Hauberks. It’s just not safe.

Gatekeeper of Malakir (FNM Foil) – Any FNM foil is worth getting signed. Mr. Felix made his Zendikar Vampires (also see Feast of Blood) slimmer than those of most other artists, so personal preference comes into play.

Kraken Hatchling – The hatchling is "ugly-cute" personified, but the background is its own treat. I’m strongly considering this card for my own "for the art" pile.

Laboratory Maniac – Mr. Crazyface may be pushing the limit of how "sci-fi" Magic should go, but the picture on the whole gets a smile out of me. Players putting together self-milling decks may want to lift the Maniac into the four-ofs league.

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen – If this is your Commander, this is your chance to make him even more awesome. I was going to recommend buying the Italian version, but I just bought out the one StarCityGames.com had in stock. (Too late, suckers!)

Reality Spasm – I love this off-kilter landscape beyond all reason. This may well be my favorite Jason Felix art.

Rusted Sentinel – More artificial than organic, but the illustration is pitch-perfect for the card, which is an overall flavor home run. I doubt the card ever will see Constructed play, but if it makes you smile, get a copy signed.

Sheoldred, Whispering One (New Phyrexia Prerelease) – One of the less expensive recent Prerelease foils, and if you have one, it’s a good choice to take out of the box and get signed. I prefer Mr. Felix’s art to the regular version.

Skillful Lunge – A far cry from Mr. Felix’s usual, a touch static in the body despite the motion of the spear, but the yellow in the background gives this illustration "something extra." Expect this card to vanish mysteriously from all draft leavings at the Grand Prix.

Spare from Evil – More elegant than the usual Jason Felix aesthetic and beautifully moody. It’s too bad Mr. Felix doesn’t have a print of this one available; he’d have at least one customer!

Turn the Tide – A strange and shimmering work. The inspirational figure at upper right could’ve come from any number of Magic artists, but the creepy enemies of the foreground are all Jason Felix.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the cards illustrated by Matt Stewart and Jason Felix. Both are talented artists who’ve made an impact on Magic in just a few years of work. It’s a pity I’ll be missing the StarCityGames.com Invitational & Open: Baltimore (and my chance at a Matt Stewart card signing), but come Salt Lake City you’ll see me in line at the artists’ booths.

As always, thanks for reading.


@jdbeety on Twitter