Arting Around—An Interview With RK Post

Sometime between rounds of the main event at GP Atlantic City, I’m sitting at a table chowing down on some damn good pasta, looking around, and my eyes land on the opposite side of the 1.2 million square foot room. “I should interview rk post for the Hipsters blog,” says I. Post-pasta consumption I glide across the room (gliding is my preferred method of transportation). rk post is one of Magic’s most prolific artists. He’s painted dozens of cards including Arbor Elf, Fairie Macabre, and Tidehollow Sculler. I’m grateful that rk was very open and willing to sit with me for twenty minutes and shoot the shit about his career, his experience at GPs, and his work.

 

rk post: I’m ready when you are.

Matt Jones: I’m interested in the differences between being a fantasy art illustrator and an art world artist (fine artist). Why don’t you make paintings and try to show them in galleries, be a part of the art world? Does that interest you at all?

rk: It’s a thought, maybe one day I’ll get there, but right now I work a full time job in the video game industry …

MJ: Yeah you do 3D stuff?

rk: Yeah!

MJ: That’s cool.

rk: I know!

(laughter)

rk: Thank you! Nah, I mean it’s terribly cool. I’m a Jack of all trades and master of none. I kind of like knowing all things, mastering them, well …

MJ: You went to school for something and switched to commercial art.

rk: At first it was veterinary medicine.

MJ: Veterinary medicine, yeah …

rk: Then it became graphic design and I got all the way through my junior year doing that and I realized that I hate graphic design.

MJ: I have a friend that went to school for graphic design and realized the same thing in his senior year, so, he started helping me around the studio for a while ‘cuz he didn’t know what painting was like. He just wanted to know and didn’t want to go to school all over again for art.

rk: Yeah!

MJ: You taught yourself oils and acrylics?

rk: Uh, oils and acrylics … we had some in school and, granted we had a class we painted oils in, but it was just like whatever cheap oils I could find. Quick big canvas, whatever. And, you know, where those paintings are at today I don’t know.

(laughter)

Otherwise oils and photoshop and all the digital media I taught myself later on.

MJ: I like the taught yourself-ness of your career, it’s pretty awesome.

rk: Or “push myself” is probably more accurate. I would think “oh God, I gotta do something different and have a better skill set.”

MJ: Right, yeah, I think it’s really important to have the facility that allows you to say yes to any request, to just be able to conceive of tackling any creative challenge. To be open enough to say yes because you have the capacity.

rk: Well, like, at events like this you get a lot of requests and they’re the most oddball requests you’ve heard in your life. Like a werewolf playing basketball or something.

MJ: Right.

RK: Can you draw a werewolf? Playing basketball? Well, I can try!

MJ: Like that guy, what was he asking you, he was, um, he brought you a Mana Bloom or something that looks like a Mana Bloom but with your art, and he asked if you could make the Mana Bloom look like a stereotypical Rhastafarian guy.

rk: Oooooh yeaaaah!

MJ: And I was like “what the hell?” you finished the dreads and handed it back and he says, in a stoner voice, “could you just put some smoke in there?”

rk: Yeah I did sunglasses, the Cat in the Hat hat, him smoking with the smoke all curled up. He was happy.

MJ: I was like, “who is this guy?!”

rk: Just a little here, a little there, and that’s it.

GPACPlaymat

MJ: Someone told me about the six fingers (on the Grand Prix Atlantic City playmate illustrated by RK Post) …

rk: Ooooooooooh …

MJ: And instantly started thinking about how you’re part of this tradition now, it’s awesome, do you know comics much?

rk: Yeah some.

MJ: In the 90s William Tucci did this comic called Shi – The Way of The Warrior and there’s one where she’s holding this sword and she’s got six fingers and it was like this big deal. Maybe they updated it in the next print run of the book. Gave her five fingers.

Two Judges from the event come up to RK’s table with the playmats they had just posed with for the group judge photo. They ask RK to sign and he does. He’s very nice to them, asks them questions, and signs their mats.

MJ: So, because of the relationship to the Shi cover it reminds me of the fact that a lot of your work has to do with sort of “bad girl” stuff, and I was wondering if there’s a connection between six finger’d women and bad-girlness in fantasy and comic book art.

rk:  It’s a connection between six fingers and just being a sloppy artist is what it is.

(laughter)

I didn’t even notice until yesterday when someone walked up and told me. No one noticed until Saturday.

MJ: Why would anyone?

rk: Two other people noticed, that was it.

MJ: This painting had to go through people, right? Some others had to look at it before it got turned into a playmat.

rk: It had to go through me.

MJ: You didn’t just click a button and it became a playmat.

rk: No, I wish I could say it was intentional. Whenever I do an unlimited version of a mat I’ll fix that, so these will be like the Shi cover, and potentially valuable.

MJ: What do you think about the content of your playmat art? Like, uh, I went to the Worcester GP, you painted a very tough chick …

rk: They (the event organizers) usually have a couple of requirements. In Worcester they wanted the mat sort of related to the area so I had to do an armored angel with the North Church in the background. The mats have to have ties to the area. If you ever saw the San Antonio mat that my son did …

MJ: Your son did one?

rk: He did two, Denver and San Antonio. San Antonio is the craziest mat ever, they only made 100 of them. They auctioned one for charity and we got like ten of them and I’ve sold a couple here and there. So ok, it’s thanksgiving weekend, San Antonio, I’ll let you guess what it was.

MJ: San Antonio? I dunno, a turducken or something? I have no idea. A really aggressive turducken.

rk: You’re close, it’s turkey’s fighting at the Alamo.

(laughter)

Which could’ve been horribly offensive if not done well, I guess.

sanantonioplaymat

MJ: So your son’s an artist, too. You have three kids right?

rk: I have three sons, yes. The middle one’s following in my foot steps. He’s 19, will be 20 in April. Right now he’s freelancing. Jobs here and jobs there.

MJ: Full time as an illustrator is probably pretty difficult or maybe not that difficult?

rk: It depends on what you do. If you follow my path and go into video games it’s a little easier. The market went through this huge growth and now it’s collapsing, you know, like, let’s say you’re working on a console title – you need three years and a huge budget to produce this thing. Causal games, you know, it can be two guys sitting in an office making an iPhone app and then, oop, oh my God, you’re rich. Same thing with Facebook games. They went through huge growth and now that bubble’s burst, too. Where I work, fortunately, we’re diverse enough that we can weather the storm.

MJ: It’s all so weird. My art practice has no commercial applications whatsoever, you know, it’s just abstract painting and conceptual crap. So, I guess, why fantasy art?

rk: It’s a hell of a lot more fun than, as i’ve heard a lot of people say, painting satellite dishes.

MJ: What’s the experience like being here at GP AC, meeting fans, signing things?

rk: It’s been absolutely amazing. I had no idea what to expect and yesterday was probably the single busiest day I’ve had at almost any GP. I was set up here, ready to go at 9am and I was here until 11pm. That’s why I’m a little out of it this morning!

MJ: That’s a long day. Well, I think that’s it. I think I can cobble something together from this for Hipsters of the Coast.

rk: Oh and I highly recommend you get one of these.

MJ: What is that? A battery you plug your iPhone into?

rk: Yeah it’s like $100 and has two full charges in it. It takes a while to charge itself up so I plug it in over night. There’re never any outlets at events like these. I let some guy charge his phone off it last night and still had enough left to fully charge my phone.

MJ: That’s freaking genius. What a pro tip!

I hand him my business card.

MJ: When you have a chance would you make me look like some kind of beast or evil thing?

rk: Yeah I can do that. (pause) Oh! You’re wearing a hat. I was like, man, you’ve got a really bad hair cut in this.

(laughter)

MJ: There’s this totally original guy at my local gaming store, Twenty Sided, that uh, the first time I met him, he’s this super weird excellent dude, and he looked at me and said “you have a very beautiful forehead” and everyone’s like “what?!?” so I made business cards for my art practice that could be used as tokens during Magic games and made sure I had the biggest forehead possible.

rk: How do you get these made?

MJ: gotprint.net

rk: Is this the same size as a Magic card?

MJ: They’re slightly bigger. They’re more like Alpha cut.

rk: Oh ok, I’m looking for an actual Magic card size printer so I can make tokens.

MJ: The blog I write for is going to make tokens of all the writers. I’m going to be a 3/3 beast.

rk: I want to be a vampire!

MJ: Grow up, man! it’s bad enough we’re playing a children’s game!

(laughter)

  

We talk for a bit longer about how his work is similar to Douglas Shuler, just maybe the more detailed future version. I’ve been semi-obsessed with Douglas Shuler lately and have been bringing him up a lot. If you think about it, both illustrators put iconic looking figures into less defined grounds. Theses two cards come to mind:

 

Post tends to paint full body shots his palate is a bit more sophisticated (and his imagery less inherently racist), but it’s generic background + stylized figure. Maybe that’s the formula for Magic card art and not at all unusual. I could probably talk about how both of these images have yellow in them though I doubt that’s more interesting (though I kind of wonder why). Look at these two mountains. Their movement is similarly upward sweeping (admittedly more-so in my mind). One is much more detailed than the other.

  

How many ways can mountains be painted, really? Well, an infinite number, but you know what I mean. The two artists often sign together at comic conventions and Magic events. Post says Shuler is a nice guy.

The recording of our talk gets increasingly difficult to make out thanks to Ravnica Draft #49, some competitive EDH tournament, and Day Two round pairings, and their related announcements over the loud speakers happening concurrently. We end the interview with a nice handshake as a bunch of people start queueing up to have cards altered ($5), sketches drawn ($20+), and playmats signed (free). I leave him $10 for my business card alter and put it in my binder next to its brother signed on the swamp side by Brian Kibler.

Thanks for reading!

Matt “The Obliterator” Jones
The_Obliterator on MTGO
www.mattjonesrules.com

Bonus: it’s been an annoying spoiler season thus far with many people I otherwise respect and enjoy saying lots of speculative crap about cards they haven’t played with yet. I mostly ignore spoiler season because of this and even stopped receiving Google Group posts in my email to avoid hearing people’s opinions about spoiled cards. As cranky people often say, “opinions are like assholes – everyone’s got one.” That said, one card grabbed my attention, kinda has me excited for limited, a rarity, and I love the illustration on it. The image is sort of familiar as it’s been used for promotional purposes on Gatecrash (all over the place if you’re a Gruul clan member). I had hopes that we’d get another new Garruk. It wasn’t meant to be as our planeswalker is a sort of useless three drop (-7 and all my creatures are super awesome? Great. I should’ve won already before Domri Rade ticks up that high – maybe s/he comes in against … control? Meh). The main thing I realize this morning is that Skarrg Guildmage (and all Gruul clan members) love Christ Illusion by Slayer.

735221_10152414522475307_517136336_n  

Notes:

1. this article’s featured image comes from this webpage: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/eventcoverage/gpsd11/day1

2. two links related to GP San Antonio’s playmat and the artist, Garret Post: http://www.atxmtg.net/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=25 and http://garrettpost.cghub.com/images/

3. Christ Illusion is an awesome album. Listen to it for free here: http://www.last.fm/music/Slayer/Christ+Illusion

4. Almost every Magic artist has a website in drastic need of an upgrade from the 90s/00s.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Arting Around—An Interview With RK Post”
  1. Fetto says:

    I love me some turkey Alamo mat. Cool interview. You shoulda challenged the dude to a draw-off with a secret subject matter.

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  1. […] Scott interviewed RK Post at GP Atlantic City. From a scale of zero to Arting Around With Matt Jones I give it a 613.  [Gathering […]



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