Monday, October 19, 2009

Interview with Darla Ecklund

How did you get involved in sketch cards?
With the sound advice from Jess Hickman and Grant Gould I began sending emails and samples of my work to the bigger card companies through their on-line contact pages. I was a bit of a nuisance I'm sure. Personally, I think they both bribed someone to get me in. :)

How do you feel about working on such a small surface?
It is quite an adjustment. Oy! Speaking as someone who usually over-estimates how much paper I have to begin with (resulting in a lot of sketches that are different pieces of paper taped together to accommodate a stray foot or arm.. ), it was a challenge. It was mostly trial and error for me trying to squish things into that little space, but once you get used to it, it really helps to manage bigger pieces as well .

How do you feel about the entire process?
There never seems to be enough time, but that is definitely my failing. I seem to push things right to the deadline. So far, I've managed them all so I guess it works.

Have you done any of the larger incentive cards?
I have not, but it certainly would be fun.

You’re a watercolor artist, correct? Have you been able to work with that media on the sketch cards?
I am. I used a little bit of watercolor on the very first set of Lord of the Rings cards, since then I have stuck with markers, white ink and some colored pencil. I haven't been able to figure out how to lay down the kind of thin washes I use with the coating that some of the companies put on their cards. I will keep trying. :) Recently I discovered the wonder of Copic markers and have really enjoyed learning to use them. The colors on my most recent card set are marker.

What mediums do you prefer to use?
If I had to choose one, it would still have to be watercolor. It is the first thing I started using back in the day, and remains my favorite. There is something really fun about watching the color build up the more washes you put on. I love sketching, and am growing very fond of using markers for quicker projects, but watercolor will always be my first choice.

Do you have a lot of contact with collectors regarding your cards?
When I sell them, I try to keep a good line of communication open. Sometimes I do better than others, but I do try to let the collector know exactly what is happening with their cards.

Do you feel that your cards are consistently collectible or does it depend on what set you do?
I think it has so much to do with subject matter, unfortunately. I try to do my best work on all the cards, but if I am personally attached to the subject, I can't help but put a little more time and care into the cards.

Do you feel sketch cards are increasingly collectible as a whole?
There are so many people doing great work out there, I think that it's a great way to get your hands on miniature masterpieces. I think this will only become truer over time.

Have you had any bad experiences with collectors?
Everyone I have dealt with has been a rock star. I could not ask for more understanding and supportive collectors actually :)

Bad experiences with companies?
Nothing that cannot be attributed to a run of bad luck. :)

Has your career as an artist benefited from doing sketch card work?
Sketch cards have given me exposure in areas that I otherwise would never have gotten. The work has offered me the luxury of attaching my name to things that I've always loved, for example, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Marvel. I don't know if I would ever have had those opportunities without this work.

What was the most difficult sketch card set you have worked on to date?
Probably 'Clone Wars'. While I love the subject matter, the style is not really mine, add to that the expectations of the Star Wars fans, and it is a tall order to fill. Jeepers. I loved the challenge of it though and had the best time.

Are there any cards that you are particularly proud of?
I would have to say the Lord of the Rings. I loved working on them so much, I was like a squealing girl (see: 'dork') everyday I worked on them and really put my heart into those cards.

Some companies provide return cards for working on sketch card sets. What do you do with the cards returned to you?
If you ask my friends.. not nearly enough. I have to admit that I do not get all the benefits that those cards could provide by selling them. I have sold some in the past, but still have a lot of them hanging around my jungle of an art room.

Do you see yourself continuing with sketch card sets?
I do. I enjoy being able to work on all the different properties.

Is there any advice you would like to give to people wanting to break into the sketch card ‘biz’?
Get your name and samples of your work out there to the contacts of the sketch card companies. Use the sketch card on-line communities to introduce yourself as well, you never know who might be hanging around there. :)

Where can people see more of your work?
I have my own website, recently updated. *beams*
Also I keep a gallery at deviantart.

Thanks for your time, Darla!


  1. Darla's work never ceases to make me want to see what she'll be doing next. Quite an amazing talent!

  2. I just scored one of her sketches from The Clone Wars. I am sorry to say this, but it is not as impressive as her other artwork. Maybe this is one of those cards that she finished five minutes before she had to send them back.