We have featured many sports artists in this series, all of them extremely talented. My favorite thing about all of these sports artists is that they all have different styles. As a huge sports fan I can certainly appreciate all of the art I see on a daily basis on social media. Another extremely talented artist that just recently collaborated with Topps is Matt Sharpe. I have long been a fan of Sharpe’s work, and recently had the opportunity to ask Matt a few questions!
BU: Can we get a little background on you?
MS: You got it. I’m a 37 year-old father of 3 who lives with his wife and children in beautiful Guelph, Canada. I work as a Creative Director in Zynga’s internal Ad studio and produce sports art and collectibles via my design studio, Daring Boy.
BU: How were you introduced to the trading card hobby?
MS: 90-91 Pro Set Hockey was my introductory course into collecting, as I was an avid collector in the early-90’s (and still contend that the Patrick Roy CC2 insert from that release is about as bad-ass a card as you’d find for a pre-teen in that era).
It was a ton of fun; my Dad dove into the hobby with me, I’d barter with vendors at flea markets to get $2-5 knocked off a full set of Parkhurst… the whole thing just immediately caught.
BU: Do you currently collect? What do you collect?
MS: Physical? No. Digital? Absolutely.
I know some have an allergic reaction to digital given that it’s not a tangible product, but as someone who has neither the funds nor space to embark on a substantial physical collection it’s a cost-effective way for me to continue the hobby with 24/7 access to trades, pack openings, etc.
9 Pocket Page Page: 8-1/4 x 11-3/8″; Pockets: 2-5/8 x 3-5/8″. Holds current trading cards, sketch cards and artist trading cards. Ultra-Pro brand. Made from 5-gauge polypropylene. For use in 3-ring binders. Top-loading.
I primarily collect football (Topps Huddle and Panini Blitz) but also have accounts across the other Topps platforms.
BU: Any favorite pieces from your collection that you’d like to share?
MS: I do have 1 physical card that I keep encased in my otherwise-sparse home office.
Backstory: I was a huge Patrick Roy fan while growing up and my white whale in collecting was securing a Roy OPC rookie card (~$150+ was a tough get for a 10 year-old and it never materialized as a result).
Fast forward a decade or so, and one of the first purchases I made after landing my initial full-time gig (and finally having disposable income to my name) was the Roy card (PSA… 8, I believe? 8.5?).
It’s one of the rare items of mine that I keep on display in the office.
BU: How would you explain your art to someone who has never seen it?
MS: That’s a great question. At its best, I’d describe the art as a dynamic exposition of the subject featured – weaving technique alongside personality to create an engaging composition for the audience.
Or, more simply: I try to make compositions that fans and players want to hold in their hands or hang in their homes.
BU: Why did you decide to focus on sports for your art?
MS: Short game: I needed a subject matter that could play to my interests so that I could explore new design languages, techniques, and production workflows without it feeling like a job or mundane technical task.
Long game: it’s that same sentiment (the work never feeling like “work”) that’s allowed me to sacrifice sleep, evenings out, and other things in order to keep the train moving in exploring not just production of the work, but getting it out in front of more people for engagement.
BU: What can you tell us about your recent collaboration with Topps?
MS: That would be the 12 card ‘Essence’ NHL set designed for the Topps Skate app, feat. players like Auston Matthews, Henrik Zetterberg, Bobby Hull, and others.
It was fantastic, I loved it – the team at Topps is great to work with.
I had always wanted to design a card (beyond the custom ones 10 year-old me pieced together with pen, paper, and tape) so to go through that process and see it through to production was super rewarding.
BU: How did that opportunity come about?
MS: As a byproduct of the same “Well gee, Small World!” phenomena that drives most opportunities. 🙂
I appeared on the FatPacks/Beckett podcast a few months back and was talking to Eric Norton and then-host Paul Wirth on the merits of digital collecting. They mentioned they had Chris Vaccaro on the show awhile back, who at the time was Editor-in-Chief at Topps Digital.
After hearing this, I reached out to Chris and proactively delivered a mailer of some design samples to Topps HQ. We connected that same day and the project came together in short order.
You know how you talk to some people and feel “they just get it”? That’s the vibe I got from Chris and, with that in place, the project hummed along. Can’t say enough about his role in things.
BU: Any chance we see your amazing work on physical cards in the future?
MS: At the moment, all the upcoming projects being discussed are for the digital space – but I would *love* to produce a physical card if the circumstances were right.
BU: Anything else you’d like to share?
MS: Just how continuously grateful I am that people not only appreciate my work, but make the time to both purchase and share it (via partners such as Armori Steele, Topps, etc).
I try to do a weekly 8×10 giveaway as my form of a “give back” to the community who participates in that engagement, and I can’t say “thank you” enough.
Thanks so much!
MUSEUM GRADE Trading Card Storage Box. Holds 500 cards. 3-3/4 x 2-3/4 x 9-3/4″(inside). Made from Black Conservation Grade board that is acid-free, lignin-free and approved by the Library of Congress for Indefinite storage.