Sunday, November 22, 2009

Interview with collector Anne Kong

How did you first get into sketch card collecting?
I started collecting Lord of the Rings movie actor autograph and memorabilia cards on eBay in 2006. I noticed sketch cards popping up for sale from the LoTR Evolution set and started to buy those from eBay, too. Now I am a Moderator on Scoundrel Art Forum--”The” website to see the latest artwork from most major sketch card releases and to network with artists directly for commissions.

Is there a specific genre/property/character you collect and why?
I collect Lord of the Rings because I love the book and Peter Jackson’s movies. Rangers, Elves and Hobbits with appropriate amounts of humor and horror and honor! What’s not to love about the Tolkien world? South Farthing Tobacco Leaf? … ;)
I love Catwoman from the Batman Returns movie by Tim Burton but I also collect the recent comic book version (Adam Hughes style). Catwoman is sleek, wiley and sexy so she’s a fun role model and alter ego for me. :P It has nothing to do with wanting her whip or latex suit. **wink** I also collect Star Wars sketches on occasion--especially related with “A New Hope”.

Do you prefer pencil cards over color (or color over pencil)?
I love detailed graphite cards but I’m also very fond of painted and full color pencil sketches. I like all mediums that create sketch cards.

What do you look for in a card that you want to own?
The character or scene must appeal to me but I want the card based on the artist’s execution of the art. I can usually tell from my initial reaction on seeing a card if I really want to own it. I’ve been collecting sketch cards for several years so that feeling is actually more accurate than just acting on impulse.

If there is a specific artist - or artists - you like to collect? What is it about their cards you prefer?
I’m a devoted collector of anything by Sean Pence and LoTR by Cat Staggs. Their graphite and color portraits convey a lot of emotion from the character they’re capturing.
I’m very fond of Soni Alcorn-Hender’s works. Many are inked with a sepia background but her acrylic painted pieces rawk my world too.
Len Bellinger’s painted and penciled LoTR pieces always appeal to me because I know how much love and detail he pours into each little cardboard sketch card. He’s OCD about LoTR. Did you know that? Doesn’t everybody? ;)
I collect many other eBay artists avidly including Anna Usacheva (oil/acrylics paints or pastels), Charles Amsellem, and Nathalie Hertz--primarily for their LoTR art. Anna also does wonderfully playful cats and Nathalie has some incredible horse art. Charles has a series of Mermaids ACEOs he’s currently selling that is playfully sexy yet charmingly innocent.
The personality of the artist certainly enhances my enjoyment of the art. Soni is a spirited and intelligent Weasel Woman. Sean is a gentlemanly sweetheart. Cat is quiet and humorous. And Len is charmingly OCD about all art. When I look at their artwork, I know a lot of dedication has gone into its creation.

Have you ever contacted a card company about a card set? If so, why?
I’ve contacted Topps customer service about dud boxes that didn’t contain any sketch cards and they sent me replacements without any hesitation.

How large would you say your collection is?
It’s too big to count. It’s well over 1000 set sketch cards (3 LoTR sets, Galaxy 4, DC Universe, Batman Archives, Clone Wars Widevision) and over 500 commissioned sketch cards.

How do your family and friends feel about your collecting?
They know about my hobby but they do not participate in it. That’s why I love the Scoundrel community. We network and trade/sell cards but only Scoundrel members truly understand another collector’s passion for these 2.5 X 3.5 pieces of artwork.

Do you ever sell off portions of your collection? If so, why?
Not so far. I’m lucky to be able to afford to keep my all my sketch pulls and purchases. And I’m leaving my sketch cards to my friends in my will. Yep. :)

How do you feel about more sketch card sets coming out on a regular basis?
I love the variety of sketch cards and as a collector, I’ve noticed the prices of sketch cards being sold on eBay dropping because of the increased availability of artwork.

Would you say that affects collectibility?
Many collectors will not be able to keep every card they love. They have to sell some of their collection in order to afford to buy new cases or sketches from upcoming sets.

Do you purchase several boxes or cases of cards at a time?
I have purchased single boxes in addition to 4-8 cases of product in the past.

How do you feel about some collectors that buy several cases at a time?
They are taking a well known gamble that they will pull any sketch cards that will make them deliriously happy. But most case-breakers want the thrill of finding rare or astounding cards. I find it most cost-effective to buy my fav sketches from eBay or Scoundrels or artists directly than to buy large number of cases.

Do you take artist popularity into consideration?
No. But my top fav artists that I collect are considered desirable by many other collectors. Unfortunately, their set cards are more expensive to purchase as a consequence.

What would you say is your favorite card you own and why?
Really! I cannot name a single favorite card. I have too many to choose from! :O

Here are my 5 current favs.
Sean Pence’s Coronation Couple
Cat Staggs’ Aragorn with Palantir
Mark McHaley Catwoman
Soni Alcorn-Hender Rivendell
Charles Amsellem Eowyn
(These cards are featured in this interview. -Jess)

How do you feel about an artist putting out several cards with the same image on them?
I think many of these undetailed repeat images are usually the result of an artist trying to meet their deadline and time running out. As a collector who has pulled them from a case…and there is more than one of such image in a case of 8!!…I know the heart-sinking feeling of disappointment. But it doesn’t ruin my hobby. It is supposed to be random, after all. There will be “fun” pulls. And not so “fun” pulls--it’s become the nature of the hobby.

What is your opinion on pencil sketches in a card set versus fully colored/painted cards?
I like pencil sketches but I’d prefer more detail than a simple outline on the card.

On that note, how do you feel about some artists who state that sketch cards are just that, 'sketch' cards?
These artists are entitled to honor their contract with the card company and do just that. But they should be prepared for the collectors and dealers to be derisive of the simple sketch they produce for pack insertion. Especially when everyone sees their peers on the same set are putting more time into each card.

Or that they are not paid enough per card to create many (or any) color cards?
No. These artists are not paid much money for the pack-inserted cards. But in exchange, they get national and international exposure of their name and art--especially if they get a base card or insert set The sketch card biz isn’t likely to support a household, but it could lead to valuable private commissions and other work in the art world.

Are there any sketch card sets you would love to see come out that haven't yet?
We need a sketch card set for Harry Potter. If Ms. Rowling would pretty pretty please agree! And I’d love one for Supernatural (the TV show).

Do you contact artists for personal commissions, any return cards they may have, etc?
Yes. I love interacting with the artists in this way. The Scoundrel Forum is excellent for networking with artists. Many have become good friends of mine from our dealings and e-mails discussions.

How do you feel about artists charging more for return cards?
The return cards usually have more detail than the pack inserted cards. The artist deserves the income from the returns to compensate $$$ for all the work they put into the entire set.

Some companies put cards out that vary in size (Topps' Clone Wars Widevision, for example). Does that affect whether or not you will collect from that set?
I like both sizes but storing the Widevision will be more space-consuming in my binders.

Do you enjoy the other cards, autographs, costume cards, etc., in a set as well as the sketch cards?
Yes! The LoTR autos and costumes are initially what I collected before the sketch cards.

Have you had any bad experiences with sketch card artists?
Yep. I’ve been in the most unfortunate situation when an artist is paid $$$ up front to deliver a commission art or return card. Then the artist failed to respond to e-mails to update on their delay or progress. I’ve been personally involved in three situations where a public prodding was required to push those deliquent artists to complete and deliver the long overdue pre-paid artwork to their upset customers.
I can patiently wait up to (and over) a year if the artist keeps me updated about delays because of unexpected personal problems. Ideally, I don’t think any paying customer should wait over 60 days for pre-paid artwork unless there are rare extenuating circumstances. So far, I have not had any artist fraud me and never deliver on paid artwork. I have had artists return my money when requested since their schedule was too busy.

Bad experiences with card companies?
Not yet. :)

Is your collection online where people can see it?
No, not yet. I don’t have the time to upload my sketch card collection in entirety. Perhaps I can do one set per year in the future?

Thank you so much for your time, Anne!

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