Hobby Musings: What Jean MacLeod Collects – Last week, I had the chance to catch up with influential trading card designer Jean MacLeod. Here’s Part 2 of our conversation. If you missed Part 1, check it out here.
KS: Is there a license you haven’t had the opportunity to design for that you are hoping to one day be able to?
JM: There isn’t a brand out there that I’m dying to get my hands on and do something with. Upper Deck has talked about me maybe working on some of their old brands, which would be a lot of fun. Back in the 90s, we really liked the Upper Deck brands. They were so clean and really well-designed.
Another favorite set I worked on was Flair, because I really love starting a brand and creating a new voice for a set that has never been out there. So, what I would love is to work on something from the ground and thinking about what it’s going to look like and be different from everything that’s been out there. My first boss said to me every time we started a new brand, this needs a reason for being. This set should not cannibalize everything we’ve done. It needs to have its own voice and identity.
At the time, we had never done a super premium brand, and Flair was going to be the first one. They asked, what can you do for a $5 pack of cards? Back then, it seemed outrageous for that price point compared to everything else. We got to look at every aspect of that card. We used thicker paper. Instead of UV coating, we did liquid lamination on each side. We used to do one photo front and back. For Flair, we did two photos on the front. We used script instead of straight type. We used a cigarette style kind of packaging with a telescoping box you could keep your cards in after opening the package. Being able to have that kind of experience again with a new brand would be fun.
KS: From when you started designing cards to now, what do you think has changed the most in the industry?
JM: Back in the 90s, it was a similar vibe to how things are now. There was a time when it was just collectors, and then people came into it for just for the money. Time Magazine had written an article about how you could make more money card collecting than in the stock market. So people came into it not with a love of cards. Now, there is still that money-driven aspect of it, because it’s so much crazier than it was in the 90s.
However, the people that I talk to now that collect for the money still have a love of the cards themselves. They aren’t coming into it strictly for money. It seems like it’s better for the long term. These people enjoy the cards and remember collecting them when they were 12, but now they can afford cards they couldn’t then.
KS: What memorabilia have you kept from your career?
JM: I do have a lot of the cards that we designed. None of the super rare or valuable numbered cards unfortunately. I liked to collect the background things that mean something to how we designed the cards. The Metal logo that was forged out of actual metal because we wanted it to authentically look like metal on the card. We have that. We also have some of the Marvel illustrator original drawings that were done on card backgrounds. I have a lot of sample cards that were never made. So that’s mostly the stuff I like to collect. The items that are unique to the design of the card and went into creating it.
KS: Aside from the memorabilia from your career, what else do you collect?
JM: I collect mixing bowls and probably have 100 of them. I don’t know why, I just saw one once, and it started there. They’re probably from the 1920s or 1930s through the 1960s. Earl liked to collect toys, so he had a lot of old vinyl toys and robots.
We collected a million things. My father was a carpenter, so I collect a lot of old tools, because they have a meaning to me. When I was little, I would play with his old rulers, so I think I have 20 of those. Every time I see one, I have to have it. We were big flea market people and would go to them every weekend. In Philadelphia, we lived right around the corner from an auction house. Every other Sunday, we would be going to the auction and picking up box lots. You could only see what was on top, so when we got home, we’d discover what else was in the box. It’s actually the same mentality as opening a box of cards.
Hobby Musings: What Jean MacLeod Collects
Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
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