-By Dan dos Santos

‘Spectra Ward’, By Ryan Lee, © Wizards of the Coast

There have always been those companies whom Artists actively seek out as clients. Maybe it’s because they have the rights to an intellectual property the Artist loves, or maybe the pay is really good, or maybe the Artists they commission are simply the best out there and we want to be a part of that.

Whatever the reason, there are always those select clients out there who consistently manage to get the very best work out of the artists they commission. Wizards of the Coast is one such client. Every new wave of art they release blows me away, and outshines the last. This most recent set of art is proving to be no different.

More than a decade ago, I aggressively pursued WOTC, trying to coerce them to hire me. Why? For ALL the reasons stated above. I grew up on Magic: The Gathering and wanted to contribute to a brand that I loved. In fact, a lot of Artists feel that way.

Whether you want to work on Magic: The Gathering, or Dungeons & Dragons, or a Dragonlance novel… Wizards of the Coast has earned a reputation for being one of the best places for an aspiring illustrator to get their start.

That is worth repeating…

Wizards of the Coast has earned a reputation for being one of the best places for an aspiring Fantasy Illustrator to get their start. 

That’s laudable feat, and a surprisingly rare one. In an era were companies are consistently merging into huge conglomerates, and constantly cutting wages in order to remain competitive,  how does a company manage such fierce loyalty amongst their employees?

You do it like this…

Senior Art Director for The Wizards of the Coast, Jeremy Jarvis, recently sent an email to all of his artists letting them know that, in addition to all the perks they already provide for their artists, WOTC will now be doing the following:

  • They are raising their already competitive pay rates by 20%
  • They have changed the amount of WOTC owned artwork you can use in your own art book from 25% to 75%
  • They’ve increased the number of artists proofs you receive by 55%. 

And they did all this without any demand or rallying from the artists!

It’s this kind of generosity, and a willingness to go to bat for the Artists that work for them, that has earned WOTC the well-desrved reputation of being a great employer. And in exchange, they consistently get some of the best work the industry has to offer. It’s a win/win situation.

When asked what instigated such a change, Art Director Jeremy Jarvis has this to say:

A huge part of Magic: the Gathering, both as part of the game and as a hallmark of the brand as a whole, is the incredible quality of the artwork. We realize what an enormous contribution the artwork makes. We also realize that we are dependent on a healthy, happy group of professional illustrators to create this amazing work. I literally can not do my job with out the strong drawing arms of men and women more talented than myself bracing me up. Magic strives to be a great client for these artists, and it is very exciting to be able to add a dollar value to that sentiment.

‘Wind Dancer’, By Cynthia Sheppard, © Wizards of the Coast

Maybe it’s WOTC’s willingness to hire a young artist when no one else will. Or maybe it’s because the AD may throw a few extra cards your way because he knows you really need it. Or perhaps it’s because they’ll fly you to Prague so you can sign some cards and hit the museums with bunch of other amazing artists. Whatever reason, I know literally dozens of Illustrators who owe their careers to WOTC.

In my opinion, Wizards of the Coast has gone from being a great client to work for, to an even better client to work for… and I felt that was worth noting.