Grand Prix London is just three days away! Yesterday Ken Crocker covered some of the special guests and events we’ll have at #GPLondon. Today I’ll put the spotlight on our Artist Guests of Honor, Aleksi Briclot and John Avon!
French artist Aleksi Briclot is one of the most high-impact illustrators in the modern era of Magic and the illustrator of Grand Prix London’s playmat artfeaturing Chandra Nalaar!
The first glimpse of Aleksi Briclot’s talent that most Magic players received was on an obscure Champions of Kamigawa uncommon called Oni Possession.
In the next set, Betrayers of Kamigawa, Aleksi gained more notice with his art on two prominent cards, Limited all-star removal spell Horobi’s Whisper and future Burn deck tool Flames of the Blood Hand. From there his reputation only grew.
Aleksi’s single biggest impact on the game was his illustration of the first planeswalker cards for Magic, the “Lorwyn Five.” He rose to the challenge, and his compelling vertical-format illustrations set the standard for artists to follow.
It may surprise players to learn that Aleksi’s Magic work, as high-impact as it is, totals fewer than 80 card illustrations. Among the non-Planeswalker highlights:
Borborygmos Enraged – This Gatecrash legend is best-known as the finisher in Grishoalbrand decks.
Demonic Pact – This splashy mythic rare from Magic Origins already has made an impact on Standard.
Primeval Titan – “Prime Time” is a key card in the infamous Amulet Bloom Modern deck and is famous for having been controversially “too good” for Commander.
Sliver Hivelord – The latest in a line of five-color legendary Slivers.
Thoughtseize (Lorwyn) – The defining discard spell of Standard and Modern alike.
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre – One of the three infamous Eldrazi titans once imprisoned on Zendikar.
Venser, Shaper Savant – This legendary creature’s singular ability to return either a spell or permanent to the owner’s hand makes it popular in several forms of play.
If eight Magic art enthusiasts drafted every illustrator who ever worked on the game, John Avon would be taken in the first round.
The British illustrator made his Magic debut all the way back in 1996 with the Mirage set. His four Mountains, all dramatically different and gorgeously illustrated, made him an instant hit with collectors and many more commissions followed, now numbering in the hundreds.
Originally trained on oil painting among others, John Avon changed his main professional medium to quicker, more deadline-friendly acrylics done with his now-famous airbrush technique. Among the cards he illustrated with his airbrush are Opalescence, his iconic Invasion Plains, and Riptide Laboratory.
During Mirrodin block, John Avon made the digital leap, trading the frustrations of the acrylic airbrush for a Macintosh once he figured out how to express his essential style via computer. His basic lands for Mirrodin were among his last paintings for Magic, and subsequent works, such as his Champions of Kamigawa Mountains, are digital-only creations.
Physical paint on left, pixels on right.
While John Avon has slowed down his Magic contributions over the years due to age and illness, he remains a fixture. In Standard-legal blocks, Journey into Nyx common Nature’s Panoply is a gorgeous example of his illustrative magic, as are the after-and-before takes on Tranquil Cove from Khans of Tarkir block.
John Avon’s notable (non-basic-land) illustrations from his digital era include:
Ancient Ziggurat – A favorite of multicolor creature decks.
Darksteel Citadel – A key Affinity component getting a new lease on life with the artifact-heavy Magic Origins set.
Maelstrom Pulse (Modern Masters/Grand Prix printing) – A staple of Modern Jund and Abzan decks.
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea – A favorite of “group hug”-style Commander decks.
Simic Growth Chamber – Along with the rest of its bounceland cycle, is a key component of the Amulet Bloom Modern deck.
Supreme Verdict – The uncounterable Wrath effect key to Modern control decks.
Vedalken Orrery – A gameplay-transforming staple of Commander games worldwide.
Tomorrow: John Dale Beety wraps up our blog series along with a venue map for Grand Prix London!