There will be a new, artistic spin on some classic baseball cards. Launched Wednesday, Topps Project 2020 was a collaboration between the company and 20 creative artists, cartoonists and pop culture influencers.
Each artist is reinterpreting 20 cards from the Topps archives for a total set of 400 cards that will be released in the months to come. Two cards will be available each business day with a 48-hour sales window.
Celebrity jewelry designer Ben Yang, graphic designer Tyson Beck and tattoo and graffiti artist Mark Machado, also known as Mister Cartoon, are among those hired to create the cards. Beck is well-known for his work on various trading card projects over the last several years.
“When we think of the collectible world and where it has evolved today, sports and pop culture continue to collide,” said Jeff Heckman, Topps global director of e-commerce. “We could not think of a better way to expose trading cards to a new audience than working to reinvent some of the classic baseball cards and personalities of the game of baseball through the eyes and hands of many of the world’s greatest pop culture figures of today.”
Each artist will be highlighted along with the cards, which are available for $19.99 or both for $34.99 only via this page on the Topps website (you will likely also find them on eBay from dealers who buy in quantity). Hand-numbered artist proof copies are more expensive.
The subjects will range from Jackie Robinson’s first Topps card (1952) to Mike Trout’s Rookie Update (2011). The set kicked off Wednesday with Yankee fan/artist Jacob Rochester’s work on Sandy Koufax’s 1955 rookie card and Dodger fan/jewelry designer Ben Baller’s work on Ichiro’s 2001 rookie card. Trout and Robinson were added Thursday.
Print runs will be revealed once the day’s ordering window closes.
“When I was a kid, baseball cards were currency,” Baller told MLB.com. “That was the original barter item. When [the project] was presented to me, I was like ‘Are you kidding me?'”
The company is hoping the audience for the cards will go beyond the hobby to reach both baseball fans and fans of the artists.
“Project 2020’ will be a must-have for core and casual baseball fans, and will more importantly showcase the names and stories of the artists and players on the cards to a global audience whose interests lie well beyond the sport. It’s a transformative move we are very excited about,” Heckman said.
Other cards in the project will include:
1952 Willie Mays
1952 Jackie Robinson
1955 Sandy Koufax
1959 Bob Gibson
1980 Rickey Henderson
1989 Ken Griffey Jr
1969 Nolan Ryan
1984 Don Mattingly
1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera
1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken
1975 George Brett
1987 Mark McGwire
1990 Frank Thomas
1985 Dwight Gooden
1955 Roberto Clemente
1954 Ted Williams
According to Topps, the artists participating in the set include:
Ben Baller- jewelry designer with a huge celebrity following that includes Kanye West, Drake, Snoop Dogg and others.
Tyson Beck- Australia based, recently redesigned the NBA logo to look like Kobe Bryant, with a petition to change the logo with over 3 million signatures.
Sophia Chang- Queens native whose lifestyle illustrations and basketball cards have landed her collaborations with Nike, Adidas and Puma.
Efdot- NYC based, paints murals with the ubiquitous “Blob” character as the star of his pieces Ermsy- Cartoon style UK artist living in Paris, whose popular works include reimagined classics like
Garfield and Betty Boop.
Fucci- Toronto-based artist who paints vibrant post-pop art and ligne-claire style illustrations with a minimalist approach.
Grotesk- Swiss born, Belgian-trained graphic designer, artist and Creative Director, Kimou Meyer (aka Grotesk) “has worked with almost all the key players in New York’s brand underground, as well as major sports leagues, drawing on his classical training and outsider’s perspective to develop an iconic language and style.”
Blake Jamieson- N.Y. based painter who has done portraits for over 350 professional athletes including numerous prominent NFL players.
JK5- based in Brooklyn, native of North White Plains, N.Y., who weaves layers of poetry, spirituality, symbolism, color and line across various media.
Just Don- Chicago based, worked with Kanye West on a number of collaborations, including projects for Nike and Mitchell and Ness, as well as other NBA apparel.
King Saladeen- A contemporary artist from West Philadelphia whose works are exhibited all over the world, King Saladeen created the “Money Bear” which pays homage to his childhood friend, the late JP.
Mister Cartoon- L.A. basedWest Coast style” tattoo artist who has done illustrative work for Kobe Bryant and Snoop Dogg, and tattoo work on CC Sabathia’s back. Currently working on a mural at L.A. landmark Casa Vega.
Naturel- Creative Director for many apparel projects from Crooks painted one of the most famous Kobe Bryant murals in Los Angeles.
Old Man Alan- Sacramento-based, tastemaker who advised a number of brands.
Jacob Rochester- L.A. based native of Connecticut whose Allen Iverson hair progression art has garnered some attention.
Keith Shore- Philadephia based; the lead creative for Mikkelar Beer.
Gregory Siff – lives in L.A., worked with MLB on a number of projects including Stance.
Matt Taylor- Brighton, U.K., artist who specializes in movie poster designs and has collaborated on projects with Marvel, Amazon Studios, LucasFilm and more, as well as ESPN for the US Open tennis tournament.
Andrew Thiele- based in NYC, drew “Whole Squad Ready” art for 2018 World Series; has worked for ESPN on MLB and NBA graphics.
Joshua Vides- Black and White style, based in LA, famous collaborator with Converse in 2019, also produced “locker room art” for MLB at the 2018 All-Star Game.
The images on the cards as they’re produced can be seen at https://www.topps.com/project2020.