As an artist for the Star Wars sets, and many many others, I think I want to throw in my two cents.
There are many artists who draw minimal art on their pack pulls, or just pencil sketches, and create great APs. This is one of the arguments that Ive seen made by other artiats and collectors, that if all pack pulls are masterpieces, then it degrades the value of the artists APs; i.e. no one will pay $300+ for an AP when you can get a hit in a box that looks just as nice as the AP.
With this, i do not agree.
It is okay to do 'good' cards for the packs and 'outstanding' cards for the APs, but to put '10 second sketches' in packs and '4 hour masterpeices' for the APs is a little lopsided. Also, as an artist, I want to make sure that every single pack pulled card that I create and send out for packing, is of the same, or close to the same high quality that I would create an AP to be; this is because of two things-
A: I do not want any art that I am not proud of out there, and potentially showing up on a thread like this. If I create a card that I don't think is worthy of being pulled by a collector, I black it out and the licencor cannot include it. I think it is important for artists to put out product that they themselves would be pleased with pulling if they were the ones busting a case for $1000+.
B: I get emails all the time from folks who pulled a card of mine and now want a commission. I feel that If I give my best effort in the cards for pack pulls, some of the people getting those will want more from me, and that is mainly the people that buy my APs. So it is good for business on the artists part by putting a lot of effort into the cards submitted.
Here is an example of 5 of my pack pulls for Star Wars Galactic Files, and an example of one of my APs. Can you tell which one is the AP?
this being said, I DO NOT agree with collectors who beleive that black and white cards are not as good as color. For some sets that allow it, I choose to do many B&W cards and I am proud of them all, and some I think are better than many of my color cards. Monotone cards can be just as nice to look at as color, as long as it is done nicely.
In conclusion, Ultimately it is the artists choice whether he or she would like to have high or low quality art out there in the world, and whether they want to be invited to more sets and get commissions based on that work, or to not have any of those opportunities. It doesn't matter that we only make 1.50 a card from Topps, the commissions and AP's after the set comes out alone make up for that if you can show collectors your work is worth paying for. And really, who wants to have their art erased anyway? If they cared enough in the first place they would sign the front in ink or shoot it with fixative LIKE WE ARE TOLD BY THE ART DIRECTOR AT TOPPS. (I do not condone card erasing in any way btw, even if the sketch is bad or quick, it is disrespectful to the artist, but maybe I'm sensitive to the notion of having art erased being an artist myself. Also I hope no artist buys the erased card and is found out by Topps because Topps will blacklist an artist for altering a pack pulled card after the fact, I know this for a fact.)