Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Heroes & Villains

Thanks to Sonia Lai for the scan!

10th Anniv. Chicagoland Expo

More artists recently added to the line-up!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Interview with Iggy Armenta

Would you say you're a collector? Retailer?
For card purposes, I would refer to myself as a small retailer who only sells at card shows and online. I have been dealing in sports cards since about 1994 and have been doing non-sports as an ever increasing portion of my sales since about 2006.

What do you look for in sketch cards that you're going to buy and sell?
For single cards, I try to find something at a price point where I am reasonably confident that I can re-sell for a profit. Sometimes, I will trade a card that someone wants for another card that I know I will have a buyer for.

Is it more about the artist's popularity than the level of 'art skill' on the cards?
While the popularity of the artist usually goes hand in hand with the skill level, it is not always the case. I look for quality be it in the artist as a person, their mad skills or characters that folks are passionate about.

Do you also take subject matter into consideration?
Sure, the subject has to have a collector base, unless the artist who rendered the piece has that strong of a following that it really makes no difference what they draw.

Black and white versus color?
Color is great, but only if it is well done. There are a fair number of artists like
Carlo Soriano who I believe does better with B&W than with colors. A well done B&W piece should never be looked at as inferior.

How long do you keep the cards you buy before you sell them?
I usually try to get in and out of products as quickly as possible in order to keep capital flowing. There are times when you pick up a piece or so that you feel that now is not the best time to sell and you hold on to them for a better time.

Do you buy the large cases of cards too or deal directly with companies, collectors and/or artists?
I buy cases on most major releases through a distributor. On a lot of the RA (
Rittenhouse) issues it is usually a single case. Star Wars I am usually in for 2-3 cases. 5Finity is the only company that I deal directly with and I absolutely LOVE them. I also have a network of collectors and artists that I will deal with on a semi-regular basis, most of whom hang out on Scoundrel Art Community.

Can you explain exactly what a 'case' is for those that may not know?
With traditional trading cards, the manufacturer places a certain number of cards into a pack which then get placed inside a box. Most companies use 24 pack per box although some may differ. The boxes are shipped in cases of numbers that vary by company; for example, Topps ships in 8 box cases, Upper Deck and Rittenhouse in 12 box cases.

Do you purchase any cards for yourself as well?
While I do keep sets of everything for myself and my kids to enjoy and I do buy cards for folks as gifts, I do not generally buy a card to keep myself.

From your standpoint as a retailer, would you say that sketch card collecting is increasing? Decreasing?
Good question, while there seem to be new folks collecting these wonderous little artworks all the time, some well heeled collectors have seem to have left the hobby. Right now, there seem to be too many sets that are focusing on sketches which is flooding the market and driving prices down...a very good thing for a collector but not so much for your friendly dealers. One good thing about the volume of sketch sets is that many new artists are getting exposure as opposed to companies sticking only to all of the old stand-bys.

How do you approach selling at card shows? Do you find you still do well in person at shows versus online?
I find dealing with folks at shows is not much different than online. If there are enough sketch collectors at a show, they will sell just fine. You have to be willing to give someone a good deal unless you do not actually want to sell items. At many shows, sketch cards are not a main focus with minimal artists that work on sets as a draw. I personally can not wait until the
10th Anniversary Chicagoland Entertainment Collectors Expo in September. With all of the "name" artists that will be in town, the sketch collectors are sure to turn out strong.

As a retailer, how do you feel about artists that repeat sketches? For example, the profile drawing, 1/2 faces, the same character a few times, etc.
It really depends on how the work is done and just how many repeats they do. A couple of great examples of folks who do repeated poses very well are
Christian Dalla Vecchia and Davide Fabbri. There are almost always slight differences and the pieces are always well put together. Another decent repeat artist is Robert Teranishi who some folks like and some don't...I personally think his art is pretty cool. On the flip side, there have been TONS of repeat sketches that, while they fit the definition of "sketch", are just plain lazy. You know the ones...whips, screaming monkeys, melting face guy, tons and tons of bad Orcs and yes....way too many Jawas. The same goes with half faces and profiles, if they are well done...then fine. I realize that sometimes the fast approaching deadline can make it necessary to crank out some pieces that are not up the the artist's normal quality and that is understandable. If that is the norm though, it is time to give a new artist, or maybe a few, their chance to shine.

How do you prepare yourself for card shows?

I have two very different types of shows that I sell at. Sport card shows where I will display a few sets as well as sketches and autographs, and non-sport card shows. With Non-Sport shows, I need to plan ahead to make sure that the space that I have is best used to display as many sketch and autographed cards as possible...folks need to see them to want them. In addition, I will spend countless hours making sure that all of my chase cards (randomly inserted into trading card packs) are organized in 3 ring binders or piles so that they will be easy to find. I also study the market to see what kind of prices are being realised for items so that I can offer customers a fair deal.

What do you take into consideration when setting up your table/booth?
I try to think of how a customer would approach a table. Do I have like things grouped together? Is everything easily accessable so that a customer can find (and buy) it? I am set up at a show to sell things, not to hide them and take them back home, so I need to make sure of things like this.

Where can people find you on the 'net?
I can be found on Scoundrel Art Community as well as eBay and Blowout Cards Forum under the user name 'Igman7'.

Thank you so much for your time, Iggy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Forum specifically for SadLittles current and upcoming sketch card sets.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sketch card artists at SDCC

This list is tentative and will be updated (edit: Thanks to those that sent me info to update the list!).

Artist Alley:

Alexander Buechel
Justin Chung
Katie Cook
Joe Corroney
Renae De Liz
Ray Dillon

Michael Dooney
Otis Frampton
Randy Green
Gabriel Hernandez
Tom Hodges
Mark Irwin
Leah Mangue
Randy Martinez

Bill Maus
William O'Neill

Ryan Odagawa
Bill Pulkovski
David Rabbitte

Josef Rubinstein
Jamie Snell
Cat Staggs
Denise Vasquez
John Watkins-Chow

Dane Ault- Small Press Table N13

Zorilita-Mary Bellamy - Small Press Table N04
Spencer Brinkerhoff III and Russell Walks- Wildstar Tempest booth
Sean "Cheeks" Galloway - Exhibitor
Mark Brooks - Exhibitor
Matt Busch - Exhibitor
Adam Hughes & Allison Sohn - Exhibitors
Dean Yeagle - Exhibitor

Mel Uran - Exhibit A Press booth Friday and Saturday

Feel free to let me know if I have left anyone out (as I'm sure I did). Again, this sketch card artist list is tentative and will be changing.

*updated 7/8/10

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Deep Water Horizon Gulf Oil Spill

From my friend, Siri Rhea:
"My friend Nina and a bunch of other children's illustrators are donating some really neat sketch cards in exchange for $10 donations to The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies or The International Bird Rescue Research Center. Save a whale (or dolphin or pelican) and get some origional art too!"

Monday, June 14, 2010


If you'll have an artist alley table, small press table, booth OR just doing signings at SDCC and are a sketch card artist - comment here so I can list your name in the this blog when San Diego Comic Con gets closer! If you're a dealer and will be exhibiting there too, let me know!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Previews June Ads

+Sketch cards pending licensor approval

Thanks to Sonia Lai for the scans!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Heroes Con

Sketch card artists attending Heroes Con:
Cat Staggs
Otis Frampton
Adam Hughes
J Scott Campbell
Mark McHaley
Grant Gould
Uko Smith
Allison Sohn
Andy Price

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interview with Corbett Vanoni

How did you get involved in sketch cards/What was your first sketch card job?
I think my first set was Classic Sci-fi & Horror Posters, for Breygent. There was Wizard of Oz and Vintage Movie Posters shortly after that, around 2006 sometime. A mutual friend of ours, Darla Ecklund, suggested I contact Breygent and I was off and running. Those were all repeat-a-cards, where you design one card and draw it 10 (or 20) times, you know? I about killed myself designing these detailed approval sketches, only realizing after the fact that I had to replicate them several times.

Do you have an education in the art field?
Not in the traditional sense, no. I was self-taught up until I moved to Los Angeles in 1999. I was convinced I was going to make it in the animation biz and started taking classes at the animator's union, the Local 839. I did that off and on for about 5 years. I didn't do much in animation at the time, but I met some very talented people who were nice enough to show me a thing or two. Karl Gnass was one. A tremendous life drawing and storyboard instructor.
Aside from those classes, I've simply tried to surround myself with skilled artists and professionals. I've been very fortunate to hang out with many talented people and I would hope that I was paying enough attention to steal a little of their skill while they weren't looking. Spending too much time on websites like and and enough artists' blogs to choke a bookmarks folder only helps fuel the fire.

How do you feel about working on such a small surface?
I've never worked in a large format myself. I was always the kid who was reprimanded for writing and drawing at an almost imperceptible size. "You'll go blind drawing like that!" (I'm still at 20/20 and spectacle-free, by the way) Also, I enjoy a challenge, and framing a subject in a 3.5" by 2.5" space is a fulfilling task sometimes.

How do you feel about the entire process?
I've been freelance for a while now and I suspect it all falls under the same umbrella. I'm not a fan of the unreasonable deadlines that are sometimes proposed, but I decided a while back to not take on sketch card sets requiring me to do insane quantities of cards, so tight deadlines are not as much of an issue anymore.

Do you have a lot of contact with collectors regarding your cards?
I did in the past. When I was really working the sketch card world as a large part of my freelance I would hear from collectors. Usually was the case that someone pulled a card of mine from a pack, liked my approach, and asked for a commission or two. I've been fortunate to have dealt with some really great collectors in that manner. I'm often surprised with how much research they do before contacting me. I tend to gravitate away from sci-fi and fantasy subjects and toward, I don't know, horror and humor and regular-joe type people. Cowboys and zombies and army guy type of subjects. (I think I just came up with a new story idea) Collectors would figure this out about me, and approach me with a project more suited to my tastes, though I would like to believe I would put the same amount of heart into ANY request.

How do you feel about some collectors wanting more detailed cards versus what sketch card artists are paid to work on the cards?
I love doing detailed cards for collectors. I genuinely want the people who pull my cards to feel as though their money was well spent. But I can't do that for a buck a card. Nobody should. I've always been told that we artists can make our money with the return cards, but that's never worked out for me. Not once.
"Detail" is also in the eye of the consumer (or vendor). Is a card which is drawn beautifully in pencil, with economy of line, worth less than a card drawn poorly, in color? I've been told yes. I've also seen people choose badly drawn cards on "official stock!" over fine pieces of art on regular cardstock plenty of times. People are weird, you know?
In the end, collectors know what they like - and they have the responsibility to assign a reasonable, monetary worth to that standard. Sketch cards are meant to be sketches, and anything beyond a WELL DRAWN sketch should be expected to cost a little more.

Have you had any bad experiences with collectors?
Nope! All my commission clients have been fantastic! I've had the rogue collector hassle me at a convention about pricing, but it's certainly not the norm. Sketch card vendors at conventions have been rude or obnoxious on occasion.

Bad experiences with companies?
Hahaha. Of course. I've had to chase companies down for late paychecks. I've done work on spec I was never paid for. I've not received return cards I was promised. I received return cards that were different than the ones specified. And I've had work rejected citing rules that weren't in place at the inception of the set. How's that! Hahaha. It's unfortunately business as usual as far as most of my freelance goes. You learn, you move on. In my freelance work I work from my own contract, which protects me against loss or frustration in many cases. But many of these card companies use their own contracts.
There's only one company I won't work with at all anymore. Anyone else eliminated from my personal roster is because I think their rates are too low and quantities too high. Simple as that.

Would you say your career as an artist has benefited from doing sketch card work?
I benefit from everything. Being a sketch card artist has yielded good and bad experiences and the whole lot in the end makes me a better artist — and business man, which any artist has to be these days to survive.
I can say that it has definitely given me a much better reason to attend conventions, as my other work the past few years has been mostly editorial and advertorial — stuff of little interest to a comic book crowd.

What was the most difficult sketch card set you have worked on to date?
The Vintage Poster sets for Breygent were difficult because we had to do type treatment. Marvel Masterpieces was difficult for me personally because I wasn't familiar with many of the characters in the Universe. I started with the well known ones, then went on to the aforementioned 'regular-joes' like Sgt. Fury, and then. . .well, punted. I had agreed to so many cards that by the end I was simply drawing whoever I flipped to in the Marvel Universe book who looked interesting. Which of course begat several threads on the internet like "Who the heck is THIS character?! It's drawn buy some guy called Vanoli??"

Are there any cards that you are particularly proud of?
Oh I don't know. I always feel a bit hindered on set-based cards. I haven't been able to put a proper amount of love into them. I'm fond of certain commissions I've done and personal cards I've produced for conventions. Those are produced with EXTRA love.

Some companies provide return cards or artist proof cards for working on sketch card sets. What do you do with yours? Do you still have any?
I'm still waiting for my returns on a couple sets from years ago, haha. I marketed my Marvel Masterpieces pretty aggressively when I received them but no one wanted them. Later at a convention someone told me another artist was selling theirs for like 15 bucks so I ended up doing one for him at that price. It was more than a little disappointing. I still have a Marvel blank and a Captain America, and somewhere I have a return from the Spirit set (though not the one I asked for). I don't think I'm supposed to be selling the Marvel one anymore so I'll offer it to your readers for free. (shipping is totally like 40 bucks)

Do you see yourself continuing with sketch card sets?
It's interesting you should ask that because I was just speaking to someone about it. I always welcome commissions, sketch card or otherwise, I love doing them — but I think I'm on hiatus from sets for a while.
I have many other projects I'd like to see get off the ground right now, so my focus is on those.

Is there any advice you would like to give to people wanting to break into the sketch card ‘biz’?
Advice on breaking in is pretty simple: talk to other card artists. Find out what sets are starting, get names and email addresses and start contacting those people with your work. As far as advice on working on the sets themselves I would say make sure that the detail of your work is in direct proportion to the number of cards you have to produce! Hahaha. Don't take on 500 cards if you want to do hyper-realism — by the end you'll be drawing little stick people! And keep the consumer in mind. I've had to remind myself in the middle of a set that someone is going to drop a chunk of money on a box of cards, tear open a pack and find my artwork. Do I want them to feel as though they scored? Or toss it in a discard pile with a resounding, "NEXT!"

Where can people see more of your work?
On the walls of some of your finer bathroom stalls.
Also find me on the FaceBook: where I'm always adding to my little illustration galleries.
My website: is currently down for an overhaul but should be back up in the near future.

Are you on any recent/current sketch card sets?
No. I'd emailed someone about a particular license I thought would be fun but haven't heard back.

What are you currently working on?
Well I've always been a kind of Jack of all trades, Master of none artist. Right now I'm doing a lot of photo retouching and photo manipulation for magazines and as long as the work is there I'll keep at it. I've written or thumbnailed a number of children's books which need to be finished up, and I also have some gift store-type merchandise — greeting cards, that sort of thing — that I'm producing for a friend's shop, and hope to get those out soon as well. When the new website goes online I'll also start marketing my freelance and commission work again.

Thank you so much for your time, Corbett!!!