How I Became an Alterist…


Serious card alteration was something I had never encountered until I went to a Grand Prix Magic: The Gathering tournament in 2010 and saw CardKitty working on a card. I cannot remember what it was, perhaps a Zendikar land or some Planeswalker. I was interested but so focused on playing in the event I paid her little attention. During that period of my life I was traveling frequently to larger tournaments and playing Magic every day without fail. The interest for me in the game has always been on improving my own skills. When I played all the time winning in a tournament was never enough, but trying to simply improve my play. Regardless if I won or lost I continued to love the game for one single reason: the beautiful artwork I got to see each time I picked up my deck. If my own collection was not enough, every three months a whole new set of cards plus monthly promotional cards were released! I have played several Collectible Card Games (CCGs) competitively since the early 90’s but none have had the same allure as Magic. For the next year or so I continued to play competitively but because I was finishing my bachelor’s degree I became slowly removed from the Magic scene. I did not return to playing Magic until 2012 when I returned to school to begin working on my masters degree. Another player and artist at the local game store was altering some Snapcater Mages and having some time in between rounds, I became interested in what he was doing; it was at that point that I realized I could do this too.


Since 1994 I have been painting miniatures (such as those made by Games Workshop and others) and I even won a few local painting competitions. Just like Magic games like 40K drove me to improve my own play, while at the same time build my artistic skills learning how to paint effectively with acrylic paints. In 2006 I worked briefly for Games Workshop and helped set up one of their stores in Illinois. During 2008 I worked as a professional graphic designer, and in 2009 finished my associates degree in graphic design. So when I first began altering cards, I had an advantage. At last in the spring of 2012 I tried my hand at altering some MTG cards. The very first card I attempted was a full art Darksteel Ingot. I thought I ought to keep the edges black so I taped off the black edges and painted with some really cheap acrylics. I chose this card due to the fact that it was a cheap card but still playable, and I thought I should alter a card I might actually use.


When I started altering I knew how to paint and the basics but I did not actually know what I was doing. I had no idea which type of extensions I should be doing and which elements I should highlight from the image. I was doing it just for fun. At the time I was reasonably happy with the way the card turned out but then switched to doing partial alters (galvanic blasts) because they were quicker.


  Sep 19, 2014 –


At this point I decided I could make a go of this, actually turn this into a business. I started doing more partial alters but even though people liked many of the cards, nobody wanted to buy them for even a couple of dollars apiece. My partial alters just did not have the impact that others’ full art cards did; the subtle changes were too small for most people to notice so spending money on small alterations did not draw buyers’ interests. At this point I became a bit disillusioned, thinking that maybe my stuff simply was not good enough. I continued to alter mostly for my own satisfaction but started experimenting with making cards full art without any borders. Shortly after doing so, many local players approached me to alter their EDH (commander) generals in my full/extended art style. I could not make altering cards a full time endeavor at this point because consumers’ interest was still limited. Even so, I enjoyed doing a card or 2 every week.



In the summer of 2012 I moved to Atlanta but even though I began to work full time, I continued to alter cards. I had to find a new shop to play Magic and after a bit of exploring I found the Gaming Pit. I noticed an altered Snapcaster Mage in their singles case and asked if they were interested in having me do some alters for their shop. By then I had been altering cards for about 4 months or so; I had refined my skills substantially even though I had not sold anything. The store manager and owners both liked my alterations and graciously commissioned me to do 5 alters for the shop. I continued to work on extending the artwork (removing the borders) for the following 4 months but since I was working a full time job (of 70 hours a week) I rarely had time to paint. I kept trying to alter cards as frequently as possible but I was lucky to get 1 or 2 done in any given week. In December I decided there was enough interest in my artwork so I left my job to paint full time. Since then there has been a wonderful whirlwind of interest in my artwork. Every week I have new commission offers come in, and every altered card I have listed on ebay has sold. Here is an example of a recent alter I did for a commission: (Deathrite Shaman -Korean)



Last week I received invitations to attend 2 SCG events (Memphis TN Feb 9/ Columbia SC Mar 9) to professionally alter MTG cards. I was also invited to alter at an Invitational Qualifier (IQ) last weekend at FCB Games (Alpharetta, GA). While there I was asked to write an article for Roxie Cards about my experiences. Since last weekend I received a request to alter cards at the pre-release and release events for Gatecrash at the Gaming Pit (in Duluth GA). 2013 has already begun to show a great deal of promise. Additionally now I feel as though I am facing the strongest series of challenges to constantly improve on my techniques.


I want to thank everyone for their support, from the shops that have hosted me to the players that commissioned my work. All of your support keep me going each day, both financially and emotionally and I feel that every alter I paint gives me more experience making me that much better! I gladly share any information I have learned about altering, and here at Roxie Cards I am beginning a regular  column discussing tips and tricks of how to alter if you want to learn to do it yourself. Thanks for reading, more to come soon!


If you want to see examples of all the work I have done or contact me to commission cards of your own, please visit me at: EvilNerdInc


Also I have videos about how to alter cards which you can find at: