Behind the Design: 2024 Bowman Baseball

Behind the Design of Bowman Baseball

Date: May 8, 2024
Author: Jason Strykowski
Topics: 2024 Bowman Baseball, Behind the Design, MLB
Length: 605 Words
Reading Time: ~4 Minutes

One of Topps’ most historic sets is back to honor baseball’s young talents with a few creative tweaks and bold new inserts. 2024 Bowman Baseball, a direct descendant of the original 1948 trailblazer, breaks new ground with designs like Gladiators of the Diamond, Prospect Power-Up, Rookie of the Year Favorites, and Rising Infernos. The set also returns with some unique tweaks to the base and a colorful assortment of parallels. 

Art Director and Topps veteran Adam Schwartz gets excited about Bowman every year because he knows the product has a devoted following and often marks the first time a player is featured. 2024 is the fourth year that Schwartz has worked on Bowman Baseball.

Schwartz looks forward to the set every year because it allows for creativity. “You have a lot of freedom with it,” he said. As long as the team works within the tradition of the cards, they have tremendous flexibility. Even in the base set, the art team took some liberties by moving the logo to the top this year. But Schwartz and the art team, including designer Wade Ryan, didn’t stop there. 

“The other unique thing about the base is that we’re doing two different spots this year for the color parallel, meaning you’re going to have two different hues of blue. We haven’t done that in a while,” Schwartz said. “It made for an extremely complicated product, but it’s rewarding.”

Creative Inserts

They got even more creative with the inserts in concert with product development. For Prospect Power-Up, Schwartz channeled some retro tech. “My first thought was to replicate the look of an early-2000s computer game,” he said. Then, he tailored the numbers and colors to baseball, replacing scores and points with stats. 

For Gladiators of the Diamond, Schwartz didn’t have to go too far for inspiration. “I’m a big movie guy, so I went to Gladiator and thought of Russel Crowe in the arena. There would be sand everywhere; there would be spectators in the stands; there would be a dramatic sky. I paint a picture in my head when there’s a card with a theme like that.” He even placed a sword at the bottom of the design to accentuate the look. 

For the Rising Infernos insert, Schwartz pictured fire and tried to extrapolate the image onto the card without making it look like the players were actually in physical danger. The idea for the design came from baseball Product Manager Coby Kerr. “He wanted to highlight people coming up in the league like they were spreading flames.” So Schwartz literally placed players amid a flame. 

To complement experimental designs, Schwartz points to the Rookie of the Year Favorites inserts as an old-school counterweight. “I really like that one,” he said. “It’s very retro in a product filled with new-age designs.” The card designs also distinguish between the American and National Leagues.

If Bowman sounds overwhelming, it’s not. Schwartz has already fixed his gaze on next year’s cards, hoping he can make it five years in a row. “I’m always up for the challenge,” he said. Collectors should be up for the challenge as well. In addition to these inserts and parallels, they can look for Bowman AI, Bowman Anime, Bowman Scouts Top 100, and Paper and Chrome Prospects.

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