Ajani, Mentor of Heroes | Aaron Miller

Why Is He An Artist?

Aaron drew a lot as a kid, got more serious in high school with art classes, and and ended up going to college to study art. That’s just a timeline without any real meaning though.

“It’s a hard question to answer. It’s hard to pick why.” -Aaron Miller

There were moments of inspiration that started it all.

D&D artwork

Dungeons and Dragons

They kept pushing him away with elbows and shoves, ignoring him whenever he came over. All he wanted was to sit and watch them and see what they were doing. Maybe play with them too, but only just for a little bit. He didn’t think it was a big deal and he wouldn’t bother them too much. But the other cub scouts really didn’t want him around.

For hours they sat there together pointing, yelling, rolling dice, watching each other and listening carefully as the older one spoke. Aaron tried to be a fly on the wall. He just wanted to figure out what was going on and how he could join. Maybe not today, but some other day. It was so interesting though that he couldn’t just ignore what they were doing and go do something else. The story, the role play, the art was what infatuated his curiosity. He told himself that he would play another time.

D&D miniatures

D&D Miniatures

Aaron was pretty good buddies with Chris and would often go over to his apartment to hang out. Aaron had walked over to Chris’s place like he does every Tuesday after school so that they could hang out for the afternoon. Since he wasn’t in middle school yet, his mom said he couldn’t be at home alone while she did errands, so that’s why he was always at Chris’s.

Today was different though. Chris went to the toy store with his parents on Saturday. Aaron thudded the door a few times to announce his arrival. At that very moment Chris flew by his mom, flung open the door, grabbed Chris and dragged him to the bedroom.

“Look!”, yelled Chris.

Aaron picked up what looked like a medieval G.I. Joe and inspected it. On the desk were several others, some with wet paint, some just gray. As his mind calmed from the rush of being dragged into the room, he carefully studied what laid flat in his open palm. Chris painted this. Aaron’s eyes opened wider to look at the others and see every detail.

Aaron needed some. After interrogating Chris, Aaron discovered that the origin was Tom’s Toys. They had a glass water bottle jug selling them for $0.10 each. After a mad dash down the street, and Ms. Edwards yelling at him to come back, he burst into Tom’s Toys and the sound of the door visibly surprised another shopper. To his surprise, Aaron was quickly informed by Tom that having only a desperate need was not a sufficient trade for the miniatures. But some old toys in good condition would be. Like Aaron’s X-wing Starfighter.

It was worth it.

Time Life Fantasy Books

Time Life Fantasy Books

When he came downstairs for breakfast on Saturday, his breakfast wasn’t ready like normal. He normally had Danish pancakes while he sat and tried to wake up before starting the day. He asked his mom but she didn’t hear him. His mom was flipping through a book when he had sat down and seemed to be glued to it. Aaron tapped on her arm.

“Can I have some breakfast?”, asked Aaron.

She looked at him for a moment and told Aaron he should look at the book too. While his mom opened up the cabinets to start prepping some food, he became entranced. The title read Enchanted World. The cover was a solid green with an embossed design. In the center was an arch shape which had a detailed piece of art displayed. It was the magnificent art of J.W. Waterhouse.

Aaron glanced back at the table for a moment when she set down a plate and noticed she had two books on the table he didn’t notice before and agreed to let Aaron borrow one while she read through the other.

Why Is He An MTG Artist?

Aaron’s artistic intrigue and passion grew his abilities slowly as a child. It wasn’t until he went to college with a focus on art that he started to see that this could be a career. It was there that things really clicked that he could do this, for money, as a living.

College

His first experience out of highschool was at the American Academy of Art. Of course he was feeling nervous. Being old enough to vote doesn’t absolve anyone of walking into a new school with the overwhelming feeling that going back to highschool would just be easier. Sure there was a spark of excitement, but sparks are pretty small.

“Don’t forget. Everyone is new and feels the same way”, reminded Aaron’s mom.

The first day’s classes weren’t all that hard. What really stood out in the beginning was seeing the work of the professors. They had created some truly fantastic pieces of art that showed off why they were the ones teaching. There really wasn’t much fantasy art there, which had set him on this path in the first place but he still felt like it was the right place to be.

The fire of inspiration and fear of loneliness were fighting in his heart the entire first day. But it was his 6pm class that solidified that fact that was going to enjoy his time there.

In the spirit of the first day of class, most colleges have students sit through the instructor lecture on and on about the syllabus, but it’s all bearable because everyone new that class would end early. This class at 6pm was different though. The normal drone of going through the expected work and test schedule blazed by in only a few minutes. They jumped right into their first project, which was met by a united chorus from students singing, “aaahhhh”. Soon though, everyone was heads down into the work. They had to finish a whole piece by the end of the class, which, to Aaron’s surprise, gave him a sense of actually getting something real done that he didn’t know he wanted.

Eric Deschamps

Years after graduating from the Academy, Aaron attended the Illustration Master Class over the summer of 2008 in Amherst, Massachusetts. On his first day a very sweaty student came in the door looking a bit rushed and apologized to the instructor about being late. He plopped down next to Aaron and whispered, “what did I miss?” After Aaron’s reply, the student introduced himself as Eric.

Their friendship quickly grew after that first day and over the last few years it has been a relationship that he’s given a lot of importance. They pushed each other to get better at their craft and often admired and spoke about their inspiration for fantasy and classical art.

Magic: the Gathering was actually a game that Aaron saw when he was younger, but was put off by the art style. He felt spoiled with the magnificent quality of pieces he admired when he was younger and unfairly compared the early art of Magic to that. “Eh”, he thought.

“It’s changed a lot, check out out the piece’s I’ve made for the upcoming set!” Eric said.

At once Aaron’s intrigue was ignited. After that, it only took the light push of meeting some of the other artists in the community for Aaron to work towards getting to make art for Magic: the Gathering. The big red bow on this opportunity was the “World Guide” to look forward to with each set. It highlighted what the new world and story both felt like and looked like. One of the key selling points was that it featured amazing art to be an inspiration to the pieces each artist was commissioned for. However, more so, it meant that Aaron could be a part of making and creating the world and depicting the characters in it.

He was hooked, and has been ever since.

A photo of Trent Ellingsen Trent Ellingsen

Trent Ellingsen is a casual magic player going to FNMs about once a month and at least one GP a year. He enjoys playing EDH and often organizes game nights with his wife at home often. His passion for Magic led him to create 5 Color Combo and the drafting simulator app.