Best Practices: Artist Signed Cards (Through the Mail)

If you’ve seen me around the PucaTrade Discord server, or our very own Patron-exclusive server under the moniker DankMeme, it will quickly become clear that I am a huge collector of artist proofs, artist-signed cards, and artist-altered cards. The art of Magic is what originally got me into the game, my first card being the alternate art foil Thorn Elemental that was in the 7th Edition starter computer game. This article explains how to get your cards signed through the mail, and proper etiquette when working with the artists.

If you don’t have a GP near you, and traveling would be too far, mailing your cards directly to the artist is a great way to have your cards signed. The first thing to note when getting your cards signed through the mail is that not all artists do it. This is typically the case when artists have several projects they are working on, and cannot devote the time to signing cards. It’s not that they don’t appreciate their fans, it’s just they feasibly can’t sign all of the cards in a timely manner. There are also some artists that flat-out do not respond to signature requests, likely because they are too busy and do not want to say no. It is not personal.

To contact an artist and request them to sign their cards is simple. Look up the artist and find their website. On the artist’s website, there is typically a section entitled “Send Magic Cards.” If an artist does not have this on their page, go to their contact info and find their email. In your email, let them know you’d like cards signed, ask how much they charge, and let them know how many cards you have; some have a limit and some do not. Do not request any special alterations or additions from the artist. It is too difficult for them to manage these through the mail.

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A typical signature charge is $1-2 per card. If there is no charge, please always tip. These artists take the time out of their day to sign cards, and a tip shows them that what they do is appreciated. Including a thank-you note adds a personal touch to the envelope; just like the tip, your note will be much appreciated.

The other caveat to sending cards through the mail is not only do you have to pay shipping to the artist, but shipping back as well. Artists will not pay to have your cards shipped back to you, and if you send them cards without a return envelope they will likely remain somewhere within the aether. The complete package I send to artists consists of the following:

  • 8.5×11 manilla envelope with tracked shipping to artist
  • 10-20 cards in a single, oversized Toploader
  • Handwritten thank you note
  • Cash tip (if I did not pay or tip through PayPal)
  • 4×6 manilla envelope with tracked shipping from artist to me

Tracking is imperative when sending cards, especially if they are expensive. The artist is not responsible for your cards if they never reach them. The only damage the artist is responsible for is damage done to the card during the actual signing process itself. If a pen explodes on your card, the artists will almost always work with you on an amicable solution. Of course, you can always consider it an alter. Tracking for getting your cards back also helps gauge the turnaround time for that specific artist. I’ve had artists send back cards the same day they receive them, and I’ve also had artists send back three months after delivery. If you send your cards out on Monday, do not expect them back by FNM. If you’re hesitant about sending cards because of the turnaround time, ask the artist. They will be upfront if they won’t get to them for a while. Don’t send cards and then email the artist two days after they’ve been delivered. This will only annoy the artist.

The more complicated it is for the artist to unpack your cards, the less likely they are to sign again, for you and perhaps anyone. Use minimal tape when packing. Do not have individual cards in individual sleeves and top loaders. This creates a maddening experience for the artist. A single oversized toploader makes it easy for the artist to open the package and sign the cards. Put 4-6 cards in penny sleeves an into the toploader. Expensive cards can be individually sleeved and put within the toploader.

All of these points are generalities. Each artist is different and has their own set of expectations and guidelines when receiving cards to get signed. My method is a boilerplate structure I use for each artist. Other methods may work for you. But, I have sent out 200+ cards through the mail using this method and have had no issues.

 

Please comment if you have any tips, tricks, cheat codes, etc about getting cards signed. I’d also love to hear if you have an experience with an artist you’d like to share.

While not a mix of sugar, spice, and everything nice, Loren wishes to share his love of Magic with everyone. Loren plays Modern (not well) and EDH (not well). He lives in northern Arizona with his girlfriend and vault of artist-signed cards.

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