Friday, November 20, 2009

Interview with Uko Smith

How did you get involved in sketch cards?
My first sketchcard job was the Marvel Sketchagraph series back in 1998 produced by Skybox. The first ever sketchcard series produced to my knowledge. Good friend Scott Rosema got me onto that set.

How do you feel about working on such a small surface?
The first few to start are always the hardest for me. But once I get going and get on a roll, it’s no problem at all. The thing that helps with drawing that small was the fact I have drawn really big images throughout my career on certain projects and in college. Drawing big helped me draw small. If that makes sense to anyone.

How do you feel about the entire process?
The process itself is pretty standard. You get the call, you say how many you want to do and then you do it and turn them in. Pretty simple in any standards. But there’s life and sometimes it gets in the way with other projects. But with any project I get, especially sketchcards, the one factor that gets me out of procrastination is the fact that I can do them pretty quickly. I practice speed and speed is my BFF. I like the fact that when one company has its foothold on the industry in sketchcards is that others pop up and want to do more interesting and different subject matter. Y’know, things that get other people excited about the entertainment field. As for the artwork itself, I try to put my best foot forward. I try to make each card individually different with no repeats (knock on wood).

Have you been asked or would you like to work on the larger incentive cards?
I’ve never been asked and yes I would like to work on larger incentive cards. But I want to do what I want to do with incentive cards and that’s create good illustration work. I don’t want to be bothered with the fact that it’s got to look painterly so that dealers can buy more. I just want to create good art, plain and simple.

Do you have a lot of contact with collectors regarding your cards?
Sometimes. But mostly at conventions where I come in contact with card collectors. I get the email commissions and things like that, but mostly at shows is when I get to meet a majority of them regarding my cards. And it’s all positive, which makes me feel great. It lets me know I’m doing a good job. I think people can respect that when you do good artwork that they want to purchase over and over. I’ve met collectors that are just plain awesome and they really get into what I do and start to dissect how and why I do things. I love them all, but there are some standouts for sure that communicate with often. Every once in a while, I’ll do a free piece of art to a collector who really enjoys what I do. That’s always fun.

How do you feel about some collectors wanting more detailed cards versus what sketch card artists are paid to work on the cards?
Y’know, I do what I do what I consider sketchards are. Mainly sketches that are done in such a way that portrays the character in an energetic way. I don’t see myself working 2-3 hours on a single card for what we get paid for.

Have you had any bad experiences with collectors?
No. Can’t say that I’ve had any.

Bad experiences with companies?
No, not really. Other than I thought I was going to be working on a particular set and confirmed, but never got the cards. I didn’t worry about it too much though. Life goes on.

Do you feel that your cards are consistently collectible or does it depend on what set you do?
I’d like to think that my cards are consistently collectible. I hear they are, but again, as long as I’m asked to do cards, I’m more than happy to do them. Like, I’m going to be doing some Avengers cards and Dr. Who here soon with Strictly Ink and am excited to do them. I don’t do likeness cards very much and since the number will be low, I’m going to knock them out of the park. :)

Has your career as an artist benefitted from doing sketch card work?
Oh, most definitely. I love sketching and it’s one of the things I excel at as an artist, so sketchcards are perfect for me.

What was the most difficult sketch card set you have worked on to date?
Oh geez. Probably the Star Wars Clone Wars Widevision set. I wouldn’t say it was difficult, but it was just getting myself into that universe as I’ve never really drawn any Star Wars characters with regularity. I love Star Wars as much as the next person, I just wasn’t used to drawing them.

Are there any cards that you are particularly proud of?
Oh yes! The X-men Archives stand out prominently. It’s one of my favs. I thought the quality in those really stood out and the reaction I got from collectors about that set really showed when I would see their comments online when I posted some of them. I’d have to say the DC Legacy set holds good memories as well. The Women of Marvel and the Batman Archives. The Batman Archives in particular is that I did four Batmobiles that I’m not sure ever got into the packs as it was over the amount that was requested of me. For DC Legacy, I did some 750 cards in the months allowed and another Marvel set I did somewhat around 700 I believe. I just wanted to see if I could do them and I did. For those particular sets, I did the most of any and am proud of them. When I have told people how many I’ve done, they’re surprised at the quality in which I did them in. So with that in mind, those really stand out.

Some companies provide return cards for working on sketch card sets. Do you keep any of the cards returned to you?
I do, but not because I want to. I haven’t sold most of them. For the most part, I really haven’t advertised that much that I’m even selling them. Every once in a while I let it be known that I’ve got blanks and get inquiries, but mostly I just reserve them for conventions if someone asks if they’re available.

Do you see yourself continuing with sketch card sets?
I do for the most part. But definitely not in the quantity that I used to do them in. Nowadays, I’ve got projects that require more time and don’t lend itself to the time I put into sketchards, but will set time aside for them if asked to participate.

Is there any advice you would like to give to people wanting to break into the sketch card ‘biz’?
Speed will be your best friend.

Where can people see more of your work?
You can see a majority of my work on my website @,,, www.comicart, and on Facebook. I have a Twitter, but don’t know what to do with that one so much.

Thank you so much for your time, Uko!

1 comment:

  1. GREAT interview!

    FYI, the Marvel Sketchagraph series back in 1998 produced by Skybox is one of the earlier sketch card sets to be produced, but not the first...

    PeAce LovE aRt & sOuL
    Denise Vasquez