Thursday, May 12, 2022

Gina Carano

Although I didn't have any cards made up of Gina Carano, I wanted to add her to me autographed custom card collection if given half a chance.  That chance came via a private signing with SWAU a couple of months back. This is the first time I've used their service and I have only good things to say.  They're very professional and their site allows you to keep up-to-date on the status of the signer you're waiting for.

The majority of cards I get signed are through the mail.  It's a bit of a gamble.  You never know what you'll get back, and I guess that's part of the fun.  But, occasionally I'll send into private signings.  With a private signing it's the opposite.  You now you're going to get a return every time, well, almost every time.  With a private signing you assume the role of paying customer so you pretty much get to have what you want, how you want it.  Whereas the other way you never really know if it'll be signed where you want it, if it'll be damaged or lost in the mail, if the signature will be smudged, etc.  Lots of variables.  I also like to not have my autographs personalized.  They're generally just for my private collection, I just don't like my name written on the card and you can specify that with a private signing whereas some celebs will automatically personalize to cut down on people selling their autographs.

So, when I saw the Gina signing being advertised I got to work on making a card.  I chose to go with a 1991-92 Skybox design which is a template I LOVE for autographing, but haven't had much success getting cards autographed when I've used it.  I actually collect official '91-'92 Skybox autographed basketball cards.  They cards have a helluva cool and clean aesthetic that lends so well to autographs because of all the white space.

The picture I chose came from Gina's 2009 ESPN Magazine "Body Issue" that was actually used for the magazine's cover. It's a pretty iconic picture for both Gina and the magazine.  

For the back of the card I used a weigh-in picture of Gina from her last professional MMA fight in 2009 vs. Cris Cyborg.  That fight is probably the single most important fight for pushing the envelope for women mixed martial artists.  I think that also made it obvious to everyone that Gina was a big-time box office draw and afforded her the opportunity to pivot into a big screen career pretty easily.

In looking for the right image for the Skybox-style card I came across other images that pained me to just leave on the cutting room floor, so I said "what the hell" and just made a second custom Gina Carano card for the signing.  

The design of the second is an original design of mine.  In my files I label this design as "horizontal split", pretty to the point.  I've done a number of cards with this template but, before this card, have had zero success on a return.  I usually use this design when I just cannot decide between two images so I just use them both.

I really dig that SWAU uses a holo-sticker with a QR code to easily verify autographs from their signings.  I like it for both the obvious reasons and also that it adds an 'official' look to my cards.  Hopefully they partner with 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

New Dream Girl Trio

My card making production is a far cry from what it was during the Covid era of 2020-21.  Being back to in-person work has had a negative effect on my pace, but I still find time here and there to have some rectangular creative cardboard fun.

In this time I've fielded a number of inquiries about the Dream Girl series I'd been cultivating.  I guess I'm to assume it has a little bit of a following.  I can see the appeal.  Beautiful woman X a very memorable early '90s baseball card subset.  It's got the freshest ingredients.  

So, since it's been a hot minute I've decided to add not one, but THREE new additions to this ongoing set.  Halle Berry, Brooklyn Deck and Charlotte McKinney.  The latter two are carry overs of a boxing themed TKO! series I  had started that was kind of a predecessor to the Dream Girl set, and the Halle was a cutting room floor commission.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

2022 Astronomicon Wrap Up

This past Sunday I took in the Astronomicon to get a few of my custom cards signed.  This was the 5th annual version of this particular convention, but my first one.  I just recently found out about it and was pretty impressed with the lineup, so I decided to check it out seeing as I have custom cards of a few of the celebrity guests that I wanted to add to my autograph collection.

First off, I thought the convention was well laid out and well organized.  I guess I expected a smaller scale than what I encountered.  It was first class all the way.

The three signers I keyed in on were Nick Castle from Halloween, Peter Dante from The Waterboy and Kevin Nash.  If you're new to my cards or this blog, this is where my genesis for making custom cards really came from, to be able to create cards of things that didn't exist that I wanted signed cards of - in a nutshell.

So, I took to the convention armed with special edition versions of the above three cards.

No complaints about the signers.  My interactions are typically brief because I really don't know what to say to these people.  I'm truly awkward and introverted, in a textbook sense and not in a 'I'm just so introverted' trendy meme sense.  I assume they know I'm a big fan since I'm waiting in a line in order to pay them money to write their name on something for me.  I get the autograph and get the hell out of there.  I leave the the schmoozing for the people in line behind me who actually understand how small talk works.

The only time I break from my signer protocol is if I'm asked about my cards.  Typically the signers really dig them.  I usually get a "I've never seen one of these, where did you get it?" type of responses, and that gives me an in where I don't have to feel like a weird tongue-tied fanboy.  Unfortunately that didn't happen this go 'round.  The only pop I got was from MI native Kevin Nash.  "Big Daddy Cool" remarked "whoa, blast from the past" when presented with my custom college basketball card of him.

I got a photo signed by Danielle Harris for my buddy that was under the weather and couldn't come with.  I've gotten her auto before via private send-in, I just mention this as a lead-in to an observation.  This was the first time I ever saw Danielle Harris in person and she's is definitely a small breed.  I'm thinking if I had brought a backpack I could've snuck her out in it.  Other than that she was very sweet to me and everyone else I saw her interact with.

Then there was Peter Dante...  Even though he didn't mark out to my Gee Grenouille card, the dude was definitely in the zone.  He had earlier purchased quite a few boxes of girl scout cookies from the scouts that had gotten a vendor table right across from where he was signing.  He was then passing them out to any and all in the vicinity.  He offered me a samoa cookie and my first inclination was to go with the "nah, I'm good" but then I thought this *is* El PresiDante giving me a cookie, plus he wasn't really wasn't taking no for an answer anyways.  I handed him the card to sign.  He got through "Pete" before stopping and legitimately trying to get to know me as a person.  Where I'm from, what I do for a living; the whole nine.  I gave him the info he wanted and we chatted for a moment about me and my state of professional affairs.  He then went ahead and added "Dante #12" and I thanked him.  But, even as I was walking away he continued to call out to me by name and hype me up like we were old buddies.  If the convention was a party, Peter Dante was easily the life of it.  I'll 100% get an autograph at all future conventions I attend that he's signing at.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Nita Strauss Autograph Bummer

I sent this custom autograph card to VShout (whom I've gone through many times with great results, check them out) back in April of 2021 in anticipation of an autograph from a private signing that had scheduled with Nita Strauss.  

If you're unfamiliar with Nita, she's a guitar playing force of nature.  She's got a lot on her rock 'n' resume, but is probably best known for touring with Alice Cooper and absolutely killin' it.

I had the idea to make an autograph card that looked like an old cassette tape sleeve.  I felt like that would make for a really rad autograph card concept.  I even went as far to make a barcode, that when scanned, would read "Phantom Cardboard" - although, thinking about it now the autograph would have most likely obscured that.

This was taking forever, but I was REALLY excited about getting this card auto'd, so I was willing to be patient and wait.  Well, after a year of waiting I got the unfortunate news that Nita -probably due to a scheduling/touring conflict- had to cancel the private signing.  Needless to say I was pretty bummed out.  But, I got the card back and will hold onto it in hopes of another shot.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Ariana Grande

I recently came across a picture of Ariana Grande in a Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson jersey from 2014 when she sung the National Anthem for the NFL's season opener and I thought it would make for a good card.

A few years back I was making a bunch of fantasy sports cards of celebs. in team gear throwing out ceremonial first pitches before baseball games.  This card pretty much fits that mold. 

This card is done in the style of the 1991 Upper Deck football base card.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

R.I.P. Taylor Hawkins

This is a shocking and incredibly sad loss.  I think Taylor, aside from being the beloved frenetic drummer he was, was universally lauded for being a 'good dude'.  He left behind a wife, 3 kids and a legion of fans.

The above card was part of a 5 card mini-set that was suggested by a follower of this page and based on an ad the Foo Fighters did ahead of Super Bowl LIII.  I'm still in awe that that same person was able to not only get all 5 cards signed for me, but also gave a set to each member of FF, for which I'm told each member got a kick out of them.  None of the 5 cards will ever leave my personal collection.  I am, like most are, bummed about Taylor so this card is really bitter sweet now.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Emma Watson, Just For Fun

I came upon a the above picture of Emma Watson in a bright red (my favorite color) floral lace dress and it gave me an idea for a the card you see above.  This is an original autograph card design of mine.  I title the files I've done in this style as "slim autograph cards".  Typically they're clean with a little stylizing and plenty of white space to make an autograph pop.  This one turned out the way I pictured it in my head so I was pretty pleased with the end result.

To the best of my knowledge Emma Watson doesn't do much signing, but if she ever does do a private signing or something and it isn't a budget breaker I'll have a card ready to go.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Tracy Morgan

Back in October of 2021 the hilarious Tracy Morgan went on Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote his television show The Last O.G.  He came out for his segment inexplicably dressed in a full Superman get-up.  His reasoning?  Tracy said he was tired of Superman being white, and that his rendition was "black, with a gut".

To me Tracy Morgan is one of those comedians that is funny simply by his voice and mannerisms.  His Brian Fellows SNL skits are some of my favorites of all-time.

1978 Topps Superman

I thought it'd be fun to make a mock Tracy Morgan Superman card in the style of the 1978 Superman set by Topps.  Instead of framing it like on of the base cards I went with the sticker design.  I always liked the look of the stickers that were typically part of Topps' non-sport sets back then.  My goal was to replicate the 'perfectly imperfect' look of those stickers, of most note is the die-cut not quite lining up.  I thought that would give a  more authentic feel.  It's worth pointing out that this, like my Leia sticker, is not an actual peelable sticker, it's just made to look like one.

The reverse sides of the 1978 Superman stickers were blank white backs.  I decided it would be better to instead have this Tracy Morgan faux sticker card look like part of a puzzle back which Topps started doing a few years later.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Canseco's Dome Run

Jose Canseco is one of the more notable names from an incredibly star-studded era in major league baseball.  Jose put up monster numbers on the field as well as was the center of a decent amount of controversy over the years off of the field.

One of Jose's most memorable moments was equal parts bizarre and inexplicable.   On May 26, 1993 in a game where the Texas Rangers were in Cleveland to take on the Indians.  Indians infielder Carlos Martinez hit a fly ball to the warning track in right field, which looked like it was going be a routine out for Canseco.  That's not exactly what happened though.  Somehow Canseco lost the ball and it ended up plunking him in the head and bouncing over the wall for a homerun.  It's one of the damndest things you'll ever see.

Typically my cards have a tinge of humor to them so making this moment into a custom card only made sense to me.  The only question was how was it to look?  I've been wanting to use the T206 tobacco card again ever since making the smoking Dave Parker card.  I thought it'd be fun to throw this card into that particular template.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Zehra Güneş

Zehra Güneş is a Turkish volleyball standout.  One of her pictures came up as I was scrolling through the Instagram discovery page.  I 'liked' it and with the way IG works her pics are in heavy rotation on that page now.  I decided that it was a sign that the 2021 Turkish League MVP should get her own custom trading card.

This card is done in the style of the 1992-93 Upper Deck McDonald's basketball set. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Truly Humbling

I started making my own custom trading cards back in 2015 just for my own kicks.  I just thought it was a fun project for my free time and creative edification.  Once I found that I could create passable physical cards it began to snowball.  When I say that, I mean I got hooked on creating cards for myself that, as a lifelong trading card collector, I always wished had existed in one form or another.  I started posting them online for anyone who might wanna get nostalgic feel-goods from my nerd shit.  I never thought there would be any kind of following or that my cards would somehow be a brand for gen-Xers like myself who weren't so keen on being grown-ups 100% of the time.

Although I'm still making my cards primarily for me, I do GREATLY appreciate whenever anyone takes enough of a liking to them to want to collect these cards.  Sincere as one can be I'm truly honored whenever anyone gets excited about getting copies of these cards.  It's never once been lost on me or taken for granted.

There's a gentleman in New York, also a creative type, that owns a number of my little 2.5" x 3.5" pop-culture creations.  He and I did a virtual fist-bump many years ago to my Fast Times set.  I love Fast Times at Ridgemont High, it's one of the movies I cite as being tied for first place in my list of favorites.  And, I've made more than a couple Fast Times cards throughout the years.

I got a message from him that he was submitting my cards in his work's newsletter under a section about 'most prized possessions' .  Obviously I was floored and very touched by the gesture.  He forwarded me the screen shot and was okay with me sharing it here which is what I'm doing now as it means a lot to me to hear that something I do makes others happy.  Even though I really am uncomfortable with any extra attention, it's always great to get affirmation that you're putting some positive out to the world even if it is something as silly as vintage inspired custom trading cards.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Avril Lavigne

This card came as a request from one of my best friends.  He doesn't even collect, he's just been a fan of Avril's for as long as I can remember.  Avril is a little topical at the moment having just released her seventh studio album.

The design is of course a 1989 Upper Deck baseball inspired design mixed with Avril's bubblegum punk rock aesthetic.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Cara Delevingne

After spending so much time doing the 40 card Idle Hands set I've mainly been making single cards that are made in hopes of a through-the-mail autographs.  Mainly horror movie autograph cards. 
Every once in awhile though I'll run across a photo and take a screen-shot it for future card making.  That was the case with this card.  The photo is of English model Cara Delevingne donning a football helmet and jersey from a DKNY photoshoot for their 2014 Spring / Summer collection.

I was originally going to use an Upper Deck football inspired design.  UD is kind of my go to when it comes to female athlete cards (or models dressed as athletes).  The reason being is the photography on a gloss white stock is what Upper Deck was all about when they came out and changed the game in 1989.  I decided not to go with an Upper Deck inspired design just to switch things up a bit, but I did do this card on the same white gloss stock that I would have used for a UD inspired card.

I chose the 1989 Topps football inspired template.  I went this route due to the designs largely unobstructed photo area.  I thought it had just enough of a generic sports card look to make this card make sense.  I chose the color combination from Bo Jackson's card in this set because, well, Bo Jackson, c'mon.

Instead of recreating the '89 Topps football back I freestyled a back that I thought had more of an Upper Deck look for a true hybrid style of the two sports card titans. 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Idle Hands

I recall renting Idle Hands back when it was a new release 20-some odd years ago.  This is back when I actually made an effort to keep up with things that were current.  I recall labeling the movie, in my mind at least, an 'instant classic'.  I'm a big fan of horror/comedy movies.   Idle Hands was just a really fun watch with a great young cast.

Making cards for Idle Hands has been on my radar for quite some time.  There's a difference between me wanting make cards of a certain something and having the right look for the cards in mind to motivate me to spend the time to make the cards.  I don't want to "cheat" the cards.  

Back in October I wanted to make something spooky-themed.  That brought back to mind my desire to make something out of Idle Hands.  I was trying to picture something "cool" in my mind.  The one thing I knew is that I wanted to accomplish was to have a PCb. set with a green border, but other than that I was still stumped on what would make the "perfect" look for an Idle Hands custom trading card set.

For some inspiration I took a look at my DVD cover of the movie.  The cover features a hand ripping part of the cover revealing the movie's text logo.  Basically "The Hand" reeking havoc on the cover like in the movie.  That got me thinking about how the 1985 Topps Rambo: First Blood Part II (an all-time favorite non-sports card set of mine) has a jagged torn looking border.  Right then and there I was able to picture the perfect look for these cards.  

1985 Topps Rambo: First Blood Part II

Then, like I do when I set out to make cards, I started watching and studying the movie.  I knew it would be a fun set to do with the horror-zombie imagery, drawing the same exuberance as my Night of the Creeps set.  When I started sourcing images I began to realize this set was going to be as comprehensive as probably any set I've done.  I was finding lots of great images and was seeing that I could make a set that followed the sequences of the film pretty well.  Plus, I had a good time coming up with caption puns.

I ended up with 39 cards, but that was just a weird number to leave it at.  I didn't feel like there was any scenes that I "needed" so I decided to finish the set off with checklist to round it out to a nice even 40 cards.  I really wanted to post this set up in October but I decided to take my time and not rush to get it done so I chipped away at it for a little while.

For the card backs I designed somewhat of a hybrid of the Rambo cards and the Idle Hands DVD cover.  The card backs are very information rich with a combination of character profiles, scene descriptions, trivia and movie factoids.  I'm really happy with the end result and feel this could be the most "perfect" custom card set I've done to date.