Grand Prix Los Angeles Guest Artist Week: Mark Poole!

No doubt about it…”Indestructible Aura” is one of the most metal cards in Magic. Heck…that bird headed guy is even throwing the horns.

Mark Poole is one of the original twenty-five “Magic: The Gathering artists,” so that definitely had me looking forward to meeting him. Mr. Poole’s work is often hard to pick out due to a large variance in style, but he typically features balanced color palettes and often incorporates Japanese themes and style elements. His works grace numerous iconic cards such as Ancestral Recall (one of the fabled “Power Nine Cards”), Balance, Counterspell and several of the original dual lands. This makes players very familiar with his early works, as they are often foundational to the game. There is a definitive improvement and refinement of technique shown on Mr. Poole’s works over the course of his Magic career. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of South Carolina in 1987.

He was one of several “retro-artists” brought back during “Time Spiral” to recapture the early feel of the game. He updated many of his iconic works and continued to provide original art through the “Morningtide” expansion. He currently resides in Lexington, South Carolina, so GP Los Angeles was a pretty big trip for him.

I came equipped with both “Indestructible Aura” and “Howl from Beyond,” in hopes that he would autograph them as well as draw me a sketch. Honestly, it was a bit hard to jockey into position to make my pitch, since he had kind of a “handler” person with him. That fella was a bit of a gatekeeper, which I understand could be pretty important…but we hadn’t experienced that kind of thing yet. Once he understood that I was looking for a proof sketch, and the idea behind it, he was a very pleasant gentleman to deal with, which was a bit of a relief.

I mean…he did draw (and paint) some of the foundational cards of the game. That’s a pretty big deal.

Here’s “Howl from Beyond,” signed:

Also a pretty @#$%ing metal card.

That was always a fun card to play, and it’s very cool having a copy of it signed. He also had a number of custom tokens available (most of the artists did) featuring more current compositions and pieces done by him…but not for Wizards of the Coast. I really liked a couple of them, and wanted to have a more modern piece of art by Mr. Poole…and wanted to not break the bank, either.

Honestly…I might have gone a little more widely into the pocketbook if there hadn’t been a kind of “handler,” but that really made me kind of nervous. With that said, I did pick up a Warrior token (for its extra special, old school sword and sorcery look) and an energy token for my “Electrostatic Pummeler” deck which relies on accumulating energy counters. The token gives me a place to dump all the counters, so that it is clear what they are.

Here are the tokens:

Obviously, his style has changed a bit since “Howl from Beyond” and “Indestructible Aura.”

Again, pretty cool stuff. I collected the sketch from Mr. Poole pretty much at the end of the fourth round of the Pauper event, while I was making a number of “pick ups” in Artists’ Alley. Upon getting it, I was super excited…I play with plenty of the cards he has drawn all the time, and some of them I’ve been playing for the entire history of the game…twenty six years. Being able to have THAT GUY sketch an Indestructible Aura card for me, of Cap throwing the horns, is only too cool.

Plenty of my old friends from college should get a kick out of it. I certainly did.

I’m going to end off the post with the art, not side by side with the card front, to better showcase the way it came out. What’s pretty neat is in this case, if you look close you can see his pencil guidelines, and the fine black ink lines in contrast to them. I always love that…it gives a feeling about the process that I find very interesting.

I like the way he drew her jacket a lot…

We are nearing the end of GP Los Angeles Guest Artist Week! It has been fun for me, and kind of a “recharge” in not having to draw, or be creative unless I felt like it this week. It’s sometimes pretty tough to actually just draw every day, much less have it have a point, or be clever. Being able to “farm out” the week, while I do some of the business of school, and keep my life in order. Sometimes it can be hard to be “creative” on a daily basis with those other pressures.

Not that I’m complaining! I love Adequacy, and some of my art will be in the next post! Be there, as we close up Guest Artist Week!

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