And finally, the artist interview of our featured artist, Daarken. Daarken does not need a lot of introduction, but I do have a few things that might interest you. Daarken worked on the style guide for Khans of Tarkir, and has illustrated Sarkhan on cards three times. (Sarkan Vol, Form of the Dragon, and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker.) Daarken is also our playmat artist, and did a really great writeup of his process on the playmat art here.
Rob: You’ve done quite a bit of Magic art (readers, you can see those cards here). Are there any pieces that have a really interesting story or history behind them?
Daarken: Sarkhan Vol probably has the longest history behind him. I originally concepted and painted Sarkhan back in either 2007 or 2008. I know Shards of Alara came out in 2008, but usually we do the paintings up to a year before the release date.
In 2012 I was approached to redesign Sarkhan for Khans of Tarkir. It was fun to revist an old painting and give him a bit more attention. It is pretty interesting to see how my painting style had changed between the two paintings.
I actually wrote a blog post about the design process of Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker if you want to check it out.
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?
Daarken: I’m pretty surprised by the amount of press and recognition you get from being a Magic artist. I always knew it was a huge IP and that it was played around the world, but I guess I never really considered how many people would recognize me after creating art for the game.
No other game flies you around the world to sign autographs. I have been incredibly grateful for the opportunity to visit other countries. In fact, aside from the one time I went to London with my parents when I was a little kid, the only time I have ever been able to visit another country was because I was flown there as a guest artist. It is pretty awesome.
Rob: Are there any alters or signings you have done at events that are significant or memorable for you?
Daarken: I think Boba Ghast is always a memorable one. Lately I haven’t been doing very many, but that is probably because most people tend to alter more recent cards.
Rob: Do you work traditionally, digitally, or both?
Daarken: I was trained traditionally in school, but all of my professional work is digital. I haven’t really painted traditionally since school. I would love to get back into it, but I really don’t have the time. I did a few acrylic border extensions, but I don’t know if that really counts.
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?
Daarken: I don’t use reference very often. Sometimes I’ll shoot reference of my hands or of myself holding a sword, or maybe of some folds if I can’t get the clothing to look right, but usually I just paint from my imagination.
Rob: Do you have anything non-Magic related you want to talk about? Any interesting other projects you have done or are working on?
Daarken: For the past year or so I’ve been teaching an online mentorship. I just started the advanced class and the intro class is on its third term. I love seeing everyone’s progress over the course of the class and I feel that I have made some new friends.
It is also amazing that I have students from all over the world. I think my current advanced class has students from the US, England, Argentina, Chile, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
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?
Daarken: Yeah, I have an online store located at www.daarken.com/shop.
Daarken, thanks tons, and I know I’ve said it before, but this playmat art is amazing.
If you want to get your hands on the playmat for GP San Antonio, with Daarken’s incredible art, all you need to do is sign up. Everyone that plays in the main event at GP San Antonio this weekend gets a copy of the playmat.
You can also meet Daarken and get your Sarkhans and playmats signed by coming by the hall this Friday through Sunday.
See you at the GP!