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Old 02-04-2013, 12:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Trying to identify the "it" factor in top level sketch cards.

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Originally Posted by ashelton
Other artists tend to rate my work much higher than collectors (hence my participation on most artist-run premium sets but low collectability in them). What I draw from this is that my work is technically sound (enough) but lacks the “it” factor.
That is a fabulous quote from Amber Shelton, one of the sketch artists on Cryptozoic's Batman The Legend set. She hit the nail on the head by describing the quality of top level sketch cards as having the "it" factor. I am hoping we can have a productive discussion that can help to identify what that "it" factor could be.

This is surely a difficult thing to discuss, since feelings could be hurt. That is not my intention, at all. I love this hobby, and it brings a great deal of joy to my life. I started my sketchcardsaloon blog to help these amazing miniature masterpieces get more exposure, and I love talking about these things. It is my sincere wish that we can have a fun discussion about the best that the sketch card genre has to offer.

I will start with three cards from my collection by three of the top artists in the industry. I will attempt to identifty the qualities that make the work of these three artists so valuable on the open market. I will be completely open to comments, critiques, and conversation. Please feel free to disagree, please feel free to add your own opinions, and please add more cards to the thread with your own commentaries.

Thanks, this could be a blast!
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Old 02-04-2013, 12:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That is Axebone. His style is very modern, verging on a cross between graffiti and anime, yet strong and confident and detailed. His line and shading and colors are as bold as it gets. He has an original sense of imagery that is immediately identifiable and consistent. His cards are fun and cartoony, yet highly skilled and unique.



This is Melike Acar. She burst onto the sketch card scene like a hurricane, bringing an absurd amount of detail and an extremely refined style. Her lines create a sort of geometric language that are unlike any others in the industry, and her angular style creates an otherworldy sense of stylish edginess. Her work is incredibly sharp, in a multitude of ways.



Nar! Yes, that is Nar! He brings a depth of detail that seems impossible, and he packs it into these tiny pieces of cardboard like a boss. He has kept the insane amplification of the 90's Spawn aesthetic alive into modern times, while giving it his own undeniable personal touch. He puts his heart and soul into each piece with extreme confidence and care, and it shows in the exquisite line and incredible intensity.

Above all, I see a purity and confidence in these three cards that makes them come alive in my eyes. I don't know if that helps to identify the "it" factor that makes them worth big money, but that's why I love them so much.
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Old 02-04-2013, 04:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Next up, Anthony Tan! Unfortunately my wallet and my timing have never hit the right place at the right time and I do not own one of his cards for my collection. His wicked scratchy superdetailed style sets him apart, and his compostitions are as dynamic as anyone in the field. Set after set he makes our eyes zig and zag and dance with heavenly hatching that is big-time beautiful and utterly unique.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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. . . it's not so complicated with those -- they are all very similar, they are all highly detailed fully rendered pieces of art with backgrounds.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Try putting 2 cards side by side that seem similar in quality, but have wildly different selling prices. . .
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Try putting 2 cards side by side that seem similar in quality, but have wildly different selling prices. . .
Do you mean two different artists or two different characters by the same artist?
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Old 02-05-2013, 12:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Do you mean two different artists or two different characters by the same artist?
Two different artists that would seemingly be similar value based on the artwork, but have very different prices. . .

I am not sure it can be done, in which case it seems to me that the 'it factor' is just drawing fully rendered, highly detailed art with background elements. . .

Obviously some variations exist, arguably one wouldn't consider Katie Cook's work to be highly detailed, but it hits the other marks.
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Old 02-05-2013, 02:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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i like how the Disney Treasures sketch cards are really hard to pull
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:21 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Two different artists that would seemingly be similar value based on the artwork, but have very different prices. . .

I am not sure it can be done, in which case it seems to me that the 'it factor' is just drawing fully rendered, highly detailed art with background elements. . .

Obviously some variations exist, arguably one wouldn't consider Katie Cook's work to be highly detailed, but it hits the other marks.
I will try it later today. That kind of study will need to take into account the celebrity factor, the scarcity of the particular artist, and the timing of their entrance into the field.
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:10 AM   #10 (permalink)
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For somewhat similar art and wildly different prices, how about a Tan VS Fabul comparison?
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:59 AM   #11 (permalink)
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For somewhat similar art and wildly different prices, how about a Tan VS Fabul comparison?
That was my first thought as well. Could also be Katie Cook contrasted with one of the recent Chibi styles.

I am thinking it might not be a good idea, maybe I will just speak in generalities instead of individual artists. I really don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

Usually there are some simple factors.

More detail is usually worth more money.

A distinctive unique style is important.

Pleasing proportion helps, even when it is exaggerated.

Drawing skill that is confident and accomplished stands out above the average.

Supply and demand take over when a major collector or two decide to collect a certain artist, and if all the above factors combine with a high demand from the collectors with deep pockets the artist becomes sort of a celebrity in the hobby and values stay high.

Those things are true for any individual example, in my humble opinion.
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:03 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rian Fike View Post
I will try it later today. That kind of study will need to take into account the celebrity factor, the scarcity of the particular artist, and the timing of their entrance into the field.
I wasn't going to do this thread, but doesn't this actually contradict the "it" factor? It's my understanding that "it" is something responsible for collectors fighting over art (in this case) and the whole pseudo-celebrity bit, not something created by those things.
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:13 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I wasn't going to do this thread, but doesn't this actually contradict the "it" factor? It's my understanding that "it" is something responsible for collectors fighting over art (in this case) and the whole pseudo-celebrity bit, not something created by those things.
It is a combination that cannot be perfectly explained, of course, and all of the factors work together.

The celebrity value, when it doesn't come from being an established comic book professional, happens in response to the highly skilled and uniquely styled cards.

Then the celebrity value (along with supply and demand) takes on a life of its own and keeps the values high.

Eventually values drop when supply exceeds demand. There have been a few cases lately where the values drop rather quickly.

The "it" factor, in my humble opinion, is a strange unpredictable thing that is mainly based on skill and execution of the art but includes a good deal of market manipulation by the collectors.
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:21 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
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For somewhat similar art and wildly different prices, how about a Tan VS Fabul comparison?
I think the difference here is consistency. . .
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:23 PM   #15 (permalink)
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While there are a couple of artists that have some celebrity appeal that I don't understand I think that's the exception, I think for the most part it's not all that difficult to explain why some artists sell for hundreds and others don't . . .

Now if we're trying to figure out why an artist sell for $40, but another for $20 I don't think that answer is going to be clear. . .
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:43 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I think the difference here is consistency. . .
If you're talking about Fabul - I agree. The stuff that he put out in Marvel Universe, made me a fan. Seemed he changed his style, and I what I liked about his work - was no longer there.
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:53 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I think the difference here is consistency. . .
Here's an interesting case, who I recently stumbled across: Jezreel Rojales

The same artist did this:




And this:



But he also did these, which are nice enough but not nearly as interesting to me:

2012 Batman The Legend Cryptozoic Sketch 1 1 by Jezreel Rojales Batman Batgirl | eBay

Cryptozoic Batman The Legend Robin Sketch Card 1 1 by Jezreel Rojales | eBay
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:02 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
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And this:

Unfortunately, that card was copied directly from a Melike Acar drawing from a year earlier...

http://browse.deviantart.com/?q=melike+acar#/d3afgam

She was pretty mad when she saw the forgery.
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:05 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Unfortunately, that card was copied directly from a Melike Acar drawing from a year earlier...

http://browse.deviantart.com/?q=melike+acar#/d3afgam

She was pretty mad when she saw the forgery.
Someone else just PMed that to me as well. Man, that sucks--I really liked that card.

I guess it's a pretty good bet the first one has been copied from something else as well, given how different it is from his normal style.

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Old 02-05-2013, 04:12 PM   #20 (permalink)
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She was pretty mad when she saw the forgery.
Forgery's a pretty strong word, wouldn't you say? Did they attempt to deceive you into thinking that that sketch card was made by Melike Acar? No? Then it's not really a forgery. Unoriginal? Yes. Someone else's idea? Yes. But from the word forgery:

Quote:
Copies, studio replicas, and reproductions are not considered forgeries, though they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations.
If you consider that a forgery then everything with Batman in it is a forgery of Dick Sprang's work. I think the word you may be searching for is plagiarism.
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:15 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Consistency is definitely part of the "it" factor, especially as it relates to a pure, unique, confident line quality.
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:17 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I think the word you may be searching for is plagiarism.
No problem, the word doesn't make any difference to me. You are probably right, thanks!
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:22 PM   #23 (permalink)
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No problem, the word doesn't make any difference to me. You are probably right, thanks!
Well, I'm not in the art business but I've heard that in order to be a forger you have to be really really good. Because you have to fool the experts. So while you're deceitful you are recognized as having skill.

Anyone can pull up Google and reproduce some work -- which I think some people see as completely fine and other people have big problems with. I've been told that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" although at some point you need to pay credit where credit is due lest ye be labeled plagiarist. If this was an artist's study and was not sold, I would commend both artists. In this situation, I hope the back of that card at least reads "With regards to Melike Acar."
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:25 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Forgery's a pretty strong word, wouldn't you say? Did they attempt to deceive you into thinking that that sketch card was made by Melike Acar? No? Then it's not really a forgery. Unoriginal? Yes. Someone else's idea? Yes. But from the word forgery:



If you consider that a forgery then everything with Batman in it is a forgery of Dick Sprang's work. I think the word you may be searching for is plagiarism.
No it's called a swipe. Deviantart is a gold mine for untalented people to mine artwork probably not seen by many. I had an artist swipe one of my paintings and reproduce it on a sketch card set that I was also doing. His name Eli Rutten. He gave credit to me but a swipes a swipe. My swiped art is the center drawing of Ms Marvel. you can find an allowed repainting of the same art on Deviant art by member JPART.


Last edited by justice41; 02-06-2013 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:28 PM   #25 (permalink)
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In the world of comic book art, stealing other artists' ideas is a BIG no-no. Google "swipe file", especially on Bleeding Cool.

We had a horrible mess for a long time with a monster named Rob Granito, who stole everything he drew and made lots of money on other people's ideas and compositions.

But back to the original intent of the thread...


One of the most important skills that can add to the "it" factor is the ability to invent original compostions and poses using the traditional characters.
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