Saturday, January 30, 2010

Interview with collector Meriwyn Travisano

How did you first get into sketch card collecting?
Actually, it began when I discovered Tom Hodges on Before he was a licensed artist, he posted a few of his sketches on the Fan Art gallery and I immediately fell in love with his style. I became a collector of his work and racked up quite a few commissions. As my knowledge of Star Wars art and other artists began to grow, I really came to appreciate all the different styles and interpretations of characters I had grown up with and still love to this day. I wanted to see how each artist would interpret the same character, so I picked my favorite (prequel-era Obi-Wan) and it kind of snowballed from there.

Is there a specific genre/property/character you collect and why?
Star Wars has always been my passion, ever since I was 8 years old. I love lots of different franchises though, such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Firefly, X-Men, etc. but unfortunately money won't allow me to get REALLY into all of them, so I had to pick and choose which I was seriously going to collect. As usual, Star Wars won out. I do have a few sketch cards/pieces of art of a few favorite characters from other areas though.

Do you prefer pencil cards over color (or color over pencil)?
Color all the way.

What do you look for in a card that you want to own?
Uniqueness (is that even a word?). I want sketch cards that are one of a kind, that take my breath away and leave me speechless when I see them for the first time!

If there is a specific artist - or artists - you like to collect and what is it about their cards you prefer?
Artists that I seemed to have gravitated to are:
Jeff Chandler - love love LOVE his style! I know he is no longer in the sketch card business, but I have quite a few pieces he did for me and I love them all. His use of bright color and fun-looking characters really appeals to me.
Mark McHaley - Mark did an Obi-Wan watercolor painting for me that I have to say is the jewel in my collection (no offense to any other artist). This piece absolutely left me speechless when he first showed it to me, and still does to this day. Again, he has a very unique style that really transcends "everyday" stuff.
Jessica Hickman - it's all in the EYES!! If I had to pick one artist who best conveys pure raw EMOTION, it's Jess. The way she draws eyes and expressions are second to none and looking at her art, you really feel yourself connecting with the characters she sketches. Maybe I'm a tad biased because we share the same passion for Disney parks and characters (hehe) but every time she posts new work it just seems to get better and better. And no, I didn't just say all this because you're running the survey haha.
Spencer Brinkerhoff - Again, this guy is pure FUN. Another very unique style, and I like the artists who take that risk and go outside the "norm". Spencer comes up with very creative "shadowbox" scenes which are just plain COOL. He captures moments from right out of the films and puts his own unique twist on them.
Tom Hodges - I guess you could say he's the one who started it all. As I said earlier, Tom is the first artist I started to seriously collect and whereas Jess is the one who conveys emotion, I would have to say Tom is the one who has evolved the most since he first came on the scene. His style was intriguing to me because it was so edgy and different, and I had never really seen it before. He has come away from that original style somewhat, but he has really created his own niche and his style is very distinctive.
Otis Frampton - in addition to being an absolute sweetheart, Otis has an EXTREMELY unique style. One that can't help but catch your eye.
Cat Staggs - hands down, Cat's work is simply beautiful. Her characters and backgrounds are rich in color and depth. No one does superheroes quite like Cat, and it's because of her that I stepped out of the Star Wars realm for a bit and picked up her Batgirl print (one of my favorite superheroes of all time). Her Star Wars "wartime propaganda" pieces (which will hopefully continue) are some of my favorite pieces out there.
Soni Alcorn-Hender - an absolutely lovely person, Soni's works look like gold-leaf pieces of illumination from medieval books. VERY unique, like nothing I've ever seen.

How large would you say your collection is?
Pretty up there haha.

How does your family/friends feel about your collecting?
The ones who "get it" think it's awesome. The ones who still think I'm a geek, just kind of shake their heads and laugh.

Do you ever sell off portions of your collection? If so, why?
No. Once I commission a piece, it's mine.

How do you feel about more sketch card sets coming out on a regular basis?
I'm cool with it, as long as it's not just "sketch cards for the sake of sketch cards" which I feel some of the sets out there are.

Would you say that affects collectibility?
Not really. All sketch cards are basically one of a kind.

How do you feel about come collectors that buy several cases at a time?
Not a huge fan of it, especially if they are simply looking to just turn around and sell them. There are collectors out there who are simply looking for the one or two cards to add to their collection, and the scalpers really ruin the hobby.

Do you take artist popularity into consideration?
No, if I like someone's style, I like their style.

What would you say is your favorite card you own and why?Oh man, my favorite SKETCH CARD? That's a tough one. I guess I would have to say Soni Alcorn-Hender's Obi-Wan that she did for me. My favorite piece of non-sketch card ART is the aforementioned McHaley Obi-Wan.

How do you feel about an artist putting out several cards with the same image on them (profile, half face, a specific item, etc)?
Doesn't matter much. I can imagine doing hundreds of sketch cards can be daunting, and I'm no one to judge what they put out.

What is your opinion on pencil sketches in a card set versus fully colored/painted cards?
Again, I can imagine doing hundreds of cards can make you want to pull your hair out. However with that said, I personally prefer color cards.

On that note, how do you feel about some artists who state that sketch cards are just that, 'sketch' cards? Or that they are not paid enough per card to create many (or any) color cards?
I put these two questions together because they pretty much have the same answer. Egos are the one thing about this hobby that disgusts me. I realize many of the artists make their living this way, and I admire them completely. But when an artist comes out and says "I'm worth way more than that" or "I can't believe my card only went for X amount on ebay...that's insulting!", it really turns me off. If an artist feels they don't make enough money to create something they think is worth more, then they should create what they think is fair and leave it at that, but then don't throw a hissy because someone didn't pay hundreds of dollars for it.

Are there any sketch card sets you would love to see come out that haven't yet?
Not off the top of my head.

Do you contact artists for personal commissions, any return cards they may have, etc?

How do you feel about artists charging more for return cards?
As I said, I realize many artists do this for a living and they have to eat and pay bills, so I have absolutely nothing against an artist charging what they think is fair for their work.

Do you enjoy the other cards, autographs, costume cards, etc., in a set as well as the sketch cards?
In Star Wars yes, especially the Galaxy base cards.

Have you had any bad experiences with sketch card artists?Sadly yes. Both were eventually resolved, but it involved quite a bit of tooth pulling, threatening emails and having to ask for refunds to order to do it.

Is your collection online where people can see it?
Not yet, but I will have it up soon.

Thank you so much for your time, Meriwyn!!!

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