At the Office - Acquiring Art with George Nadeau

By Christina Sims

There's a lot of pretty fantastic art that passes through the doors of Cryptozoic on a daily basis, whether it's for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game or from some of our fantastic sketch cards for DC Comics or The Walking Dead. The lucky person that gets to see all of our sketch card art before anyone else does is none other than our art acquisition manager, George Nadeau. Today, he'll be telling us a little bit about the entire art acquisition process.

Name: George Nadeau

Title: Art Acquisition Manager

So you come to work, sit down and get settled, and then you...?
Answer emails! I know that sounds boring, but I really enjoy our products and it's fun working with enthusiastic artists. It's not uncommon that I send and receive 150 emails in a day. 

What is the primary art you acquire for Cryptozoic?
My primary focus is acquiring sketch cards for our trading card sets. I also commission art for base cards. Many of our trading card sets are based on live action properties, so those base cards feature photography, but if we need original art for a trading card set I will commission it. 

Do you go through the process of gathering new talent?
That's one of my favorite tasks. Since I have been collecting sketch cards for more than five years and have moderated a couple online hobby groups, I think I have a good sense of what other collectors like to see nowadays. While it's important to include established artists on a set, it's also important to keep our sets fresh by including artists who have never worked with Cryptozoic before. It's especially fun to introduce this hobby to artists who have never even heard of sketch cards before.

I'm not difficult to contact, so many artists will introduce themselves to me via email and send samples. Others will contact Scott or send a message through customer service; eventually I'll get the information. In addition, to find new talent I regularly browse DeviantArt, online hobby forums, and even eBay and Etsy where artists post their work.

Do you have a particular art style you are looking for?
It's a balancing act between personal taste, collector taste (however that is determined) and licensor requirements. Technical competence is important, but a unique style always grabs my attention and I try hard to shoehorn such artists into as many projects as possible. Homogeneity is boring, so I'll keep trying to inject as much unique work into sets as I can get away with.

So you booked all of the amazing The Walking Dead Sketch Card artists?
Yes, I booked those artists. The biggest challenge was that there were so many talented and interested artists but not enough spots to offer. 

How many artists are you working with right now?
There is some overlap between projects, but I'm probably working with about three hundred artists on about six projects.

Do you have any art that you've seen come in that you say, "I just have to have this!"?
That happens on a daily basis… and then I pack it up and ship it out. It's like a diet. 

What kind of medium do artists use for the sketch cards?
Artists can use whatever they're comfortable with. Most use markers but they also use watercolors, acrylic paints, and colored pencils.

What are you really excited for in the future?
I'm looking forward to (unannounced project!) Can I say that? I'm also looking forward to (unannounced project two) and (unannounced project three). We have so many products planned that are fun and different. I'm happy I get to work on so many cool projects.

If an artist is interested in contacting you, what's the best way to go about it?
Artists can contact us at art.submission@cryptozoic.com. They can send a few JPGs or a link to an online portfolio. For sketch card assignments, the best thing to show me is small scale, hand-drawn work that represents the quality of work they are willing to contribute to our sets. Often I receive samples of large format and/digital work that is very impressive, but it doesn't help me determine whether they have the skills to produce small hand-drawn sketch cards.

After our interview, I got to see a ton of the new sketch cards that George has under lock and key in his cubicle.

The quality of the sketch cards is just mind-blowing; you can see every little detail in the card and every stroke of the pen or brush. The colors are vibrant and the art itself is full of movement and life. If you're lucky enough to pull one of these hand-drawn sketch cards, give a little thanks to George and the sketch card artists for bringing you some of the best art in the industry! Thanks George!