Unexpected Inspiration Series: Concordia's Art Magic

Blythe could only assume that if Adair was holding a paintbrush, the jar in his other hand must contain paint or ink. Then again, it was Adair. It could just as likely be grape jam. And to think, she'd finally got herself unsticky from Sol's glue fiasco this morning. With some trepidation, she held out her hand. Adair dipped the tip of his brush into the jar, then drew a quick blue swirl on her palm.

At least that solved the mystery. It was, in fact, paint. "I wouldn't call a paint smudge much of a glow."

"Give me a minute." This time Adair didn't return the brush to the jar and instead held the tip of the bristles just far enough away that they tickled Blythe's skin. She fought back the reflex to close her hand so she wouldn't disturb whatever it was he was trying.

When nothing happened for a long while besides Adair gazing intently at her hand, Blythe mouthed to Etri, "What's he doing?"

Etri tapped his finger against her wrist, calling her attention back down. She had expected nothing to change and hissed a sharp intake of breath when it had. The swirl was still there, but now there was an aura of purple about an inch away from her skin. When she moved her hand, the strange glow stayed with it. Etri leaned closer for a better look. She pried her eyes away in time to catch Adair looking pleased with himself in an embarrassed sort of way. "So all Weavers' hands look like this?"

"Yeah, but not just our hands. Picture that covering your entire body and you get a better idea of how we glow."

Blythe made a face and wiped her hand clean on the paint-stained cloth he handed her. "Blech. I'll pass."

-Excerpt from an early draft of Colorweaver (Book 1)

Concordia as a whole is filled with artists, craftspeople, inventors, and creative hobbyists. The culture has art at its center and almost everyone joins in, even if it's just a way to pass the time rather than as a vocation. It's a drive passed down from generation to generation and the reason for this is that art magic runs deep in the blood of Concordians. History and myth have blended together into stories telling of how the first Concordians-- several struggling, displaced groups of people who joined together to survive-- asked for help in driving away a threat and to help keep their small population safe. Legends say that the constellations came down from the sky to teach magic to the people. Centuries later, these magics have become the nine types of art magic in Concordia.

Not everyone has magic particularly strongly: some are only good at never burning what they cook, some have simply a pleasant singing voice, some are above average at writing poetry. Sometimes these people will make this part of their careers, sometimes it'll only remain a hobby they enjoy. If the magic is particularly strong, though, it requires additional training and those people are considered Artisans. There isn't a lot of difference between an Artisan and a craftsperson when it comes down to what they create; the only real difference is that an Artisan has magic as an extra tool, so their end results are different. Considering no two artists ever create exactly the same thing anyway, this means that there has never been more importance placed on the Artisans versus craftspeople. Each person will only ever have one type of art magic; even if they carry several types in their bloodline, one will be dominant and only this one will be usable.

Each of the nine types of art magic has its own color that glows in both the artist and the creations they make. Only those with decently strong magic can see this, but it does mean that a lot of people, clothing, objects, and locations in Concordia have almost a stained glass look to them if it's something you can see. I talked a little about Silveridge, the capital city, in this post, and part of the reason most buildings are made with white stone is because of these glows. Silveridge is where a large percentage of the Artisans live, so it became a tradition to build and paint in white, then add colorful embellishments. Otherwise think about how badly paint colors might clash with the glows used to create the things in the city! Even if most people aren't really aware of how magic glows, they've embraced this aesthetic. Concordia, and Silveridge in particular, is all about aesthetics.

Here are the types of magic. These are represented in the moodboard from left to right, top to bottom.
  • Wordweaving (Glow color: red) These Weavers work their magic into words, both spoken and written. These are the poets, the storytellers, the actors, the writers. They're the ones who can affect emotion or, in the case of my morally ambiguous main character, influence someone's thoughts for a short time. This is probably the most dangerous or easily corrupted of magics, but considering the tests that go into becoming a master artist and the checks in place after someone does, this hasn't been a huge problem. (Dray has just made it a problem by avoiding any real training, which is also not a usual thing-- nothing Dray has done with their magic is correct, if you get down to it, and it means that they are going to have Consequences sooner than later. But I digress.) Another example of how this magic can be used is in the scrolling marquee in front of the theater the characters visit in book 1. 
  • Colorweaving (Color: purple) These are the artists whose tools are ink, paint, pencil, charcoal, etc. They're essentially illusionists with the ability to make what they draw/paint move around on whatever they're using as a canvas. Adair has this magic and while he'll sometimes use this to make animated paintings, his career as a cartographer has him creating interactive maps. As the series progresses, he figures out that if he paints on himself or someone else, he can change their appearance. He may even work out something that Colorweavers have forgotten they once knew how to do: by drawing on the air, it's possible to create a believable 3D illusion.  
  • Timberweaving (Color: dark green) Woodworkers and carpenters, obviously, but their magic does more than just allow them to make sturdy creations from wood. Not that this is anything to scoff at-- this is why the oldest Artisans' houses haven't fallen over despite being built on stilts and almost every generation adding a new room or even a new floor. This magic can also make wood as buoyant on air as it would be on water and is a frequent way transportation is built. Not all vehicles hover a few inches off the ground, but this does include the "float-wagons" my main characters call home. Those are something of a cross between a motorhome and a house and can be driven (albeit slowly) around. 
  • Terraweaving (Color: orange) These are the Weavers who work with stone and clay, sculpture and pottery. Way back in Concordia's history there was a Terraweaver who used to sculpt trainable dog-sized animals to give companionship and help to those who needed it. Not just by way of a service dog-- one of the things she made for a gardener friend was a pet that doubled as a planter. The more traditional ways of working this magic are the ability to work stone as though it were soft clay and putting their magic into buildings to make them more steady and solid, much like the Timberweavers, or to make them resist fires. 
  • Oreweaving (Color: red-violet) These Weavers frequently have chemical or heat magic and often use this to etch, shape, and manipulate metals. They're the jewelers, the smiths, and are probably the most "inventor" group of the bunch. Sol tends to use his light/heat magic in a similar way to how the arcane metalworkers would (softening and shaping metal in his hands), so there's some overlap here in terms of heat with the glassworkers. The reason for this is Oreweaving was originally a kind of lightning magic. You'll still find it used as a kind of "battery" when an Oreweaver works with a different type of Weaver on a project. This could be to extend the life of the magic in something else, because eventually all magic inside a creation will run out and need to be recharged, or it'll be a backup battery. Concordia relies on wind, water, and solar power, so magic is only ever a backup or a way to store power they already have. 
  • Savorweaving (Color: pale green) The Weavers who work with food and drink. What they cook doesn't burn, produce stays fresh longer, herbs don't lose potency or flavor after they're dried, food keeps longer or can be made to be more filling. They're the reason Concordia has the equivalent of refrigerators. These artists can also influence the taste and strength of flavor, and I bet they can look at a person and guess what their favorite foods might be. 
  • Glassweaving (Color: gold) This magic involves heat and/or light. These artists are the reason why Silveridge has so much stained glass! As well as using this to make super-strong glass, some Glassweavers use this magic directly by putting it inside glass globes to be used as lamps. Portable heating, like something to keep in your pockets to keep your hands warm? Probably also had a Glassweaver involved. Concordia's mail system is via pneumatic tubes that run about twelve feet off the ground, and while a few different kinds of art go into creating these, the tubes themselves are made of magically-influenced glass. 
  • Songweaving (Color: blue) This magic involves sound and voice, although in terms of pitch and changing how you sound, not the verbal influence of the Wordweavers. I have a character in later books with this magic who can make her voice sound like anything, as well as throwing it so that the sound appears to be coming from somewhere else. This is also the reason that Concordians are able to record sound and music, as well as amplify it or play it at another location simultaneously. 
  • Threadweaving (Color: blue-green) These are the fiber artists, the spinners, weavers (small "w"), knitters, tailors, etc. They can put their magic into clothing and fabric to make it warmer or cooler than it would otherwise be. (This suits Concordians well because current fashion calls for lots of layers of embroidered fabrics and they live in a warm climate.) This can also make clothing protective, usually against things like weather, but it is also how the Protectorates are able to stay safe without needing to wear something heavy that would look like protective gear. Remember the floating homes I mentioned earlier? Some of these are propelled via large fans, sort of like a hovercraft, but some are made with sails on the roofs. Whether it's land or sea, these sails can propel the vehicle forward even if there isn't much wind and can quite likely store some of the wind for later, should it be a still day.

These are just some examples of what each kind of magic can do. Concordians are always coming up with new ideas-- sometimes those ideas work great, sometimes they fail spectacularly. Either way, the artists and craftspeople are constantly creating. Their art magic allows for greater technology than their world might have had without it. Concordia freely trades their creations, so most of their world has access, as well. At some point I'll talk more about Galanvoth, the country that considers itself Concordia's competition. In the future, I'd also love to talk more about the Artisans, the history of magic, and how art and technology are one.



  1. I love that you created a magic system that revolves around art! This is so creative! :)

    1. Thanks! I've had so much fun working on this. I've always loved art and crafting. :)


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