Magic artist Phil Foglio talks about his favorite MTG art pieces

Artist Phil Foglio created artwork for Magic: The Gathering from 1994 through 1998, making his return in 2022's Double Masters 2022.

Over those years, the artist has done a ton of cards he's pleased with such as Mirror Universe from Legends and others, but one of the first cards (literally plural) he worked on for the game along with his wife, Kaja, rank near the top.  That would be the four versions of the card Mishra's Factory from Antiquities -- one for each season: winter, spring, summer, and autumn.

"We did the four of those the night after a Thanksgiving," recalls Foglio.  "We had to catch a plane the next day, so we were sitting at a card table just passing paintings back and forth.  I'd work on something then, while it dried, she would be working another part of another card and we just swapped all four of them back and forth with each other and we were able to pop [them] in an envelope before we got on the plane."

But there's not his absolute favorite.  That wouldn't be printed until the next set, Legends, with the work he did for the card Presence of the Master.

"Back in those days, they just gave you the name of the card; they didn't tell you anything about it," he tells.  "You had to pry it out of them and, most of the time, the art director didn't know."


So, with a card name like Presence of the Master, Foglio decided to do the most logical thing he could think of.  He drew a picture of the theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein.

"And it kind of precipitated a kind of a crisis at Wizards of the Coast because they were like: This is a real person! I don't know if we can use this," says Foglio.  "So there was a possibility I'd have to redo it.  But they decided to go with it, so that's the card we all know and love."

As for the card the artist gets asked to autograph most frequently, Folgio says it's the card Humility from the set Tempest.

"It's just a picture of a wizards and a dragon and they're down on their luck and they're down to street busking," the artist explains.  "It's not my best picture, but I like the movement and I like the expressions on their faces and, apparently, it just fits the card perfectly."

As for the one he's most proud of, that would be his work for the Weatherlight card, Redwood Treefolk.  It's a card that he wasn't originally assigned to create artwork for.

"I get a call from the art director, Jesper Myrfors...and he's, like: I need a card as soon as possible!  The guy we had doing it bailed and this thing goes to press at the end of the week," tells Foglio.  "And I said: What's the card?  And he said: Redwood Treefolk.  And I said: Okay.  I'll get you that card as soon as I can."

As it turns out, the soonest Foglio was able to paint and mail the artwork was that very same day.

"So the next day I call him...and I said: Look on your desk.  There should be a FedEx envelope," says Foglio.  "And he's like: Oh, wow!  Is that the sketch?  This is great."

Foglio continues, "I'm like: No, that's not the sketch.  It's the card."

Outside of Magic, Foglio and his wife currently do the popular web comic Girl Genius, which is also a role-playing game published by Steve Jackson Games as well as a PC game that can be found on Steam.

And, for those whom would like to meet them, the pair will also be attending CommandFest San Francisco April 19-21 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California.

Barry White

Barry White is a longtime Magic: The Gathering player, having started in 1994 shortly before the release of 'Fallen Empires.' After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he went on to a 15-year journalism career as a writer, reporter, and videographer for three different ABC affiliate newsrooms.