The best secrets are really hard to keep.
Over six months ago, I had the idea to do something special for Natalie for our wedding coming up in September. We’re both big fans of gaming and fantasy, and specifically of dragons, and I wanted to have a piece of art done to commemorate our big day in epic fantasy style.
I reached out to Steve Argyle, an artist who does great work for Magic the Gathering , among other things, whom I had met at a number of events over the years. I asked about the possibility of him creating such a piece, and he agreed, although his schedule would not give him time to work on it for several months.
During that time, I surreptitiously tried to get details from Natalie without giving anything away. I snuck questions like what kind of character she saw herself as in a fantasy world into everyday conversation, and managed to get her to transfer all of our engagement photos to me online so I could send them to Steve as reference images.
Eventually, when Steve’s schedule opened up, he sent me some sketches based on my ideas I’d pitched to him. I’d told him that I wanted Natalie and I portrayed as fantasy characters in front of a backdrop of mountains with silhouettes of dragons flying around – along with Shiro, of course, himself as some kind of dog dragon. The sketch I liked the most was the direction that Steve clearly also favored, with the two of us floating mid-air and Shiro flying around us.
Steve and I went back and forth over a few details – including one point during Pro Tour Origins testing when I had to ask for Tom Martell’s input on Natalie’s hair color, since I’m colorblind – until finally he sent me this final piece:
I absolutely loved it, and still do. Steve and his wife helped get me a beautifully framed print of the piece, which arrived over the weekend while I was away at PAX Prime. I’d specifically asked them to send it to the Stone Blade office address, so Natalie would be none the wiser. Then yesterday morning, while Natalie was still in bed, I went to the office and retrieved the framed print, then slipped it into our room while she was taking a shower. When she finished getting ready and came out to take Shiro for a walk, it was waiting for her to discover next to our bed.
Suffice it to say that she seems to love it just as much as I do. It’s now hanging in the hallway just outside our bedroom.
I want to say a huge thank you to Steve Argyle for doing such an amazing job on the piece, and to Kat for putting together the gorgeous frame and getting it safely to me. And thanks, as well, to all of my friends who I couldn’t help but share the image with over the past few months who kept the secret from Natalie so I could surprise her with the finished piece.
Because the best surprises are worth waiting for.