Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Interview with Lisa Redfern

How did you get involved in sketch cards?
I knew a few people who did sketch cards (on official sets), and Jessica was instrumental in recommending me -- as well as letting me know who to contact, and when there was an open call. Thank you, Jess! My very first official sketch card set was Marvel Masterpieces II in 2008 after the Art Director at Upper Deck did an open call on his DeviantArt page. That was how I got my foot in the door.

How do you feel about working on such a small surface?
At first it was difficult, but once I got used to it, I really liked it. I can complete a drawing much faster when I don't have to cover so much surface area, and it doesn't use as many supplies. Plus I really love drawing tiny details, and sketch cards are the perfect format for that.

How do you feel about the entire process?
Oh man, like anyone else involved in sketch cards, I'm sure I could go on and on. I'll try not to.
There are some things that could change to really improve the whole process for collectors and artists. If, for example, artists were paid for the quality of art on the cards instead of a flat rate, I think it'd encourage more artists to go above and beyond, and improve the product offering. Currently we get paid the same dollar or so per card whether it's a quick pencil sketch or a fully rendered and coloured card. Also, if the companies hired more artists and got each to draw fewer cards, it might encourage more people to commit to drawing them, and spend more time on the cards. The main reason I draw sketch cards is for the chance to work in an official capacity for well-known pop culture properties, and to draw their characters. The deadlines have been okay, although it is hard with working full time and running my own small business as well.

Do you have a lot of contact with collectors regarding your cards?
Yeah, a bit! Sometimes I message the people selling my cards on eBay if they have incorrect information, or people e-mail me when they've pulled one of my cards. I love to hear about where my cards end up! Plus when I sell my return cards there is a lot of direct contact with collectors.

How do you feel about some collectors wanting more detailed cards versus what sketch card artists are paid to work on the cards?
I think that they should be directing that feedback directly to the sketch card companies, who have an opportunity to change their policies/practices to increase customer satisfaction. I absolutely understand how they feel -- collectors spend a lot of money to make sure they get sketch cards, and to pull one that's a quick, rushed sketch must be a huge let-down. However, they are "sketch" cards, and until the companies start compensating artists for full drawings instead of sketches, that will stay as it is. I wish complaining collectors would look at the glass as being half full. I think that quick sketches should be the norm, the expected --and that when an artist goes above and beyond to render something really beautiful out of their love of the subject matter, and kindness towards collectors, that should be praised. Not expected. Perhaps the reason collectors talk to us about this issue is because we're accessible, and our names are on the cards. However, even though we're real people instead of a faceless corporate entity, we're not really the ones to come to regarding absolutely valid customer satisfaction complaints.

Have you had any bad experiences with collectors?
Nope! Everyone I've dealt with has been wonderful.

Any bad experiences with companies?
They've been okay, but all of the companies I have worked for have been pretty slow to pay. It is typical to get your cheque 4-6 months after the set is complete, well after the set has been released on shelves and you have sold all of your return cards/proofs. I don'tthink that's very good, especially since the fee for the cards is so small to begin with. Corporations move at a snail's pace, I guess.

Do you feel that your cards are consistently collectible or does it depend on what set you do?
It depends -- on how many cards I've had to do, and how familiar or interested I am in the subject matter. I try to do a really nice job on all of my cards, but time constraints mean that not every one of my cards has had the same time put in. Lots were more simple pencil sketches.

Has your career as an artist benefitted from doing sketch card work?
Hm, drawing is more a hobby for me, I'm not really pursuing it as a career. But meeting different people and doing lots of different commissions for people I never would have otherwise even been in touch with are all thanks to sketch cards.

What was the most difficult sketch card set you have worked on to date?
Indiana Jones Masterpieces, without a doubt. It was hard because I had to do a minimum of 100 cards, and I signed up for 150. That was WAY too many and unfortunately the quality had to suffer in order for me to get them all done. Furthermore, I realized I just wasn't as interested in the subject matter as I was with comics characters. That made it worse.

Are there any cards that you are particularly proud of?
Sure, plenty!

Some companies provide return cards for working on sketch card sets. Do you keep any of the cards returned to you?
I kept a couple of my Indy ones, partly because I liked them, and partly because they weren't selling very well. I'd have loved to have kept some of the Marvel Artist Proofs, but they were just too lucrative to sell to be able to keep them.

Do you see yourself continuing with sketch card sets?
Sure, but definitely not every set I have a chance to work on. Only the ones who will let me draw 50 cards or fewer, and have interesting and wide subject matter.

Is there any advice you would like to give to people wanting to break into the sketch card 'biz'?
Not really... just make sure the samples you submit (and your ability) is up to par!

Where can people see more of your work?

Thank you for your time, Lisa!!

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