Back when I started collecting comics and assorted nerdery, I’d consistently find myself at the comic shop counter faced with an array of artist-specific trading card packs : Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Michael Whelan and their fantasy-rich ilk. I’d pick up a few packs, see a few dragons or barely-clothed warrior princesses, and never really bother to collect the rest of the series. These were artists who’d made it, and firmly planted their paint-covered boots in the soil of gainful art employment, and I was jealous, fostering fevered dreams of someday having my art on a trading card, somewhere, sometime.
So, when I finally fell in love with the pop surrealism movement many years later, it wasn’t easy to ferret out the great artists from the vast detritus of the Internet. For every beautiful work of art, there were a thousand DeviantArt ripoffs and wannabes, mimicking the art that they loved without any grace or respect for the original. I’m always elated to see something which takes the movement seriously, and helps me sort out the junk from the awesome. The Art Hustle is just that, and the second series of trading cards is even better than the first.
Curated by The Cardhacks, The Art Hustle collects the best of the underground art scene into one place : the artists, the curators and the main contributors who move the whole thing forward by promoting its validity and contribution to the whole art scene via blog or otherwise. In short, it’s a directory of everything you need to know about the best thing happening in art right now, from every angle. The series shows respect to those artists who sacrifice and strive towards creative greatness, the “hustlers”, rather than caters to those who have already found their niche. Consider these to be their rookie cards, with a few living legends throw in for good measure.
The set spans portraits of artists, as well as cards which feature their art, in a gritty, oldschool, pulpy fashion – beautifully printed art paired with information (or disinformation) on the reverse. Like most current sets of cards, you’ll also rare “chase” cards : silkscreens by Frank Kozik, stickers from Ron English, signed cards, and best of all, original art from a stunning assortment of artists, including a few names that you might recognize – like Brett Ratner and Mark Mothersbaugh. You’ll find previews of these at their website. I was fortunate enough to grab some original art by one of my favorite artists in the set, Daniel Goffin. Each pack also includes two miniature Artist Menko cards, a subset of much smaller portraits.
I’d purchased a full box of the first set because I was so enamored, and I’m willing to say that this set is even better : better artists, more diversity, and an excellently attractive presentation. These are the most important art cards to come out in years, so go out and buy a few packs, and learn about the art that’s going on under your feet.
[Preview cards graciously provided by the publisher.]