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Vintage Interview with Original MTG Artist: Christopher Rush

I first met Chris through a mutual friend at the premier of Schwarzenegger’s movie Conan the Barbarian in 1982.   Without much help from Arnold, Chris and I became friends, and began wiling away the hours in his parent’s basement discussing art, games, comics, books, and movies.  Chris and I motivated each other to improve our craft and I thank him for all he has taught me over the years.

JM:  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

CR: Yes, I started in elementary and then in high school drawing my D&D character and environment for the adventures.

JM:  Who are you major influences?

CR: at the time it was all the artists for the D&D games from TSR. Larry Elmore, and also book cover artists like Michael Whelan and Brom.

JM: You mentioned gaming. Do you still play Magic: the Gathering?

CR: I still play MTG on occasion at my local shops, drafts mostly.  Right now I mainly play PC games like World of Warcraft.

JM: Were you prepared for the success of MtG?

CR: Not at all, it was a complete surprise, and in hindsight, I think it was more than I could handle.

JM: It did hit hard and fast, and you did the illustration for the most popular and valuable card in the game, The Black Louts. Do you get many requests to sign those?

CR: So many, I think there just may be more signed “Loti” than unsigned. Though there are some collectors that still consider a signature a “defacing” of the card.

JM: Do you go to any signings or conventions these days?

CR: (laughs) not very many, it’s been about 2 years since I’ve been to one. That has contributed to my reputation of being a “recluse”.

JM: What would be the best way for a fan to reach you? Or is it down to pure luck?

CR: The best way is through Facebook.

JM: Do you sell prints or take commissions?

CR: I do take commissions, schedule permitting, and the best way to request those is through FB.

JM:  Are you working on any fun projects at the moment?

CR: Some personal projects, but just something that will or will not ever see the light of day if I ever finish it. I have been doing some tattoo designs for people lately, that has been fun.

JM: Did you go to art school?

CR: I went to the Art Institute of Seattle. I was recruited from High School, and the course ended up being more about production design than painting, but I was able to use that to my advantage. It broadened my outlook on art styles and gave me a perspective that actually improved my painting insight.

JM: Is it weird that our work has become nostalgia to people now?

CR: (laughs) I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that we, as MtG artists, have influenced so many people, but I am appreciative of the opportunity and glad that others have gained inspiration from our creativity.

JM: I have noticed a lot more really talented artists working in the field today. Do you have any advice for an up and coming young illustrator?

CR: I have noticed the same thing, and I think it comes down to a willingness to master the modern tools such as digital artwork. I have always viewed that as just another tool to present your imagination, but personally I have always tried to make the digital medium conform to my experience and knowledge of the painted medium. The new talented artists can see beyond that and make the digital medium work for them. I have seen some truly amazing digital artwork that has no correlation to physical media.

JM: Do you have a favorite memory from the old days of working on MtG?

CR: One of my favorite memories is coming to the basement of Wizards and looking at the list of cards I could chose from to paint. it was magical that the artists were given such creative freedom to make such an amazing game and world. In the beginning, it was truly a collaborative project. I think that is that essence that lead to it’s success.

JM: Your oldest daughter is quite a talented artist, do you think she may follow you into illustration?

CR: I think she probably won’t, but I consider her to be a better artist than I was at her age

JM: What medium do you work in?

CR: I work in acrylics for physical media and use Photoshop and Corel Painter to do digital paintings, but even digital paintings have their start in acrylics and graphite on paper.

JM: Do you scan in sketches?

CR: Yes, I am always more comfortable drawing on paper to start with, I love the feel of pen and pencil on paper.

JM: If you could have an honest conversation with one person living or dead, who would it be?

CR: My first thought would be that I would want to talk to an artist that influenced me, but on second thought, I think I would like to have a conversation with Jesus Christ and Mohammad. Over margarita’s.


If you wish to purchase or view Christopher Rush artwork, please visit his Facebook page managed by his daughter, Sierra Rush.


Islandswamp says:

Sep 02,2016

This was great. I miss the old days, Magic was perfect back then. Thanks for this!

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