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Kobold Artistry II: Magical Wonders

Kobold Artistry II: Magical Wonders

Krik the Knifer (Artist: Terry Maranda)Magic plays an important role in fantasy settings. From the searing heat of the fireball spell to the well-known and well-loved magic missile spell that wizards have relied on over the years, magic can grant you enjoyment at the gaming table and give those with artistic talent an outlet for providing us with stunning art. Creatures formed from magic play in the minds of many a gamer as he or she rolls dice, and some folk draw what they see in their mind’s eye and share it with the rest of us. Whether it’s a wizard using High Magic to devastate an army, an artisan crafting a wondrous magic sword in an arcane forge, or an awe-inspiring scene depicting one of the World Trees of Midgard—we want to see what you see.

In other words, it’s time that we had an art contest. Wow us with your own sense of wonder given visual form.

How does this work? First, think of something that is tied to magic that you simply must illustrate and then illustrate it. We’re making the overall focus of this contest very broad so that you have room to play. You can choose whether you use pencils, inks, watercolors, pixels — as long as you can scan the image in (or convert it in the case of digital format) and send it to us in a jpg file, we are happy. Your submission will be evaluated by a panel of industry professionals and by the fans. As with other contests we’ve done here on the Kobold Press site, fame and prizes play a part in this again. (More on that in a bit!)

So, what do you need to do? First, read all the stuff beyond the jump, then start letting those artistic talents of yours take over.

Contest Entry

Here’s how it works: To enter the contest, your art submission MUST…

  • ADDED May 15, 2013: Have been created in the previous calendar year.
  • UPDATED June 2, 2013:Be sent to the Kobold Artistry II Contest at miranda(at)koboldquarterly(dot)com no later than June 10, 2013, by noon PST.
  • Be submitted as a jpg attachment.
  • Read Kobold Artistry II Submission [insert illustration’s name] in the email’s subject line. Your full name and contact information should be in the body of the email (not in your attachment).
  • Be at least 300 pixels wide, but no more than 1MB in size. (If you win, we’ll ask for a print-quality version of the file, so hold on to that original artwork!)


All submissions that meet the criteria will be entered in the contest and be judged by us, the Kobolds, and our guest judges on originality, artistry, and uniqueness. The 5 best pieces of art will be published here on koboldpress.com and be voted on by the public. Of those 5 art pieces, the one with the winning votes will become the 2013 Kobold Artistry winner.

So who’s judging? We have a trio of extremely talented and wise judges: Wolfgang Baur, artist Terry Maranda, and art director Marc Radle. Take a look at their bios below.

Wolfgang Baur is the founder of Kobold Press, its publisher, and general go-to kobold. He enjoys the Gothic style in architecture, the Venetian style of rampant mercantilism, and the Dutch style in gardens and hydroengineering. For adventures, he’s an omnivore. Wolfgang is the author of the Midgard Campaign Setting, the Dark*Matter setting, the Kobold Guides to Game Design, and a smattering of other RPG titles dating from the days when TSR walked the earth. Wolfgang lives in an impenetrable set of warrens near Kirkland, Washington.

Marc Radle is a professional graphic artist and designer by trade. He also does lots of freelance illustration, graphic design, writing, and game design for various RPG companies. Marc’s very first professional RPG game credit (for illustrations, logo design, and graphic design) came in 1994’s Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth from Last Unicorn Games. He is currently the Art Director and primary graphic designer for Kobold Press.

Last year’s winner of the Kobold Artistry contest, Terry Maranda can be found in the mostly frozen wastes of Montreal, painting furiously with his nose to the screen, a digital pen in one hand and warm coffee in the other. During the day, he works as a lead artist in the video game industry, but at night he delves in to the darker side of his craft, designing battle-ready swords for Darksword Armory as well as illustrating tabletop RPGs, creating adventuring characters, viscous beasts, arcane items, and maps of distant lands for White Wolf (Exalted Series), Storm Bunny Studios (Rhune World), and BlackStar Studios (Shadowland). He also now creates denizens for the massive world of Kobold Press’s Midgard. Our Kobold Artistry II contest image (above) is Krik, Terry’s winning entry from last year’s Kobold Artistry contest. You can learn more about him at his website.

Prizes for the 2013 Kobold Artistry Winner

The winning artist will receive a cover commission from Kobold Press, plus be interviewed for the Kobold Press website (more on that later). All five finalists will receive a gift certificate to the Kobold Store.

Additional Rules

1. The contest is open to all.
2. One entry per person. The entry must be your own work, which has not been published previously, is not being considered for publication by any other publisher, and is original and does not infringe upon any copyrighted material.
3. All entries become property of Open Design LLC. ADDED May 16, 2013: Artist grants Open Design LLC the right to publish the submitted art on the Kobold website as part of this contest. Winner grants Open Design LLC the right to publish the winning image in the Kobold Press newsletter and in similar promotional and publicity uses.
4. By entering this contest, you authorize the use of your name and likeness without additional compensation for promotion and advertising purposes in all media.
5. This contest is subject to federal, state, and local laws where applicable.
6. Open Design reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this contest at any time without prior notice.
7. All decisions of Open Design LLC and the judges are final.

Last year’s contest was amazing in terms of the talented artists who submitted their artwork, and we are looking forward to seeing the creativity that comes from our vastly talented Kobold Press audience this year.

9 thoughts on “Kobold Artistry II: Magical Wonders”

  1. Well, the goal of the contest is to 1) identify promising amateurs and early-career artists and 2) publish the finalists’ work on the web site for people to vote on. It’s difficult to publish that work if Kobold Press doesn’t have any rights to it.

    I would recommend against participating if you have any hesitation about entering the contest and granting rights to publish your work. The winner gets a nicely-paid contract and possibly additional paid work in future, but this is very much an open call, and there’s just one winner.

    Artists at the stage where retaining rights is paramount are better off pursuing other avenues of publication (though of course mid-career and well-established artists are more than welcome to enter!). Talk to the art director, or show a portfolio of prior work and client list.

    Perhaps I read too much into the question, but that’s how I see it.

  2. Some rights is a totally reasonable expectation, including the rights to publish images on your website. However, full ownership presents a difficulty for the artist. They can no longer use the image in any capacity, including in their portfolio, and often these works represent a significant time investment. A revised agreement, for example, one that holds the rights until the contest is ended and then releases the rights of the pieces not chosen and holds the ones chosen under a specific contract, would be a more approachable situation.

  3. That might almost works, though the devil is in the details and it might create new problems.

    I would like to hear your take on two possible issues:

    1) I have no idea how to structure a temporary grant of rights that protects both publisher and author in a contest like this. The grant of rights cannot require taking down the art from the site, or the record of the contest disappears. I am no lawyer and yet there must be a way. Can you point me to an example of a contest that you think does this well?

    2) Requiring a temporary grant means that established artists potentially get a huge advantage, as they could submit their best, previously published portfolio work as an entry, knowing that the piece stays with them after the contest. Submitting older work or requirigna significant investment of time (years in the case of working artists) is not at all the intent of this contest. How do you address the need for the rules to foster and privilege new artists over established artists here?

    For point 2, I suspect it is possible to just ban all professionals, but that removes early-career artists. What do you think?

  4. Hi Wolfgang,

    I am an art director at Treehouse Brand Stores, we commission posters for video games like Halo, Doom, and Skyrim. We used to have a Work For-Hire as well and changed it. I think I can answer your questions.

    1. You don’t actually need a temporary grant of rights. This line of thinking is a little bit of a red herring.

    I am 100% sure artists will agree to give Open Design LLC the rights to show the image online, with credit and url linkback, in exchange for participation. That’s win-win. The artist keeps all the relevant rights to their original work, and OD gets to show off new art that they like without profiting off of it directly.

    But what about OD’s IP? Well, that’s already protected (at least I hope you already did that). E.g. in the case of a character like Superman, I can’t make a Superman doll and sell thousands of them online. DC would sue me. BUT, DC also can’t take my design without paying me. And that’s the crux of the issue.

    If you just take the rights you need, the artist still can’t edge in on your profits because of your trademarks and copyrights, but you also can’t profit off their work without compensation. There’s no need to take all rights.

    As for the winners, you’ll want more rights and you can make that a second clause. I don’t know how much the gift certificate prizes are, but that could be a fair deal.

    2. The concern that people will submit older work is something these contests can’t realistically prevent. Nor can you prevent a certain class of illustrator. But that doesn’t really matter because having them submit won’t cost you time in the end for two reasons: the honor system mostly works and you don’t have to reward those who failed to use it.

    You asked for examples, and there are many contests that have this in their guidelines and the honor system works well. Spectrum requires that the image be made in the previous calendar year. The truth is many artists create new pieces close the deadline, but many don’t, and nobody really suffers. Also, Richard Solomon’s Breakthrough contest requires that you have less than 5 or 6 years in the industry. Again, I am sure people with more experience submit.

    But here’s why the honor system works. You really only have to check the winners. Background checks on every submission would be a crushing task, but checking the winners is easy. If one of the winners doesn’t meet the criteria for submission, you take the next runner up. Simple as that. You only have a handful of people to really check in the end.

    I hope you can update the terms. If you do, I plan on promoting this as a great opportunity for new illustrators.


  5. Marc, sorry to disappear for a day (publishing work called!), but I want to really thank you for taking the time to bring me up to speed on other contests, and the tradeoffs and honor system used elsewhere. As you might guess, I’m not exactly an expert on these, and it’s good to hear what works best.

    As a result, I’ve made two changes to the terms & conditions, one on the grant of rights (to cover use in the contest and announce the winning piece, but not all rights), and one to the creation of the art (to try and keep the entries to current work). Both are flagged clearly as changes in the post itself.

    I hope this is the sort of contest that does draw new illustrators, and I look forward to working with some of them.

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