Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ryan Fields of Viceroy Cards




1 - Can you tell us a little about yourself, your official title and what you do at Viceroy Cards?

  • My title is Owner/Operator.  I handle the daily business operations, along with various design jobs within the company.  I live and operate Viceroy Cards in Las Vegas, NV.

2 - How long did you collect sketch cards before starting Viceroy Cards?
 
  •  I collected trading cards for many years when I was younger.  I got into sketch cards once my friend Ashleigh started working on various sketch sets for trading card companies.  I'm a big fan of a variety of styles and subject matter within the sketch card market.

3 - How many people officially make up the Viceroy Cards company and how did it get started? 

  • Officially there is myself, and our Art Director Ashleigh Popplewell.  We also have several collectors and others in the industry who serve as consultants in various aspects of the company.  

4 - Did you decide to go straight with unlicensed property or did you make an attempt at acquiring licensed property when you started? 

  • We were always going to start with unlicensed properties, even if we had lined up a license early on.  It was a conscious decision to use the small early sets to work out logistics and learn on the fly, without jeopardizing a large scale licensed release.  We had been in contact with a couple of companies prior to our first release, one of which decided to produce their own basic (no sketches or inserts) set once they saw a potential market was there. 

5 - Your first set Cryptids was an unlicensed set that did extremely well. What were your expectations for it?

  • We had hoped it would be well received by collectors and sketch fans.  We took the single sketch, premium pack concept and tweaked it a little, but we never had a doubt that we were on the right path.  We spent over a year prior to our first release speaking with collectors and artists, and getting feedback on what they both liked and disliked about the current sketch card market.

6 - What did you learn as a company from your experience with Cryptids? Are you surprised at how well it did? 

  • We learned several things during that first release. Overall I feel we accomplished the goals we set, and were thrilled with the positive response from both collectors and artists.    

7 - With your upcoming Space set, you created miniature sculptures that fit into a trading card holder. Who came up with that idea and how long did it take to create your first successful sculpture? 

  • That was an idea I had originally, and we were able to find a great artist to create sculptures for the set.  He took about the same amount of time as sketch artists, and everything remained on schedule quite well.

8 - Unlike other companies who generally pay artists a few months after a set release date, Viceroy policy is to pay artists as soon as they turn in their assignment. You obviously must have a lot of faith in your sets to do this. Why stray from the normal card company payment formula?

  • One of the main complaints from artists was the length of time it took to receive payment from trading card companies.  With our AD Ashleigh being an artist herself, I discussed with her the possibility of paying artists when they return their cards, instead of months after a set releases.  Artists have responded well to the practice, and we believe it's a policy we will keep for all future sets.  Happy artists are very important, and waiting to pay artists months after they have completed their work seemed like a common practice worth breaking.  

9 - Viceroy also print its own cards using a vintage letterpress machine. What made you decide to do that?

  • We felt the use of letterpress would bring a unique feel to our sketch cards, while at the same time providing artists with an amazing canvas for their artwork due to the thick card stock.  We are very lucky to have an amazing local letterpress shop, Somersault Letterpress, print our sketch cards.

10 - You have several more sets based of unlicensed properties (Space, The Deep, Carnival, Insecta, and Cryptids 2) Do you plan to produce licensed property sets as well? 

  • We do plan on producing licensed sets in the future, but we're not looking to rush anything.  When the opportunity comes to produce a licensed set that both fits with our company theme, and will interest collectors, we'll definitely head down that road.  We also have plans of producing non-sketch based sets, but we're still working out the details for those.  


11 - The themes from your sets has been "outside the box" so to speak but yet it has been pretty successful thus far. Did you plan to intentionally avoid the "mainstream" themes of superheroes, or cheesecake pin ups for your sets? Or will you eventually do some superhero or pin up themes later on?

  • We're not opposed to comic or superhero themed sets, but again we feel the market is meeting the demand for such sets.  We'll probably never do a pin up style set, even though they are quite popular in the sketch community.  While some artists enjoy sketching in that style, we've had many artists give us feedback that they enjoyed working on our sets because it forced them to adjust their style, find new and interesting source material, and take a rest from the common themes. 

12 - Can we expect to see some licensed property set in the future? 

  • Yes, we're currently in talks with a few licensed properties, and will be attending the Licensing Expo this June in hopes of securing others.

13- Do you see sketch cards in a different way since you now produce sets for them? Do you still collect sketch cards?

  • I do see it a bit differently now to be honest.  Our AD Ashleigh had prepared me a bit, having watched her sketch and work on sets as Viceroy was coming together.  I have a better understanding of the artists and how they work as well.   I do still collect cards, and if we hadn't already pre sold all of the Space packs, I might have just secretly cancelled it and kept them all for myself!  

14 - Will Viceroy be making any convention appearances this year?

  • We plan to attend the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Convention, and are currently looking at other conventions in the near future. Las Vegas Comic Con is on June 14-16: Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con

15 - Where can people go to if they would like to learn more about Viceroy or to purchase cards? 

  • Our current set, Space, is sold out and scheduled to release at the end of March.  Collectors can visit ViceroyCards.com to see a list of our upcoming sets and place preorders once the order window opens.  You can also find us at Facebook.com/ViceroyCardCo and on Twitter @ViceroyCards.  Artists are able to submit artwork samples directly to Ashleigh at viceroycardsad@gmail.com.  General company questions can be sent to contact@viceroycards.com

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sketch card collector : Adam Martin





1 - How long have you been collecting sketch cards and how/why did you get into it? 
  • I started collecting sketch cards in March of 2010. At the time I was really big into collecting comic books and Josh Howard’s DEAD@17 book was one of my favorites. I followed his blog and saw one day that there would be a sketch card set release from 5finity and Josh would have an allotment of packs to sell. When they became available I ordered just one pack from him directly just in the hopes of pulling one of his cards. When the pack came I actually pulled a Frankie B Washington card of the character Nara. Although it wasn’t the Josh Howard I had hoped for it was a sweet looking card and I was hooked.

2 - Have you known about sketch cards before Josh Howard's DEAD@17?
  • Yes, I remember seeing sketch cards as incentives advertised for a Red Sonja trading card set in Diamond Previews before I heard about the DEAD@17 set. Frank Cho was one of the possible pulls which was really exciting since he doesn’t do commissions at cons. I ordered a box from the place where I was getting my comics at the time but before it came out the store changed ownership and the order got lost in the shuffle and I never saw it. I had no idea there was such a following for collecting just sketch cards at the time though.
3 - What was your impression of them before you started collecting?
  • I thought when I discovered them that they were something really new. I had no idea they had been around for as long as they had. I liked the small size too. I was just getting out of action figure collecting after a little more than 12 years because of how much space it took up and the self-pressure to have a complete collection. My wife appreciates the space savings sketch card collecting has afforded me too, lol.
4 - Are you a fan of puzzle cards? What do you think of some companies having all the puzzle card pieces available in one box/pack? 
  • I like puzzle cards but I really don’t like when I only pull part of a puzzle from a pack. So, to answer the second part of the question I wish all companies would have all the puzzle pieces in one box/pack. I have three partial puzzles right now that I’ve never seen their counterpart surface anywhere and it frustrating. For one puzzle piece I actually commissioned the artist to draw a variation of the missing piece on an AP just so I could have a complete piece. If an artist is drawing puzzles for a company that doesn’t keep them together they really should make sure each piece looks good as a stand alone too.
5 - How many cards do you have in your collection...roughly? How do you store or display them?
  • I have a little over 200 cards in my collection as of right now. Not a huge collection by any means but I like to be picky about what I’ll buy and what I’ll keep from pack pulls.
  • My cards are kept in penny sleeves and Ultra Pro top loaders for standard size cards and magnetic cases for thick cards. I keep them all in card boxes in order by set and artist within a set. I tend to look at them more through the scans on my computer probably though because it’s difficult to have my collection spread out with a toddler always trying to grab it, lol.
6 - Has the way people collect sketch cards changed much since you started? If so, how?
  • I don’t really think as whole people have changed how they collect sketch cards since I started but I have. The majority of collectors from my perspective prefer either superheroes, movie characters, T&A or some combo of the three. Until 2012 I only really collected 5finity releases which tend to fall into those categories. In 2012 Viceroy Card Company put out their first set, Cryptids, and it really took my collecting in a different direction. That set has really expanded the range of artists in my collection and brought my attention to the possibilities of some really cool set ideas that aren’t licensed. In my opinion those non licensed sets offer so much more in terms of creativity for the artists.
7 - Some collectors prefer collecting specific characters or artists. How do you decide which cards you want to collect?
  • My first artist addiction was Penelope Gaylord. I really liked the work she did on 5finity’s Hack/Slash and since she was a regular artist for the company I just kept collecting her work. She also is great to work with when it comes to commissions. I have over 80 Peng-Peng cards right now. Most recently, I can’t get enough of Mike Vasquez’s Cryptids cards. I have four of his pack inserted cards, 12 APs, and 2 more APs in the works.
  • When it comes to choosing which artists to collect I first have to visually like their work and secondly they have to represent themselves well in social media. There are artist who do some great work but the way represent themselves online is just too much of a turn off for me.
8 - Do you think there is much competition among collectors?
  • I really don’t see competition between collectors. I have been reluctant in the past to post some of my collection in fear someone would recognize a card I’d really want and dangle it over my head with one hand and have a large empty sack with a dollar sign on it the other. It may have been unfounded fear, but either way I’m over it though. I’d much rather share my collection with people who will appreciate it.
9 - As a collector, what do you think about the market being over saturated with sketch cards? Does it make it easier for you to choose what you want?
  • I think when it comes to the larger companies who put out a sketch card per box and put out thousands of boxes, like the Marvel licenses, it is too much. I think they would be better off to make sketch cards more limited in those large runs of boxes. I’ve primarily been into purchasing “premium pack” style cards where it’s one pack one card out of a limited run of packs. I think you are creating value for the long run that way.
10 - Obviously not everyone have the same taste, but is there anything you'd like to see more of from artists? 
  • I can’t say I’d want anything specific from the artists. They are out there trying to make a living doing something that can go widely unappreciated when it comes to compensation. What I don’t like is when an artist uses the same background for every card they do on an individual set.
11 - What do you think about all the various sketch card groups/forums that have popped up? They're usually made up of a lot of the same people from other groups. Do you occasionally check them out or do you stick to a few regularly?
  • When I got into that DEAD@17 set I discovered Scoundrel. For a long time I just hung out in the 5finity forum because that’s all I cared about. When I ventured outside of that forum I saw a lot of negativity and silly trolling. Since George Nadeau made his exit from being a moderator there the 5finity forum has just kind of fallen apart so I don’t really visit the site much anymore. I check in with SCF on Facebook multiple times a day and is now the primary place I got to connect with people who share my hobby. Other than that I visit the Blowout Cards forums for updates and chatter on Viceroy sets since that is the place where it seems to get the most talk.
12 - What would you like to see more from card companies? If you could suggest something to them, what would it be?
  • What I would like to see is a wider range of set ideas being generated from companies. How many way can you spin a Marvel set? One is really no different than the other as far as the sketch cards go. I wish the larger companies would take chances with sets based on more creator owned comics. The smaller companies shouldn’t get themselves tied up in one type of set either. I think Viceroy really has a great thing going for them. Taking non-licensed themes that you wouldn’t expect or think about as a card set and making some great product. Cryptids was huge with me and Space! Looks to be exciting as well. They just updated their website to add Carnival (which I have a part in) The Deep, Insecta, and Cryptids 2 (which I also have a part in).
13 - Do you think the hobby is growing, dying or just stale? And why? Any suggestions to improve it?
  • I think the interest in the hobby is growing. I see new artist all the time excited to get into drawing on cards. I don’t the collector base is growing fast enough though. I’ve seen the same major players in collecting and dealing since I began almost 4 years ago without much change. I think if you want to get more people collecting you need to make sets for people who have other hobbies outside of art collecting. Themes for people who are into cars, history, literature, science, etc. could bring new life into the collector end of the hobby.
14 - Do you think people arguing in forums scare away potential collectors?
  • I don’t think it scares away potential collectors. I doubt anyone makes a decision to start collecting something based on available forums online for that hobby. I think it makes current collectors say screw it, I’ll post my cards somewhere else or not at all. I try to avoid arguing online but even I’ve been sucked into one or two ridiculous arguments in the past.
15 - Any advice for new collectors? How about for new artists?
  • For new collectors: Collect what you will be happy keeping for the long run. Don’t get caught up in buying so much just because it’s available, and don’t buy more than you can afford. You CANNOT always bank on flipping enough cards to cover what you keep for yourself.
  • For new Artists: Be humble, positive, and respectful in social media settings, your future clients and employers are watching. Find a good balance of sharing your work without cramming it down collector’s throats. The same goes for companies when they post previews of their sets. This is especially important on the SCF Facebook page. It’s disrespectful to push everyone’s posts down by posting a ton of images right in a row and then commenting on the “likes” to get it bumped back to the top. Also, don’t take on more work than you can handle at one time if it will affect the quality of your work.
16 - Do you commission artists? Any horror stories with commissioning sketch card art?
  • I love commissioning APs! 100% of money goes right to the artist AND I get to pick what I want on the card! I’ve been pretty lucky, nothing too horrible. I’ve had great commission experiences with Penelope Gaylord, Mike Vasquez, James Linares, Amber Shelton, Rusty Gilligan, Josh Howard, and Joshua Werner so far. The worst experience was with a very popular artist who I paid up front with an estimated 4-6 weeks turnaround time due to their busy schedule for two AP cards. It ended up being 6 months with less than stellar communication from the artist. I loved the cards when I got them but every time I looked at them I was just reminded of how the fun was sucked out of collecting by the experience. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and I sold the two cards. To this day I don’t regret selling them because I got quite a bit of money for them and was able to fund some more pleasurable commission experiences with other artists.
17 - You have an online sketch card gallery? Where might people be able to check it out?
  • Yes I do! Pop Phenom’s Sketch Card Collection can be found at https://www.facebook.com/PopPhenomsSketchCardCollection . I started it as a way to show off my collection without it being tied to a specific sketch card site or my personal Facebook page. I also want to use it as a way to promote the artist in my collection. There you can find my entire sketch card collection plus any other original pieces of art that I own. I’m also having my own PSC stock printed pretty soon too. It will be called “The Pop Phenom Private Collection”. Mike Vasquez is doing the art for the card back too. I plan to take them to cons and events and hope to get some top comic artists and to do commissions on them for me. 
  9 of Adam Martin favorite sketch cards in his collection
                         

1.       Frankie B Washington – Nara from 5finity’s Dead@17. My first sketch card.
2.       Penelope Gaylord – Cassie Hack from 5finity’s Hack/Slash. My first Penelope Gaylord card.
3.       Katie Cook - Cassie Hack from 5finity’s Hack/Slash. The most “liked” card in my collection.
4.       Drew Moss – Beagle from 5finity’s P’ups. eBay pick up and a sweet take on Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
5.       Cassandra James - Manga Mandy from 5finity’s Manga Mandy. Pack pulled card
6.       Bianca Thompson – Masters of The Universe Evillyn PSC. Won my choice of 80’s cartoon character in a giveaway on SCF.
7.       Mike Vasquez – Aswang from Viceroy Card Company’s Cryptids. Commissioned AP
8.       Joshua Werner – Akkorokamui from Viceroy Card Company’s Cryptids. Pack pulled card.
9.       Amber Shelton - Tata Duende from Viceroy Card Company’s Cryptids. Commissioned AP

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