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!