Friday, July 30, 2010

Interview with artist Chris Henderson

How did you get involved in sketch cards?
I saw how much the Battlestar Galactica Sketch cards were selling for on Ebay so I thought I would try selling some PSCs. This was around 2004. Someone at Rittenhouse Archives, I think it was Robert Kohlbus, contacted me about submitting some samples for the Xena Art & Images set. I didn't get approved for Xena but I was later approved for the Battlestar Galactica Premiere set. I did 300 each of 3 different images of number 6 that were used as case toppers.

Do you have an education in the art field?
I have about 3 years of a 4 year college degree. Other than that I'm mostly self taught.

How do you feel about working on such a small surface?
I still struggle with it. If I'm working directly from a reference I do okay. When I'm creating an original image I usually have to work out the details at a larger size and then reduce it.

How do you feel about the entire process?
There are always things that could be done better. Each job is a little different and I just try to look at each one as a new challenge.

You have been doing cards for several years. Have you seen a lot of changes in the sketch card business?
More artists, more companies and more sketch cards. I'm curios to see how some of these smaller companies do but I'm not crazy about the sketch card only format. I grew up collecting cards and I like the base cards. I think Sadlittles has a good format with the complete base set plus a sketch in each pack. I'm really curious to see what The Sketchlords do. They appear to be a truly artist friendly company.

Do you have a lot of contact with collectors regarding your cards?
I do off and on. I've had a lot going on recently and haven't been on the forums much. I will be at CECE in September. This will be my first show appearance and I'm looking forward to it.

How do you feel about some collectors wanting more detailed cards versus what sketch card artists are paid to work on the cards?
I can't really blame them. It's our fault. The artists are the ones who raised expectations. There's no way I can do highly detailed cards all the time but I try to do some for every set.

Have you had any bad experiences with collectors?
Nothing major. I've had a few disappear after commissioning something. I just wish they would let me know if there is a problem instead of just disappearing. I'm pretty easy to get along with and I understand that things sometime happen that we can't control. I would rather know what's going on than have to try to figure it out.

Bad experiences with companies?
Nothing we weren't able to resolve.

Would you say your career as an artist has benefited from doing sketch card work?
I've learned how to work faster. I can do in a few hours what used to take me several days.

What was the most difficult sketch card set you have worked on to date?
Probably the second and third Indiana Jones sets. Crystal Skull was the first pre-release movie set I ever worked on. I agreed to do 525 cards and then was given about 25 watermarked reference images to work from. I ended up doing a lot of repeat sketches and a handful of 1/1 sketches. When I started on Indiana Jones
Masterpieces I still had 14 of 16 returns from the first two sets and didn't see much hope of making money on a third set. It made it difficult to get motivated.
I also wasn't crazy about the watermarks on some of the recent Star Wars sets.

Are there any cards that you are particularly proud of?
I'm most proud of the fold out sketches I did for The Doctor Who Big Screen Additions set, the Amidala sketches I did for the Star Wars Galaxy 5 set and the eyes sketches I did for the Epire Strikes Back 3-D sets. I'm also very happy with the sketches I did for the CECE Treasure Chests.
As far as over all sets go I'm probably happiest with my Lord Of The Rings Masterpieces II sketches and My Heroes 2 sketches. The blue Heroes cards were terrible for color sketches but I really liked them for my graytone sketches.

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 always intend to sell mine. They are my main payment for most sets and I can't afford to keep them.

Do you see yourself continuing with sketch card sets?
Yes but but I will be doing fewer cards for each set. I'm really enjoying these smaller sets where I only have to do 20-40 cards a set.

Is there any advice you would like to give to people wanting to break into the sketch card ‘biz’?
Be persistent and be realistic about what you can do. It's real easy to over commit yourself. Especially when just starting out. Be professional. Pay attention to the terms of the contract and stick to it.

Where can people see more of your work?
Soon they can see my work at but at the moment it's under construction.
They can usually see some of my work on Ebay. My ebay ID is andyh681.
They can also see my work at My user ID is HendersonArtGallery.

Are you open for anyone interested in commission work?
Yes. Anyone who is interested in commissions can reach me at

Are you on any recent/current sketch card sets?
Cartoon Sketches
Star Wars Galaxy 5
Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back 3D
Sci-Fi & Horror Movie Posters 2
The Pro

Upcoming sets include:
Hammer 2
Woodstock Generation
2010 Topps Football

What are you currently working on?
I'm currently working on sketch cards for Femforce and The Clone Wars:Rise Of The Bounty Hunters. I just finished up a large sports card project that includes about 150 base cards and I'm about to start another project for the same company. I have a few other things in the works that I can't talk about yet.

Thank you, Chris!!

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