Quote from tronix »this is just hearsay, but i believe they give artists guidelines for certain pieces of art but not all of it. because ive heard that they stockpile art, and when it fits something they can use it. also i remember reading one designer (maybe maro?) who talked about liking a piece of art destined for a product further down the line, and hijacking it for another card he thought it would be better for.
im sure there is a whole lot that goes into it that people generally dont know about (myself included). however i think having distinct art between high profile reprints is favorable factor in the card economy. its not going to stonewall prices dropping, but its also a small buffer for collectors.
for instance if they reprint shocks in the new ravnica block i hope they have new art. more options are good in my book.
I'm sure there is a nostalgia aspect of it too. Shocks show up enough that different artwork isn't going to throw anyone for loops. An enfranchised modern/legacy/commander player will need to pick up a crucible if they don't recognize the art or ask/wait for it to be announced to know what it is. I know I am definitely guilty of cataloguing the battlefield primarily by art and then numbers. It's just how I'm wired, but the masterpieces were pretty jarring as I had to relearn artworks for some that were flying around our tables at the LGS.
As much as I like new art, I also like old art sometimes as it just makes the card easier to process quickly.