In 2020 I contributed artwork to the Topps MLB Museum Collection, Flagship series 1 and series 2, and Gallery. I’ve previously posted about all of those projects except for 2020 Update, which I’m doing so now! This was also the third year of me working on Topps MLB products and sometime soon I’ll be posting about my contributions to their 2021 products!
Pack inserted original artwork
I used a mix of inked, comicbook style drawings and mixed media portraits. Most of the comicbook style ones are action shots and I gave them either action style lines radiating from the borders to the player or Kirby dots. For the portraits, I cut off the body from the shoulders down and used acrylic paint to give it a bold colour. I also gave the portraits a white halo to make them pop a bit more from the background.
One of the other, more simpler things I did on this project was to colour the border icons. It’s not the most imaginative thing I could’ve done but I liked the idea of giving the border design that was printed on the cards a little bit of colour. The colours I chose were also one of the player’s team colours.
Contact me about commissions
I have blank artist proof sketch cards from this and other official baseball trading card projects I’ve worked on. To find out more about sketch cards please see my earlier post and use the form below to contact me about a commission! Prices start at $125US.
Topps MLB Museum Collection is easily my favourite of all baseball trading card sets to work on. I’ve previously worked on the 2018 to 2020 sets and the 2021 set but that won’t be released until June. What makes this set great to work on every year is that the paper quality is the best of any project. The cards are thick and the paper has good tooth for drawing on. The thickness of the cards allows for different mediums like water based acrylics, water colours, and gouache to be used, but also dry mediums like markers. The design of the cards is always nice and the subject matter is broader than other baseball sets as I am allowed to draw both active and retired stars of the game.
Another great aspect of working on Museum Collection is that sometimes my artwork will be chosen to be reprinted as part of the Canvas Collection. I’ve had my work reprinted in the 2018 and 2019 sets, and again for the 2020 set. For the 2020 set I had two of my paintings reprinted: Albert Pujols and Ryne Sandberg.
Above are the two Canvas Collection cards that feature my artwork. On the backside of the card my name is printed at the bottom. Topps provided me with 25 copies of each of these cards and I have numbered the backs along with writing “artist copy” on them. To add one of these to you collection, please contact me via the form at the bottom of the post.
Pack inserted artwork
I tend to do quite a few sketch cards for Museum Collection every year. For the 2020 set I originally created 50 sketch cards and then was asked to create additional cards. All of the sketch cards were in colour, and most were painted in gouache.
In addition to the standard rectangular, 2.5×3.5″ dimension sketch card, I also worked on shaped sketch cards. These were much more limited in number and besides the difference in shape, were the same as the regular sketch cards.
Below are a few of my artist proofs from this set. I also have a few blank AP sketch cards I can use for commission.
RRParks cards has produced a multitude of different trading card sets, from the niche and strange to the far more mainstream that the average collector is familiar with. That range of subject material is one of the reasons why as an artist it’s so much fun to work on their projects!
Previously, I’ve worked on Old Man Like Ron, Zorro, Sharknado, and more! Each of these projects involved me making ten sketch cards that were randomly inserted into the packs.
Who is ultraman?
Ultraman is a Japanese character that first appeared on TV in 1966. He is an alien who fought alongside his human host, Shin Hayata. The original series ran for one year, with 39 episodes airing. It is this original series that I focused on for my sketch cards.
Ultraman has continued on with numerous subsequent TV shows, movies, toys, and comics. Just last year Marvel comics published their first Ultraman mini-series! Even though the show is over 50 years old, it has remained just as popular as the day it first aired and has become a pop culture hero across the world!
If you’re unfamiliar with Ultraman, check out the first episode of the original series below!
Ultraman Sketch Cards
I created ten original sketch cards for the Ultraman set. Some of these were inked in the style of a comic book and others were coloured more softly, giving them a more realistic appearance.
The below three were done a little bit different than the above six. These three had painted backgrounds that are reminiscent of the graphics used in the opening credits to the TV show. The far right image of Ide has also been reproduced for one of the promo cards! This card will be given out through the Kickstarter campaign, at comic-cons, and I’ll have some copies to give away /sell at a later date!
Buy Ultraman trading cards
Now that you’ve seen some of the artwork I created for this series, go visit the RRPArks Kickstarter Campaign to score a box of these cards! There are tons of awesome perks in the campaign and actors from the original series have signed some of the cards!
Last month I posted a conversation I had with trading card collector Chris Mixer and today I am posting one with fellow trading card artist, Jim Dickson. Both Jim and myself hail from Canada and met on social media channels through our mutual line of work. We’ve both actively shared one another’s work on Twitter and Instagram, but I wanted to take it a step further by doing up a blog post on my website about his fantastic artwork, what he enjoys about the sketch card medium, and how being a Canadian influences his artwork.
A Conversation with a Canadian Trading Card Artist
How would you describe yourself and your artwork?
I’m an easy going eastern Canadian who says “sorry”, “thank-you” and “please”. For my artwork, I do my best work (realistic) when I have a reference to work from because I mainly do “fanart”.
How long have you been creating art? As in, constantly creating artwork where every week or month you would draw something? Or, perhaps, are you not that type of artist and instead draw only when asked to do so?
I have been creating art my whole life but creating consistently, and frequently, since 2016 when I started drawing on McDonalds napkins on my lunch break at work.
What was the first and most recent sketch card set you’ve worked on? Do you notice any differences in the projects and the artwork that you create for these projects?
First set was either Walking Dead – Road to Alexandria or Star Wars – a New Hope: Black and White, but I started official sets in 2017. Currently I am working on Topps Star Wars – Chrome Galaxy, Topps Baseball 2021 Series 2, Upper-Deck 2020 Marvel Premiere and a couple more on the way. Differences are really just based on cardstock quality and the ease of reference.
What mediums do you prefer to use in your art? Any medium or styles that you are currently experimenting with or want to work on?
I primarily use alcohol markers and colour pencil. What I’d like to use is my airbrush, which is here at my desk and is never used. lol.
Where do you see your art going in the future? A particular trading card license or set you would like to work on, or is there something different you want to work on like a comic book or perhaps a gallery showing?
As far as the future is concerned I’d like to develop my skills and find myself doing official work on licensed prints/posters or even comic book covers. I’m enjoying the baseball, Star Wars and Marvel licenses, to be honest.
Is there anything you would like to see changed in trading card art? Perhaps different types of projects or materials provided to artists?
There isn’t much I would change… maybe use a base pay/card a tad higher than the current average between companies. Plus, maybe a more consistent stock quality. As a collector myself, I’d also like to see cheaper retail prices… hey a guy can dream. 🙂
When you create your artwork, is there something or someone that inspires you?
I listen to music while creating art or the Sorting Tray podcast, Star Wars Card Collectors FB group plug intended. Artists who inspire me would be my fellow Topps artists and the usual suspects like Drew Struzan, Boris Valejo, Frank Frazetta and the great comic artists like Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, Travis Charest and Marc Silvestri.
when I’m drawing I always have something playing in the background. It might be a tv show I’m binging, a movie, music, or a podcast. What do you have going on in the background when your drawing? Any recommendations for background noise?
I build my own playlists on Spotify. I’m a blues/rock guy and lately been listening to “super groups” like The Dead Daisies, Black Country Communion and Chickenfoot. Above all, my usual “go to’s” are The Black Keys or Alice in Chains.
Do you feel that there is something in your artwork that makes it uniquely Canadian? Could you describe, even if you don’t see it in your own artwork, something unique about Canadian art?
I can’t honestly think of anything about my work that would suggest it was done by a Canadian. I mean my art is pulled from pop culture references, but in general I guess we have a large cultural pool to draw from. Indigenous art being a main influence I suppose.
How can people reach you for projects or to follow you to see new artwork you are creating?
People can follow me on Instagram at /lunchdoodlejames or on Facebook at /lunchdoodlejamesart
Bonus question: What’s a question you want to ask the person reading this?
Hello reader!! I’d like to know about what YOU like about sketch cards? How many do you have? 🙂
Contact & Follow Jim Dickson for more of his artwork!
On a Facebook Star Wars fan page, I was recently asked to contribute to their ongoing “getting to know Star Wars sketch card artists” posts. These go up roughly once a week, and it is spearheaded by Ashley Marsh who is a fabulous artist herself. As the questions she posed me and the responses I gave are going to be posted on a private Facebook page, I thought perhaps I would share it on my website as well. I only have a small blurb on my about page that tells you about who I am, and otherwise I really only post about whatever new art project I worked on. So I thought this might be a little different reading material on my website!
Getting to know… me?
The below is written by Ashley Marsh, based off information I had previously sent her.
Today’s artist spotlight is on Matthew Stewart! Matthew has always been drawn to comics, science fiction, and fantasy based genres so seeing star wars on tv as a kid naturally sparked a love for this galaxy far, far away. As an adult, he has become quite the collector, with a current collection of over 9,000 comic books and an extensive library of archaeology books! His star wars collection has a focus more on Sabine, Ahsoka, and fett. He also collects the trading cards, picking up a box from the local shop or base sets from fellow group members when he can. When he has the chance, he tries to grab autos too and even met Carrie Fisher a few years back at the Expo and has a signed photo from her with the quote “Matt, you’re my only hope”.
Matthew’s first Topps entertainment set was 2015 Revenge of the Sith Wide Vision (above) and he’s now about to work on his 35th Star Wars set! He has also worked on other licensed sets for Topps, including GPK, Stranger Things, and Walking Dead. In 2018, Matthew was invited into the sports products for Topps, both UFC and MLB lines, with some of his work being produced as base cards.
He doesn’t have a favorite character to draw, but given the choice would definitely lean more to the mandalorians, especially fett and Sabine.
Matthew can work in many mediums, including traditional gouache, copics, pencil crayons, and acrylics. He is able to switch between them all depending on the subject to capture the style and feeling he is trying to convey. For comic book style he usually uses copics or a set of Japanese poster paints that are super vibrant. For portraits, copics with pencil, crayons, or gouache. If he’s doing scenery and wants a more painterly feel, acrylics. Looking through his portfolio to prep for this spotlight, it’s very obvious he has a talent for constructing unique compositions and works seamlessly through his different mediums. I also admire that even in his realistic portrait work, he still brings in bold colors that really gives them warmth, life, and another dimension.
Outside of the topps world, Matthew has other projects, like a comicbook for Tongue In Cheek Comics called “Noble Bull” in addition to two of his own stories. He also working on his own trading card set that is scheduled to be finished this summer so be on the lookout for that announcement and kickstarter!
A big thank you goes out to Ashley Marsh for organizing this and including me! Please check her art out on Instagram, @ashleymarsh_0188
Next week I will be posting a similar interview that I had with fellow trading card artist Jim Dickson. I hope you click follow on my website so you can check it out!
2020 Upper Deck Goodwin is a highly popular all sports and entertainment trading card set produced by Upper-Deck cards. The set is a callback to the historic Goodwin Champions cards that first appeared in 1888. This is similar to the Topps Allen & Ginter trading cards that are made today and are a revival of the 1887 trading cards of the same name. Both of these original cards were found in packs of cigarettes!
Sketch cards are not a common item to find in packs of Goodwin. Instead, these are found once per case (8 boxes in a case) or sometimes even more rare. The sketch cards also differ from other projects I’ve worked on in that the cards are on thick, 100pt paper and are booklets. The front of the book has a printed image and the name of the Aesop Fable the card is about. The entire set of sketch cards for this project were all based of Aesop Fables, and the inside of the book has a short synopsis of the story with the opposite inside page having the original sketch. The backs of the cards are signed by the artists.
This is the second trading card set I worked on for Upper-Deck in 2020. The other set was for the Runaways TV show, which I posted about previously. I have another set, Chasing Amy, that should be coming out soon from Upper-Deck. That set is a follow-up to the 2017 UD Clerks set that I also previously posted about.
Pack Inserted sketch cards
Below are a few examples of the sketch cards I created for this project. I scanned the images plus the accompanying Aesop Fable. On some of the cards I used acrylic paints, some gouache paints, and some copics & pen.
I have a very limited supply of artist proofs from this project. The AP sketch cards have a foil stamp on the front with the letters “AP” and unlike the pack inserted cards these are not booklets. Instead, the APs are single sketch cards that are roughly 40pt in thickness.
Please fill out the contact form below to grab one of these APs! Pricing starts at just $90, including shipping!
The final Star Wars trading card set for the year released this week and it wouldn’t be 2020 if there wasn’t at least one little mishap! In this case there are two. The first is that the set was delayed a number of times and it’s now a little crazy for me to look at my artwork again after so many months!
The second mishap is that my scanner was glitchy. It created a green line that ran through the middle of a lot of my scans as you can see with the Ahsoka above. I’ve since patched the problem but the scanner is definitely on its last legs. So if you like my artwork and want to pick up some of my artist returns or commission an original, then you now know what that money will be going to! 🙂
Pack Inserted Artwork
I created 40 regular, pack inserted sketches for this project. I used some different mediums on these cards including, gouache, acrylics, and marker & inks. In addition to the regular sketch cards is one 4 card puzzle. This puzzle card is numbered on the back and I was told that all four of the cards will be packaged in the same pack. So no worries to collectors wanting to scour the internet for years trying to complete a puzzle sketch card!
While the subject matter was pretty much anything from the Star Wars universe, to make things easier on myself I went after just a few topics /movies. I drew heavily from the final season of Star Wars: Clone Wars the Animated series as the final episodes had been just released prior to me working on this project. I also drew a number of different scenes and characters from Empire Strikes Back as it’s the 30th anniversary of the movie. On top of those particular movies /series I drew some of my favourite characters and gave a little love to characters from the prequels. Overall it’s a pretty good spread of scenes and characters from the prequels, animated series, original trilogy, and the Mandalorian. Very little if anything from Solo, Rogue One, or the new trilogy though. However, if you’re following me online or here on my website you’ll now I drew a lot of Solo stuff for Masterwork!
Artist Proof Sketch Cards
I have five artist proofs from Holocron that I have already finished off. They’re all approved and ready to go to a new home! The Leia below has already found a new home, thanks to a terrific long time supporter of my art. The two sketch cards of the Child are also on hold for another terrific collector but they might become available if he decides to pick up one of my other sketch cards instead. If that happens, please let me know if you’re interested in one or both of the Child sketch cards and I’ll message you later to let you know if they become available or are sold.
My Bo Katan and Bo Katan with Ahsoka sketch card artist proofs are available and are $175US each, including tracked shipping from Canada. Please send me a message about adding either of these to your collection! You can also pay 50% upfront and 50% when it’s done, or 100% upfront.
Also, funnily I had NO idea Bo Katan and Ahsoka would be in the second season of the Mandalorian! I’m just a huge Rebels fan and figured other people are as well! 🙂