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Card Art: How Overproduction is Inspiring Artists to Customize Cards

Worth $2 Each, There Are 99,177 Copies of The Topps Project 2020 Ken Griffey Jr. Card by Keith Shore

When Topps launched their Project 2020 website back around April, there is no way they could have predicted the massive swell in popularity that was going to come. If you aren’t familiar already, the way the concept works is that Topps gathered 20 different artists to have them redesign 20 different iconic MLB rookie cards (hence, 20-20). The cards are released two at a time on the Topps website for 48 hours each and can be purchased as many times as desired for about $20 per copy (less in bulk). After the 48 hour window is closed, the card print run is finalized and released on the website the next day (usually).

After getting off to a slow start, the project started picking up steam in its second and third months, particularly after the release of card #51 of Mike Trout by Ben Baller, pictured below. But things got really crazy, like REALLY freaking crazy, with card #88 of Ken Griffey Jr. by Mikkeller Beer artist Keith Shore.

topps project 2020 mike trout ben baller

At the time that card #88 of Ken Griffey Jr. by Keith Shore was released, in tandem with card #87 of Nolan Ryan by Joshua Vides, a growing amount of speculators in The Hobby started “investing” in Project 2020 cards and flipping them on eBay for profit, without the cards actually being in-hand. In combination with the excitement around the project, eBay pre-sales drove many to think they could buy now, profit now and deliver later. This theory led to 163,806 copies of the two cards being ordered within 48 hours. You can see the dramatic nature of the spike in context with production of the other cards in the chart below from CRT Sportscards.

Source: https://twitter.com/CRT_Sportscards/status/1295554562481299456

We will skip over all of the issues this caused in terms of a production backlog with Topps, in addition to the impacts of COVID-19 delays, and jump ahead to the part where the Griffey Jr. cards finally made their way to the mailboxes of all of the people who bought in. By that point, the cards were selling for as little as $2 on eBay and are now largely viewed as “worthless” as far as market value goes. So how have people been finding a way to get people to buy them? By customizing the heck out of them and creating unique pieces of art!

Check out the gallery we’ve put together of customized Project 2020 #88 Ken Griffey Jr. cards that have sold recently on eBay. We really appreciate the creativity, hustle and pure fun that most of these artists/sellers seem to be having with these concepts. In many ways, this type of thing is exactly what Project 2020 is all about––bringing sports fans, card lovers and the art world together so that we can all share in the enjoyment of each other’s passions.

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