Sunday, January 10, 2010
Interview with Andy Price
How did you get involved in sketch cards?
You know, I barely realized that Sketch cards existed before my first job, which was DC LEGACY, for Rittenhouse Archives/DC Comics. One afternoon I checked my email, and found contact from an old pal, Mark Spears... he said he was doing a job for DC and they were in need of more artists, but in a dire hurry... but Mark wasn't replying to my emails, and I had no number for him, and no way to find him! I was calling every Spears in the phone book! Through a grand scramble, I got in under the wire and it started a great continuing relationship with this hobby.
How do you feel about working on such a small surface?
Well, I don't mind the small surface too terribly... when working on comics, we have no choice but to learn to draw small. I prefer the uncut cards as opposed to pre-cut, as it's a bit more space to loosen up with, and I can bleed colors and such without worrying about picking up the edge of the card. The surface itself I'm so-so about... it doesn't take wet media very well, and wants to work against you.
I generally approach most of the card jobs in an assembly line fashion... I'll do somewhat-finished pencils on a number of cards, then go back with inks, and then go with colors. I tend to work like this for batches of 10 or so... scattered around my desk will be stacks of cards in various stages, so I can pick up where I feel like picking up.
How do you feel about the entire process?
There's so much to say here... it's enlightening, maddening, invigorating, educational, frustrating, time-consuming, life-demanding.... overall, I do enjoy it greatly. It's given me a chance to work with mediums I haven't touched in a while, and it keeps my creativity moving forward. It does demand a LOT of time however, and pushes so many other things out of its path that have to fall by the wayside. It can make it so difficult to complete other projects, or even to simply have personal time. Particularly for me, as I also have a day job, so all freelance and commissions work has to come during nights and weekends.
Have you done any of the larger incentive cards?
I've done incentives, but for both sets that I did incentive work they were all normal sized cards. I wouldn't mind at all being able to play on a bigger surface...likely a lot easier on the eyes!
Do you have a lot of contact with collectors regarding your cards?
Not on an individual basis, but I do see some at shows and conventions, particularly dealers that are into the hobby. It can be very humbling to see the price tags attached to cards you have done, or to see people with your works in a binder... I've had a number of people come up to me to show me the cards they have acquired, which is a wonderful feeling, if not a bit surreal.
How do you feel about some collectors wanting more detailed cards versus what sketch card artists are paid to work on the cards?
It's difficult to answer, really... companies continue to demand more/better work at the same pay rates, as do collectors, and if things aren't careful, it's going to push some of the artists straight out of the business. Most artists work with where they are comfortable and have found their niche, but I have seen artists that I cannot understand, A) how they got the job and B) why they are continuing to get work. An artist has to be fair to themselves and realize when they have gone so far beyond what is needed that they are now undercutting themselves, as well as setting a bar they will have to continue to meet.
When collectors balk at the prices an artist asks for their work, they need to stop and ask themselves what THEY would hope to be paid for hours of work... we put more than crayons into these things, we put a great deal of time and our lives into them. It's our job, we'd like to get paid for it. We get little else, and frankly, most of the artists I know are undercharging.
Have you had any bad experiences with collectors?
Luckily, not really. I have had people trying to get PSCs or Proofs from me at a discounted rate, only to find that the intention is to resell or use them for barter. It's up to a buyer as to what they do with a card, but this personally really irks me.
Bad experiences with companies?
Thankfully no! I've worked primarily with DC and Rittenhouse Archives, and they have been outstanding to deal with.
Do you feel that your cards are consistently collectible or does it depend on what set you do?
I've discovered I have a few followers that want my cards regardless of the set, but I think overall the set as a whole is the first thing to attract the collectors, and then they dig to see who's going to turn up the volume of the desirable cards. I'm astounded at the prices my cards go for, and very very flattered.
Do you feel sketch cards are increasingly collectible as a whole?
Well, I think so... at least for now, I don't really see an end to them. So many collectors out there are really only interested in resale value though, and I'm not sure what lasting power that will have in the hobby.
Has your career as an artist benefited from doing sketch card work?
So far, yes... my work on DC LEGACY and BATMAN ARCHIVES has led to different work for DC, and I have more recognition and desire for my work at shows. On a personal level, making myself do so many different individual pieces has only improved my skills and speed and ideas with mediums, so I feel I have benefited as an artist as well. It's now also lead to doing base card art as well.
What was the most difficult sketch card set you have worked on to date?
No question, THE FANTASTIC FOUR ARCHIVES. I hated almost every moment of that set, and my wife can attest to that... I was quite vocal about it. I've never liked (or known much about) the main characters, and had never even heard of most of the supporting cast of characters. I felt most of my work was sub-par as a result, but that was just me. Looking back on them now, I do see where I still continued to find new ideas and even made a few cards I was quite pleased with, so it was beneficial... but damn, who really wants a card of an old man in a parka suit???
Are there any cards that you are particularly proud of?
Oh yes. I think every artist has their babies. I am still most proud overall on my work on BATMAN ARCHIVES, as it was a true labor of love... Batman and his cast will always be my favorites and what carried me into the genre. I've become known most of all for my humor in my work, and that is something I'm proud of as well... when I first did it, I wasn't sure how it would be taken, but I get bored following a standard format. When I got a call from DC telling me that I was REALLY pushing the envelope, I got nervous... but they also said they loved it. So I still try to go to the edge.. it results in getting a fair amount of re-dos or rejects, but it keeps me on my toes. Most of those stand out to me.
Almost every Scarecrow card I've ever done, I've wanted to keep... I managed to work in a one-shot character from the 60's called Mogo the Bat-Ape, and I had to buy back the card, it tickled me so much. I've done a few collaborations with Katie Cook on sets, and her work is so damned adorable, I want to keep the cards... hell, I want to hug them!
I've also fallen in love with a few cards simply because they worked... thanks to the multi-medium incentives I have done for X-MEN and SPIDER-MAN, I've gotten to play with everything from painting with wood stains to using vinyl, glitter, and even coloring with food (!)... when it works, I love it!
Some companies provide return cards for working on sketch card sets. What do you do with the cards returned to you?
I've never gotten to work with a company/set that does the return card method... Many of the sets I have done have Artist Proof cards instead. These I try to sell as private commissions.
Do you see yourself continuing with sketch card sets?
I hope to... certain projects and life in general may demand a break, but I have taken on new projects for now!
Is there any advice you would like to give to people wanting to break into the sketch card ‘biz’?
Do original work, don't “lift” model shots. Keep your work clean and clear. If your work is rejected by a company/editor, ask for what they want to see you improve, and do it again! They are always looking for new work, so no reason to give up!
Where can people see more of your work?
My website is http://www.andypriceart.com/ and work can also be seen on my Facebook fans page!
Thank you so much for your time, Andy!