GP San Antonio is on the way this November 28-30, and we have four great artists coming to it.
I’ve interviewed each of these artists, and for the second in my artist interview series I would like to cover Peter Mohrbacher.
Rob: You’ve done quite a bit of Magic art (you can see all the cards Peter has done here). Are there any pieces that have a really interesting story or history behind them?
Peter: The first card I was ever assigned was an Island for M12. You’ve probably seen it because it got reprinted in M13 and M15.
At that point, I had never completed a single landscape painting and I hadn’t even shown any complex backgrounds in my work leading up to Magic. I couldn’t figure out why they assigned this card to me, but it was my first time out, so I didn’t want to question it. My solution was to just throw everything I had into it. I worked up a dozen possible options and I wracked my brain over it for a month. It was probably one of the most difficult assignments I’d ever gotten.
Years later, when I asked the art director why he assigned it to me, he simply replied “I wanted to see what you would do with it”.
I guess it turned out alright since they’ve reprinted it twice. But I definitely felt like I started my Magic career off by being thrown in the deep end.
Rob: Is there anything that has surprised you about doing Magic illustration? Is there anything you have been excited about in Magic illustration you don’t get from other illustrations?
Peter: I never thought I was going to see fan art of characters that I’d drawn. Seeing characters that I’ve designed like Tibalt and Erebos become part of the visual identity for Magic was not something I anticipated would happen when I started. There aren’t a lot of projects that allow a concept artist or illustrator to have their work take on a life of its own like that and that’s one of the reasons I love working on Magic in specific.
Rob: Are there any alters or signings you have done at events that are significant or memorable for you?
Peter: My first GP was out in Yokohama, Japan. I’d never done any alters before and I didn’t know what I was doing. Eric Deschamp was with me and he’s always cool and composed so he made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal. But oh man, I didn’t know what I was doing.
Tibalt had just come out at the time so I was getting a lot of players dropping 4 at a time asking for alters. I wasn’t just figuring out what alters I could do, I had to create ideas 4 times over. I really liked doing sets of popular Japanese tropes with 1 magical school girl Tibalt slipped into the set.
Rob: Do you work traditionally, digitally, or both?
Peter: I work digitally, but I’ve been meaning to move away from it. When next year’s set rolls around, my answer may be split.
Rob: What kind of modeling or references do you use when creating fantastic art? Are they any different than models you have used in non-fantastic pieces?
Peter: All my work falls in the surreal of fantastic territory. I love playing with shapes and working out ways of defying people’s expectations. Trying to balance believable figures in these scenes can be really difficult sometimes, so trying to find the right reference is always crucial.
Rob: Do you have anything non-Magic related you want to talk about? Any interesting other projects you have done or are working on?
Peter: This year, I am building a world out of a series that I’ve been working on since college. It’s a surreal take on the angelic realm called Angelarium. The work that’s been done so far is on my website, but I’ve got some big plans for later this year and early next year. It’s the work that got me hired on Magic, so I hope Magic fan will like it as much as the stuff they know me for.
Rob: Is there any way for players to get in touch with you outside of events to order alters or prints if they miss you at the Grand Prix?
Peter: I’ve started doing yearly Kickstarter campaigns called Mohrbacher: The Gathering where I do special edition playmat designs and offer my most popular prints in special bundles. Next year’s campaign will also include an artbook that looks back on my Magic career so far. Outside of that, I fulfill a few print requests via email, but I like to keep all the orders as part of these online events so it feels more special. Keep an eye out for Mohrbacher: The Gathering 2015 next summer on Kickstarter!
Peter, thanks so much for the information, and I am super excited to see you at GP San Antonio. I’m looking forward to next year’s Mohrbacher: The Gathering, where I just might snag a playmat.
As a reminder, tomorrow is the last day to register for GP San Antonio at our $40 rate – after tomorrow the price goes up to $45. You can catch Peter at GP San Antonio even if you don’t register for the event, however. Access to the hall, artists and cosplayer, and vendors is free.