This Community Spotlight focuses on Sablan Alters! They are a team of three, comprising of Michiko, Kumiko, and Greg - keep reading to learn more!
Artist Name: Sablan MTG Alters - they are a collective!
Real Names: Michiko Kanda Sablan and Kumiko Kanda Yoshino
Time Doing Alters: Michiko (since April 2016 - over 2 years), Kumiko (since October 2017 - over 1 year)
Kumiko Kanda Yoshino (Left), Michiko Kanda Sablan (Right)
Michiko Kanda Sablan (Left), Kumiko Kanda Yoshino (Right)
Michiko and Kumiko are sisters originally from the island of Guam, a territory of the United States. Currently, Michiko and her husband Greg live in New York and Kumiko lives on Guam. Greg manages their commission queue and provides advice on idea/theme matching.
When did you first get into Magic The Gathering?
Michiko: Well… the first few times when my husband Greg attempted to teach me, we were stationed in Washington State and it was maybe 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning after he just had a Game Night with his friends. So I’m trying to learn the game while half asleep… well, mostly asleep, so I didn’t learn much really. That was about 5 years ago. I can’t say I’ve learned much since then, other than to “Tap and attack”, but I’m getting there sloooowly but surely.
Kumiko: I was visiting Greg and Michiko when they were stationed in Texas in 2015. Greg is in the Army so they move around a lot, so I thought I could help them settle into a new location. I had a very similar experience like my sister Michiko, but when Greg taught me late in the night that one time, I had a few drinks so I was “tipsy” and sleepless and honestly don’t remember anything. So, Greg has promised to teach us again one day except when we’re both very much awake.
Michiko - Ghost in the Shell Swap for Luke Emmerton (Full Art), Kimono Girl, Michiko’s Favorite Alter (Full Art), Gandalf the Grey Portrait (Box Replacement/Extension), Lord of the Rings Theme (Full Art, Stained Glass)
When and how did you start altering?
Michiko: I first started altering around the spring of 2016. Greg introduced the idea to me after he personally commissioned someone else. Initially, I thought “Who would actually pay me to paint?”, but the idea seemed interesting and I decided, “Why not?”
Kumiko: Michiko told me about alters right when she started. We couldn’t believe that there was actually a market for this sort of thing… the idea that people paying a stranger to replace the art on a piece of cardboard seemed crazy. Michiko sent me a starter kit of paints shortly after she finished several commissions just to get me to try altering. I attempted an alter but found it very difficult and I lost interest and so the kit collected dust. Following a back injury in 2017, I decided to try again in hopes of replacing my job so I took out the kit and practiced under the strict supervision of Greg and my sister. The criticism was hardcore.
Kumiko - Dragon Maid Tohru (Full Art), Attack on Titan Annie (Full Art), Princess Mononoke Theme (Box Replacement/Extension), Evangelion EVA Unit 01 (Full Art)
What’s your favorite style of altering?
Michiko: I don’t have a specific style, but I do try to challenge myself with new and detailed arts.
Kumiko: I prefer clean, outlined anime arts.
Michiko - Commission for Chris Dufour (Full Art), Nature Was Here First” (Full Art, w/in Borders), Hunter X Hunter Chrollo (Full Art, Foil), Legend of Zelda Link with Deku Mask (Full Art)
Throughout your career taking commissions for alters, what’s the craziest thing someone has asked you to do?
Michiko: When a potential client asked me to paint on an $800 card. At that time I think it was one of what they call the “Power 9”... I believe it was a Mox Emerald. I declined this particular commission since I was still a beginner and new in the business. I just couldn’t believe someone would even consider me to take such a risk.
Kumiko: Every alter ends up being very challenging for me. We work almost primarily on reference art, so if there is an image that I like, I comfortably accept the job. However, I was ambushed by Greg one time when he sent me a card that had almost no reference material so I had no say in accepting the commission. I kind of hated him for a while after that (chuckles).
Kumiko - Death Note Theme (Full Art), World of Warcraft Sylvanus Windrunner (Full Art), Final Fantasy Terra Branford (Full Art),One Piece Laboon (Full Art, w/in Borders)
What is your favorite Alter you’ve ever done?
Michiko: The alter I did on the card “Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker”, because the name of the card itself is awesome (chuckles). This was one of my earlier alters and despite the limited tools I had to work with, I was very pleased with the details I was able to paint.
Kumiko: My most favorite set of alters was the Ghibli basic lands which were the first alters I actually sold. They were very hard to let go and I actually wanted to keep them because they were so detailed and I am a huge fan of Studio Ghibli.
Michiko - Sexy Berserker Girl (Full Art, Foil), Dual Land Restoration (Box Replacement/Extension), Rishadan Port Balcony (Border Extension), Blade Runner’s Rachel Portrait (Full Art)
Do you recall any cool stories from your time altering?
Michiko: I thought it was cool when Luke Emmerton (of Luey Dragons MTG Alters), a fellow altering artist from Australia, asked me to do an alter swap with him. He did an alter on the card Ensnaring Bridge and I did an alter for him on Ghostly Prison using a Ghost in the Shell reference.
Kumiko: Getting criticized by Greg, I call it “Judgment Day”... the day I get my alters approved by him! In doing alters, life has turned into a very cool, exciting experience.
Kumiko - Ghibli Themed Lands, Kumiko’s Favorite Alters (Full Art, Themed Set)
Who/what would you say is your biggest influence on your alters work?
Michiko: Within a few months of altering, I reached out to several artists after Greg mentioned I should. Surprisingly, they were very easy to talk to and deal with. Of these artists I came to know, I became especially fond of Chris Dufour’s (of DC Alters) work. This was probably five months or so after I started, and since then, Chris has given me so much helpful advice and tips.
Kumiko: After doing alters for some time, I discovered the artist Flavia Helena (of Sumomo Cards) and realized that I would like to get to her level of alters. I loved her clean outlines and originality. I was astounded by her skills! But most of all, the greatest influence on my work is my sister, who I consider my sensei and forever rival.
Michiko - Studio Ghibli Themed Collage on Four Cards (Full Art, Themed Set)
What other creative things do you do?
Michiko: I haven’t had much time lately but when I get the chance, I love to bake and crochet. I am a mom of three and spend a lot of time with my kids so it’s hard to juggle everything!
Kumiko: Once in while I like to do watercolor painting and I like to cook. Our father is a tempura chef on Guam so we take after him.
Kumiko - Various Anime Themed Artifacts (Box Replacements)
Do you have any other comments you want to tell your fans and our audience?
Michiko: Thank you so very much for giving me this opportunity to bring out the artistic skills that were buried away. All your support is greatly appreciated and I will continue to do my best!
Kumiko: Thank you for your support and I hope to continue painting alters that can amaze you guys!
Michiko - Sexy but Dangerous Mermaid Playset (Full Art, Nouveau)
CONTACT INFO AGAIN
Thanks for reading!
SABLAN ALTERS GIVEAWAY
Michiko worked on All Might for both cards and Kumiko worked on Deku. Other parts of the cards were a combination of both their skills.
(unaltered Gorm and Virtus, above & altered Virtus and Gorm, below)