Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Interview with sketch card artist Amy Pronovost

How did you get involved in sketch cards?
I got an email from Joe Corroney saying that Topps needed more artists for their Revenge of the Sith set. Up until this point I had no idea that Sketch Cards existed. That was the first of many sets, and I had a blast working on it.

How do you feel about working on such a small surface?
I think it’s fun and challenging, I do mostly small, little doodles when I’m warming up for larger drawings, so this works. I do prefer drawing larger, because the small drawings en masse make my wrist hurt, but it is fun.

How do you feel about the entire process?
For the mostpart it’s fair, and it works fine. Occasionally cards don’t make it to us on time, leaving the deadline ridiculously short (and I’ve had this from more than one company), so I think the logistics sometimes need a little help. When dealing with the amount of artists some companies do, I think they’re doing pretty good.

Do you prefer to work with a specific media?
It depends on the cards surface and the deadline. For the Strictly Ink cards, which have a slick surface, it’s pretty much impossible to work in pencil, so I work in Crayola and Copic markers. For some reason Crayola markers just stick to the cards, and I used those exclusively for my first Doctor Who set. I really enjoy working in pencil, even though people seem to feel cheated for pulling a pencil card, because the pencils represent the soul of my work. I spend less time on an inked card than many of my penciled ones, but they lose a little spontenaety in the process. As such, most of my recent sets have had pencil with a splash of watercolour to keep the life of the drawing intact. Pencil with a hint of colour is one of my favourite sketch card techniques.

What was it like for you working on a base card?
It was a dream come true! Working on a base card in a Star Wars set was on my list of things to do before I die. I have scratched that off, and now I’m ready to move onto other things. Like, say, visiting Lichtenstein. Oh wait, the card! The approval process was pretty easy going for my card, and I worked large – 11x14 – in water colour and ink. I have to say it was one of the most awesome things I’ve worked on.

I understand you've returned to college. Are you going to continue working on sketch cards, or take a hiatus?
It all depends on my schedule and the license. Last year I was working AND studying, so I had barely enough time to eat, let alone draw. I did take a Clone Wars set last semester, and that worked out OK because it coincided with my Christmas holidays. However, school comes first. I’ve taken on a couple of projects for the summer, because I have more time.

Do you have a lot of contact with collectors regarding your cards?
Every now and again I do, and it always puts a smile on my face :)

How do you feel about some collectors wanting more detailed cards versus what sketch card artists are paid to work on the cards?
They are just as welcome to their opinion as I am welcome to work in pencil. I get irked, completely irked, when I see someone brush off a really good set of cards they pulled as trash because they either got none in colour, or only one.

Repeat after me: Colour is not the only thing that makes a piece of art good!

Like I said before, most of the soul is in my penciled pieces, sometimes with a little splash of colour. I also don’t understand the hate towards a particular artist I won’t name, who has a very consistent, very graphic style. I love said artist’s art. So you can’t flip them on ebay. Doesn’t mean it’s garbage.

Also, to those of you who give said cards to your kids to colour and then brag about it on a board populated by artists – bad form. If you want to do that, do it, just don’t post about it and expect people to not get annoyed.

The sad thing is, a lot of these folks say stuff like this and wonder why the artists have left the message boards. :(

It’s one thing to critique, and have an opinion, it’s another thing to be an ass about it. I can respect something like “I feel that there should be more colour cards, I’m not a fan of pencil” but not “I can’t believe I pulled this garbage! My 2 year old can draw better than that! And no colour? You artists are so damn lazy!”

In the end, everyone has an opinion, and everyone is entitled to it. I’ll continue drawing in pencil, and people can continue not liking that I don’t spend hours on a sketch card. In the end, it all comes down to the fans who appreciate my work, and the work of other artists who do loose, pencil work, that keeps us going. :)

Has your career as an artist benefited from doing sketch card work?
I’ve certainly gotten more exposure and Internet cred than I had before, so I have to say yes. It’s opened the door to a few more freelance projects. As I’m fading away from full time art and design, I enjoy the ability to pick and choose what I want to do. I’ve also managed to nail down an artistic style, and work quickly, which is always fun!

What was the most difficult sketch card set you have worked on to date? What made it difficult?
I can’t remember which one, but it was one of the Indy sets. Tight deadline, tendinitis flareup and a card surface that was extremely hard to draw on and would not take watercolour. I wasn’t happy with a lot of the cards, but I made the deadline.

Are there any cards that you are particularly proud of?
One of my Indiana Jones returns with Marion and Indy tied to the post with the ghosts flying around them is one of my all time favourites, as were all of my returns for the second and third LOTR sets. The one of Eowyn fighting in Return of the King is awesome. It’s one of those ones I look at and go ‘Did I really draw that? With Markers? OMG’. It’s an example of what I can do with a generous deadline.
For Pack Inserted cards, the ‘Crush your Head!’ Sidious from the ROTS set will forever be one of my favourite cards. Same with the LOTR Masterpiece 2 cards. I really hit my mojo with that set. Low number of cards + long deadline = awesome. Also, anything with Admiral Ackbar. And I looove drawing Orcs and aliens and monsters .

Some companies provide return cards for working on sketch card sets. What do you do with yours?
I sell them! :D A girl’s gotta eat. I have some blanks from a Strictly Ink set I haven’t done a thing with yet, but I will eventually.

Do you see yourself continuing with sketch card sets?
I’m winding down. I do a few sets here and there, but eventually the market will dry up, or I’ll move on to other things. I’m glad to have been a part of it. I’ve met some wonderful people! Lately I’ve been doing a lot of art for charity, but only for charities I trust. It feels good to give back.

Is there any advice you would like to give to people wanting to break into the sketch card ‘biz’?
It’s an unwritten rule to not ask for the art director’s email from someone working with a company. We won’t give it out, especially in public to someone we don’t know. Go through official channels – Some of them post on message boards, go to the company’s website and find a phone number or an email address. BE POLITE. I cannot stress that enough. Don’t be weird and creepy. Just be professional and be yourself.
Don’t act like a jerk in public. I see so many artists shoot themselves in the foot by being, well, to put it bluntly, stupid on message boards. Once you get a job, it is considered to be in reaaaaallly bad taste to bite the hand that feeds you. Think before you post publicly.

Can you tell us what future sketch card sets you'll be working on?
Hammer Horror and Clone Wars: Rise of the Bounty Hunters.

What are you currently working on?
I am illustrating my book ‘How Harold Got His Wings’, which was written by a dear friend of mine. I’m doing pencil illustrations and WILL have the book in some way, shape or form available at the Toronto Fan Expo in August. I’d like to have a fully coloured version of the book out next year, either self published or with a publisher.

Where can people see more of your work?
At me website!
At deviantart:

Thank you for your time, Amy!

1 comment:

  1. Where can I find a job as a "Sketch card artist?"