Interview with Artist Brian Snõddy

Brian Snõddy is one of the original Magic artists and one of the most original in his work. He illustrated 127 Magic cards, from Alpha to Morningtide, with a few promos and special releases afterward. Some of his most prominent pieces include Carrion Feeder, Diamond Valley, Exploration, Helm of Obedience, and Recall.

exploration - carrion feeder

Brian Snõddy even painted the artwork for a little card named Volcanic Island

Dr. Exhume: Mr. Snõddy, please tell us about your background and how you came to illustrating.

Brian Snõddy: I was always interested in some kind of art ever since I was a kid. I loved movie monsters, Star Wars, D&D, Conan, and ancient history, so I wanted to be able to draw that stuff, and some day make a living doing it. I ended up going to the Art Institute of Seattle in 1983. I started working at the Egghead Software in-house ad agency. I worked there for six-and-a-half years. One day we all got fired, and I went to go work in comics and Saturday morning cartoons.

Dr. Exhume: How did you get involved in Magic: The Gathering?

Brian Snõddy: I met Peter Atkinson and Jesper Myrfors at a local science-fiction convention. I had met Peter a few years before Jesper. When I met Jesper, he was just starting to put artists together to work on Magic. I remember him saying at the time, "I think this game is going to be a pretty big deal." That was the understatement of the twentieth century … Working on Magic was the best career move I ever made.

volcanic island

Dr. Exhume: I am glad you made that move. You were one of those lucky artists who drew an original dual land, in your case the stunning Volcanic Island. Were you already aware that it was a special card? Dual lands were quite cheap initially compared to today. Do you own a copy of it? Can you comment on the special history of Volcanic Island?

Brian Snõddy: I had no idea about the game and the mechanics of it, so a dual land meant nothing to me. I wish I did at the time, I would have asked for more. I do not … But I can aways paint a new one! I do not have any of the cards either, and I sold all of my artist proofs of those cards years ago. Now they are too expensive!! I cannot afford to buy my own cards!! That's pretty funny when you think about it. The only thing I really know is that Volcanic Island was never printed in the first wave,Alpha, and appered for the first time in Beta.

land tax

Dr. Exhume: You created many iconic images besides Volcanic Island, for example Corpse Dance, Exploration, Land's Edge, Land Tax, Vindicate, and Wood Elemental. Do you have your own personal favorite among your works? Is there an artwork you regret these days?

Brian Snõddy: I think that Lava Axe is my favorite. The painting turned out well, and I think it has some of the best flavor text ever. There are several paintings I did back then that I have regrets on … I'm trying to forget about them.

lava axe

Dr. Exhume: Speaking of Wood Elemental — I absolutely love the card. It often ranks very high among the worst Magic cards of all time based on its rules text. As an illustrator, did/do you think about the rules of the cards you painted the art for?

Brian Snõddy: Very rarely is an artist told exactly how the cards are being used in the game. You are usually told the type of card and the color that the card will be, but we aren't given the exact rules.

wood elemental wall token

Dr. Exhume: Your last artworks for Magic appeared in Planechase 2012 and Eternal Masters, right? Can we expect some Snõddy pieces in Magic again?

Brian Snõddy: Yes … it's been a while since I have done a card in Magic … But I was recently contacted by one of the art directors to do another card. I don't know when it will come out, and I do not have the assignment at this time (June 2, 2020).

Dr. Exhume: What are you working on these days?

Brian Snõddy: I'm working on a lot of commissions, and for people all over the world. Also, my buddy Ben and I have a YouTube channel called "Dungeon Mastery with Ben & Brian." We put out a new video every Tuesday. They are short videos of the two of us creating role-playing game supplements. Ben is a writer and of course I do the art. They are fun to watch and I do some real Bob Ross stuff on some of them.

Thanks a lot Mr. Snõddy!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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FunBun7(24.12.2020 20:09)

I've always wondered why there was a ~ on the o of his last name and how to pronounce it. On most magic cards it's a dash though. Anyone know more about this?

Oberstarzt(13.09.2020 10:51)

You should have asked him, if he thoght of Iron Maiden as he drew "Corpse Dance" because that image looks pretty related to "Eddy" on the cover of the "Life after Death" album, which appered to that time when snoddy painted "Corpse Dance".

ctobehn(13.09.2020 13:14)

Oberstarzt True! I will ask him :)

ctobehn(15.09.2020 06:02)

Oberstarzt Brian Snõddy: "Yes... It was!! Big MAIDEN fan as well... And was an homage..!!"

Great album by the way!

Oberstarzt(16.09.2020 11:25)

Hahah, I knew it :-) Maiden rules!

Btw., do You have contact to other MtG-artists and can we expect interviews with them? How did You get in touch with Snoddy?

This comment was deleted.

buchmand(11.09.2020 13:13)

Great to read about artists from Magics past. The unique artworks are one of the pillars for the game's success, i am sure.

Just a small note: It would be nice if the linked card would show the correct edition and not some recent reprinting with an illustration by another artist (exploration, land tax).

ctobehn(12.09.2020 11:09)

Buchmand Thanks for the comment! Their uniqueness certainly is a reason many players stood and stay with the game, me included.

Unfortunately I can't tell you if that is possible. But still a good point.

LegacyBoss(11.09.2020 09:13)

I love the progress mr. Snoddy has made over the years. From very, um, "early Magic style" cards like Volcanic Island and Land Tax to true pieces of art like Carrion Feeder and Vindicate... Not many MtG artists were capable of that, just think about abovementioned Jesper Myrfors.

ctobehn(11.09.2020 09:59)

LegacyBoss Thank you for that comment. Even though I adore the plain, raw style of cards like Volcanic Island, you are absolutely right about his evolution. His take on the Urza lands is awesome also.

husch(11.09.2020 01:01)(Edited: 11.09.2020 01:02)

He painted Corpse Dance not Dance of the Dead as mentioned below the Land Tax art.

ctobehn(11.09.2020 06:20)(Edited: 11.09.2020 07:02)

Husch Of course, right. Thanks!

This joins the ranks of errors in the old days of Magic: No Alpha Volcanic Island, green Serendib Efreet... This continues that same tradition!