Bringing it Together
The art and science of crafting an impeccable series of trading cards have always captivated collectors and fans alike. John Doldan, the art director at Topps, shares some insider details about the weaving of the 2023 Topps Update Series. “This is a continuation of Topps series one and two,” he remarks, underlining a crucial connection with preceding sets while ensuring novel elements were interwoven to keep the series refreshing and exciting for collectors.
Keeping It Fresh
One of the standout elements in the series is the “First Stitch” concept. Enthusiastically, Doldan explains, “It’s an autographed memorabilia card containing the first jerseys in production for stars on new teams for 2023 and newly debuting Rookies.” With a design boasting “a nice clean jersey material textured background with a bold stitched arch behind the player image,” the First Stitch captures the spirit of new beginnings and provides a tactile connection to favorite players.
However, Doldan’s favorite is the “Heavy Lumber” insert. “It is printed on real cherry wood,” he shares, which is an innovative approach combining tactile and visual appeal. Senior Designer Rob Grabe managed to bring about “a nice branded look to it that is tilted on the card along with a cap logo,” which gives it a distinctly fresh and yet vintage appearance. This simultaneous nod to the old and new captures the design philosophy of the 2023 series.
Challenges? Every product has them, and Topps is no exception. However, Doldan articulates a straightforward approach: “We try our best to meet the challenges that arise.” This pragmatic mindset extends to balancing the storied legacy of Topps with a fresh influx of design concepts. Doldan fondly recalls a time “way back before we started making autographs and relic cards,” when inserts held a special place in collectors’ hearts due to their “unique and fun” designs. Today, he loves “getting creative with insert cards again,” striking a balance between nostalgia and innovation.
Creating a tangible product from an initial concept involves intensive collaboration and attention to detail. Doldan delves into the process: “We start with conversations between brand and design teams… The art director gives assignments out to his or her designers and multiple designs are created to match the concepts and themes.” This intricate dance between teams encompasses everything from materials to printing processes, requiring a “back and forth relationship” to ensure every card is perfect when it reaches collectors’ hands.
What about the future? While Doldan keeps cards close to his chest, he does tease that Topps is “getting much more creative in using the latest printing technologies available,” hinting at exciting developments in future releases. Topps continues to merge tradition with innovation, ensuring that each new series offers something familiar for long-time collectors while sparking excitement with new elements. Through a carefully crafted blend of the nostalgic and the contemporary, the 2023 Topps Update Series honors the legacy of the past and strides boldly into the future.