Cards as Art?

Sports card art

I had intended to revisit the topic of cards and art sooner, but time makes fools of us all. The best-laid plans often go awry and mine sure did as I realize it has been almost three months since I last visited the topic of cards as art. There’s no time like the present though so this week I am taking a closer look at two artists making big splashes in the hobby with very different approaches. The great thing about the hobby and art is that there is room for a ton of variety.

Pop Fly Prints

Daniel Jacob Horine puts out some of the coolest collectibles in the market with his Pop Fly prints. Originally limited to baseball, Horine has branched out to football and most weeks releases both a football and a baseball print during a “season” (the time he is actively making prints). Each print is available for a limited amount of time and once the clock is up, no more orders will be taken.

Horine ups the ante by doing his best to offer autographed versions of the prints. His signed prints are some of the best deals around given the price of signings for most of the guys Horine has featured. Base prints tend to run in the $50 range compared to $100-$150 for signed versions.

Horine’s art blends the stylings of vintage comic art with some of the most memorable moments and players in sports. In my opinion, the best evidence of the quality is the level of argument one can provoke by asking a fan what their favorite Pop Fly is. You’ll get varied answers, but also passionately argued answers. That level of fandom does not occur by happenstance.

Early prints do sell for exorbitant amounts (four figures is not unheard of). Most recent prints at least retain their value with most selling at slight premiums. The autographed versions tend to appreciate faster. While eBay is typically the starting place for most searches, it pays to branch out when dealing with Pop Fly prints, and connecting with other Pop Fly collectors is almost a must.

Horine’s work first graced a Topps card “accidentally” when another artist borrowed one of his images for a Topps art card without properly giving him credit. In a surprising show of everyone doing the right thing, the situation resulted in a friendly collaboration between Horine and the artist for Topps. Horine recently though has been a hit for Topps with his own run of sold-out P100 cards.  His Julio Rodriguez card is a steady seller at $40 and the deluxe version is hitting $400. Hopefully, with this success, we’ll see more of Horine at Topps.

One Card to Rule Them All

Ok. So I’m excited about Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Ringenning, but it is everywhere. That said, I do think deep down every collector is looking for their “precious.” Everyone is doing their best Sauron impression searching endlessly for the one item that will make their collection complete or stand out from the crowd. Tim Carroll is an artist whose talent burns as bright as the fires of Mount Doom (ok, no more Tolkien) and one of the few artists who can create centerpiece-worthy pieces for hobbyists.

Carroll creates stunning one-of-a-kind collages recreating iconic cards using cards themselves to make the piece. He cuts up the precious cardboard and turns them into giant versions of themselves. His work is admired enough to be featured in the PSA offices. Carroll’s site features some truly amazing images and is probably the only site on the internet where destroying a card increases its value. What sets Carroll’s work apart as a true centerpiece of a collection is his guarantee to only make a card image one time. He will never make another version or copy of any card he is commissioned to make.

Carroll’s work is of sufficient size, quality, and uniqueness to qualify as the highlight or centerpiece of most any collection. Sure, having a PSA 10 Cal Ripken rookie is great, but having a large, framed, stunning, painstakingly-made cardboard collage is a conversation starter. Owning a Carroll original is very much a worthy aspirational hobby goal.

Wrap Up

I’m not the only one with good taste. Both Horine and Carroll have had their work snapped up by the MLB Hall of Fame. One of the things I like about collecting is the ability to curate or feel like I am tailoring my collection to my own ends. Adding art to the equation adds a new layer to the experience and both of these are guys I’ll be following.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>