Thursday, July 15, 2010
Interview with artist Irma Ahmed
How did you get involved in sketch cards?
If I remember correctly, I first started drawing sketchcards in 2006, mainly for my own satisfaction. The primary reason is of an economic nature; I love using markers, particularly Copics, but where I am they were expensive and harder to procure back then. So by drawing in a smaller space, I could still indulge in marker art while keeping costs low. It's ironic though that because of my professional involvement in sketch cards, I've spent quite a bit on expanding and maintaining my art supplies. As the saying goes though, you can't put a price on the things you love :)
My first official sketch job was for Topps' Lord of the Rings Masterpieces II. For a LOTR movie fan like me, drawing the characters and scenes I love from the film trilogy was a dream come true, to say the least.
How do you feel about working on such a small surface?
At first it was quite challenging trying to fit the details and composition in such a tiny space, but it gets much easier with every official set and personal commission that comes my way. It has definitely trained me to become more careful and patient especially when rendering the final work, and also more adventurous with colour schemes. I've gotten so used to it that I sometimes have a harder time planning large format artworks.
Have you been asked or would you like to work on the larger incentive cards?
I haven't, but I would be interested if I was given the chance.
Do you have a lot of contact with collectors regarding your cards?
Yes, I do. I'm quite humbled that there are dedicated collectors of my cards out there, and I appreciate the support that they give. They are an invaluble source of advice as well as insight on trends in the collector's market.
Do you feel that your cards are consistently collectible or does it depend on what set you do?
I think it's a little bit of both? In the case of official trading card sets, while I try to consistently draw sketch cards that I would be happy to pull myself, I notice that the demand for them varies according to a licence's popularity. In the end, I try to have fun with all the cards I work on, especially on PSC commissions.
Has your career as an artist benefited from doing sketch card work?
Yes, it definitely has. 2010 has been my busiest year yet!
What was the most difficult sketch card set you have worked on to date?
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Animated Motion Picture Trading Card Set in 2008. The movie was not out yet during the sketch card production, and images/media related to the new property was not easy to find, hence there was a lack of reference material to work from. But limitations give opportunities for creative solutions, so I drew quite a bit of decorative motifs and puzzle cards to add variety in the bunch.
Are there any cards that you are particularly proud of?
It's a toss between Indiana Jones Masterpieces and Star Wars Galaxy 4; The former because I tried various decorative techniques and constructed fun puzzles, the latter because it was the first time I could draw the Original Trilogy officially.
Some companies provide return cards for working on sketch card sets. Do you keep any of the cards returned to you?
The only one I am adamant in keeping is my last return card from the Lord of the Rings Masterpieces II set; I'm particularly fond of the one I did of The One Ring, so that's being kept for sentimental value.
Do you see yourself continuing with sketch card sets?
For the foreseeable future, yes. It's too much fun to stop.
Is there any advice you would like to give to people wanting to break into the sketch card ‘biz’?
I think that I was very lucky to get the opportunity to enter this biz, but if there's one thing I felt steered me towards this direction, it would have to be keeping one's mind open to diversifying. For many years I was a stubborn, self-taught manga-centric artist, but after an epiphany that had me break out of that mold, I started to get all kinds of results and attention that I wanted as a professional artist. Being open to cater to different tastes definitely keeps me on my toes in figuring how to improve my technical skills.
Where can people see more of your work?
People can see my work at my personal gallery at www.aimostudio.com, or from my DeviantArt page at aimo.deviantart.com.
Thank you so much, Irma!!!