Monday, December 7, 2009

Interview with collector and dealer Rachel Ahrendes

How did you first get into sketch card collecting?
I got into sketch card collecting in 1998 with Marvel Creators Collection. I had collected cards before and my local comic shop got these cards in. I loved original art and this seemed like the perfect mix of both. I opened packs until I pulled a Rogue sketch card. After that, there was no stopping me. I still have that card.

What exactly do you do as a dealer? Do you focus on all trading cards, sketch card sets only, etc?
I open many cases of cards and then sell the sketch cards and sets. I tend to focus on sets with sketch cards but I will also buy other trading cards. Those are mainly from movies that are popular.

Is there a specific genre/property/character you collect and why?
I mainly collect Marvel but I have collected cards from most of the major comic companies. I have also had LOTR, Harry Potter, Twilight, and Star Wars cards in my collection. Sketch cards are what I love though.

Do you prefer pencil cards over color (or color over pencil)?
Actually, I like both. I just depends on how they are drawn.

What do you look for in a card that you want to own?
It may sound kind of funny, but personality. I love to see a card that is different from every other card out there and expresses some kind of emotion.

If there is a specific artist - or artists - you like to collect and what is it about their cards you prefer?
I mainly collect Nar and Renae DeLiz. Tony Perna and Allison Sohn are also some of my favorite artists. Nar's art just blows me away every time I see it. It's amazing the way he can put so much detail, passion and beauty into each of his cards. I love knowing that each of his cards is orginial and that I'm never going to see other card like it. Renae has been a favorite since Complete Avengers. There is just something about her cards that I really like. Tony's and Allison's cards are beautiful.

Have you ever contacted a card company about a card set? If so, why?
Yes, mainly about dud boxes. Most have been fairly good about sending replacements.

How large would you say your collection is?
Between 150-200 cards.

How do your family (and/or friends) feel about your collecting?
They are positive about it. A lot of my friends also collect cards so they understand.

Do you ever sell off portions of your collection? If so, why?
Sometimes. I mainly sell the non sketch cards but I have had to sell some of the sketch cards.

How do you feel about more sketch card sets coming out on a regular basis?
In some ways I really like it but I think there are too many coming out. I think it is oversaturating the market. One or 2 comic based sets a year is good but 4 comic based from the same company is just too much.

Would you say that affects collectability?
Definitely. The more sets that come out, the less people have to spend and what was rare in a previous set might be much more common in another. For example, when I collected MCC98 (Silver Age also came out that year), it was one of the first sketch sets. For years after those sets came out, the prices just kept going up. There were only a couple other sketch sets that came out in the years between those sets and Complete Avengers. None of those sets really hit it big. MCC98 and Silver Age were much like the more recent MM1 in that artists could do pencils, inks or colors. As soon as CA came out, the prices started dropping. Those cards are now worth a fraction of what they were once worth. The same thing has happened with CA. At the same time, some cards have only gone up in value due to popularity of artist and depending on how many sets they have worked on. What collectors want to see on sketch cards is much different now than it was years ago.

Do you purchase several boxes or cases of cards at a time?
I purchase several cases. Normally somewhere between 10 and 30.

How do you feel about come collectors that buy several cases at a time?
I have no problem with them, especially since I happen to be one of them. LOL.

Do you take artist popularity into consideration?
Yes, I do. Their popularity can have a lot to do with how much a card might be worth.

What would you say is your favorite card you own and why?
My favorite card is my Blink PSC by Nar. It is just gorgeous. I got to watch him color it as well and I will never forget that. I really like watching artists sketching, inking and coloring. In a way, it's like magic to me. The process is just amazing.

How do you feel about an artist putting out several cards with the same image on them?
I really don't like it. When I get a card, I like it to be the only card out there like it. When I see repeat images, it really loses the specialness.

What is your opinion on pencil sketches in a card set versus fully colored/painted cards?
Some of my favorite cards are pencil sketches but I will always choose a fully colored card if the detail is the same.

On that note, how do you feel about some artists who state that sketch cards are just that, 'sketch' cards?
I think that is up to the artist but if an artist is trying to make a name for themselves, just doing "sketch" cards is not going to cut it. In fact, I really believe it is counter-productive. I am not going to commission an artist unless I really like the cards I have seen on a set. As a dealer, I know what artists really sell, both in sets and as commissions, and those are the artists that really put everything into their cards.

Or that they are not paid enough per card to create many (or any) color cards?
I think artists should be paid a lot more than what they are getting paid now, especially for the fully detailed colored cards.

Are there any sketch card sets you would love to see come out that haven't yet?
Not really, I would love to see another set like MM1 and/ or Women of Marvel.

Do you contact artists for personal commissions, any return cards they may have, etc?
Yes, I do. I love getting commissions from my favorite artists and a have a few AP cards.

How do you feel about artists charging more for return cards?
I think they should get paid more for those cards. That is where they are really making their money.

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 normally only collect the cards that are the normal size.

Do you enjoy the other cards, autographs, costume cards, etc., in a set as well as the sketch cards?
I do but the sketch cards are the only ones I really keep.

Have you had any bad experiences with sketch card artists?
Sometimes it may take a while to get a commission, but I have always been extremely happy with what I got.

Bad experiences with card companies?
I've had some issues with one company.

Is your collection online where people can see it?
Part of it is. I'm working on getting the rest it up.

Thank you so much, Rachel!

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