The inside cover of the November 1998 issue of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly magazine is an excellent example of the artwork that I remember from my youth.
The focus of the artwork is Seattle Mariners, Ken Griffey Jr.
The artwork gives two separate looks at Griffey. The first showcases the end of Griffey's sweet swing with him looking at the ball; most likely landing somewhere in the distant bleachers. The second is a head shot featuring him wearing his Mariners batting helmet.
I'm a huge Griffey fan, so I may be a bit biased, but I think the artwork is amazing!
The artwork was done by Tim LaCapra. I found Tim LaCapra on Facebook and LinkedIn that I thought might be the artist and so I reached out to him to see if it was the same person that did this artwork. He responded and was kind enough to do an interview.
Question: "You're an extremely talented artist. Did it come naturally to you? Did you attend school for art?"
Answer: "Thank you for the compliment. I was always a kid that was coloring in coloring books and on paper. I remember form a young age living in Cascade Montana, my mother covering up the kitchen table with white butcher paper and letting me draw. I would draw cars and towns and such to play with my Hot Wheels. I would draw wild life as well, birds and deer that I would often see around me. I got into comic books and started drawing and tracing from comic books and I think that taught me some basic proportions. I didn’t have an actual art class till late in my 8th grade year when I moved to Gresham Oregon. I took art in high school that helped me learn how to use different mediums. When I was 30 I attended Memphis College of Art in pursuit of my Graphic Design degree. I currently reside outside of Nashville Tennessee where I am a Graphic Designer."
Question: "I would assume that you you are a sports fan. Is that correct? If so what are your favorite teams and who are your favorite athletes? Do/did you collect sports cards?"
Answer: "I am a sports fan, have always enjoyed playing and watching my favorite sports. My favorite teams are the Dallas Cowboys, since 1976, The Oregon Ducks and any team my 5 children take part in. I guess my favorite athletes would be most of the Cowboys over the years, Dale Earnhardt, Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. I was big into collecting cards in the 70’s and in the 90’s. I collected Nascar, Basketball and Football mainly."
Question: "What do you remember about the Griffey Jr. piece that graced the inside front cover of the November 1998 issue of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly? How long does something of that caliber take to complete? What size was the original? What medium did you use?"
Answer: "The Griffey Jr. piece was my second of six published covers for Beckett. I truly loved the way the light was captured on that piece. I believe it took me about twelve hours or so to complete that piece, working entirely in colored pencil."
Question: "How did you get your artwork published in Beckett magazine? Have you had other artwork featured in Beckett magazines?"
Answer: "I remember reading in Beckett one time about a “call for artists”. So I thought why not submit my work and see what happens. My first piece I submitted was a portrait of Emmitt Smith which the used in a tribute issue about him. from that point on I would work on several pieces and submit them for possible publication. There was one time that they reached out to me seeking a piece with Terry Labonte which I was able to do and send in. My covers include Emmitt Smith, Ken Griffey Jr., Micheal Jordan and the Bulls, Neil Bonnett, Nomar Garciaparra and Terry Labonte."
Question: "What was it like seeing your artwork featured in a publication like Beckett Baseball Card Monthly?"
Answer: "The feeling was so awesome! They would send me a few copies in the mail, but being able to walk into the card shop and pick up a magazine that had your work in it was such a cool feeling."
Question: "Have you ever sold your artwork? Do you accept commissions? If so, what would be the best way for someone interested to get a hold of you?"
Answer: "I have sold my work over the years. There is a bar in Swan Lake Montana that has commissioned 4 pieces from me over the years. I have pieces that I have done in Mississippi, Chicago, Tennessee and Oregon. I do accept commissions for work ranging from watercolor, colored pencil and marker. I can best be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."
Mr. LaCapra was nice enough to send some photos of his other work at my request. Check out his awesome talent.
I would like to publicly thank Tim for his time and once again compliment him on his amazing artwork!
For part of the 1998 season, it was a three way home run race between McGwire, Sosa, and Griffey. McGwire and Sosa pulled away, but Griffey ended the year with 56 home runs; tying his career high from the previous season and leading the American League in long balls.
The magazine cover indicated an "Exclusive Griffey Checklist" inside and to be honest, the majority of the magazine is dedicated to Griffey.