Magic: The Gathering lost an icon last week — beloved artist Christopher Rush passed away on February 10 at the age of 50. Responsible for the artwork on over 100 different Magic cards, Rush also provided freelance illustrations and concept artwork for other card and computer games, including Pokémon. No information has been released as to the cause of death, nor is much known regarding the artist’s health. However, it has been stated that his passing was, sadly, unexpected. He is survived by his two daughters, Sierra Troi Rush and Madeline Rush. His affairs are being handled by his agent, Jeff Ferreira.
Perhaps one of the biggest fans of Rush was his long-time employer Wizards of Coast. The company credits him as playing a huge role in the overall look and feel of the Magic game, helping design many of the earliest cards. This includes the wallet draining Black Lotus — the Alpha and Beta are currently the most expensive Magic cards in existence. But although Rush is, arguably, best known for that single card’s design, he had his hands in the game from the beginning. As one of the original 25 artists, he designed all of the game’s Mana symbols, and worked with Wizards of Coast to develop the marketing artwork for the game.
Every Magic player has their favorite card artwork, and given Rush’s 100+ cards, it’s impossible to pinpoint the card any one player would know him for. Some community favorites include Lightning Bolt, Indomitable Will, Goblin Grenade, and Archangel. Yet perhaps his biggest contribution to the game was his style of artwork, which set the visual tone for the TCG from the beginning. Rush was known for his comic book-like illustrations. Yet according to fans, he managed to create drama and depth even with a rather ‘simplistic’ artistic style, using unusual lighting, unexpected angles, and a hefty dose of the abstract to create one-of-a-kind pieces.
Although a vast portion of Rush’s career was spent working on Magic, he lent his artistry to a number of other games and venues. Rush was the first non-Japanese artist to contribute to the Pokémon TCG with the Wizards of Coast (back when they distributed Pokémon) promotional Mewtwo #12 in 2000. He also worked as a Game Play Counselor for Nintendo – providing players with one-on-one over-the-phone instructions for defeating difficult portions of Nintendo games.
Throughout his career, Rush garnered a reputation as a passionate, kindhearted individual who gave any project he tackled his all and was always up to talk with fans. To help pay for his funeral expenses and anything else that his two surviving daughters may need, there is currently a memorial fund for fans to donate to.
And for anyone looking for a walk down memory lane, you can check out all of the Magic cards designed by Rush over at Magic: The Gathering’s Gatherer.
Rest in peace, Chris.