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Exceptional Magic Realism

Nicole Cardiff

A woman with flaming hair and hands stands ready. An aviator watches blue and yellow dragons soar. A masked woman with elaborate tattoos stands. A cloaked woman with red hair climbs. A masked archer readies her bow.

A situation that seems truly extraordinary to one person may be perfectly normal to another. In a land where magic is mundane and the fantastical is forgettable. Nicole Cardiff seems quite comfortable in such a topsy-turvy world, and her practical practitioners of magic have everything under control.

Whether we are witnessing alternate histories or parallel dimensions, the result is the same: hauntingly familiar places and faces with abilities and companions never seen in this world of ours. Ms Cardiff makes inked-up urban mages and steampunk dragon handlers seem not only likely, but inevitable. She also adeptly captures characters from distant cultures and far-off lands, making them both exotic and approachable.

De these illustrations reveal part of our forgotten histories, or some closely guarded secret of our ancestors? If you can accept that your childhood fairy tales have grown up, collected a touch of grit and grime, and still retain their charm, then Nicole’s works are certain to delight, whatever the source of her inspiration.

Written by in May of 2016. Last edited March 2017.

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