Jesper Myrfors

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Jesper Myrfors
Jesper Myrfors
Born Sweden
Status Inactive: Alpha to Fallen Empires
Style Acrylic Gouache, Horrific Elements
Education and/or training Cornish College of the Arts
Cards Gatherer search for cards illustrated by Jesper Myrfors, GathererWizards of the Coast

Jesper Myrfors is one of the original twenty-five Magic: The Gathering artists and the original art director. While his tenure as an artist was short, he is without a doubt one of the most important people to have worked on the game.

Career[edit | edit source]

Jesper has worked for numerous companies, most notably as the creator of the now defunct Clout: Fantasy for Hidden City Games.[1] Myrfors graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Illustration, having been classmates with fellow Magic artists Anson Maddocks and Andi Rusu.[2] Most recently he was the Chief Creative Officer for Hidden City Games[3] and lives in the Seattle area with his wife Julie "Spoops" Myrfors who was an artist for the game Bella Sara. In 2009, they were both laid off from the company they helped to found[4] and are working on a children's book together.[2]

Art Director[edit | edit source]

Jesper left Cornish College being told he'd never make a career in fantasy artwork, proving them wrong he ended up getting involved with Wizards of the Coast as an art director for Talislanta and the Primal Order. After several months with WotC, they showed him the cardboard prototypes for Magic: The Gathering and allowed him to be the art director for it as well. One of the first things he did was to nix the idea of using second-hand artwork in lieu of original artworks. He argued it would be far cheaper and the initial Magic artists were paid $50 in cash, $50 in stocks, and be provided with 50 artist proofs per work.[5] The style guide was non-existent back then and he merely called artists over the phone and read off a list of available card names, allowing artists to pick which ones they wanted to illustrate.[6] One of the only initial constraints for artwork was that it could not be digital, the only digital piece to make it into Alpha was Circle of Protection: Black as a last minute addition.[7] Jesper also provided card texts for Alpha[8]

As the original art director for the game, Jesper is highly responsible for much of the technical visual elements as well. He and Christopher Rush designed and colored the Magic card back, even inserting a small personal joke (the blue oval line is a cropped scan of a bad painting owned by WOTC former art director, Lisa Stevens) into it.[9] The framing elements on the front of the card are largely attributed to him, [10] although Rush did the mana symbols.[5] Many of the elements have changed over the years, but his influence on the card design remains and the card backs will almost certainly never change.

Jesper was not only the art director, but also the set director for The Dark, making him responsible for both its cards and art. As such, much of the design direction was geared towards allowing himself and other artists to create the artwork they had been desiring. [11] The Dark while not as popular with players is important due its highly themed story and approach to style. It is the only early set where you can see a unified artistic vision across the entire set, making it apparent some sort of quasi-style guide was in place. Judging by the lack of a unified approach to artwork in the subsequent sets of Fallen Empires and Ice Age, it isn't hard to attribute the heavy style continuity in The Dark to Jesper's leadership. Afther this set Jesper resigned as art director and was succeeded by Sandra Everingham and Sue Ann Harkey.

After Fallen Empires, Jesper would stop illustrating cards for sets, but after [[[Portal]] he was rehired as the art director. [12] At the start of the Rath cycle he put together the first official style-guide along with Mark Tedin, Anson Maddocks, Anthony Waters, and Matt Wilson.[13] This helped to bring a highly unified vision to the art and style of Magic helping to concrete him as the single most important person in terms of the way Magic looks.

Artist[edit | edit source]

Myrfors was only active as an artist between Alpha and Fallen Empires, however his art graced numerous cards that are still recognizable such as Armageddon, Atog and Bayou. Jespers prefers to use acrylic Gouache, pen and ink, but employs digital methods for design work.[2] His artworks vary radically in style, ranging from abstract to eerily realistic. The one common theme amongst his illustrations tends to be horrific, Lovecraftian and gothic elements that lend themselves perfectly to black and green cards. As the original art director he had a lot of creative control as well as distinctions - his most notable artistic one being Ironroot Treefolk, the very first illustrated Magic card ever.[7] He likens two of his favorite artists - Rob Alexander and Ian Miller - as direct influences.[14]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Grigsby, John (2005-09-26). AN INTERVIEW WITH PETER ADKISON AND JESPER MYRFORS. d20 Magazine Rack. Retrieved on 2010-09-10.
  2. a b c Jesper Myrfors :: The Original Artist Visionary of Magic: The Gathering. MTG Stores (2010-09-08). Retrieved on 2010-09-10.
  3. Myrfors, Jesper. Jesper Myrfors' LinkedIn. LinkedIn. Retrieved on 2010-09-10.
  4. Myrfors, Julie. About Spoops Art. Spoops Art. Retrieved on 2010-09-10.
  5. a b Chang, Daniel (2010-05-12). MTGStores.com presents MTG Artist Jesper Myrfors' Estate Collection :: Part 4 of 8. MTG Stores. Retrieved on 2010-09-10.
  6. Chang, Daniel (2010-06-19). MTGStores.com presents - Lunch with Jesper Myrfors, Mark Tedin & Anson Maddocks Part 5 of 5. MTG Stores. Retrieved on 2010-09-10.
  7. a b Chang, Daniel (2010-05-12). MTGStores.com presents MTG Artist Jesper Myrfors' Estate Collection :: Part 2 of 8. MTG Stores. Retrieved on 2010-09-10.
  8. John Carter. (December 25, 2004.) “The Original Magic Rulebook”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Chang, Daniel (2010-05-12). MTGStores.com presents MTG Artist Jesper Myrfors' Estate Collection :: Part 7 of 8. MTG Stores. Retrieved on 2014-10-05.
  10. Mark Rosewater. (January 27, 2003.) “Frames of Reference”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Chang, Daniel (2010-05-12). MTGStores.com presents MTG Artist Jesper Myrfors' Estate Collection :: Part 1 of 8. MTG Stores. Retrieved on 2010-09-10.
  12. An interview with Sue Ann Harkey, Magic's greatest art director
  13. Toby Wachter. (November 04, 2002.) “Behind the Canvas: Mark Tedin”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Chang, Daniel (2010-05-12). MTGStores.com presents MTG Artist Jesper Myrfors' Estate Collection :: Part 5 of 8. MTG Stores. Retrieved on 2010-09-10.
  15. Monty Ashley. (December, 9 2008.) “Ask Wizards: Gleemox and Elves of Deep Shadow”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.

External links[edit | edit source]

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