We had the opportunity to sit down and have an interview with Magali Villeneuve.
We have transcribed the interview just for each of you! We also do have a video posted on YouTube for you to watch ! Link will be at the bottom of the post.
Let's continue with the interview below!
Arabelle: Welcome to Gatherers’ Tavern, where art comes to life! We are at MagicCon Barcelona and I'm here with the legendary Magali. I'm so proud to say that she's the lead concept artist for all the statues that has been launched by Magic: The Gathering recently. Today, I'm going to ask Magali some questions to find out what's going on behind her brilliant and creative mind and also to find out a little bit more about her.
This year we have launched the Jace Beleren 1:4 scale statue. The statue is just a prototype but it's your first time seeing it. How do you feel watching your illustration come to life?
Magali: Being able to design a statue is really something unique for an Illustrator because we are used to seeing our art in 2D and now it's coming to life. It is also an honour for me because Jace is such a legendary character. I've always loved this character even before I started working for Wizards so I was so happy to be able to be working on that with you guys.
Arabelle: Magali would you like to share with our fans, what’s your inspiration for Jace?
Magali: First of all , the pose you see here is really inspired by the card, Jace The Mind Sculptor. It’s Jace’s iconic pose and I thought it was a good idea to deliver
this version to the players because they would immediately recognize this legendary card.
Arabelle: What are some of the challenges you faced when you are designing this iconic fan favourite character?
Magali: Well, first of all, you have to choose a pose or an attitude that would be really evocative of the character. The players know him so you have to really know the character and to feel how he is like at his best and most recognizable state. So Jace for me and I guess for most players, he's a really spiritual character rather than an action figure. That's why I chose to have him as the great spirit mage he is, hence the poses I chose for the statue.
Arabelle: Yeah, it is amazing and one thing that I really like about this pose is that the pose is from the iconic card Jace The Mind Sculptor, a fan-favourite. Also, it lights up, so it really brings to life the character.
Magali: I think it's really important for the character because he is magic. I didn't expect the lights when I worked on the statue so it was kind of a surprise in a way. I mean everything was coming together. The pose and the effect, it was really great!
Arabelle: The lighting effect of the Jace statue is what differentiates it from the previous two statues, Liliana Vess and Chandra Naalar. Both are amazing and both have received overwhelming compliments from our fans. However, I think when fans saw that Jace was able to light up, they were just taken aback! I also love the Hedron that you put on the base as well, that’s really a great aspect of the statue.
Magali : Because it is an iconic environment, and whenever you are designing the statue, the character is one thing, but you want to create an immersive experience for whoever is going to own this statue. I think placing the character in a really iconic environment just puts everything together.
Arabelle: While we have overwhelming compliments for Jace, what our fans do not know is that next week at Gen Con we are launching a brand new 1:4 scale statue from the Dungeons & Dragons world. He is a character that is well sought after, many people have been asking about him, he is handsome, he is charismatic and his name is Drizzt Do'Urden! And he is designed by Magali as well!
Magali: I couldn’t help it, after I started with Jace, I couldn't stop there. Jace is legendary, but Drizzt is also legendary in D&D. As you said, he is such an interesting and charismatic character. It was a great opportunity for me to be working on Drizzt again because I have done many Drizzt art with Magic: the Gathering and because I'm also working for D&D, I had many occasions to paint him, represent him in 2D, and this time seeing the 3D come together.
Arabelle: You haven't seen the prototype face to face yet, but we have shown you the photoshoot photos. How do you feel about the statue after seeing the pictures?
Magali: I really tried a different approach with Drizzt. He is a warrior, an elf and a character that is really agile and all. You would expect him to be running or something like that but in my mind Drizzt is slightly different because aside from being a mighty warrior, he is a character with a such an interesting background and that's what I wanted to show this time. I wanted him to look regal, handsome of course, and elegant but at the same time you don't want to mess with him because he can be really dangerous and even lethal. All these aspects lead my thinking for his pose.
Arabelle: I really like how Drizzt looks, it speaks to us about who he is. He's more than just a warrior, he's a very strong character. In the lore, he has such a rich story and I think many of our fans have seen him through the different seasons across the years.
Magali: Well, you know in my work for Magic: the Gathering or even D&D, my focus was to show the character’s personality. I take it seriously in painting characters who will look alive and believable. For me, this is beyond pure action or just looking badass. I have a bit more of a muted approach compared to other illustrators. I tell myself that it's about giving a different angle that the players or the collectors seem to like.
Arabelle: For us at Gatherers’ Tavern, we feel this responsibility to produce an amazing sculpture for all the Drizzt fans out there. I'm not sure if you felt that pressure when designing the statue as well?
Magali: Yes, it cannot be avoided. It’s not just any character. I mean you owe the
author, R. A. Salvatore, the respect and you don't want to miss the opportunity to do justice to his masterpiece. And you also cannot forget about the fans. The fans are waiting for their favourite character to come out from their favourite books. So of course I kept thinking about that, I always keep them in mind, and try to do my best to honour that.
Arabelle: I think that you did such an amazing job. One question I have to ask, when you were designing Drizzt, were there any particular challenges that you faced?
Magali: Yes, the big challenge with Drizzt was including Guenhwyvar, his sidekick. It takes real thinking. A statue also has some technical constraints, you have to think about a way of making both characters work together, to have everything looking harmonious while still thinking about the feasibility of production. So yeah, it takes some thinking and that was the main challenge, having both characters working well together. Drizzt also has both his swords, so it takes some room and I had to think about that when deciding about Guenhwyvar’s position around the base. Just like Jace, I wanted to create an interesting base that would be evocative so we had this really nice snowy part of a landscape with stones and icicles that would say “It’s Drizzt in his environment” at first sight.
Arabelle: The golden question: which statue do you like more, the Jace or Drizzt?
Magali: As you can see I'm just as passionate about both so it's really hard to choose.They are both my babies, so it’s really hard to choose.
Arabelle: I think it’s hard to choose for me too, because they are both iconic in their own ways but they are just so different. When you see each statue, they just evoke a different emotion.
On a personal note, I do have a question for you. You have done such great work in the Magic: the Gathering scene. I mean the recent Lord of the Rings set, I was listening to your panel discussion earlier and it's mind-blowing. I just want to ask you, as you are growing up across your different careers, what made you to be the artist you are today?
Magali: First of all, it's a matter of inspiration. When I was 12, the beauty and the beast disney movie was released in theatres and at that very first second, I'm not lying, I'm not exaggerating, at the very first seconds when the movie started, something clicked in my mind. And it was not about the princess but all about the Beast. I was so impressed. I mean it was a whole new world that was opened to me. When I came back home, I immediately started drawing. I don't believe in the principle of “the gift”. I thought that maybe I had some affinity with drawing and after that, I started working like crazy. I never could afford taking any art lesson, I never could afford going to any art school, so I really learned everything by myself and it took some time but I was so passionate about it, it was my life. I gave everything to drawing in the hope that maybe one day I would have the opportunity to work for such fabulous IPs. But you know how it is, you can dream but sometimes the dream seems to be really far away and when it started happening, it was incredible. And even till today, I've been an illustrator for 17 years now, and 10 years for Magic: The Gathering, and still I cannot believe it's happening. So when I see that it's like a dream come true.
Arabelle: That is such an inspiration and I think It’s not just an inspiration to us at Gatherers’ Tavern but truly an inspiration to any aspiring illustrators and artists out there.
Magali: Yeah, but it's worth it and it also proves that just anyone can make it if they really love something and if they really want to try. I mean if you are willing to give everything you have and to work hard, you can achieve anything.
Arabelle: I'm so happy that you're sharing this because I think it's a story that all of us can learn from.
Magali: Thank you for listening to my story!
Arabelle: Thank you for allowing me to hear your story! We are so honoured to be able to work together with you. You are such an awesome artist, you are so nice to work with and you really helped us in every single step of the way. To be able to produce such an amazing product, this wouldn’t have happened without you. So thank you so much for taking time for this interview as well!
Magali: All pleasure is mine really.
Arabelle: I know it’s been a tiring day for you as well, i see lines and lines of people queuing up to get your autograph and I'm so happy for you! I hope that you can at least catch a little bit of a break, a holiday next week maybe?
Magali: No, it’s not happening, as soon as i'm finished in Barcelona, i have to go back home and produce some more Magic Cards.
Arabelle: She is never gonna stop working for you guys!
Magali: I don’t wanna stop!
Arabelle: Alright, thank you so much Magali, see you soon!
Link to YouTube Interview: