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Like Game of Thrones? Check out Story & Craft – A Magic: The Gathering Exhibition at MIAD

MILWAUKEE … If you like science fiction, fantasy art, Dungeons & Dragons or TV shows like Game of Thrones, then you may want to check out Story & Craft – A Magic: The Gathering Exhibition at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design’s (MIAD) Brooks Stevens Gallery, 273 E. Erie Street, on view Nov. 11, 2019 through Jan. 11, 2020.

"Guardian of the Eastern Door" illustration by Winona Nelson

“Guardian of the Eastern Door” by Winona Nelson

Since its debut in 1993, artists have designed more than 20,000 game cards and its fan base has grown to more than 20 million players worldwide. The exhibition at MIAD is the first of its kind in the Midwest, and only the second in the game’s history in North America.

Artists who design cards for Magic: The Gathering are among an elite group. “It is the peak of fantasy illustration to have your work on Magic: The Gathering cards,” said John Matson, Illustration professor at MIAD and a Magic: The Gathering card illustrator.

Matson added that artists who design Magic: The Gathering cards not only need to be great illustrators, but they also need to be good communicators and storytellers.

The exhibition examines the game card design process and gaming culture. It features rare original Magic: The Gathering artwork and cards, plus concept drawing and models from different periods of the game’s history – taking visitors on a journey through the design process from sketches to design to final art creation. The fans and players of Magic literally invent the rules and methods of play, and this exhibition also highlights the evolution of the many differing ways of playing.

MIAD’s galleries are open to the public Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free. The galleries are closed during  the college’s Thanksgiving Break (Nov. 28 & 29) and Winter Break (Dec. 24 – Jan. 1, 2020). More information:

Events at MIAD open to the public and the MIAD community:

Artist Talk: “Making a Career of Diversity in Fantasy Art”
Nov. 14, 7 p.m.
Artist Winona Nelson has worked in the video game and tabletop gaming industries for more than a decade. She has painted over 135 Magic cards and tokens, and traveled the world to sign cards at tournaments and events. Throughout her career she has worked to expand representations of diversity in fantasy and science fiction culture. Nelson’s fine art often focuses on the stories and history of her tribe, the Ojibwe of Minnesota, and on the experiences of women and minorities. Free admission.

Opening Reception
Nov. 15, 6 – 8 p.m.
Join us for an Opening Reception for Story & Craft – A Magic: The Gathering Exhibition in MIAD’s Brooks Stevens Gallery. Free admission. 

Magic: The Gathering Game Day
Nov. 16, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

All experience levels are welcome to play Magic: The Gathering at MIAD. Guest appearance by illustrator Winona Nelson. Playing cards will be provided, or bring your own – all game formats welcome. Free admission. Co-hosted by MIAD’s Magic: The Gathering club.

Events specifically for MIAD students:

Winona Nelson: Talk with Students, Nov. 14, 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
MIAD Innovation Center, Room 270
Illustrator Winona Nelson discusses her inspirations and work process as a Magic: The Gathering illustrator and exhibiting fine artist.

Art Director Talk: Mike Linneman, Nov. 18, 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
MIAD Innovation Center, Room 270
Linneman shares his approach as an art director selecting artist works, creating prompts for illustrators and experiences installing Magic: The Gathering exhibitions.

Photo of John Matson

John Matson ’94 (Illustration) and MIAD faculty member

Illustrator Talk: John Matson, Nov., 20, 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
MIAD Innovation Center, Room 270
Matson, a MIAD instructor, shares his experience as a former Magic: The Gathering illustrator, his work as a freelancer and how those experiences inform his approach to teaching fantasy illustration at MIAD.

Photo of Jeff Miracola

Jeff Miracola, MIAD alumnus

Illustrator Talk: Jeff Miracola, Nov. 25, 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Todd Wehr Auditorium
Alum Jeff Miracola discusses his experience as a Magic: The Gathering illustration and industry insight from his entrepreneurial ventures and how-to video series.


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