Seven Questions for Pete Venters

Baron Sengir by Pete Venters

Exclusive art preview from Pete Venters at the end of the article! GM ♡s PV.

Lynnwood, WA in the fall of 2011 was cool, crisp, and thick with strip malls. I was focused on my work as a card alterist at the time, and I found myself in a booth at StarCityGames’s event—nervous, star-struck as usual (to my husband: “I think I just walked past Cedric!!!”), tired but hopeful, gettin’ my hustle on. Still finding my place in the MTG community at the time, I was intrigued when a well-built, ivory-skinned man in black set up in the booth next to us. Bald and bespectacled, he exuded a disenchanted charm that marked him as either A) over 40 years, B) English or something, or C) an artist.

Pete Venters and wife, author Jillian Venters (

It was, of course, Goblin King himself Pete Venters whom I was sitting next to. I purchased a Mons’s Goblin Raiders and a Recollect for my print collection, and I blushed when he complimented me on my taste in Goblins. Since I was trying to learn Adobe, I asked him some questions about moving into digital media from paper and found he was sweet and affable, eager to share advice. He was also quick to tell stories, and he dispensed some industry vignettes that were good-naturedly snarky and riddled with f-bombs.

Today, Venters is heading up two fabulous Kickstarter projects that feature great art and should appeal to your Vorthos sensibilities, my lovely readership.

Maze of Games is an illustrated puzzle book written by renowned game designer Mike Selinker and with art by none other than Venters. Its Kickstarter funding ends Friday, March 15, so get your pledges in!

Excerpt from Maze of Games from Lone Shark Games

The Gathering is an art book to be released this September that features new art from some of the earliest Magic artists. In this decadent tome, the artists present updates to some of their MTG originals. We have an exclusive art preview from Pete Venters at the end of this article!

Golden Mox Dragon by Dan Frazier from The Gathering

How did the idea for The Gathering come to life? I mean, do you all hang out at Starbucks on the regular up there in Seattle, or was it like calling people up and gradually assembling Voltron . . . ? What's the story behind the movement?

It's something that a bunch of us have considered trying over the years, but it was Jeff A. Menges who pulled the gang together. He and Bryon Wackwitz had one of those "What If?" conversations over dinner, and that kicked it all off. We used Facebook to contact ninety percent of the artists and give them a place to discuss the project. The idea of using Kickstarter to make this happen was something brought up much later in the process.

I've only ever seen you dressed in black and white. Should we assume your guild allegiance is Orzhov?

Naaaah, I have a whole bunch of red and purple shirts, too. Even some grey (woo! don't go crazy!)

Maze of Games has been described as a puzzle lover's Choose Your Own Adventure. Did you read those as a kid? If so, what was your favorite title?

I did read them. I bought the first one that Ian Livingstone published. I don't remember a whole lot about them now (except they drove me crazy), but I remember the titles Warlock of Firetop Mountain and Deathtrap Dungeon. More often, I was playing D&D and reading comics.

David Bowie as The Goblin King in 1986’s Labyrinth

If you were Donald Trump and the pageant was only for goblins, who would you name as the Sexiest Goblin Ever?

This has to be some pop-culture reference that I've managed to avoid. Oh, life without cable television, how I love you so! I use my TV for video games, movies, and the very occasional TV series. Anyway, David Bowie was the Goblin King, so my wife says he wins.

Exiled Boggart by Pete Venters

What do you most dislike about working as a professional artist? (In other words, what do you find the most challenging about doing this as a career?)

There's no safety net. No income when work is slow. No health insurance that's affordable. No vacation pay (hah! that's such an alien concept! money for being on vacation)! Not a lot of socializing, unless you choose to work in a studio with several other artists. Actually, I'd love to have a studio with others, but working digitally, it's a bit of a risk, as artist studios are never the most secure places, and my computer isn't cheap or something I can easily tuck in a bag to take home with me at night.

Reviving Vapors
Lake of the Dead
Goblin Bowling Team

Quote yourself: Tell us something you've said that you immediately wished you could take back.

From sometime around 1996: “Look—Apple's stock is down to a buck a share! I kind of want to buy a crapload, but . . . yeah, I really should be sensible and save that money for the down payment on a mortgage.”

Needless to say, if I had done it, I could have bought several houses. WITH CASH.

Mistvein Borderpost by Pete Venters

What was the first card you ever illustrated for Magic? What is your most vivid memory from the creation of that piece when you put your brush/pen to paper?

The first painting I did was Mightstone. It was a conscious decision to start with the easy one in the set of six assignments I had for Antiquities. My most vivid memory was being very careful to not get black on the fiery bits, as I wouldn't be able to redo them. However, my most vivid memory of drawing a Magic card is the initial sketch for Phyrexian Dreadnought. I remember being sat at a crafting table in the house of my girlfriend (later to be my wife) Jillian and her housemates. There was the usual general chaos going on in the house, but that Dreadnought just seemed to roll out onto the paper! That doesn't happen enough.

Baron Sengir
Phyrexian Dreadnought

Ready for that art preview? Well, here it is. Check out The Gathering, and remember that artisting ain’t easy!

Morrox, Demon Prince of Goblins by Pete Venters

“It's my long history of goblin cards meets my Legends card Hellfire.” – Pete Venters

Till next time, may Magic be your absolutely gigantic and unquenchable fire-stick.