My Spawn, My Names!
(AKA: Naming Scheme of Alterations)
My introduction to card alteration artwork was a sudden trial-by-hellfire weekend of frantic, clumsy improvisation, and torrential anxiety sweat.
Magic the Gathering Grand Prix Madrid 2010 was a record breaker for attendance at 2,200ish players. Upon arrival, a snaking Jormungandr of a line was already waiting, fistfuls of cards thirsty for ink in every one of its uncountable hands. The first person in line began the avalanche to come by asking for a handful of alterations and a playmat drawing.
Because this was my first show, he helpfully brought examples of what he’d gotten from the last guest artist. That artist being the dreadlocked titan "Alexi Briclot, the Unfollowable Act." They were gorgeous. Full color playmat sketches that looked like the spirit of watercolor itself had manifested through Alexi. Card alters so amazing that, to this day, I still can’t figure out how he did them. This was the sudden standard I was blindsided with. It was kind of like finding yourself on a first date with a gal who just dumped Chris Hemsworth because he wasn’t handsome or charming enough.
This impossble standard, and I was armed with only with black and silver Sharpies.
If failure is an opportunity to learn, then a colossal flaming crater of a failure must be the ultimate in enlightening experiences, right?
I did my best, people still seemed happy with the artwork - but I wasn’t. I went home and ordered everything the internet had and began experimenting. I wanted to do more events, and less embarrassing myself. Over the next year or two of sometimes cataclysmically messy trial and error, I figured some things out. I got better.
As the quality of alterations grew, so did the options available. So I needed names for those options. Those early stepping stones were classically Bronze, Silver, and Gold level alterations. (Madrid 2010 alterations are maybe the Rusty Artifact level. Rare, but less than pretty.) Then I started adding full color, so… a platinum level, I guess? They continued to grow in scope, and more names wriggled into existance.
There was a point at which I decided that I was only interested in the high quality color alterations, the rest were cruelly banished to history.
So there. Now maybe I seem marginally less weird. Very marginally.