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Magic the Gathering: Altered art

Magic the Gathering is possibly the most popular and most played CCG (collectible card game) available. There are a many things that MTG (Magic the Gathering) is known for; It’s strategic game play, It’s staggering amount of terminology, the nerdy followers, and of course the magnificent art work that got many players (including myself) into the game.

MTG’s art has featured some of the industry’s best artists, and not just the CCG industry but every spectrum of the art industry. MTG feature great art from those who have worked on concepts for movies and games, fine artists, comic artists, pretty much any professional artist out there.

The problem with Magic cards is the boarder hide or limit the artist’s work. This problem, coupled with a collector’s desire for customized cards has started an underground culture called “Altered art” and it’s almost 100% internet fueled.

“Altered art” is when an artist change an existing Magic card so the art is the main focus, and often time, to rid the detracting and boring boarder (though a few altered art cards work with in the boarders for a desired effect). Many altered artists achieve this by extending the current art beyond the boarders, removing the text box so only the art is featured, or some times altered art artists will create an entirely original image for the card s/he’s altering. Many altered artist who make a living doing this sell almost exclusively on Ebay, and you won’t find these cards in any local store. You can also find many privet players who alter cards for their own personal use, showing them off on large MTG forums.


The best thing about all this, and one of the main reasons why this culture could even exist, is because DCI tournament rules state that these cards are 100% legal.

Latest DCI Policy on Tournament Legality:
Section 3.3 Authorized Cards: Artistic modifications are acceptable, provided that the modifications do not make the card unrecognizable or contain substantial strategic advice. The Head Judge is the final authority on acceptable cards for a tournament.

If you are interested in these altered one of a kinds, be ready to pay a premium. Depending on the quality of the art, who the artist is, and the rarity of the card, these altered arts can run over one hundred and fifty dollars or more! a Well painted card from a known altered artist can turn a common ten cent card into a twenty or fifty dollar investment. Many are willing to purchase these cards at over twenty times it’s original value because the collectors understand that these are more than just Magic cards, these are one of a kind works of art with time and talent invested.

Continue after the break to see highlights from my own personal collection of altered art Magic cards


Graphic / example images: Card Kitty
Other credit:  
Marta Molina

* Latest DCI Policy on Tournament Legality: *
*Effective July 1, 2009
*Section 3.3 Authorized Cards:
*Artistic modifications are acceptable, provided that the modifications do not make
*the card unrecognizable or contain substantial strategic advice.
*The Head Judge is the final authority on acceptable cards for a tournament.

9 responses

  1. yasutsuna81

    Hello. Those are some really nice alters you’ve assembled there. David Durden and Marta Molina’s work stand out to me the most, for some reason.

    I had the pleasure of interviewing 3 alter artists, Alter Skelter (https://www.facebook.com/AlterSkelter?ref=stream), Nordicqueen (http://nordicqueen.canalblog.com/), and
    MimiMunster (http://www.alteredmtgcardart.com/). In case anybody wants to know about the life of an alter artist, the different types of alters, how to take care of your altered cards, or just wants to drool over stunning acrylic work, you can check out my article on it here: http://mtgfundecks.com/?page_id=1286

    Let’s let as many Magic players know about this new way to enjoy MtG! (^_^)

    July 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    • yasutsuna81

      Whoops – double-posted by accident. Sorry about that.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:00 pm

  2. Krovos

    thanks for creating this post! I had no idea it was legal to play with alt’d cards.
    Also, many of these pieces have such amazing art they really deserve to be seen!
    I am an artist myself, and would like to try my hand at alting some of my own cards,
    do you know what materiels work best (ie: won’t dmg/warp the card or just rub off)?
    Thanks again for putting this up!

    December 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm

  3. race2thestart

    I do altered art aswell. Check out my gallery at http://www.facebook.com/pages/MKs-Altered-Art/102055219924190

    May 13, 2012 at 11:39 pm

  4. Tucker McGownd

    Where can I find a link to contact DavidDurnden or view other works by him?

    February 28, 2012 at 5:23 am

  5. Pingback: The unbelievable MTG alters of Eric Klug « Sit Down, Press Play

  6. Hello, I’m Marta Molina. I was pleased to see that you have in your property several cards with my work.
    I’ll link your blog on my own.
    Best regards.

    September 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    • thanks! I’ll be sure to send a link your way as well!!

      November 28, 2011 at 8:17 am

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