S'Tsung and Altering cards
Hello, my name is Ren Stefanek. I'm known to many as S'Tsung. I'm currently 33 years old and I live in Prague, Czech Republic. Magic: The Gathering is one of the things that actually makes my life a better life even though I'm dependent on this game as selling Magic cards is my only income for several years now. I first saw and tried to understand this game back in 1995 and became hooked. Apart from playing Magic I play rhythm games like Beatmania IIDX. I like to play the piano, paint, sing. I love meeting new people and traveling to conventions and tournaments.
As far as my drawing and painting abilities... I always loved to doodle during classes but it seems that after years of trying to draw I did not reach the level I could consider myself good^_^ and I never really possessed enough creativity to actually do something 'good'. But many people try to convince me that I'm very capable of doing something great even in art.
If you are interested in what I can do, you can check some of my art here on this site
I finished high school with specialization in 'exact sciences' (mainly Maths and Physics). I continued to Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Psysical Engineering at Czech Technical University. Looking back I can tell you that this is the only one place in which I felt normal and felt a part of something. I met great people and spent some great time. The most important thing was that I could finally talk to someone without explaining myself and people understood me. My studies were interrupted though because unfortunately my will to do something actually broke during the studies. I felt too much pressure from my parents mainly and I just couldn't ignore it.
After that I spent some time working, but my experiences with being employed did not end up well. After even more attempts from my parents to go study once again I chose what I wanted to do - Interactive Media at a British University in Prague (I actually finished this school with BcA).
During the first year I learned that there is actually something I'm good at - Vector Art and Design. I did not want to pursue this though as my goal was elsewhere -> game design/character design. Unfortunately for me I ended up with a professor I couldn't stand up. That same professor just decided to let me fail due to his own mistakes, lies and incapability of doing what he himself promised. Otherwise I was a distinction and merits student. After such a betrayal I just wanted to finish the school no matter what and my dreams dissipated. I was back at were I started.
Anyway during the last year, me and several others joined a Fina Arts program (Experimental Media) and we tried to develop our work and who we are. I still did not find who I am nor what I want to do but I learned a lot and I also realized some things about consumer society (related to arts) and marketing.
Also at this time I started altering more cards because I wanted to discover how painting in general works and I did not have any money to actually do the actual thing. I was already in the middle of financial crisis and couldn't afford much. My alters were bought or commissioned but I guess I couldn't say the same for paintings I would produce. Even though I produced a few (only a few).
I started altering cards in 2008. A dear friend of mine, former Magic player just asked me one day if I don't want to try to alter something. I wasn't really sure if that was a good idea. Even though I like to draw (and I'm not really good at that) I wasn't sure if I can do anything with a brush and acrylic paint. Anyway sometime later I bought some cheap acrylic paint and a brush and tried my best.
The first three alters were really horrible but the fourth one actually looked more or less good so I decided to go on and see if anything good can come out of it. I sold the previous alters and the buyers still have them. For that I thank them because they supported me in this activity this way and that is the reason why you actually read this. (I'm ashamed of the work I did years ago but someone needs to start somewhere right?).
Since my first attempts I got way better but there is still a lot to learn. During my adventures I saw some people showcase their custom playmats so I also tried to paint or draw a few.
After quite a while more and more people starting asking me for commissions or started asking me what altering is in general and that is why I decided to take a video of me altering a card and drawing on a playmat.
My lack of confidence sets limits to my work but I try to be more confident and I try to get better with each alter, drawing or painting I create.
After seeing my own alters I sold 4 years ago (for like 5USD) being sold now for 50USD (not counting the price of the card) I realized that probably I am not that bad as I think. I got featured in The Mana Source Altered Art Spotlight and the reactions were overly positive to my surprise and the very same happens at other MTG Alters appreciation groups. There is still a lot of space for improvement and I'll gladly continue in improving my technique and producing better alters.
Thanks for reading.