Shadowfist: Getting Cards Signed by Artists
I enjoy getting cards signed by the artist. I don't know why, I just do. A lot of folks could care less, but it's cool to whip out a deck in which every card has been signed by its artist.
The easiest way to get signatures is meeting the artist in person. That's best done at conventions or similar large events, but keep in mind that signing your cards isn't the artist's job. Most of them are willing to sign, especially if you keep your stack to something reasonable like 10 cards or so. I'm always amazed when artists are willing to sign large stacks (especially of duplicate cards), but many will do that too -- just be patient, and be willing to leave your cards with them, or wait as they do a few of your stack, then sign the next person's, then more of your stack, etc. I like this method because I get to talk to the artist and ask them weird questions while they sign.
Awesome sketch of Andrea Van DeGraaf that Heather Bruton did for me at GenCon 2000. This was done on a large mat I used to frame an uncut sheet of cards. (the image is about 7" high)
I like to get the cards signed using a metallic paint pen (you can get these at Michael's or similar craft stores). I carry the super-fine points in gold, silver and copper. The drawback is that the paint doesn't dry very fast, so you have to leave your cards out for at least 5 minutes. Don't ever put cards signed with these pens back-to-back until they've had at least 24 hours to dry, and even then I've had rub-offs, transfers, and sticky cards. I bring a small spiral or perfect bound notebook that's a little bit bigger than a card (about 3" x 4" is easy to find). After the initial drying period, I insert the cards between pages in the notebook (no card touches another card) so I can safely carry them around for the rest of the day. In the evening I lay them all out to dry overnight. Yes, it's painful, but I haven't had any problems with this trick, and the paint pens look gorgeous when dry (especially the silver on Lotus and gold on Dragons). A few artists will refuse to sign with these pens, so bring a black Sharpie permanent fine-point pen too, just in case. (all the artists have their own pens too, but I like to bring a color of my choice, and the very fine point)
Some artists are willing to do quick sketches on your playmat or other easily accessible surface, although they won't often do this while you stand there waiting, or by mail. Ask very nicely, don't pout if you're turned down, and thank profusely. Some artists will do this as a straightforward charge, others do it for free and in fact won't accept a tip or other payment. I make it a point to buy a print or something from folks who do this for free (and they'll insist on signing that, too!)
A lot of artists will sign cards by mail, if you send them a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) with enough postage to cover the cards and whatever protective materials you send along with them. You should contact the artist before sending, to make sure they are still signing, and to check on their backlogmany of these people are very busy, so they may need to have a few weeks or months to get your cards back to you. Non-US residents should send International Reply Coupons (IRC) to cover air mail return postage, but check with the artist first to make sure they are willing to accept IRCs (not everyone wants to deal with them :)