Today we interview Sorcery: Contested Realm Artist, Caio Calazans. Caio is an inspirational story of a self-made guy who turned his love of mtg card alters into a legitimate art career. With no formal art education, he taught himself how to paint through pure drive and hard work...proving that if you set your mind to something and want it badly enough, you can make it happen!
Caio is from Sao Roque in Sao Paulo in beautiful Brazil. You will learn in the interview that Caio draws inspiration for his landscape artwork through the natural beauty of his surroundings.
Art Fan Pro Tip: This is an 'immersive' interview. Take the time to click the links to discover more information about references throughout the piece!
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: Please tell us a bit about your background and how you got into art and painting.
Caio Calazans: When I was younger, I used to enjoy drawing, simple things with common pencils. But I never truly intended to make that a career; it was just a hobby. When I was around 7-8 years old I first learned about TCGs like Magic: The Gathering. I was amazed to see such beautiful illustrations, and loved to collect cards just because of them. I could see the huge difference of a skilled illustrator to my simple drawings. Then I started to improve a bit, to learn about shadowing and lighting, perspective and stuff.
Some years passed, when I first saw a mtg altered card. It was just an extension of the
main picture, but...that blew my mind! I fell in love to imagine that I could extend my favorite cards' art! But, the use of paints and brushes was needed, and I had never tried them. I found that was a little bit harder than I first thought. My first attempts in the first years was just terrible, but that didn’t make me to give up! With experience, time and searching about color mixtures, dilution and basic brush stroke techniques, I was able to start making nice alters, with matching colors.
Sequence Card Alter by Caio Calazans
Don't miss the time-lapse video of Caio
creating this Forest alter
I always loved to enjoy nature and its beautiful landscapes, more than characters or buildings. I thought “what if I try to paint my favorite nature scenes on these cards?” But once again, I found that painting landscapes, from zero, was very very hard! I didn’t know where to begin… it’s not like normal drawings, sketches didn’t help much with landscapes. It was then that I started to search on YouTube about techniques and good artists at landscape painting, so I could analyze and study for myself what were they doing, why and when, their hints and all. It was a long journey, many mistakes, many tries, many experiences. when I heard about something new, like contrast or warmth, I was already searching everything about it. It was only after all of this, that I noticed such things were learned in colleges! With time, I was able to get to where I am today. But again, everything was just a hobby then.
Landscape Land Alters by Caio Calazans
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: Is artwork a full-time career pursuit for you? What are your near-term and longer-term goals as an artist?
Caio Calazans: At the beginning, I never knew I would reach this far.
The opportunities just came! I enjoy doing many things besides artwork; someday I would love to learn woodworking for example. But I feel like art is what I was born for. I’ll continue painting, sharing, and I hope someday to be called again to paint more illustrations for Sorcery, or any other game.
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: When we spoke, you mentioned that the Sorcery project was one of your first breakthrough opportunities in your early artist career. Tell us about how you were approached to work on the project and what the process was like working with an accomplished art director like Erik Oloffson.
Caio Calazans: I realized that I was creating a name for myself in the altered cards groups when people started getting inspired by my paintings; a personal dream was born from there: to see my name stamped on an official card, from MTG or any other big game. I started to share my alters on different platforms - instagram, Reddit, YouTube - everything to try to reach more people.
And then, one day, Erik messaged me! My heart pumped when I saw that request! He told me about the new big project for a brand new TCG; Sorcery: Contested Realm. And then, he asked me to paint some of the artworks.
It was amazing to work with him. He gave much freedom (which I love); just told the basic idea of each illustration, like “a swamp that seems hard to travel by”. Sometimes he gave me some ideas too, to put in the scenes, like the water spray from Updraft Ridge, to represent that there was wind running there.
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: Do you have a background in playing Trading Card Games, Role Playing Games, and/or video games?
Caio Calazans: Yes! I can’t remember one single time there was anyone younger than me on MTG tournaments. I love all of this kind of stuff, TCGs, RPGs and video games. In school, after classes, we had a group of 4 people to play dungeon and dragons and TCGs. We stayed at school until it closed its doors just to play more! Imagination could run free there. At that time, I remember suggesting to my friends that I could draw or paint the maps for our journeys! It was amazing!
[I asked Caio if he was familiar with other artists working the Sorcery project and he mentioned he was familiar with Elvira Shakirova through the MTG Alters community, but was less familiar with the others. He has been very excited to learn more about the great company he is among for this project, whose artwork he has seen from his various gaming experiences!]
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: Are there certain artists and/or art genres that you consider particularly influential in your work and inspire your art direction?
Caio Calazans: Yes, there was channels from YouTube that helped me A LOT during my development. I would like to mention Kevin Hill, and Viktor Yushkevich (from the channel “U.V.N. Art”).
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: When I first saw your Undertow painting and Raffaela Cech’s Atlantean Fate painting, I thought they may have been done by the same artist given the color similarities and perspective similarities with the inward facing coral structures and perspective it creates in drawing the viewer’s eye to the center of the painting. I am curious, do you think this is coincidental or was there something in the art direction from Erik that influenced the art composition for this piece?
Caio Calazans: I remember about Undertow, Erik told me to represent a strong water current seen from below. Nothing about coloring, nor structures. I’m unsure what details he passed to Raffaela, who did a brilliant and wonderful work, maybe the same perspective? But about the colors and corals, I believe that was a coincidence. Everything underwater is more blueish anyway, so that may explain a bit the coincidence.
Undertow by Caio Calazans
Atlantean Fate by Raffaela Cech
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: You mentioned to me that Raal Dromedary is your favorite painting. What makes this your favorite? Was there something specific you used as a reference for the dromedary and/or the landscape?
Caio Calazans: It is my favorite because it was my very first painting of a living being! It was a new experience that I enjoyed a lot! For this specific one, differently from just landscapes, it requires sketches and some drawing. And I loved so much the final result. I am happy and proud of myself for that one. My reference to making it was just searching about its anatomy and many photos from different angles.
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: There are 5 other landscape pieces that I have seen in your portfolio. Stonehenge is an obvious historical reference, but for the other four (Quagmire, Shifting Sands, Updraft, and Floodplain) can you provide some insight into what inspired the art composition and what references you may have used in deriving the vision for these?
Caio Calazans: Usually I do this when creating a landscape illustration: Search for a lot of pictures that could work on what I plan, and then I think “I could use this tree here”, on another picture “this rock could fit well”, another one “that sky, I could use these colors!”, and then put everything together. After deciding that, the details get born as long as the painting is on course, like, if the ground gets a strange shadow or stroke, that could turn into a rock, a root from a tree, some watering hole, or some flowers. In the sky, a wrong stroke with a different color can become a cloud, a reflection… and so on!
Quagmire and Shifting Sands by Caio Calazans
Updraft and Floodplains by Caio Calazans
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: Is there anything else you would like to share with fans?
Caio Calazans: Well, I see many people saying things like “I wish I could paint like this”, and similar things, and not just related to art. I never had art classes, and my first attempts at painting were just terrible, I mean, really terrible haha! I got criticized a lot at the beginning. But, anyone can do anything! Don’t let others bring you down with toxicity, and don’t feel upset with mistakes; they’re just lessons and steps to be climbed! Just concentrate on your goals and study, study, study. And before you know it, you’ll be great!
Mike Servati @ Collector Arthouse and Collector Arthouse on Facebook, signing off...