Was MTG Arena’s Crux of Fate Art Plagiarized?
Jason Helix created the art for MTG Arena’s upcoming card, Crux of Fate in Strixhaven. Or did he? Accusations have made the rounds about the Crux of Fate card, according to a DeviantArt artist named Scary Pet. An artist who has sent a portfolio to Wizards of the Coast many times (in their words), found out the art they created was used in a card – but not with their permission. If this is true, Jason Helix has a lot of explaining to do, as the evidence for MTG Arena’s Crux of Fate art being stolen is pretty solid. While we’re waiting to hear a statement from Wizards of the Coast on this, here’s what we know.
Traced and Spliced
It’s not like Jason Helix is some unknown, new artist for Wizards of the Coast either. In ten years, he’s done 140 pieces for MTG. This includes some recent cards like Hydroid Krasis, and unique pieces like Endless One and All is Dust. In a moment of art imitating life, he’s also the artist of Wall of Stolen Identity. This all came to light thanks to a comment on one of Scary Pet’s DeviantArt pieces. A viewer saw that some of Scary Pet’s art was on a MTG Arena card – specifically, the art for Crux of Fate.
Scary Pet had this to say on Twitter:
“Should I be flattered?hehe.But seriously,#MtG has been a major influence that developed my love for making art. (and I’ve sent application/portfolio many times to WotC.) Now someone told me my art made it into a Card! Ironically,in a somewhat s̷t̷o̷l̷e̷n̷ way.”
In the above Twitter post, there’s also a video that explains how this came to be. The video shows the art when it was originally published, and the comment that led to Scary Pet’s concern. The original art in Scary Pet’s piece was done in 2016. It appears that Jason Helix simply spliced out a piece of the art, and rotated it slightly. It also looks like it has been altered to hide/remove the original artists’ Watermark. Scary Pet’s Nicol Bolas looks identical in virtually every way to the one on Crux of Fate.
What makes this story more interesting is the Ugin appears to be copied too. A user on Reddit points out that the head and upper body of Ugin look very similar to the original planeswalker card, right down to the lighting. It looks like the artist in question took two very different pieces of art and spliced them together, and took credit for them.
There has to be something ironic about a set of MTG Arena cards in a Magical School being the source of art theft/plagiarism, like Crux of Fate. In Ugin’s case on Crux of Fate, it appears to be the art of Raymond Swanland. But the question we also have to ask is, “Is this legal, if true?” because it may fit into the purview of Wizards of the Coasts’ fan art policy. They might legally be allowed to use art that a non-contracted artist created. Would it be ethical? Absolutely not. But legal? It might be.
We’ll keep an eye on this story as it develops. If it is a card that will never see its art reprinted again, there’s a fair chance its value will spike high. Jason Helix has yet to make a response on Twitter and has instead putting his focus on NFT art.