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Denton locals bring Dungeons & Dragons to life with art business

Denton locals bring Dungeons & Dragons to life with art business

Denton locals bring Dungeons & Dragons to life with art business
February 10
13:00 2023

Local artists and couple Samantha Stevens, 27, and James Stevens, 33, own and operate The Mage’s Hand, a business that crafts hand-painted miniatures to create immersive Dungeons and Dragons campaigns.

Along with creating some of the brand’s fantasy-themed products, like stickers and shirts, Samantha runs The Mage’s Hand’s online platform via their website, social media and Etsy shop. James is in charge of painting all miniatures, including commissioned orders with multiple miniatures.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Samantha and James began playing D&D with a group of friends. James’ love for the roleplaying game later led to him teaching himself how to paint miniatures.

“He got so good so quickly,” Samantha said. “He was able to dedicate a lot of the time to practice. That inspired us to run The Mage’s Hand.”

Samatha finds that The Mage’s Hand allows her to contribute to the community.

“My favorite part about The Mage’s Hand is the purpose it gives me outside of being a mother,” Samantha said. “I like the feeling of contributing to a community that I’ve dedicated a lot of time learning about and investing in.”

James said he enjoys Samantha’s love and enthusiasm for the business they share.

“I like seeing the passion Samantha has for the store and making sure that people are happy with our products,” James said.

Longtime customer Cole Sweeton, 38, recently commissioned James to paint about 20 miniatures. Sweeton feels that hand-painted miniatures give D&D campaigns more personalization.

“I don’t think a ton of other people are really doing it,” Sweeton said. “Every single figurine is unique. [It] really adds a lot of depth to our gameplay, but also personality to the characters in general.”

James and Samantha’s business partner Micheal Mcmahan, 38, has has been 3D printing miniatures for the couple for two years. Mcmahan said The Mage’s Hand’s miniatures have a “certain style” to them.

“Everybody has their [own] kind of color palette,” Mcmahan said. “I know when I’m looking at one of their pieces just by the style of it.”

James tries to incorporate unique color palettes in his art, but said such choices are only minor elements of the work.

“As a painter, I want new stories to be told, unheard or underrepresented groups to have a place in a fantasy world that has existed to mostly perpetuate one type of hero,” James said. “Every mini that I paint has a story.”

He tries to pay very close attention to detail in every element of the mini, and has even started over on a miniature to ensure the product he produces is quality work and that he does not shortcut the process.

James’ friend and customer Charles Nelson said his attention to detail is one of the reasons why his art stands out. Nelson likes how fun The Mage’s Hand’s products are and thinks they have improved the local D&D community.

“They allow members of the D&D community to really get what they want,” Nelson said. “They really get a top-tier-like web service.”

For Sweeton, the miniatures create a point of conversation for local D&D players.

“[It] adds a layer of depth because it isn’t just like little gray statues,” Sweeton said. “It brings some life and personality to each one. Just having another layer of depth always makes it more immersive.”

In addition to adding depth to the roleplaying community, The Mage’s Hand strives to make the game of Dungeons & Dragons more inclusive. James feels that representation “has been missed” in the world of D&D. 

“It’s really important that through the minis that I’m using, as I’m becoming better, that I hold myself accountable for representation of various communities,” James said.

Featured Image Samantha and James Stevens sit with a Cricut, shirts, mini-figures and paint, all used to create their work on Feb. 6, 2023. Maria Crane

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Madison Brewster

Madison Brewster

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