In spaces as everyday as DIY shows and as otherworldly as surveillance-themed social experiments, Travis Egedy has been a ubiquitous presence in Brooklyn’s weirdest realms over the past several years. The producer/designer/composer best known as Pictureplane knows and influences just about everybody, likely because his own work brings together so many different scenes and styles. In his own music, like on his 2015 LP Technomancer, he finds a way to organically blend bits of punk, techno, sci-fi, horror, and trap together in a single delirious swirl.
But Egedy’s something of a postmodern renaissance man; he endlessly creates without barriers like genre, mode, or medium. His other artistic pursuits include digital art, painting, drawing, running his own clothing line, but most recently he’s trained his talents on even stranger ideas: like, say, creating signature decks for the fantasy/strategy card game Magic: The Gathering. Yeah, drawing on his years of graphic design and visual arts experience, Pictureplane made a Magic deck with a collaborator named Niko Alokin that he met on Instagram.
As a long time fan of the game once called “the new poker,” Egedy decided to bring the concept of Magic to his own world, imagining special abilities and skills for locations and characters from the DIY universewhich is only a hair less fantastical than the original Magic: the Gathering universe. Instead of dragons and warlocks festooning the cards, local weirdos like Juiceboxx and hallowed DIY spaces like 285 Kent make up the playable set. In the end, he and Alokin created only 100 copies of their deck, each containing 72 cards which can, in theory, be played against a Magic deck featuring cards designed by the good folks at Wizards of the Coast. That said, watch out for his signature “Pictureplane” cardhe’ll be the first to admit it’s “almost too powerful.” The decks were released this week, and Pictureplane took some time to answer a few questions about how the project came about and detail a few of the slickest cards in the set.
How did the idea to do this come about?
I have always loved board games and gaming culture, but the idea originally came about from my collaborator, Niko Alokin. Niko and I have never met before in person, but he messaged me on Instagram, showing me a Pictureplane and “Negative Slave” Magic card he had created which was named after one of my songs. I thought it was hilarious and awesome! We started talking more and decided we wanted to create more cards, like a full deck. I came up with all the ideas, like the creatures, spells, enchantments, and lands along with most of the artwork, then Niko created all of the abilities for each card and put it all together digitally. Niko knows way more about the rules of contemporary Magic than I do, and he is an incredible graphic designer. This was a full on collaboration with someone I have never met before, so the process was pretty amazing and a lot of fun. We spent a few months working on it.
A lot of people talk about how Magic is not unlike poker or chess, just with fantasy elements. Are you more drawn in by the fantasy or the strategy of Magic?
Magic definitely has elements of both poker and chess, but when I first became really obsessed with Magic as a kid in middle school, I was really drawn in by the fantasy aspect. I fell in love with the art on the cards and how dark and powerful they seemed.
Which is the most powerful card in your deck? Which is your favorite?
There are so many powerful cards in the deck, I’m not sure which is the most powerful or the least powerful. One of the coolest things about Magic is that a lot of the cards work with each other, and combine different abilities together to really fuck some shit up. This is where the strategy of Magic comes into play. There are some really strong combos in this deck. The “Pictureplane” card is a Planeswalker and it is almost too powerful, once you bring that card out it allows you to keep gaining tons of life, which makes it really difficult for your opponent.
One of my favorite cards is the “Mark Snow” card. Mark Snow made all the music for the X-Files and his card has a special ability: when his card enters the game, you can play the X-Files theme music on your phone and make him way more powerful. There is also a card for my friend Narwhalz (who actually creates comics for VICE as Brian Blomerth) who is obsessed with pomeranians. His card brings out these vicious little pomeranian tokens. Its insane actually.
Who made the artwork? Was there a certain aesthetic you were going for?
Most of the artwork either comes from photos that I took or digital art I made. Some cards even come from artwork that I’ve exhibited in gallery shows. I guess the aesthetic was the “Alien Body” universe. Alien Body is the clothing line that I have, but it’s also a way for me to explore my artistic interests in conspiracy theories, the paranormal, and really lunatic fringe type stuff, like extraterrestrials and UFO’s. Niko created some artwork for the cards, and there are a few photos taken by other people also.
Will you make more decks if they sell out? Would you be interested in making a new deck with different cards?
I would really like to design another deck entirely so that there can be two different decks that can be played against each other. I think that will happen, the interest in this idea has been huge. People have really responded to it well.
What do you hope to achieve through this project? Do you want to bring your community and the Magic community together?
The idea was to just have a lot of fun creating this! I think the idea of bringing the “street” aspect of my world as an underground musician and artist and all of the conceptual aspects of my music into the fantasy world of Magic: The Gathering is just really interesting and funny. There isn’t just one community of Magic players either. All types of different people play Magic so there isn’t really a division between the music and art community, and the Magic community. My goal with the cards is really for people to have fun.
How did you go about choosing which artists, genres, and venues to feature in the cards?
I wanted to focus on artists and people that have been important to my artistic development and who have been really strong players in the underground American DIY scene. These people are my friends that inspire me, I have known and played shows with them for years. DJ Dog Dick, Narwhalz of Sound, Sewn Leather, Juiceboxxx, HEALTH, Fluct. There is even a Genesis P-Orridge card. Venues like the DIY warehouse in Denver I lived at for 6 years, Rhinoceropolis, 285 Kent, and the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan in Mexico were chosen because I imagine the energy of places like that charging up artists and giving them life much like the Mana cards in Magic do. There are so many more artists and people that i want to make cards for, I really think I’m going to have to make another deck!
Tell me about a few of your favorite cards.
“Rhino” is my dearly beloved home in Denver. a DIY venue that has been running strong for over ten years now. which is almost unheard of for DIY venues. Living in a DIY venue for 6 years, booking shows all the time, performing all the time, basically running a radical art commune with my best friends was the best life education I could have asked for. I learned more about life and art living there than I did in 5 years of college. The photo on the card was taken at an insane Lightning Bolt show there in 2007.
Shams has been a good friend for a long time. It was Shams who I originally coined the famous term “witch house” with, and I truly feel that Shams is the only real witch house artist ever. Dude lit a dead bird on fire in a ritual at one of his shows. Shams is a big Magic: the Gathering fan, so I fulfilled a dream of his to put him on a Magic card. The picture on the card is from the time that Shams and Narwhalz were literally on the Judge Judy show. It’s the best episode ever.
Fluct are Sigrid Lauren and Monica Mirabile, two of the most radical and amazing performance artists I know. These women are legends in the making. We have collaborated a lot before. Fluct has danced on stage with me when I perform officially many times, so much so that they are basically a part of Pictureplane. They Inspire me so much and do so much for the underground communities in NYC.
One of my favorite cards in the deck! Anticon is my current record label, they have also been hugely influential on my life and my early development as a musician. I was a massive fan of the record label when I was in high school. the music they were releasing, groups like Deep Puddle Dynamics, Greenthink, Clouddead, and artists like Sole and Doseone were way too weird and strange for most hip-hop heads. That shit changed my life as a teenager. I will always ride so hard for anticon.
To buy the deck, head over to Pictureplane’s Twitter.