Many of the Magic: The Gathering artists don't play the game themselves, which means that their perception of the power of a card stems from the feedback from the players. Matt Cavotta, however, has played the game since The Dark. "I don't know if a card will stink until after I have made the art. If it does, then I get disappointed, especially when the art is something I'm proud of," he admits.
The 31-year-old from Cleveland, Ohio was already an artist when he discovered Magic. "I played the game, so I didn't see any reason why I shouldn't try to do some art also," he says. The very first piece of art he did for Magic was Subterranean Hangar, not exactly the strongest card of Mercadian Masques. Since then, he has often experienced to see his cards become weak cards that rarely see play at all. "Quicksilver Wall is one of my favourite paintings, but the card is terrible. In drafts, I pass my own cards all the time," Cavotta chuckles.
Matt has done the artwork for good cards, though. He did the artwork for Noble Panther, Iridescent Angel and Thornscape Battlemage, and his Questing Phelddagrif was a staple in the Domain decks. Matt's own favourite is the Scandalmonger. "It looks funny, and he is the only one I actually made a deck with. When the deck was winning, it was really winning – but otherwise it lost. But it was fun," Matt recalls.
Being a creative man, Matt refuses to play someone else's deck, and he also thinks copying decks off the internet is cheesy. While he has played in quite a few qualifier tournaments, he has yet to qualify for the Pro Tour. He still goes to qualifiers whenever he has the time, but he is a busy man, and he wishes he could get to play more often. So, Matt doesn't really see himself winning a Pro Tour. "Qualifying is difficult enough, let alone winning. But if luck was on my side for a couple of days, then I might be able to do it," he smiles.
Until then, Cavotta will continue to make artwork. He has done two pieces for Judgement, and then nine more pieces for the next stand-alone set. While artists often get weird card titles to work from, Matt never has problems coming up with ideas. He doesn't really have a favourite colour or a favourite card, but he admits that he would like to have done one of the old pieces, back when Wizards paid royalties to the artists.
So what does he find more interesting, playing the game or doing artwork? "Playing is playing, drawing is work. I have to say playing is more fun," he admits. Though he also thinks that it is nice when he gets to use cards he did that are actually good. "I won a few games the other day with Skywing Aven. But I don't make a big deal out of it. When I'm playing, I'm just playing," he says.
A more extensive interview with Matt Cavotta can soon be found on www.magicthegathering.com.