What year is it?

What year is it?

Personal – Design – Cards

What year is it?

…no, seriously. I have no idea.

Matt “Doc” Perry

April 26th, 2022

I just looked back and apparently the last time I posted something was last June. It’s April now, so that’s a solid 10 months, which is ridiculous. Not that anyone reads these (except for the 3 or 4 of you who are awesome human beings), but more like I missed talking to myself. Maybe it’s the “personal journal” aspect, but there’s a lot going on that doesn’t fit nicely into a blog about baseball cards. Not that it was ever primarily about baseball cards. It’s still a blog about life, and man, sometimes life just gets busy.

We got a cat. That’s a thing that happened. I never thought I’d actually type that. I’m allergic to cats. Well, most cats. Apparently, there are a few hypoallergenic breeds, and we happened to find one. Technically he’s a mutt, but his dad was one of those breeds, so he’s at least 51% not bothering my sinuses. He’s actually the nicest cat I’ve ever met, which is saying a lot, because cats are usually assholes. They are.

I had a bunch of projects, both work and personal. The company full embraced work-from-home and that’s a big deal with IT and how we remotely support all our employees. We had a bunch of systems in place already when the pandemic hit, but we (the IT guys) have had to become instant experts in Teams, OneDrive, VPN configurations, RDP support, etc. It’s been interesting, challenging and a huge learning experience, all things I enjoy.

Art wise, 2021 was technically slower than 2020, which was odd because you’d figure 2020 would have been THE time to sit at home and do some creating. I did all sorts of various projects, but whereas 2020 had a few dozen, 2021 only had a couple, but they were large.

My favorite one was a custom set of cards for SuperBreak featuring 1/1 autographs for Yankee’s prospect Jasson Dominguez. Yes, that Jasson Dominguez. In late 2020 I had created a design for an autograph opportunity, and we sent them off to Dominuez’s agent in Florida. He signed them and returned them, but then we ended up sitting on them until we were able to get more card making supplies due to pandemic shortages. A couple months into 2021 and I was able to start making cards again.

I did 6 sets numbered out of 5. Gold, silver and blue. Then I did 20 unique 1/1s. I pulled out all the stops, found the craziest patterns and colors for foil, and did these completely meticulously by hand. I even hand cut them with exactos because I wanted to get the cuts perfect and my trimmer has a slight margin for error.

These ended up going in what I think is SuperBreak’s current product “2022 Super Glow”. Check them out here and here.

I also ended up creating an entire set of “historic memorabilia” cards that’s as-of-yet been unpublished. It was a huge 60+ subject checklist with single, double and triple relics. I’ll save those for another time.

Lately I’ve been increasingly happy to be working on my own designs again. After meeting up with some old college friends last month, I realized my need to create for my own sake has never, and most likely will never, go away.

Having switched jobs from a 90% creative roll into a 5% creative roll and completely technical field I realized I really missed it. It’s funny that when I was creating for others I was getting burnt out on it and was feeling “done” with corporate design. Now that I don’t design 9-5 every day, I can get back into it for all the right reasons, because I love it.

At the moment I’m working on posters/minis (yes, that’s a weird combo) in a late-1800s tobacco card style. I’ve gone with “watercolor-esque” backgrounds of all 30 MLB stadiums, with players on top in a sort of Gypsy Queen treatment. I wanted the stadiums to resemble old lithography prints, and the players to stand out but not be 100% “modern photographs” on top. Hence the effects. I also found an excellent accompanying font that I think works with the period pieces. I also found a really fun tool for making a vintage logotype for the backs.

When I started creating them I was really only paying attention to the aspect ratio (the overall width and length ratio), and trying to match it to modern mini inserts, and then I realized my master design files were actually 18+ inches wide, and with a little tweaking would make excellent posters. This is what it looks like on 22” paper (mini included for scale).

My plan is to actually print these. At the very very least print a set for me to put in a binder. I’d love to find a printer who can do short runs on thick card stock, but so far I haven’t found the right one. I don’t know about selling them, seeing as how I’ve used not only pictures of the players with obvious copyrights to the photographers, but also the stadiums, which might be even more copyright protected due to their corporate sponsorship/ownership (depending on the stadium). There might be a “donation” opportunity or a “raffle” (with guaranteed odds), for a VERY limited number of sets, but we’ll just have to see.

Beyond these I’ve got plans for a variation on Panini Select and a completely different take on 2022 Gypsy Queen (because this year’s design really sucks). That’s in the pipeline for May. After that I might be venturing into game design with a friend this summer, we’ve been itching to put together a family friendly dungeon crawler using Unity (think more Torchlight, less Diablo).

I was going to…

I was going to…

Personal

I was going to…

…but then Quarentinewhile…

Matt “Doc” Perry

June 11th, 2021

I was going to post about cards I got.

Then I was going to post about life, the universe and everything.

Then 2020 happened, and all that went right out the window.

Then I was going to post about the glories of working at home and how I love it.

Then I was going to post about cards again.

Then I was going to post about card projects, and how I’ve been so busy.

Then life got busy.

Then a family member passed away, and I just didn’t have the heart for it.

Then buying cards got weird. And expensive. And retail was literally insane.

Then card supplies got insane, and stuff just piled up on the shelf.

Then I took a look at my disaster of a card shelf and said, “yeah, I should probably do something about that”. Then I didn’t.

Now I don’t know what to post about anymore.

Cards seem so… I dunno, uninteresting at the moment. The pandemic really killed my interest in getting more. It wasn’t worth the effort. I had to fight to find any. Waiting in line at Target, at 8am, on Fridays, was just stupid. Top-loader shortages are stupid. The whole “scalpers ruining everything” just kind of, well, ruined everything. It’s the same with a PS5, and computer parts, and just about anything else people are looking for.

It kinda forces you to re-evaluate your priorities. Cards just weren’t a priority. Doesn’t mean I didn’t get any, I did. They just weren’t a driving force or motivation last year.

Family and work were, and always will be, more important. So I took time to focus on that. I really do enjoy working from home. I never really plan to go back to an office. I can do 99.7% of my job remotely, and since my employer is cool with that, it’s really worked out for the best. I can be home with my wife and child, who I love spending time with. I can have lunch with them every day. I can take 5 minutes to help them with something, or run a quick errand, and it’s really such a better work/life balance.

Other work has been interesting too. I’ve continued to do a bunch of custom card projects. I’m not 100% sure I can show them off or not, but it’s probably at least safe to talk about. After the President cards, the guys at SuperBreak and I had a good thing going, so we’ve continued to work on several projects together. I put the entire 2Hype 1st Edition set together. If you’re into Youtube people and/or console gaming, you’ve probably heard of them. Then I worked on some autos for a fairly well know Yankee’s prospect. Then a few sample cards for other YouTubers and gaming celebrities. Most recently I’ve been working on another historic based project/set, including a big base card checklist and single/double/triple relics and a few cut autos. It’s probably the biggest one to date.

I’ve also been considering turning those projects into an actual, proper thing. A design studio/LLC, set up properly, for all the freelancing.

That’s about where I’m at. I’ve piles and piles of stuff to scan and show… but if I’m being entirely honest, that’ll take a while, and the chances of it all getting posted are low. So… how about I just put these pictures here, and we can say “if it happens, it happens”, and we all won’t hold our collective breathes.

Not that you were. The odds of someone still reading anything here is probably quite low. I’m sure you’ve all left by now. And that’s ok.

Just wanted to say that I was still here, and doing stuff, and I hope everyone else is doing well and everyone stayed safe and health.

Presidential Superfractors

Presidential Superfractors

Custom Cards – Personal Projects – Commissioned Work

Presidential Superfractors

I made beautiful customs for SuperBreak’s Pieces of the Past!

Matt “Doc” Perry

July 28th, 2020

So, to really tell this correctly, we need to back in time a bit…

Back before the Coronavirus was really a problem. Back to January 2020. I had received an email through the contact form (yes, those things actually work, and actually send mail, and I actually read it!) from Adam at SuperBreak. For those that don’t know, Adam and Scott run SuperBreak Sports. They make absolutely top shelf repack boxes and breaks. Mike Trout rookie along side a Micheal Jordon autograph and a Tom Brady patch card. Those sorts of boxes. After I watched a few box breaks on YouTube I was pretty convinced they were putting together some really nice stuff for collectors. They had contacted me about working on a card set for them. They had seem my posts about my custom cards, the superfractors in particular.

In addition to sports boxes, they also have a couple lines of historical relic/autograph based cards called “The Bar” and “Pieces of the Past”. It was the Pieces of the Past that they though some 1/1 Superfractors would be a really interesting addition to. I decided to jump on the opportunity to work with actual card industry people, and take my customs from “fun little personal projects” to actual “real” cards, in the sense that they’d some day be pulled from boxes and packs, and appreciated by other collectors.

The idea was to make a full 45 Presidents card set, each a 1/1, using the metallic superfractor material.

I started by working on designs. I actually had a pretty good idea of what I wanted design wise right off the bat. I wanted something clean and simple that really showed off the metallic material. After a couple rounds of mockups I had settled on an early 20th century sort of look to keep it “historical”. Kind of an inverted Gypsy Queen sort of thing with a badge signifying the number of the presidents and the date they were inaugurated.

From there I knew, from making my previous refractors, that I needed to work out the printing (backwards on transparency) and to get the airbrushing just right. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to refine the process as well. I wanted to make sure, not just for myself anymore but now for fellow collectors, that the cards I was making were the best quality and used as much archival material as possible. I went on a search for acid-free card stocks, the highest end transparency sheets, and archival fixatives and sprays.

One of the most important things about these was going to be consistency. If I was making a 45 card set, I didn’t want 44 different ways they were being made, or sprayed, or glued, etc.

So, using materials I still had around, I started on some tests. Some went well.

Others not so much.

Here’s a good picture where you can tell the difference between an early test, and the final product. In this one, I used cheap transparencies and ink, and didn’t spray with the fixative before airbrushing. You can see the “print lines” and ink drop pattern (look around Georges chin). These are almost invisible in the final products (end of this post).

I also needed a serious upgrade in tools. Goodbye cheapo Harbor Freight airbrush, hello professional Iwata.

Early tests also showed me that I had two choices when airbrushing if I wanted to avoid overspray on cards other than the one I was working on. I either had to cut up the sheets one at a time, or cover up the additional 5 (out of 6) somehow. I decided to invest in a small light table, so I could cover up the cards safely, but still see what I was working on. It ended up being a game changer in terms of airbrush quality and control.

After I was confident in the methods, it was time to start cranking out some cards. First, I needed to actual design them, and source images. Fun fact, the official portraits of the president are public domain since technically they were paid for with public tax dollars. The people own them, and can use them. So, I went strait to the Library of Congresses digital archives and grabbed the highest res images that were available.

After that it was printing time! Sadly, I also had issues with the printer towards the end, it barely made it through the process and I ended up recently getting a new one (more on that later). I had to switch from 6 cards per sheet, to 4 cards per sheet. That meant I had less margin of error and needed additional transparencies. I’m glad I changed that in the end, as it seemed to be right amount of “backup prints” due to margins of error. For every 1 perfect card, it might have taken me 2 airbrush attempts to get it just right, and 1 left over in case of cutting/trimming mistakes (which certainly did happen).

As I mentioned before, I also wanted to spray everything I was making with archival fixative. At one point my garage art-studio looked like a laundromat. The spray was used for two reasons. Primarily it was used to “fix” the notoriously fragile inkjet ink to the material, while providing anti-aging and anti-yellowing UV resistance. It was also necessary to create a smoother, non-porous surface for the airbrush paint to stick to. Here’s a good example of what happens when you don’t spray it.

The bottom portrait on this sheet was sprayed, the top was not.

This material is designed to “soak” up ink, and if it’s not “closed” by a spray, it’ll soak up the paint as well, and eventually crack. So, there ya go, pro-tip if anyone is ever crazy enough to try this at home (besides me).

It was about this point when I remembered, “Oh yeah, real cards have backs…”. You see, when I make custom cards, part of it being “art” and not an actual production card mean I typically leave the back blank. Literally just blank card stock that I usually sign, or put a sticker on saying it’s a custom art piece, etc. This created another problem. How was I going to put “1 of 1” on these?

 

The answer, it turned out, would involve scanning, and hot foil pressing. My vinyl cutter, which up to this point hadn’t been involved with the process, was called into action due to it’s PixScan mat and technology. After printing the card backs, I was able to get accurate registration by scanning the mat and using the alignment dots to line up my hot foil press. Yes, I now own a hot foil press. Don’t judge, lol.

It took several tries, but eventually I got it down and it started making some really sweet foil transfers. Nice and clean “1 of 1” in legit gold foil. My only regret is not figuring out how to put it on the front. Unfortunately hot metal and thin plastic don’t really work well. Many a card was lost in early testing. Oh well, on the back works well, and is considerably safer.

After that, it was assembly time! Layers and layers of stuff, sandwiched together and pressed, followed by the most nerve-wracking trimming I’ve ever done. I’ve trimmed thousands of photos in my lifetime, most for really important things like clients and wedding albums. This was a whole other level.

The guys at SuperBreak were generous enough to supply me with a large cutter that made the cutting go much faster. Actually, they furnished me with a large portion of the supplies in general. They were awesome to work with! Whatever I needed to make the best cards was what they wanted to send me. That kind of support, from an artistic perspective, is very hard to find, and incredibly appreciated.

In the end, I think I was able to make some really nice cards. I watched as Go GTS Live pulled one on a live stream and thought it was really cool. I’m so happy other collectors like them and appreciate them.

I had waited to post this until I knew the product had been released, I didn’t want to spoil the surprise, and then Covid happened and everyone’s schedules went all crazy and honestly the time has just gotten away from me. These cards are out there in the wild now, and are available in Super Breaks’ Pieces of the Past boxes if you’re lucky enough to pull one. I don’t know what the pack odds are, but I can only imagine they’re hard to pull. I think you can buy boxes on Blowout Cards or GTS.

That’s about it. All I can say is that it was a pleasure working with Adam and Scott, so much so that we have several more projects in the works, most of which I can’t talk about because they’re seriously next level awesome and I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Let’s just say that we’ve got some stuff planned involving some HUGE names. No spoilers 😉

Here are a few more photos of the finished cards.

I was going to…

2020

Personal

Wait… is it 2020 already?

Where the heck did the time go?

Matt “Doc” Perry

Jan 28th, 2020

Honestly, I’m not even sure where the fall went. I guess I was a little burnt out on posting the High Heat set and after I finished I just said “I’m going to take a break for the holidays”. So I did.

Felt good.

Blogging isn’t essential to the pursuit of happiness, and there is a laundry list of more important things.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas season. Mine was hectic but enjoyable. Had (still having) car trouble, so I’m on the lookout for a new ride. Work has been crazy, I’ve been filling in for someone who’s out recovering from cancer.

I’ve also been using my spare time on some really awesome side-projects. I’ve made a couple websites, done some logos and business cards, and I’m currently working on something that really has me excited.

It’s a new card related project that I’ve agreed to not talk about until it launches. It’s AWESOME. You guys are going to love it. Sorry for that vague teaser. It’ll be worth it though.

I’ll tell you all about it in a month or two.

Anyway, just wanted to say that I was alive, I’m working on some cool stuff, and that I’ll check back in once it all wraps up.

Later!

2018 In Review

2018 In Review

Personal

2018 In Review

Where on earth did the year go?

Matt “Doc” Perry, Somewhere on that 3rd rock from the Sun

December 21st, 2018

I don’t even know where to start…

Usually I’m pretty good with words. However in 2018 they apparently escaped me entirely. I guess that makes sense, there was quite a lot going on.

The majority of the year focused on repairing the house, which I’m sure I’ve beaten to death by now as a topic of conversation. Although we moved in over the forth of July, it wasn’t until August and September that it really came together as a home. Art is up on the walls, things are painted, knickknacks are back on shelves. Everything has settled back in nicely and we’re looking forward to taking a break of everything for the holidays. No, not everything is back to 100%, there’s still lots of boxes in the garage, but we made a good dent and we’re happy with the progress.

Not art studio yet, but I have carved out a little place to do some paintings. Mostly abstract stuff, but it’s fun to dabble in. Might as well do something with the art school education other than enjoy the mountain of debt.

Yes. It’s a pour painting. The Diet Coke or Art. I don’t care, it’s fun.

Why have one monitor when you could have three!

Work has been going ok. I’ve transitioned from a 90% creative position to, literally, IT Sys-Admin and Tech Support. I’m doing stuff that I really never would have thought I’d be doing. I’m managing AD users and an Exchange server, I’m running SQL queries and exporting accounting databases, I’m setting up VMs to run specific servers for specific tasks, I’m checking the corporate spam filters and firewall traffic. It’s kinda crazy. I don’t think I’m really qualified to be doing any of these things, but I’ve always been a quick learner, and I’m at least familiar with most of it. I just don’t have the specific degrees. I guess that doesn’t really matter at this point. Wherever my career ends up going, experience counts for the most important parts, at least in my opinion.

They did finally manage to fix my office. I’m not sure I really told that story. The nutshell version is that it’s on the top floor of a small office building and the roof collapsed… into MY office specifically. Lucky me. Everything was ruined except for a few things under the desks, which luckily included my Synology NAS and Mac Pro. So, I took all that home the minute there was a “home” to take it back to. I’ve been working from here every since. They finished the repairs about three weeks ago, and besides the new carpet smell, it seems to be back to the way it was.

I did get my tasks essentially tripled this year as well. We have two guys leaving (in an already small team), so everyone gets to step up and take on larger rolls, myself included. The job security feels nice, but I’ve yet to see the added, umm, “compensation” for all the hard work. Luckily it’s review time and my boss is actually a really awesome guy, so I’m not too worried.

Health wise it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster of a year. I was pretty beat (mentally and physically) at the start of the year, floods and stress will do that to a person. Then the summer was better, I was feeling pretty good, getting back to everything. Then this fall I had a bit of a scare. I landed in the ER one night having trouble breathing. Long story short, I’ve had to change a lot of things about my life and the way I eat and exercise. Fun fact, getting older sucks. Also, just as a pro tip, from someone who’s had to find this out way too late, go figure out your family history of medical problems. Do that NOW. Then have your doctor start checking for that stuff.

The upside is that it’s now under control and I’ve made such a crazy change in diet that I’ve lost 30-40lbs since only October and I’m feeling considerably better. Apparently, if you don’t eat junk, and have a salad, you might not die early! Who knew?!

I’m actually kinda proud of myself for this one. I haven’t had a carb or a refined sugar in three months. Cold turkey. I could give up sweets and soda without a problem. I did that over night. Bread on the other hand, I really love bread. That’s been the hardest. Well, that and tortillas, which are basically bread, but with an accent.

I can however, continue my BBQ ways. That’s got me through quite a few “I don’t want to have another effing salad” moments. I’m thinking about doing a competition this spring with an old friend.

Getting better. Practice makes perfect.

New. Favorite. Shirt.

Then we come to the baseball portion of our post. How about those Red Sox? I’m not going to lie, there were a few times I thought the bullpen was a raging dumpster fire, but it’s really hard to find fault with 108 wins, and a really solid post-season run.

They were really just incredibly fun to watch this year. I’m going to be selfish for a minute, but I really needed that pick-me-up. It felt good. When I had a crappy day, or something was going wrong with the house, I knew I could put the game on and relax.

The mood was different from the other recent championships too. 2004 was destiny, plain and simple. 2007 was just a solidly built team. 2013 felt like angry “revenge” baseball to prove a point or get back at shitty terrorists.

2017 was, as far as I can tell, just really really fun.

Mookie was as advertised, Benny had a solid year-two, and J.D.Martinez proved himself to be a ridiculous hitter and an incredible clubhouse presence by helping some of the younger guys throughout the season. Sale was amazing, and the rest of the rotation too. I’m excited to have guys like Eovaldi back as well. Should be fun to watch again next year.

Last but not least, baseball cards. I’m not sure where to begin. I picked some up (surprise!). I didn’t scan most of them. I bought the usual team sets and a few assorted hits on ebay. I didn’t really go crazy this year, other things were more important. I didn’t abandon the hobby by any means, but let’s just say that it really helped the 2018 was a boring year in cards, in general. I just wasn’t impressed with 95% of the products this year. I even bought a very limited amount of Gypsy Queen.

I also couldn’t find half the “exclusive” bullshit products. Target exclusive this, Walmart exclusive that. Bullshit. The distribution is so terrible that Topps should be ashamed to be using the same companies year after year. I’m not exactly rolling in cash, so I’m not buying cases of anything (ever), but it seems like that’s the only way to find about half of the hobby these days. That and their stupid online only crap, which I refuse to buy into. I did make one exception and bought a “Holt hits the cycle” Topps Now card, but I bought it for $0.99 on ebay, on the secondary market.

There was one bright spot in the boring wasteland of cards this year. I teased it on twitter, and I’m teasing it again now (see image), but Panini Chronicles was a massive success in my book. The designs, borrowed from Panini’s other products (football, soccer, etc) as well as a few baseball and unique designs made the box (and subsequent blasters) a real joy to open. The variety was outstanding. I got dozens of really nice rookie cards for the top talent in the league, and well, what can I say about the hits…

I’m doing a proper post, with scans of everything from the box, probably after new years, but this was easily my best personal pull in history.

Oh my…

I think that about wraps it up. I’d apologize for not blogging enough this year, and I do miss the interaction with people, but things just got crazy and needed to be taken care of. I know I speak for everyone around here when I say we’re really wishing that 2019 would be a normal, boring, regular sort of year. No changes in jobs, no car wrecks, no floods, no sickness. Maybe a vacation at some point? People still take those right? That would be nice.

Anyway, I hope everyone has an awesome Christmas, and a safe New Year. Sláinte!