An Interview with Magali Villeneuve
We are excited to have Magali Villeneuve here with us to share about her creation process in Magic the Gathering’s latest premium collectible statues – Liliana Vess & Chandra Naalar. Magali Villeneuve has been an illustrator and concept artist for Wizards of the Coast and she has created many of our favorite card arts such as Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Liliana, Walker of the Dead. Without further ado, we are curious to find out how she got in touch with WOTC to start creating card art for Magic the Gathering and now a range of Magic: The Gathering statues.
GT: We will love to have these statues as part of our collection as well. Chandra Naalar and Liliana Vess are both beloved characters in the Magic the Gathering world. In fact, the official announcement by Netflix for the Magic the Gathering series revealed artwork of Chandra Naalar as one of the main characters. Could you share with us the inspiration and influences behind your thought process for the design of the Chandra Naalar and Lilianna Vess statues you have created with XM Studios?
Magali: The inspiration and influence behind both Chandra Nalaar and Liliana Vess statues are the characters themselves. They are both well-known and beloved characters in the Magic the Gathering lore. The main challenge would be to create statues that feel true to what most players really like. As I was lucky enough to have painted them before, I already knew them well. For example, Chandra Nalaar has a sophisticated design with her fire making device and pieces of armor. As for Liliana Vess, I didn’t want to go too far in showing her sexy side because I think Liliana Vess is so much more than that. She is mysterious and powerful with a dark side. She is a sophisticated character and that is what I really like about her. I wanted to show the power and darkness of her character.
GT: Share with us about your journey as an artist for WOTC and now an artist for the creation of Magic the Gathering statues!
Magali: Well starting with Wizards of the Coast, it is a good 9 years now. At that time, I already had a solid background in painting cards for collectible card games and I felt that I was ready to send my portfolio to Wizards of the Coast. I was happy to get a positive response immediately. As far as XM Studios is concerned, I received a mail from Stanley Tan, a person from XM Studios. He asked me if I was interested in doing some designs for their upcoming Magic the Gathering range. So of course, I was interested because I am a fan of all things that has to do with Magic the Gathering. Also, I really like the challenge of doing something new because statue design was something new to me. My husband is also a collector of statues. It was a wonderful occasion to do something special for him as a collector. He would be able to have a statue I have designed in his collection.
We love how you brought to life the elegance and power that Liliana Vess and Chandra Nalaar possessed. What was your first reaction when you saw both statues come to life for the first time?
Magali: My first reaction was: “Wow!” It was as if I was not the one who worked on the designs. I was just so excited being able to see at last the beautiful renditions of these Magic the Gathering characters I love so much. We don’t have that many things like that around as far as Magic the Gathering is concerned. Here, we have these big, beautiful, detailed and sophisticated statues. That is a first for Magic the Gathering. As a Magic the Gathering enthusiast, I was over the moon. Given I worked on the design, I felt so proud of the results. I felt that the team did an incredible work to make them come alive from the design.
GT: We love the beautiful chain veil on Liliana Vess. What is the story behind adding the chain veil to Liliana Vess?
Magali: I really wanted to find interesting options. Things that players will be excited about. And I thought that for Liliana Vess the chain veil was a good option. Because we all know that she has this very powerful artifact in the game, but we do not have many occasions to see her wearing that mask. And I think it is a very beautiful object and it was a pity to have it only showing hanging at her belt. So, I really wanted to explore how she would look if she was actually wearing it on the statue and I was really happy with what came out of that.
GT: How long did you spend on the design for each statue?
Magali: I will say that it is quite a lot work because first of all, it was a first for me to be designing statues. So, it asked for quite a lot of thinking from me. As XM Studios wanted to have a few options to choose from for each character. I had to find interesting poses and also poses that will look different enough from each other. There was also the base I had to design, and each base had many elements that could refer to the character’s background. I will receive XM’s feedback after submitting the designs and produce a very detailed version of the final design in black and white. After which, the sculptor will be able to work from the design.
GT: What do you like most about each of the statue?
Magali: As far as Chandra Nalaar is concerned, I think maybe it will sell because of the detailing but for me it is rendition of the faces. The sculptor here is Alan Sales and he did a wonderful job in expressing what Chandra Nalaar is about. She has both delicate and yet fierce features. Alan did that beautifully and the costumes rendition is also incredible. There is this chain mail part with details that is incredible on the statue. And the texture for the armor is made with such care.
For Liliana Vess, she is a challenging one. Because when you look at her, Liliana Vess has a really intricate costume with different layers in her skirt and she also has some leathery parts, her fur-lined cloak and a crown. Liliana Vess also has tattoos on her face. All this put together is so much detailing! Liliana Vess statue also has zombies coming out from the ground trying to grab her skirt. There is so much going on but the whole piece came together beautifully. It’s wonderful. I was really impressed and I am so happy and excited. I am so looking forward to the Liliana Vess statue in person.