Welcome back Planeswalkers! Join us for a special interview with Lie Setiawan, one of the marvelous artists for Magic: The Gathering’s upcoming set, Ikoria: Lair of behemoths. In this interview we shall asked about his work, thought processes, and who he will side with in this fight for survival. We shall also be featuring some of his work on Ikoria so far. So let’s jump in shall we?

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello! My name is Lie Setiawan. I am an illustrator and concept artist from Jakarta, Indonesia. I love to draw cool pictures that tell a story.

Are you a Magic: The Gathering Player? If so, how do you play?

I am, but not a hardcore player. I first started playing magic during the Magic: The Gathering Arena Beta. I have been playing in Arena only until now.

What was your initial reaction to bringing The Ikorian Otter and Phase Dolphin to life?

The first time reading the brief for Lutri I was like, “oh cool, an otter!”. Then it became “damn, how do I make an otter cool?”.

For the phase dolphin, “oh no”. Because I always seem to have a hard time drawing dolphins.

Take us through the thought process of your work. What was your favourite part in the process?

Well, first of all, I knew I would definitely need a lot of real life references. The most important thing to me was to get the attitude down. So i scoured Youtube and Google images on how an otter would play. Then I also needed to get the face looking nice, because nobody will like an ugly otter. The rest was turning the otter into a magical creature and find a good composition for him ..or her I haven’t decide the gender yet.

I think my favourite part would definitely be the research part for the otter. I think I may have spent half a day watching how it plays.

For dolphin, like with Lutri, I looked for dolphins as reference, especially the head part. Then I went ahead to design the human friend. For both I also looked mostly on the pose and gesture to make them feel natural. Afterwards there was the mechanics on how she rides with the dolphin and then composition.

Favourite part for this one is probably figuring out the mechanics and testing a few options. My thought process is almost always the same. I try to understand how the character or creature
behaves and moves first. Then figuring out their designs that relate to their world. And finally compose them in the scene.

Do you have a favourite monster? And if you could be any monster, who would you be?

Hmm, not really. I don’t know a lot of monsters. Probably King Kong though because he just minds his own business.

What monster would you like to bring into card form?

Well, I would love to do any monster. But, for now probably Kaiju like monsters.

What other Magic: The Gathering pieces would you love to bring to the canvas?

I think I’d love to do Ajani or Jace!

Is there any other card art you love? If so, why?

Ajani’s Pridemate from Chris Rahn, among a lot of other awesome arts! I think I like it mostly because of Ajani’s pose. He feels very ‘heroic’.

Do you prefer producing monsters, environments, or characters? Or something else?

Characters 1st and monsters 2nd. And have them fighting each other.

Who would you side with in Ikoria? The humans? Or the beasts? And why?

Probably the humans. Because they’re the prey here and I think I’d like to cheer on the fighting for survival side.

What creature would you create/mutate just in general not just in magic. If you get to bring a creature to life, what would it be?

Oh, hmm for creature, here is an idea: a giant spider with a giant centipede. No reason. It just freaks me out with the thought of all those limbs!

What creature would you love to create from the cards revealed in Ikoria so far? And why does it appeal to you?

How about Kogla, the Titan Ape and my Luminous Broodmoth. A winged King Kong!

And that is your lot! Massive thanks to Lie Satiawan. You can find more of he beautiful work on his official website. If you haven’t done so already, have a peruse at our articles introducing the Ikoria set and our week 1 favourite revealed cards. Keep an eye out for more artist interviews in the coming days as well as our favourite revealed cards. Stay tuned for more news, previews, and guides. Until next time, smile and game!