When I Was A Custom Card Designer – The Beginning

Posted: November 25, 2012 by Crackin' Wax in Custom Cards
Tags: , , ,
Way back yonder in the times of yore when Crackin’ Wax was still on its blog training wheels, back before I began Varsity Trading Cards, I used to dabble a bit in the art of custom card making. Custom cards, of course, are fake homemade trading cards generally produced via a digital medium and occasionally printed on a desktop-type printer or other home printing device. Custom cards are typically meant solely for entertainment purposes and should never be mass produced and/or sold commercially.

When I had found myself back in the habit of hoarding cardboard and knee-deep in the middle of a digital community of others like myself, it seemed a natural connection for me to try to keep my graphic design skills sharp by making these pretend cards. You see, I had been running a freelance graphic design business just before I had started the blog. I folded up shop to pursue other means of expressing my “talent” (i.e. make use of my degree and not waste the money I’m still using on tuition). Now that I’ve found those other means with my own trading card company, I’ve discontinued the act of designing cards of a custom nature.

To be perfectly honest, I’m very glad that I delved into that little niche of trading cards. Not only did it keep me sharp, it also helped hone my own trading card design styles. As you can see with the images below, I didn’t have much of an understanding of good trading card layout in the beginning and, eventually, you’ll see how I’ve evolved.

Of course, the best place to start this journey is at the very beginning. It was the end of 2008. I had just opened up the blog. I was no longer doing freelance graphic design work. I was also waiting tables at a chain restaurant in the area (let’s just say they’re known for their bread sticks and I have an everlasting grudge against their use of the words “unlimited” and “never-ending.” Seriously. I hear those words and my left eye begins to twitch). During a shift earlier in the year, a co-worker of mine waited on a pair of Minnesota Lynx players. Neither of us were aware of that fact until after the two left and our busser learned us but good. Later in the night, said co-worker realized that one of the players had signed two copies of her credit card slip. One, of course, was audited with the rest of the paperwork. The other, meanwhile, was somehow sneaked into my coat. I didn’t find it until I got home. Accompanying the signed slip was a note asking me to google the name to see whether our busser was a Lynxaholic or just plain full of saltine crackers.

Turns out he was a bit of both.

The leftover copy was signed by Navonda Moore, a Guard for the Minnesota Lynx. That signed slip sat on my desk for months doing nothing more than collecting dust. Then, after being inspired by seeing custom card designs by other bloggers, I decided to put that signature to some good use. That’s when I decided to develop my very first ever custom card design.

Click to view larger versions

As you can see here, I wasn’t 100% sold on the layout and didn’t even bother to mask out the player on the first attempt. I was, however, hopeful and encouraged by the theme that I had presented. The “GameDay” logo was, and remained, a bit chunky, and the chosen fonts were about as plain as it gets, but I felt that the rest of the design was promising. It was a fairly quick decision to go from portrait to landscape with this initial concept. I eventually chose a slightly tweaked version of the second iteration of the design–I felt that the final two versions had far too many fonts fighting for attention.

Final physical product

Naturally, no modern-day trading card would be complete without a back filled with lame write-ups and minimal statistics. Seriously. This card back is about as lame as it gets.

Back of First Custom Card

See? Told ya it was lame. Not only is it lame, it doesn’t even match the front of the card. The theme doesn’t carry over whatsoever, nor does the style and feel even fit. That’s why, in 2008, it was my first and ONLY attempt at a custom trading card.


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  1. Robert Hamilton says:

    Sir you are a LIAR, a good intentioned LIAR but none the less the assesment still stands, I refer to your comment that you produce fake cards, They are not FAKED, they are just not sanctioned by the League or Players Union of that paticular sport. I see no attempt on your part to decieve or gain money by deception. You clearly state that they are cards created by you to mimic cards that are made by card companies, approved/sanctioned by the professional associations of sports. please refrain from demeaning yourself and your incredible work. In short your cards are NOT FAKES and you have NO INTETION to DEFRAUD.


    your friend bobdabench

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