Artist Spotlight: Seb McKinnon

This week we’re doing something a little bit different. I’d like to take the time to highlight the artist Seb McKinnon and some of the beautiful works that he has contributed to this amazing game. With Ravnica Allegiance’s teasers beginning to come out, two pieces of artwork in particular struck me as especially excellent (both of which we will talk about today) which is what inspired me to write about this subject.

Please take this article with a grain of salt. I am not an artwork officionato, nor will I pretend to know what I’m talking about. This is going to be about how these pieces make me feel, and why I appreciate them.

 

This is the artwork featured on the card Growth Spiral, coming out in Ravnica Allegiance. I want to start with this piece because of just how much I love everything about it. It features a pool of water, surrounded by coiled branches. We see the coiled branches climbing up buildings and forming a bridge that extends across the piece, only for the very ends of the branch to reach back towards the pool of water, showing a perfect spiral of growth. There is a woman standing in the center of the pool, but is she causing the growth? I think it’s up to interpretation. I believe that the woman is simply observing, and appreciating nature for its beauty.

This artwork feels so mystical, as if I’m given so much information, but so little at the same time. There’s so much world to this piece from the forests underneath the bridge, to the city that fades into the horizon. With all these massive structures encapsulating the woman, the piece focuses on her and the little bits of life and beauty that have grown in this one area. It makes me see the big picture, while making me appreciate the little things all at the same time.

The English translation of this card from Ravnica Allegiance hasn’t officially been spoiled yet, we’ve been given the French version, however, which is titled ‘Affres’, translating to English as ‘Anguish’. This artwork captures the feeling of anguish perfectly.

The subject is on her knees, face covered by her own hands, surrounded by her past monsters jabbing pikes towards her head. All of the monsters are wearing masks, which could symbolize many things. I take it as the subject attempting to cover up her inner agony. She does this by giving them silly looking clown like masks, which become warped and mutilated, turning them into something worse.

What I really love about this piece, is how it can be taken literal as well, and how in theme it is with the world. The monsters could easily be goblins from the Rakdos, murdering for any given Rakdos related reason. The fact that Seb was able to take the theme and interpret it into this perfect moment and give it full meaning in a literal and abstract sense says a lot about Seb as an artist.

This piece is from the reprint that Vengeful Rebirth was given in Ultimate Masters, and it stands as my favorite artwork from the set. We see a skeleton on the ground, entangled in flowers and weeds, roots growing from the ground, through the skull, up the eye sockets, and into an arm. This arm belongs to the growing shape of a woman clutching a sword that protrudes from the skeleton’s chest. The other arm of the woman is made of vines and roots and flowers, telling that she is not simply born again as flesh, she is re-birthed as something that’s both the same and different from what it once was.

The sword glows a bloody orange, almost the look of dry blood, which I think is extremely clever, as it’s both the color of vengeance and anger, as well as stained from when the blade was used to kill the subject. The top right section of the piece is white, which swells into green as the vines grow into the woman, which I interpret as the change from nothing, to life.

It’s a beautiful and tragic piece that slaps me in the face every time I see it. If I’m being honest, I have a hard time remembering what the actual card does. Every time I go to read it, I just want to look at the artwork.

Seb McKinnon has created here in just these three examples beautiful works of art. My favorite part of Seb McKinnon’s style is how his pieces seem so surreal, that it causes me to view the piece in a non-literal sense first, and a literal sense second. It causes me to pay attention, as if what’s happening is of great importance.

That’s going to wrap up what I have to say for this time around, if you’re more interested in Seb McKinnon’s work, you can find his website with all of his works here. I hope that he can make others do as he makes me; observe and appreciate.