Friday, December 4, 2009

Interview with Nicole Falk

How did you get involved in sketch cards?
Through my work I have to attend a lot of toy, video game, and/or comic shows. The biggest one being San Diego Comic Con. Every year I would go and work. Finally it dawned on me one year to bring my portfolio to try and get some freelance work! I was interested in sketch card work, cause it seemed like such a fun thing to draw on that size, so I drew up some quick samples. I went to a couple different companies, and got some good responses. But luckily the art director for Topps was there at the show, and he looked through my portfolio as well. He commented that I obviously like Star Wars (since that was mainly what was in it, Star Wars and monsters). Then he said that they didn't have a Star Wars set coming up , but if I was interested there was the new Lord of the Rings Masterpieces ll. I was so psyched that he was giving me a chance. I completed 356 cards for that set.

How do you feel about working on such a small surface?
I love it! Its fun and faster than most pieces I do, although sometimes it can take a long time to do a card cause I try to put in a bunch of tiny details.

What media do you like to work with for your cards?
I use pencil, pen & markers...normal work is either painted with markers or water colors so not really.

How do you feel about the entire process?
Umm sometimes the deadlines seem really tight, and that's frustrating 'cause I definitely want every card to be awesome, so you do have to sacrifice say painting them or something, in order to finish on time. I think working with different companies is great so you can get a range of opinions on your work and have new interactions with different art directors. It will also help you appreciate some companies you work with, more than you had previously.

How do you approach your cards? Is there a lot of ‘prep’ time for you?
Not really, I like to print out a bunch of reference, or scenes ahead of time so I have them when I sit down to draw, that's pretty much it! I start drawing - and I try to get all the cards done in pencil first, so that if for some reason something happens and I run out of time, I know at least there is a decent drawing on the card. Then I pen them all, and last go through and try to paint/marker them.

Do you have a lot of contact with collectors regarding your cards?
I think I do! Haha! I have people who contact me while I'm still working on the set, and then a lot once I post that I'm reserving or selling my returned cards.

How do you feel about some collectors wanting more detailed cards versus what sketch card artists are paid to work on the cards?
I definitely don't get involved in that debate. I look at any illustrated work I do as a piece of my artwork and my name. I try my best and get done as much as I would like to see get done on each card. If I had the time I would love every card to be fully colored, no matter what I'm being paid or who is seeing it. Its my work.

Have you had any bad experiences with collectors?
Thankfully, no (not that I can recall). So I know I'm pretty lucky so far.

Bad experiences with companies?
Again, none that I have actually worked with, I'm happy to say.

Has your career as an artist benefitted from doing sketch card work?
SO MUCH. It really has brought everything to life. I illustrated here and there, and got a couple neat gigs like a small press children's book and online magazines and such. But once I started illustrating sketch cards, all these neat opportunities started coming out! I got hooked up with which has been amazing, getting to work on stuff for the kids section as well as the Mighty Muggs project has been the most rewarding stuff I have done yet. And there are a bunch of new, exciting venues that are now open doors for me. I am quite thankful I got that first gig.

What was the most difficult sketch card set you have worked on to date?
Indiana Jones, unfortunately. It's some of my favorite movies, but it was a situation where I ran out of time, due to personal reasons. I was very upset about that set. There were a lot of cards I did like on it but as a whole I am not that thrilled with it.

Are there any cards that you are particularly proud of?
I definitely have a couple maybe 1 or 2 from each set that I do that I'm like - AWESOME! haha..but one that comes to mind is from the Star Wars Galaxy Set, it was a card that had 2 Chewbaccas on it. One was the Ralph McQuarrie Chewie looking out all creepy and shocked and then the regular Chewie that we all know and love, looking at him like WHAT!? WHO IS THIS!? It cracked me up when I did it, and when a lot of fans kept responding to it, it justified its fun silliness for me, which is exactly the response I want and love.

Some companies provide return cards for working on sketch card sets. Do you keep any of the cards returned to you? What are you planning to do with them?
No I usually sell them. The only ones I have are 1 or 2 from the very first set I did. Oh and a few that I just haven't sold yet! I want to frame the ones from the first set, it was such a proud moment for me!!

Do you see yourself continuing with sketch card sets?
Yes but honestly I do try to do fewer cards every time, because they are quite time consuming, and as much as I do love them, I just don't have the time right now.

Is there any advice you would like to give to people wanting to break into the sketch card ‘biz’?
I have people asking me that all the time.

A general point is if you want it - go out and get it!! It sure as heck won't come to you. If you want to illustrate sketch cards - then just illustrate them, then go to shows and meet with the art directors of trading card companies.

I cannot stress just literally going up to companies and having the art directors check out your stuff..BUT make sure you have samples in there of what they are looking for specifically of properties they have, and have a range, finished sketch cards that are just penciled, penned, and/or completely colored cards.

Also drawing up some cards to donate to charities is always a great way to work on sketch cards, and get your name out I highly recommend donating your time and talents to wonderful organizations like like Sketch Cards for the Cure and others.

Where can people see more of your work?
My Facebook Fan Page, where I update what I'm working on and have photos of new work and things:

My art blog, updated much more than my website:

My website, needs to be updated better!:

My twitter:

Thank you for your time, Nicole!

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