Monday, October 22, 2012

Rusty Gilligan

In this installment of Sketch Card Fanatics Talk features artist and writer Rusty Gilligan.  

 1. Please give a brief description about what you do and how long you've been in the art field. 
  •  Ok - well, let me introduce myself, my name is Rusty Gilligan and I've been an artist and writer in comics since 1978.
2. Did you have any formal art training?
  •   No, I wish that I had. In truth, I'm so slow that I basically hold a pencil and the Earth's rotation slowly moves the paper underneath it lol

3. You have a very interesting history with sketch cards. Can you briefly tell us about it? Anyone who wants to read the full story can follow the links:   
Original story from adult trading card site
 Copy of original text (non adult)
  • Well, the link is more of the 'comedy' version of what happened... but back in the end of 1992/beginning of 1993 I was employed by a mature trading card publisher named "Clubhouse Diamonds" to design and cultivate their line of 'sexy cards. During that time, I had created what has become 'sketch cards' in the industry. At the time, we had many blank cardstocks that were sent to us as 'seperators' (mostly overprints and run-offs) from the printers, and I had started to doodle on them... basic designs, model poses (because we had also photographed our own models), etc.
  • This one particular meeting in Las Vegas, I had proposed that we feature original art on these 'insert cards' (they were 1:100 packs at the time plus a case topper) and the idea was embraced by the publisher.
  • After I had done a few, I had asked comic book art legend Rich Buckler to do some as well as some local tattoo artists. They were basically blank on both sides with a basic white sticker stating the set, date, and number on the back.

4. What sets have you worked on that involved sketch cards?
  • Too many to list here, unless you want to hear readers yawn LOL. I started with the original sketch cards for "Clubhouse Diamonds series 2" back in 1992/93 - went on to work for such top producers as Upper Deck, Cryptozoic, Breygent Marketing, 5Finity, Unstoppable Cards, Cult Stuf, to name a few. I am also proud to say that I have contributed to sets from newer producers in the market such as Boo and Marty, Viceroy Cards, Frank Eachus and charity sets/projects such as "Island Dreams", the "501st Legion Star Wars" set, and cards benefiting the March of Dimes and animal charities, among others. Currently I am working with 2 new producers to bring even more sketch card opportunities to the market.
5. What would you suggest for anyone looking to get into sketch cards?
  • To the collector... this is a fantastic way to collect original licensed art. I am still surprised to see single sketch cards going for more than whole comic art pages, but this does show a major interest in the market for such a vehicle. These pieces are for 'your viewing' and not something that has been reproduced many times over in print, so you truly will have a personal masterpiece in your hands.

  • To the artist... this is an exciting variation on the 'comic art' theme. The publishers are shrewd, but they do appreciate consistency. Make your style known - send samples on a regular basis - ask questions, join groups, hob-knob, and get involved. I get a lot of flack for saying this, but not every job has to entail payment... work on charity sets, trade work when you can, and work on smaller friends' sets... this kind of networking is invaluable as an artist looking to market themselves in an additional avenue for their talents.

6. For someone who has been around sketch cards since the very beginning. How has artists and collectors have changed from its early days? Do you think sketch cards is still an appropriate name for them? 
  •  It's hard to answer the first part, because the original sketch cards were a 'newness' on the market, and a new outlet for an artist to get involved, make additional money, etc. Sketch cards were 'accidentally' the marriage of comic books and trading cards for the genre.
  • Today, the artist on a sketch card has a 'following', a fan base - it's amazing where the medium has taken the artist, and I'm glad to see the popularity on all sides of the fence.
  • As for the second part, I find that the term 'sketch card' is antiquated and out-dated now. Just after Clubhouse Diamonds released our cards, a few others tail-tagged behind us - "Simpsons" etc. We went on the road and signed at conventions and did basic 'sketches' on cardstock, pencil/ink... these were convention style sketches, nothing more. I remember doing a sexy girl with a 'Superman' "S" on her chest, no one asked for color - we did it for free to get some pr - nothing big. People appreciated it due to the newness of it.
  • Today, the artist seems to be making their cards more 'elaborate'. At first, I would imagine that they were going in the direction of impressing an art director to obtain new work, but then this slowly altered the medium. In doing so, did they 'mutate' the medium ? Do the producers have higher expectations now ? And, due to this, there are a lot of artists who are 'primadonnas' and hot shots in the industry. Lately, a few elitist attitudes are surfacing and there's no need for that sort of ego play. I have some opinions there that I will keep to myself.
  • Now color is in high demand, and gone are the 'sketches' to be replaced by 'pinups'. To me, some cards are so overdone they seem to outweigh the medium.
  • They're no longer sketches, I would call them 'artist cards' really.

7. With so many sketch card sets being produced by so many sketch card companies. What do you think of the current state of the hobby?
  • From a collector's standpoint, this is a good time to start or continue collecting. The art is amazing, and the availability of the works are at an all-time high. I may not always agree with the prices being offered, but collectors have to weigh the costs vs their needs. From an artists' standpoint, there's a lot of work out being offered out there in a varied amount of styles. There's work for everyone if they take the time to market themselves correctly. This is a wonderful time to be a part of things.
  • The hobby is in a current state of flux really. I hear artists all the time complaining about low payments and higher demands placed on them by the publishers. If these cards are truly inserts meant to entice a buyer, the pay should be more along professional lines. I hear about favoritism a lot. Disgruntled artists stating that 'he is getting paid more per card than I am' "I can't make the minimum amount of cards that they are offering' 'the art director is rude and hard to work with' and countless grumblings over late payments, rejections, etc. Personally, I feel that the medium is a bit out of control in these areas and the demands and treatment may not be worth the payment for some. But, this is a business after all. It's not for everyone and not every situation is perfect. In the end, and overhaul may be needed.
8. In order to keep consumer interest, companies are creating different type of sketch cards: hinge, fold out, relics, etc. This reminds me of gimmicks of comics in the early 90s. What do you think about all this? 
  •  Gimmicks are gimmicks, we've all seen the tricks that publishers have done for years. I remember Upper Deck's baseball team holographics, Donruss' puzzle cards, stickers, etc I remember designing an insert set for Hot Shots years ago where the cards were made of clear plastic and had a models' image 'trapped' in the center much like a slide, it went over big, then a few others re-did it... then outdid it... etc. These newer ideas for sketch cards are most welcome, anything to keep interest and sales up helps the entire hobby.

9. You created a Mac & Trouble comic book series and also produced a sketch card charity set based on them.  Can you tell us a little bout that?
  • I wanted to revisit a 'behind the scenes' position in cards (I worked with a lot of card companies years ago in design and publicity) so I designed a promotional set of cards for my new comic book series "The Adventures of Mac and Trouble" and offered friends and other artists in sketch cards and comics a chance to do something for various animal charities. Through my publisher WTF Comics, I designed a 3-card promotional set and a separate sketch card for original art. I gave each artist the opportunity to be 'free' with their own personal unique styles, and draw the main characters in a variety of situations. Well, the set worked out well... every set came with 1 sketch card, some with 2 as well as other bonus cards. A large portion of the profits is still being donated to local animal shelters and charities, the art cards were amazing (especially without boundaries). A bit of trivia here, not 1 sketch card was rejected and only 1 artist did not fulfil their obligation. So to me, this is as close to a 100% turn around as you can get. I was very impressed.
  • Going along with what I said earlier about professionalism and the demands of certain producers in the industry, I did something different with this set. I established a stronger rapport with the artists. I created a web page with all of the rules and licensing regulations of the set and updated it constantly... I collected all of the staff/artist/printer emails and sent a newsletter and announcements with information and deadlines, all written in a personal tone... I publicized individual cards with links to the artists in a few different forums and blogs... we created functionable flyers and sent files to all who requested them...  artists were offered more Artist Proofs for their work... and went on to request further work from artists on the set in both the sketch card and comic book markets.

10. Where can people learn more about Mac & Trouble?
  •  Currently, "Mac and Trouble" #0, the promo convention book, is out - #1 debuts this November with a special variant cover for the "Toys on the Hudson" collector show in NJ - and additional projects are in the works such as a cook book, joke books, etc. You can see more at as well as they have their own Facebook and Twitter.

11. Do you have a website people can visit if they want to commission you or to check out your work?
  • I've never really had the time to build up a website of samples and set commission prices, I've always wanted to. I never charge much, I always feel bad asking for too much from a fan.
  • People can contact me on Facebook under my name or use any of the information that's there (gallery links, public albums, emails, phone number). I love to chat, so I welcome the contact :)

  • I wish everyone... collectors, artists, and publishers alike... much success and happiness in this wonderful industry that has treated me well for so many years.
  • I'm an entertainer, and working along side of today's best and brightest is a supreme honor for me. I value every friendship and working relationship, and consider myself lucky that I still have a place here.
Thank you for your time
  • Thank you.

You can find Rusty Gillian on Facebook at:
 Rusty Gillian on Facebook
Mac and Trouble on Facebook
Mac and Trouble site

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