When you love art—and grow up in a milieu of creative appreciation—finding beautiful aesthetic for yourself becomes a natural habit. There are always designers and artists that define a feeling. Today's electronics come from the legacy of Deiter Rams—as Apple fans and Jony Ive fanatics will note—and the application of patterned color and print media design of "pop art" was popularized by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol (among many others).
That's where Josh Krause comes from. His appreciation for art of all types, and how media today is aware of how it remixes and repurposes old for new again, led to the creation of Classic Art Tokens. Of course, it isn't as straightforward or easy to take the past and make it new again. And Magic players don't just use tokens for creatures; dice, beads and general stuff becomes the tokens, counters and game pieces needed too.
"There has to be a better way," Krause thought. Relics of Wizardry is his take on solving the rest of the gameplay.
Creating tokens—printing beautiful art—was one way to make Magic more attractive. Another was swapping out the random things we use as counters for more aesthetically pleasing options.
"Magic players are using tons of dice and slips of papers to record complicated game states, burning up valuable brain space remembering what dice means what at any given time." Krause pointed out. "With the advent of the Satin Tower deck box and others like it, players have extra space for accessories that is currently being used only for dice. They may not know they want an improvement, but the conditions for adoption are there."
Dice come in infinite colors and styles, plastic and metal, large and small—a kind of personalization and choice that reflects the owner. Great dice brands are a fixture at Gen Con, PAX and other conventions, but the opportunity to go beyond is what Krause was after. "With all of my projects, the aim is to create something cool and useful while making the game easier to play for everyone."
How did Krause make the leap from getting token cards printed to metal coins minted? "The process for creating a Relic is much more involved than what goes into one of my Classic Art Tokens," he explained. "Once we designed the template for the Tokens, all I had to do was search for the right piece of art, pop it into the template, and change the text. For a Relic, each new design we start from scratch."
"When I first decided I was going to make custom coins, I still didn't have a good hook. I knew what I wanted to make. I knew what I wanted them to do. But figuring out how to tie those two together with a cohesive design took a bit of figuring out. It took me over two months of noodling to settle on the Cartouche design for the Amonkhet compatible Relics."
"Working with my designer, the same one that created the Classic Art Token template, we went through probably fifteen iterations—over a month of work—until we settled on one we were both happy with," explained Krause. "Each coin has followed that same process: Start with a known destination, noodle out the approach, then hack your way to the final design through iteration and communication."
"The main struggle that I ran into after starting the first design was figuring out what exactly the mint needed from us to get the first coin made. We had to go through several different file types, color gradations, and illustration programs until we figured out the right combination that met all of their requirements. That alone took several weeks of back and forth, pushing our launch date back much later than expected.
"Now that we have that tool in our belt, the main challenge is going through the design process for each coin. The production follows a predictable time schedule, but design depends on the whispers of the muse."
Solving the principal challenge of "How?" led to the obvious follow up: "What coins to we want?" Krause didn't have to look far to find the answers: Standard.
"The Relics of Wizardry project includes five coins designed to be compatible with cards from Amonkhet block (Brick, Embalmed, Eternal, Exerted, double-sided -1/-1 // +1/+1) and one coin compatible with Ixalan (Treasure)," Krause noted. "The Brick coin can also be used as a Landmark counter, with three of the coins coming together to form a larger pyramid."
"As you can see, the Brick counter went through a bunch of different versions until we settled on the final design."
With the core goal reached and stretch goals being unlocked, Krause has his hands full with finalizing even more coins to be minted.
"The first Stretch Goal unlocked the Brick/Landmark counter that comes together with two other coins to form a larger pyramid. The coins are designed to fit within the borders of the card, even in pyramid form," he described. "We have designs for Time counters, Cage counters, The Monarch token, Energy counters and many more. With the progress we've made so far, it looks like we'll be able to include several more in the project before time runs out."
"When I started working on this project, I hoped that once people have a chance to feel the coins, to roll them around in their hand, and enjoy their heft, the same light that went off in my head will be reflected in their eyes," Krause explained. "I think the project has a ton of promise and having the support to make it happen is deeply encouraging and awe-inspiring."
"The Magic community can really come together to make cool things possible, and I am so happy to be able to be a part of making it happen. The support we've received so far for the Relics of Wizardry project has been outstanding. We're fully funded and already on our way to more Stretch Goals, it's hard to ask for anything more than that."
But Krause has asked for more—and for good reason. While making Original Magic Art tokens and, now, coins come to life is a passion, it's joined by the love of art he's always carried. Supporting Magic artists too is a focus for him.
"in addition to the Classic Art Tokens and Relics of Wizardry, we are currently working with Magic artists to monetize their existing artwork, namely official playmats and prints," he added. "We're working with over twenty artists for playmats and over then for prints, with many more on the way. One of my goals is for Original Magic Art to be the destination for fans of Magic art, offering playmats, prints, tokens and more from as many Magic artists as we possibly can."
"I have two additional Kickstarters already in the works, one for foil Classic Art Tokens set to launch in January 2018 and a secret project that should be pretty exciting set to launch in May," Krause shared. "After that, we'll have to see what catches my eye."
As a backer of Krause's previous projects, and a follower of his growth in supporting Magic's artists, seeing more original and licensed art make its way into the world is something I'd love to see too. And after seeing his coins in person I'm excited to get a pile of them to use in Commander.
The Relics of Wizardry Kickstarter ends next week, so don't miss the boat and take a look today.