Compulsive Research – The Art of rk post

rk post is one of iconic artists of Magic, famous for works like Ichorid, Avatar of Woe, and Voice of All. Look at this comprehensive look into his Magical art history and get your cards signed at the Indianapolis Open!

rk post: he’s a mild-mannered Senior Artist with Big Fish Games by day, sublimely horrific freelancer (and rite of passage for cringing copyeditors) with Wizards of the Coast by night. He’s also a repeat artist guest for the StarCityGames.com Open Series; Glenn Jones had a nice mini-interview with him when he was at the Richmond Invitational. He’s coming back for more with the Indianapolis Open Weekend October 1-2, which means another chance to get your Morphling signed!

rk post illustrated Morphling. Also, Morphling. Did I mention Morphling?

Of course, rk post is much more than “Mr. Morphling.” He’s strongly associated with a Gothic sensibility, though his recent work for Magic is more diverse (see: Armored Warhorse, Mighty Leap, and so on). Despite his being one of the obvious choices to illustrate for Innistrad, no cards with his art have appeared in the spoiler so far, though it’s not uncommon for Mr. post to skip sets (he has no Zendikar or New Phyrexia credits, for example).

His Magic illustrations are listed below. Because Mr. post is so strongly associated with certain subjects, I’ve organized his cards primarily by theme rather than legality, with a general progression from the specific to the broad.

Gothic Angels

I see the angels. I’ll lead them to your door…

Angel of Retribution – rk post doesn’t do “normal,” especially not on angels. This auburn-haired avenger is a gorgeous half-dollar rare out of Torment, a white-aligned angel dressed in black and gold.

Archangel (Portal Second Age) – It’s a tough act to try to follow Quentin Hoover’s Portal Rendition or Donato Giancola’s Japanese promo version, and for some fans, no other Archangel could live up to their example. For the rest of us, rk post acquits himself well.

Defiling Tears – In many ways, the quintessential rk post Gothic ensemble: black with a hint of red, a Gothic angelic figure in serious mental anguish. Ah, Defiling Tears, you make me want to inflict some Faith Hill country-pop on my readers. Would you cry a little…lie just a little…

Lightning Angel – Another redheaded and black-clad angel, this is a strikingly composed portrait that made a repeat appearance as a Timeshifted card in Time Spiral. Lightning Angel was a favorite card of mine early in my history, and I’m thinking about picking up a dollar copy to get signed for old times’ sake.

Victory’s Herald – A strange metallic angel for a metal world. How does she stay aloft? She finds a way, and though a half-dollar rare, this Standard-legal angel is one of the non-bank-breaking rk post rares you’re most likely to find if you’re scrambling at the last minute for a card to get signed.

Voice of All – A raven-haired angel this time, a halberd-carrier and not a sword-wielder, but once more dressed in black. I’m noticing a trend. At any rate, if you get the German Commander version, you’re eligible for 20 Awesome Points (not redeemable for anything).

Voice of Truth – She’s wearing white after Labor Day! Rouse the rabble! Kidding aside, this Nemesis card is a dollar foil rare. Opportunity awaits!

Do You Wanna Date My [Gothic] Avatar?

Avatar of Discord – Originally I typed “Avatar of Discard.” Freudian slip, anyone? I’m going to call Avatar of Discord an “it” for now; it’s supposed to be the shadow of Rakdos the Defiler, a thoroughly masculine demonic type, but “it” has wide hips and weird upper body coverings…is the Avatar of Discord the feminine side of Rakdos? Also available in a promo version.

Avatar of Fury – Into the “Avatar” cycle proper from Prophecy. The cycle might be the most memorable thing about the set. All I remember about this card is the claw…weapon…thingies. But hey, there’s a Commander printing!

Avatar of Hope (Prophecy) – Wizards had the temerity to replace this perfectly fine piece of art for 8th Edition. How’d that turn out? OK for some, not so OK for the “not into winged centaurs in training bras” demographic. The better Avatar of Hope was also the Prophecy Prerelease promo.

Avatar of Might – Big, green, odd. Not sure what else to say about this guy, other than to mention his Tenth Edition reprint.

Avatar of Will – The art is all this blue card has going for it. Never reprinted and for good reason.

Avatar of Woe – The iconic card of the cycle, Time Spiral Timeshifted with Archenemy and Commander appearances, as well as a Pro Tour foil with different art. Even with so many reprints, it’s a $5 card in Near Mint.

[card name="Sanguine Praetor"]Sanguine Praetor[/card] – Like [card name="Avatar of Discord"]Avatar of Discord[/card], the [card name="Sanguine Praetor"]Sanguine Praetor[/card] hails from Ravnica (Guildpact set) rather than the world of [card name="Prophecy"]Prophecy[/card]. Why the Praetor bears a resemblance to the shadowy figure in Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer” is perhaps best left unexplored.

Gothic Women Who Are Neither Angels Nor Avatars

Ayumi, the Last Visitor – How do you make a classic rk post Gothic femme into a Kamigawa Block spirit? Stick horns on her and put her in front of a torii.

Bog Initiate – More covered-up than a typical rk post Gothic woman, but that dress and that face? It’s vintage post.

Cho-Arrim Legate – Opting for white and brown armor rather than the usual black, this Mercadian Masques mauler is all Soldier, no Mercenary (though she’s not a Rebel either).

Dawnstrider – Again, white and brown rather than black, but one look at that face and you know this Spellshaper is a post work.

Death Match – Back to black! It feels like post got more than his fair share of “bad rare” assignments. Oh well, that means you can buy more cards for less money! Death Match depicts Phage the Untouchable, corrupted version of Jeska, Warrior Adept (another post work). I hope the fellow in the foreground is praying for an afterlife, because he’s not living through that.

Emissary of Despair and Emissary of Hope – This mirror-pair of Darksteel uncommons is one of my favorite duos in all of Magic art. I want artist’s proofs of these two, if he still has them.

Faerie Macabre – Like a Raggedy-Ann of an angel cut down to Faerie size, this was a perfect fit for the world of Shadowmoor. Minor Constructed applications as an anti-graveyard option.

Faerie Squadron The kinder, gentler, kicker-er side of rk post’s Faeries.

Fatespinner – “Once, she broke Magic Online. Now she is a dollar rare, mute testimony to the moment rk post discovered blue.”

Jeska, Warrior Adept – Notable for being a legend in the rk post style, and to my eye, one of his more striking Gothic femmes.

Keeper of the Beasts – An early piece by post, but the woman’s “look” fits right in on the continuum. (If you’re curious about the nature of post’s signature women, this Toby Wachter “Behind the Canvas” column talks about his models and how he adapts them to his sensibilities.)

Knight of Dusk (10th Edition) – Normally I wouldn’t be happy about Ron Spencer art being replaced, but his Knight of Dusk…dude, horses don’t have muscles like that!

Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero – I’m sure she’s better at wielding a lashknife than I am, but that just doesn’t look safe! Maybe that’s why she was banned in Masques block. (Or maybe it really was the Rebel problem?)

Mana Cache – What is this card supposed to do? I have no idea, but at least the auburn-haired cache-wielder is suitably Gothic.

Orochi Sustainer – An rk post Gothic female…that’s a snake…with four arms…and mammary glands. I don’t blame post for this one, but mammaries on a reptile is some pretty jarring art major biology.

Primal Growth – A farm implement, you say? Mm-hmm. I totally believe you, ma’am. No, I’m not edging away from you. That’s totally in your imagination.

Ragamuffyn – This card just creeps me out. I can’t look at it for more than five seconds. I think that qualifies as a resounding success.

Ruthless Cullblade – Took long enough to get a Gothic vampire, didn’t it? Ruthless Cullblade is a delight, even if this list of rk post’s female figures is starting to take on “Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions” proportions.

Serra’s Liturgy – A group shot rather than a single form, but three with a signature rk post look? I’ll make an exception.

Silent Assassin – A+ for amazing red hair, F for bedside manner.

Silverglade PathfinderRampant Growth on a dryadic stick. The branches coming out of her head are only a trifle distracting.

Skulking Knight – At least, I think it’s female. Scratch that. I’ll assume it’s female and think no more on the matter.

Spirit Flare – There’s a certain androgyny to the woman on Spirit Flare; she’s covered up more than usual, and she has short hair.

Supreme Inquisitor – I have no idea what’s going on with this picture. I mean, there’s a blond woman in the background! What’s up with that?

Swat – The scariest part of this picture? I think the dude’s fingernails are longer than Phage’s.

Trophy Hunter – I really like the detailing on this one. The archer’s attire is appropriate for the environment as well.

Unmask – A staple Legacy card and one of the most sensual Magic illustrations ever printed.

Veteran Cavalier – One of the first Magic illustrations by post, less Gothic than his later women but still an excellent taste of what was to come.

Vithian Renegades – He doesn’t count, but she’s close enough.

Vulshok Sorcerer – Practically a pin-up. “Subtle” wasn’t in the art descriptions, which is part of why the art is so popular.

Worry Beads – Two words: Gothic mermaid. Admit it. You’re sold.

Worship (7th Edition) – Before Mark Zug replaced rk post’s Avatar of Hope, the situation was reversed with Worship for 7th Edition. I like both, though Wizards went back to Mark Zug for later reprints.

Zur’s Weirding (9th Edition) – The third time was the charm for art direction and Zur’s Weirding. Between rk post, Scott M. Fischer, and Liz Danforth, post’s is the best of the bunch.

Zendikar Standard-Legal Cards Not Involving Specific Gothic Female Subjects

By the time the Indianapolis Open Weekend rolls around, several of these won’t be Standard-legal any longer, but they’re still enjoyable.

Arbor Elf – Mr. post’s recent work has much greater diversity than past subjects, a sign of his growing maturity as an illustrator (though he can still whip up a wicked Gothic illustration, as seen on Ruthless Cullblade). I enjoy this art for the balance it strikes between the figure and its background.

Armored Warhorse – I didn’t recognize this as a post artwork at first; I had to read the artist credit. It’s a good symbol of his increasing repertoire.

Coral Merfolk – Not the first time rk post created a second artwork for a single card (see Thorn Elemental), but an interesting case reflecting the change in how Magic views merfolk.

Memnite (Scars of Mirrodin Game Day Extended Art) – I want a playset of four, signed right across the top.

Merfolk Skyscout – Trippier than post’s usual. Magic’s Merfolk may have legs now, but apparently they also fly through the air on manta rays. I can’t wrap my head around it.

Mighty Leap – This almost has the feel of an experiment. The colors, edges, and subject matter are unlike post’s previous work.

Mountain (Shadowmoor) and Swamp (Shadowmoor) – A diptych divided across two cards to create the Mountain and Swamp. The mural reveals a completely different scene from that suggested by the individual cards.

Stormfront Pegasus – While my favorite rk post equine remains the mount of the Veteran Cavalier, Stormfront Pegasus makes me want to see future horses from him.

Tajuru Preserver – A half-dollar rare with a tough, “don’t mess with me” attitude out of a slender but scrappy Elf Shaman.

Viridian Revel – One thing is obvious: pre-New Phyrexia Mirrodin was not known for its fashion sense.

Warpath Ghoul – The art is fine by Zombie standards, but I still haven’t forgiven Wizards for disposing of Scathe Zombies and the incredible Samuel Taylor Coleridge flavor text.

Miscellaneous Cards of Utility and Awesomeness

Brooding Saurian – A Commander favorite, better known as “Bribery ‘B’ Gone.”

Covetous Dragon – Perhaps it does not seem so impressive by today’s creature standards, but back in 1999, it made Kai Budde a world champion. It’s hard to argue with that.

Darkheart Sliver – You don’t like Slivers? That’s fine. There are plenty of people who do. I will admit, though, that this one is creepier than usual.

Double Cleave – The adorable Kithkin, already twisted once by the transformation of Lorwyn to Shadowmoor, then got handed over to rk post. It couldn’t have ended well.

Flame Jab – The sharp-eyed observer will note how much the trees in Flame Jab resemble those on his Swamp.

Fulminator Mage – “Hello, Fulminator Mage. Are you male or female?” “Burn the world. Burn the world. Burn the world.” “I see. Thank you for the answer.” “Burn the world. Burn the world. Burn the world.” Fulminator Mage, folks. Hide your nonbasics.

Ichorid – Disgusting as all get-out, but incredibly well-executed. Namesake card of Ichorid decks, second only to Morphling in how iconic it is among rk post art. Get your playset signed.

Kaervek the Merciless – I’ve seen a few Commander decks built around this legend. If you have one of those decks, take advantage of the chance to get your general…I mean, Commander signed.

Mind Funeral – No auburn hair for these heads, no feminine features, just pure existential horror.

Mindlock Orb – I love how moody and unsettling this piece is. The small patch of plants growing under it, as if the Mindlock Orb is a replacement sun, just adds to the feel.

Morphling – Incredibly powerful for its time, paired with instantly recognizable artwork? That’s the perfect combination for an iconic card. Many artists never get one, so it’s saying something that Morphling was rk post’s first.

Necroplasm – What is that thing? Besides a Ratchet Bomb equivalent for creatures with converted mana cost three and under, of course.

Onyx Goblet – In terms of Alara, the background of this piece screams Grixis, but the intricate details of the goblet are all Esper. Creepy, but elegant…

Phyrexian Reclamation – …unlike Phyrexian Reclamation, which is just creepy (if a potentially useful engine card).

Sakashima the Impostor – “I’m ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces,’ all right. I keep them in my robe.”

Shiv – I haven’t played with Planechase enough to know if this is a good card, but I like the art, and more space to get an artist’s signature is a good thing, right?

Shrieking Specter – Notable as post’s other debut artwork in Starter 1999 (along with Veteran Cavalier).

Simic Sky Swallower – Never trust the Simic to talk about new and improved features. They’re always hidden behind a bio-engineered fog bank.

Sky Swallower – I wanted this card to be good. I really did. At least I’ll have the art to remember.

Sliver Queen, Brood Mother – The cool kids bring Vanguard cards for Mr. post to sign. Do it!

Snow Mercy – And what’s cooler than getting a Vanguard card signed? A holiday foil.

Tamanoa – The first time I saw Tamanoa, I didn’t know what it was supposed to be. All I knew was that I wanted to pair it with Searing Meditation. Today, not much has changed.

Teferi’s Moat – Unfortunately for his people, Teferi got his moat-building inspiration from Legends of the Hidden Temple.

Thorn Elemental – Bonus points for the Japanese magazine promo. Also note that the 7th Edition art is different from all other appearances; this is the form post prefers, though the fans voted otherwise in “Selecting 8th Edition.”

Tidehollow Sculler – My personal favorite among all rk post artwork. It has a classic feel and could easily be transplanted into a book on Greek mythology to depict the boatman of the Styx, Charon.

Torchling – This riff on Morphling was created in a different time, and never established itself as the fearsome creature its blue cousin had been.

All the Rest (and Possibly Your Favorite)

Abyssal Horror


Blazing Salvo

Damping Engine

Dogged Hunter

Dust Elemental


Foul Spirit

Haunting Hymn

High Ground

Hollow Specter

Infectious Host

Lumengrid Augur


Nesting Wurm

Ore Gorger

Pardic Arsonist

Ridged Kusite

Sandbar Merfolk

Shaper Parasite

Skittering Monstrosity

Thrull Surgeon

Tilling Treefolk

Twisted Experiment

Urza’s Armor

Voices from the Void

Warped Researcher


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the art of rk post. If you’re at the Indianapolis Open Weekend, don’t forget to bring a few cards along for Mr. post to sign. If you do forget, buy some packs of M12 and get to cracking! If you’re an art geek like me, you’ll want a card signed, even if it’s “just” a random Mighty Leap.

As always, thanks for reading.


@jdbeety on Twitter