I got back from Houston on Sunday. I spent all day Saturday at the Worldwake Prerelease event, from 8 am to 8 pm. I learned a lot from the experience.
The first thing I learned is that I probably got an unfair impression of downtown Houston. I didn't have a whole lot of time to explore, especially on foot. But when I got into town on Friday, I had two choices for dinner: McDonald's or a fast food place called James Coney Island. I opted for the latter. This means I took a three hour flight from New York to Texas only to eat at a place named after a New York City location. Worse, I ordered the New York Combo: a hotdog with sauerkraut. But don't worry, I had McDonald's for breakfast the following morning just for a little variety. Does anyone from Houston want to suggest a good place to eat for my return trip in April? Perhaps even a diner for breakfast?
Another thing I learned is that no one in Houston jaywalks. Everyone follows the law and waits for the little man to light up. Strange!
I learned that I can't anticipate which pieces of my art will be most popular. I also can't anticipate which prints will sell. For example, I printed 3 Khalni Gardens, 7 Nemesis Trap and 2 Crusher Zendikon, all Worldwake cards. I made prints based on my impression of the usefulness of the card, the rarity, and the quality of the art. I sold out of Crusher Zendikon in two hours and didn't sell any of the others. Almost the opposite of what I expected.
I learned that my new art case is fantastic.
I learned that many people get really confused when they see a painting on canvas. Here's a sample conversation that I had quite a few times.
"What programs do you use?"
"I don't use a program. I paint with a brush."
"Really? I didn't think anyone did that anymore."
"There are quite a few who still do. Dan Dos Santos, Matt Stewart .... umm I'm drawing a blank. But yeah, I make preliminary drawings, then transfer it to the canvas, and then lay down the paint. In fact, over there are some of my original illustrations."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean I mail those canvases to Wizards and they photograph it and put it on the card."
"So this is like the only one?"
"Yup, it's the original."
"Wish I could afford it."
Conversations like these really got me thinking. So, I got out my set of Zendikar and made a tally of Digital v. Traditional. Of the artists in Zendikar, 39 work digitally and 20 work traditionally. In case anyone is curious ...
Finally, I continued to learn that Magic players really care about the art and the artists. Art is subjective by nature, so I may never understand what people like and dislike. But regardless of whether they like your work or hate your work, they still appreciate when the artists make it to the event.
So, a big thank-you to Sheila Weissman and Event Horizons for sponsoring the event and flying me in (and also for getting me lunch and dinner!) And thanks to all the players who came and stopped by my table. I look forward to coming back to Houston in a couple months. The Grand Prix should be really fun.