Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CUSTOM CREATIONS - A Special Linden Set

Just giving you all fair warning....this post has a lot of words.  But it will also have a lot of cards.  And more important than anything, it will have a great story of the enjoyment of the hobby.

When I started this blog almost five years ago, one of the first posts talked about custom card creations.  I love the art of design, observing techniques, dissecting layouts and trying my hand at it.

The first custom card I ever made was this Ilya Kovalchuk offering.  I look at it now with a sweet smile and a bit of a gawk.  I can see where ny ambition level was at the time but I can also see what I have improved on over the years.

For those of you who remember the days where the Beckett Boards were the place to hang out and talk cards, you may remember some of the custom card contests that were set up.  The rules were pretty simple.  A head-to-head knockout tournament.  Each person developing a new card for each round with the board members submitting their votes.

I always enjoyed these contests because they were nothing but fun.  No egos or prizes, just creating for the joy of it.

What I also enjoyed about those contests was the simple, but important, organization brought by one certain individual - a fellow custom card creator.  At the time his handle was WingzOfKyiv but I got to know him as Eugene.  A person passionate about creating new and exciting cards...in addition to seeing what others could offer in the same respect.

For years after the great Beckett Battles, Eugene drifted away from the hobby.  I moved on to another forum once Beckett made some changes (it's never been the same since).  But a few months back I noticed some new customs pop up from a guy names Wingz198.  They had a flavour and style that I instantly recognized.  Sure enough, Eugene was back to show off some new creations.

I offered a hearty hello and enjoyed what he had created.  I mentioned how much his designs and overall attitude towards the hobby had an impact on me.  To this day, I think very highly of his efforts.

A couple months ago I received an e-mail from him asking for my address.  I didn't know what to expect but happily forwarded it to him.  Not long after, I received one of the coolest gifts I've been given in this hobby.

Here's where the cards begin.
Customs.  Trevor Linden customs.  Sixteen of them to be exact.

Each unique and done with the attitude and essence of enjoyment.  I can sense it in every single card in the set.

And make no mistake....this is a set.  I have already proudly put them in toploaders and placed them in amongst my other Linden cards.

Part of the collection, they will be a strong reminder of those great memories and of a solid hobbyist.

I really enjoy the fact that Eugene hunted down many different photos.  Rather than just reuse the same one over and over again.

Each design built with a vision in mind.

These scans do not do the cards justice.  I have seen the digital version of these cards and the vibrancy is much greater (he mentioned that he was still experimenting with the printing process (I think we all are).

This is one of my favorites.  A great photo from a fantastic season.  It also has a similar look to a set that I have er, was designing.  I feel like a little revisit is in order.

I like that each card has something new to it.  Always trying new things.  One of the biggest lessons I learned from my early days of creating.

When you find something you like, keep it in the arsenal.  But always look to do more.  Expand your horizons.

Eugene often had an international taste to his concepts.  Even though he lives in Omaha, his roots are in Kyiv.  And I have no doubt that the world of international hockey was a part of his life growing up.

Mmmmmm....Trevor at the Olympics.  What great memories of that.

I'm just glad Rob Zamuner was on that team in 1998.....made Trev's inclusion a little less critical.

He scored a big goal in the game against the Czech team late to send it to overtime.......

where they botched it in the shootout.  No Gretzky?  Why no Gretzky?  I think he's still pondering that one on the bench.

Colors, cutouts and a cool title.  That's what customs are all about.

Well, back in the day they were.  Did you see my Kovalchuk?

Recognize that jersey?  Bonus points if you do.

And double bonus points if you know the set that was the inspiration for this card.

I like the fonts used in this one.  The photo is great too.  I love how it fills the frame up fully.

Oh yeah!  Some junior hockey goodness.  I love when a person does some digging.  Another great photo.

A parallel.  An auto parallel.  I hope there aren't a bazillion different colors to chase now.

Again, always trying different things.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.  But if you never make a bad card......don't expect to ever have a good one.

Not that this one is bad.

Bonus points times three for the name of the player who was drafted first overall just ahead of Trevor.

Last, but certainly not least, one last card.  Commemorating Linden's two Memorial Cup titles with the Tigers.  I can still remember back to those days fondly.

Just like I can remember the wonderful times spent creating cards in those early days.  Hours spent just trying to figure out how to use the photo editing program.  Discovering new textures, colors, fonts, techniques.

Eugene....thank you very much for the absolutely wonderful gift.  I will cherish these cards and include them in my collection forever.  Thank you as well for your efforts in making the hobby a more enjoyable place for me to visit and be a part of.

Thanks to everyone who stuck with me until the end.  These cards are worth it.


  1. those are way cool... hopefully I'll be able to see them some time.

  2. Thanks for the kind words; really glad you like the cards. Reading your blog and Andy's posts on HI are what got me back into the hobby (and spending a little too much). The hardest part was finding the Tigers photos. Also, the Signs of Authority photo is from one of your posts :). I've always liked maps and flags, which fed into my interest of international hockey. I'd love to see the design you mentioned of the Season card.

    I was looking through the designs from those contests and it's easy to see the progress you've been making in the designs. I also noticed that no matter how proud I might be of some of my recent ones, they're no match for the cards that philroy and mulletcollector designed back then. I'd actually kind of like to post some of the highlights on HI, though I don't know if that's something they'd mind me doing.

    1. Thanks very much for the kind words. I agree...there were some spectacular designs that really inspired. The name that always stuck out for me was TCDaniels. He took it to the next level by actually printing and assembling his cards. That blew my mind.

      I'll post up the Linden that I mentioned. It's got some similar elements and font styles.

      Thanks again. Glad you are enjoying the hobby. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your fine work down the road.