Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interview with Ben Curtis Jones

How did you get involved in sketch cards/What was your first sketch card job?
A good friend of mine, Grant Gould, had seen my work and told me I should submit samples to Topps. After Topps had viewed my work I was asked to participate in the Indiana Jones Heritage Collection where I created 100 cards for the set.

Is your educational background in art?
Yes, I have a BFA in painting from the University of West Georgia.

How do you feel about working on such a small surface?
At first it was a challenge, due to working at such a large scale most of my life. But, after a couple of sets I got use to it and really enjoyed capturing the characters I admire on a different sized canvas.

How do you feel about the entire process (deadlines, companies, etc.)?
I enjoy the fact that sketch cards allow so much freedom for artists, even when there are specific movies to work with, you get draw whatever you want from within the parameters of the subject. For what editors expect from artists, the deadlines are more than reasonable.

Do you prefer to work with a specific media?
I use colored pencil for all of my work including sketchcards. Occasionally I will lay down a light wash before beginning the initial drawing to set the mood I wish to portray.

Do you have a lot of contact with collectors regarding your cards?
A decent amount, since my portfolio is not dedicated to sketch cards like others, my clients are a bit different due to wanting art at a larger scale. But here lately it seems I'm doing more private commissions at the smaller sizes.

Has your career as an artist benefited from doing sketch card work?
Definitely, the exposure an artist gets from sketch cards is great.

What was the most difficult sketch card set you have worked on to date? What made it difficult?
When taking on Indiana Jones Masterpieces, I had already worked on two previous Indy sets. So changing up the art and making it more diverse was a challenge. However, I found references I hadn't used in the previous sets and went from there contributing 9 full color pieces to the set.

Are there any cards that you are particularly proud of?
Funny story- Topps lost my return cards from Indiana Jones Heritage, so they mailed me 6 blank cards to create art on. I did 3 commission pieces and 3 personal pieces. I believe the art came out of higher quality due to having no deadline.

Some companies provide return cards or artist proof cards for working on sketch card sets. What do you do with yours?
I always sell my returns.

Do you see yourself continuing with sketch card sets?
Definitely, I enjoy creating art based on the subjects I've admired my entire life.

Is there any advice you would like to give to people wanting to break into the sketch card ‘biz’?
Create a portfolio that shows only your best work. Just because sketch cards are "sketches" doesn't mean that a portfolio of sketches will get your foot in the door. Never compare the pay rate of sketch cards to the work you produce. No one is forcing you to do the work, so if you take the plunge make it worth the while for yourself and collectors. Think of sketch cards as a great source of advertisement for yourself as an artist.

Can you tell us what future sketch card sets you'll be working on?
I'm currently working on The Empire Strikes Back 3D set, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Empire.

What are you currently working on?
I've just completed some sample work for Acme Archives, as well as some new work based on the Underworld series.

Where can people see more of your work?
My official site, also my deviant page

Thank you so much for your time, Ben!!

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