Monday, December 14, 2009
Interview with collector Kris Kersey
How did you first get into sketch card collecting?
When I was a kid I collected baseball cards as well as a few sets of non-sports cards. As I grew up, and had different things that I HAD to spend money on, being a collector went by the wayside. I can't say that I ever stopped looking at what was on the shelves/pegs at Wal-Mart, but I never saw anything that really peaked my interest to get back involved.
It wasn't until Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out that I found something that made me jump back in. I picked up a pack at Wal-Mart and saw autographs (which were always cool) and this new (to me at least) 1/1 thing called sketch cards. That really got me thinking. What a cool idea! A true 1/1 thing that not only peaked my collecting interest but also my love of original art.
So after getting on-line, finding Scoundrel, and meeting all of the great people in that community, which includes artists and collectors, I was hooked. This was not only a hobby that played on my fandom of Indiana Jones, and eventually Star Wars, but it also came with the bonus of a great on-line community which really feeds the passion.
Is there a specific genre/property/character you collect and why?
As mentioned, Indiana Jones and Star Wars are the vast majority of my collection. Those are just two amazing franchises that have so much imagination and excitement. It brings back childhood memories and so there's always a nostalgic feeling when you see an artist's take on a scene or character that means something to you.
Do you prefer pencil cards over color (or color over pencil)?
When I first started collecting, I wasn't sure how much I wanted to invest in this new hobby, so basically I grabbed whatever interested me that I could afford. I found this to be a bottomless pit of sorts with no direction and no real boundaries of what I would and would not buy. So in the interest of finding a direction, I decided that I would focus on color cards, spend a bit more money on each, but that this would give me bounds. This is in no way a snuff on gray-scale work, but simply something to limit myself. It works both in terms of what I consider buying and how much money I can realistically spend.
What do you look for in a card that you want to own?
It's simply a mix of styles and subject matters I like. I try to get a sampling of artwork from artists whose work is visually appealing to me. I also try not to repeat any of the images in my collection. This makes what I own not only diverse in style, but also extremely diverse in content.
If there is a specific artist - or artists - you like to collect, what is it about their cards you prefer?
My top two favorite artists to collect are Grant Gould and Irma Ahmed. Their styles just touch something that make me smile. While their styles are not all that similar, the uniqueness and feeling in their art just does it for me. I guess what kind of art that interests you is pretty personal.
Have you ever contacted a card company about a card set? If so, why?
I've only contacted one company because of a damaged sketches. It's always a heart-breaking thing to see but the company have always done right with what they return to me.
How large would you say your collection is?
Thanks to SketchCollectors.com, it's an easy thing to figure out. I have around 200 cards today, give or take a few in transit in or out of my collection.
How do your family/friends feel about your collecting?
My wife thinks I'm nuts. She appreciates the art and the subject matter a ton, but it's not a cheap hobby. I think if the investment wasn't so large, she would enjoy it with me more but, I have to admit, it is a big deal.
My kids love it! They can't wait for the mail. My son (4) and my daughter (3) have an amazing ability now to name a huge number of Star Wars and Indiana Jones characters. It's a lot of fun to share this with them.
Beyond my wife and kids, family and friends are someone indifferent about it. They all know I'm a geek, so this is really no big deal.
Do you ever sell off portions of your collection? If so, why?
I like to call it pruning. To me it's a lot like taking care of a plant. While all the limbs were special at some point in time, sometimes they grow a little long or you ask yourself why you left it there so long.
My collection has been organic like that. It grows in directions that I guide it in, but sometime you realize that something doesn't really fit or you can't afford to let it keep growing like this.
I'm sorry for the long analogy, but I end up selling pieces off from time to time that don't really fit what I want to accomplish anymore with my collection or pieces that I like but I can't afford to hang onto. Sometimes I have to part with pieces I like to afford something I simply like more.
How do you feel about more sketch card sets coming out on a regular basis?
It depends on how you define "regular". For instance, when three Indiana Jones sets came out in less than a year, that's not "regular", it's frequent! No collector (or artist for that matter) can keep up with that and we all kinda got burned out. It was too much to buy and too much to even appreciate in such a short amount of time. Both the art and the collectability suffered greatly.
On the other hand, if you're talking about a yearly set, that can be a lot of fun. It gives you something to look forward to. Keep in mind that companies still need to keep the yearly Star Wars sets down to a minimum, for example. If I have one or two sets to collect a year, I can probably handle it. If that number were to go much higher per year, I'd have to swap around or pick some to leave out completely.
Would you say that affects collectability?
It does affect it. For example, if I casually collect someone's art or a subject matter, I will eventually feel I have that card or I have all I need of that character. So, if companies don't slow down a bit, I for one will get saturated and will buy less and less per set. This is due to too much of one property and limited funds to keep pouring into this.
Do you purchase several boxes or cases of cards at a time?
For the past couple of sets, I have bought 3 cases of cards each. This is just a chance for me to pull something that may have cost too much for me to buy on eBay. It's kind of like playing the lottery.
How do you feel about some collectors that buy several cases at a time?
I understand it. For some, it's a chance to pull something you couldn't afford. For others, it's a chance to make a little money on what you pull in order to afford more. Collectors need to start understanding though that neither of these propositions may actually happen.
Do you take artist popularity into consideration?
I can't say that I do. I only buy what I like. You have to understand though that an artist's popularity is due to the "likability" of their work. So while I like a lot of artists that many others like as well, that's due to the fact that many people agree that the art rocks!
What would you say is your favorite card you own and why?
That's a hard one. That card changes with my mood, what's going on in my life, and possibly with what film I have recently watched. I have included some of my favorites for you to look at with this interview.
How do you feel about an artist putting out several cards with the same image on them (profile, half face, a specific item, etc)?
To me, this completely disqualifies the 1/1 aspect of the card. While two cards of the same image are not identical, they are close enough to sour the experience of pulling it. I would rather an artist do a few "quick pencil sketches" that are unique to supplement their set than duplicate full-color cards. Many collectors would probably argue this, but that's my take.
What is your opinion on pencil sketches in a card set versus fully colored/painted cards?
Artists are in no way obligated to do anything more than they are contracted to do. Let's get that out of the way first. So I don't get "mad" at artists that do what they need to do to get the job done.
Now away from my practical business side, I choose not to collect or commission artists that don't at least try to put their best foot forward. I have very little respect for anyone that doesn't try to do their best with any job they get. At my job, I do my best work within the constrains of the environment. So, this means that if not given enough time or REQUIRED to do too many cards, I completely understand less than top-notch work. But when an artist takes on a job, knows what it pays, knows what the target audience would like, and chooses to do too much or at a very low quality, that's on the artist. I've been told that art isn't that simple or that it's just different, but so many jobs have levels of detail or levels of quality. All I expect is for people to do their best.
On that note, how do you feel about some artists who state that sketch cards are just that, 'sketch' cards?
What's in a name? Sketch cards were once just sketch cards. Now they've become much more than that thanks to artists choosing to take it to the next level. One thing that sketch cards have shown us is that, if some artists aren't willing to do the more complete work, their are plenty of "hungry" artists that want the exposure that are. So while those artists may chose to continue to "sketch" on their cards, others will chose to create works of art and they will be the stand-outs amongst collectors.
Are there any sketch card sets you would love to see come out that haven't yet?
I would love to see a generation 1 Transformers set. I grew up on those and to see them recaptured by some of my favorite artists would be a real treat.
Do you contact artists for personal commissions, any return cards they may have, etc?
All the time. Return cards are my favorite cards to collect for several reasons. 1. I'm purchasing the artist's very best work. 2. I'm supporting the artist directly. 3. I don't have to hassle with bidding for it on eBay!
I encourage people that can afford it to purchase commissions and returns. It's what keeps artists working on art and not having to take time away for those stinkin' day jobs.
How do you feel about artists charging more for return cards?
Return cards are the vast majority of an artist's payment for a set. So they can charge what they feel the market can sustain. Sometimes it is "just business".
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?
The first of these that I collected were the "foldable" panoramic card from Indiana Jones Masterpieces. While I really liked the larger work, the crease in the center of the card is very distracting. Folded artwork is just a bad idea.
With Topps' new Widevision sketch cards, I'm in love. The size is perfect. It's more space for art in general and, specifically, it gives artists a ton of room for scenes and/or full body drawings. The only thing I miss is having the nice clear plastic magnetic holders that I use on my standard size cards. I really despise top-loaders for art. They aren't completely clear and really distort the color of the cards. If you're reading this Ultra-Pro, please make Widevision magnetic holders!
Do you enjoy the other cards, autographs, costume cards, etc., in a set as well as the sketch cards?
I collect a few autographs and always like having a complete set (including subsets) of the sets I collect sketch cards from. In the end though, if I can sell it to afford a sketch card, I'll probably not hang onto it.
Have you had any bad experiences with sketch card artists?
Honestly, sometimes commissions have not turned out as I envisioned them. This is unfortunately the way art works. Different people envision different things. So, while it's not any artist's fault if this happens, it is sometimes an unpleasant part of collecting art.
Bad experiences with card companies?
Is your collection online where people can see it?
My collection is all posted on http://www.sketchcollectors.com. This is a site that I've developed for all collectors (and artists) to post their sketch card art on. You can find my collection here: http://www.sketchcollectors.com/gallery.php?user_id=1
Thank you so much for your time, Kris!