Las Vegas – Dan Frazier is one of the most well-known artists in the history of Magic: The Gathering. After all, five of the “Power Nine” were painted by him. Over half. But he doesn’t seem to value that very much. Showing his most recent studies with still lifes, he states, without blinking, that “this is way better than the crap I drew for Magic”. This self-deprecation is characteristic of the good mood of the artist, who came to Brazil during the GP Rio in 1998 and suffered a lot from the heat. “That heat is not normal. When I was signing cards in Rio, I had a five-pound bag of ice in my lap. There was no other way to withstand the heat of 43 degrees!”
Frazier has fond memories of Magic, but says he will not paint any more cards for the game. “They got 96 cards from me (Gatherer says they’re 153), it’s more than good. These new artists are so much better than me. And, if you say otherwise, you’re wrong”, he says, leaving no chance for aftershocks. Despite not drawing for the game anymore, he continues to go to events like GPs and Pro Tours, as long as his wife agrees. “She’s the one who decides. If she wants to go, we go. Otherwise, no”. Then, an eventual return to Brazil passes through her endorsement. And for the money he can get by signing the cards his fans send him, for two dollars each. According to the artist, it is this money that allows him to travel to Magic events. “Being here, signing, selling through these GP days, doesn’t pay my hotel, food, stuff, you know?”.
Besides the heat, Dan Frazier has only fond memories of Brazil. “I cannot say much about Brazil in order not to offend other countries. But the beach of Ipanema, with wonderful women, the meat diner-deals, those drinks… dance at night. All incredible. How about caffeine? What’s that? I took something that left me awake for two days in a row. Guaraná, that was it!”, he laughs as he remembers. Another thing he remembers is who made it possible for several Magic artists to be there, sharing a space with him in Las Vegas, presenting his works, selling his art: Jesper Myfors. “He’s here, too, somewhere. It was him, insisting that the names of the artists appear in the cards, that made this possible today. Otherwise, we would be a bunch of nobodies”.
Frazier remembers when he first met Wizards of the Coast. There were four people working in a garage. Peter Adkinson, the founder, Richard Garfield, game designer who created Magic, Jesper Myrfors, art director, and a woman he does not recall the name. Myrfors found him at a GenCon and invited him to do some work for Wizards before Magic. As for the card game, he remembers that the payment was 100 dollars per card. “Fifty in cash and the rest in stock and royalties. They were desperate… no! I was desperate! Back then, that was nothing. Because stock and royalty of nothing equals nothing. Eventually it started to worth a lot. In the end, everything went well. Magic was very good for me. Really”.
There was an occasion when his wife telephoned him, saying that a Wizards of the Coast correspondence had come in his name. “Open, please, I asked her. So she told me it was a check for Magic’s royalties, worth $ 4,600… I said… what?! $4,600 for that? It’s money for free! Then I called Jesper, who answered me, saying that this was nothing, that there was some artists who would make more than 90 thousand dollars in royalties”, he says. “When I asked who, he laughed and replied: you, you fool!”.
Continuous relationship with art
Humble, the artist tells that he studies a lot of art, and that now he doesn’t paint images, but studies and paints the light of objects. Asked if there is any purpose in the art, he answers without blinking: “You ask me the meaning of life. For each person, art has a meaning. There are different people, there are different types of art. For some, there is a deep philosophical meaning, while others only want to make some change. Sometimes, if you are an illustrator, try to satisfy who pays you. For me, when I paint, I try to learn more about the secrets of painting”, explains Frazier, who lately has devoted himself to still lifes.
“I’m painting the still lifes, so I make things shine, I work on the texture. I try to discover these secrets by myself. These are things that other artists, hundreds of years ago, have discovered. This is fascinating. Why do this or that? And that’s what I’m working on now. In making things shine”.
Dan Frazier has done studies on how to paint like the ancient masters, such as Da Vinci. “How would he paint grisé, the underpainting, the greens… how did he do it? It’s about values, oils, all the magic things he did before the invention of the camera”. For the artist, the secret lies in knowing how to deceive people with their art. “Our work is illusion, right? Just like a camera, which lies to us in taking a picture because it does not show reality, we lie to you. We introduce our work, which is an illusion, and we use tricks to deceive your brain”, he says, regretting not being able to do the same with his cat.
“See, I trick you, but not my cat”, he says, pointing to our special envoy Fausto de Souza, who has hit this long and pleasant conversation with Frazier. And I do not cheat on my cat because he does not live under our rules. He sees a wall of colors, but to him that doesn’t matter. Because it will not feed him, it will not meet his interests. Cats do not care”, laughs him.
Another artist that he admires is Rembrandt, obviously. The light and shadow work of the Dutchman is the inspiration he has. “I copy his work, and in doing so, I always learn something about how he would do his art. But do not forget, he was an idiot! I don’t tend to mix his work with the personality”, he warned, recalling the fact that the artist left his pregnant girlfriend in a sanitarium to avoid the scandal in the society of those days.
Getting back Magic, Frazier continues his work of taking away the importance of his art in the game. There is a combination of cards that has always caught the attention of older fans. The bottom of the Mox Jet “leaks” in the Forcefield card. What’s the meaning of this? “Nothing at all. It’s rubbish”, the artist says. He says he took a paper textured in marble, cut a piece and threw the Mox Jet on top. And, in Forcefield, the person appears pushing the bottom of the Mox. “It’s just that, nothing else”.