In the Magic: The Gathering card game, each trading card contains a picture created by an artist. The card artwork is often commissioned by Wizards of the Coast for newly created cards. WOTC hires artists from all over the world to create beautiful scenery, mystical creatures, heroes, and other pieces of fantasy art. The pieces are created with various methods and materials. Some artists also create their work digitally. Artists can keep their original paintings once WOTC is done transforming it into a trading card. These paintings, along with related sketches, are often sold to the public.
There are multiple platforms available for purchasing original artwork related to MTG. A quick search on Ebay will display multiple pieces available to purchase. Many artists have a personal website where original artwork is listed for sale. Another website with multiple pieces for sale is the Original Magic Art Store. The most active community centered around buying and selling original MTG related artwork is a public Facebook group called the MTG Art Market.
The MTG Art Market contains over 7,000 members. Sketches and original paintings are sold each week. Often, artwork related to new MTG cards is exclusively sold through the group. The three most common types of artwork available to purchase are sketches, color studies, and paintings. Sketches are preliminary drawings of artwork found on MTG cards. Color studies are preliminary paintings to decide on the final color profile and lighting for a painting. Some artists create a color study as a reference for digital creations. Original paintings are the final pieces selected to display on MTG cards.
Artwork is sold through the Facebook group as an auction or BIN (Buy It Now) price. Final selling prices vary between sketches, color studies, and paintings. Prices also vary based on the popularity of the card that contains the artwork, the size of the piece, the artist, and other factors. Each artwork has its own unique set of characteristics that can impact a final sale price. While estimating the value of a piece can be difficult, there are general price ranges depending on the type of artwork.
Sketches are the cheapest option to own original MTG artwork. Their prices generally start around $200. It is rare for a sketch to sell for over $800. There may even be multiple sketches of an original painting. Color studies are the next level in pricing between sketches and original paintings. The floor price for a color study is about $400. Prices for color studies can increase to between $1,000 and $2,000. If a physical color study was done for a digital piece, the price is typically higher than average since a painting does not exist. When purchasing original paintings, the lowest starting price is around $1,500. More often, paintings sell between $3,000 and $6,000. On rare occasions, paintings can sell for over $10,000. There are always exceptions to ranges and general rules of thumb. For example, the original painting for Lotus Field from Core 2020 sold for $40,000. In addition, the sketch sold for $1,400. There are multiple reasons why these original pieces sold for a large sum of money.
Artwork is fun, beautiful, interesting, and inspiring. However, collecting artwork can become an expensive hobby. When purchasing any piece of MTG artwork, read the full description of the piece before placing a bid. Know when the auction ends and how to place a bid. Pay attention to any additional fees such as shipping, sales tax, and customs. Try to have a maximum bid amount in mind. In addition, avoid letting emotions drive bidding beyond a level of comfort.