For years, my parents were begging me to take my childhood baseball cards out of their house. When I finally did, I fell in love with them all over again.
I'm Matthew Lee Rosen... and I'm a baseball card artist. The smell of chewing gum and card stock triggers my fond memories of iconic 1980's card designs. Like anyone else who collected baseball cards as a kid, I was told they'd be worth lots of money when I got older, only to discover they were pretty worthless. So, what happened?
I learned that Topps lost a monopolization lawsuit which triggered new market competition in 1981 from Fleer and Donruss. Over the next decade, a few more brands entered the mix (Sportflics, Score and Upper Deck), and they all vied for shelf space. This created massive overproduction. It was a baseball card boom, and by the late 80's, some of the most popular cards had over a million in circulation. Today, they simply aren't rare to find. My personal favorite, the 1987 Donruss Greg Maddux Rated Rookie, can be purchased for a dollar on eBay. One dollar!
So, to celebrate their designs and help reduce circulation, I decided to turn them into pieces of artwork. In December of 2018, I began paying homage to the sport with my diamonds, which often tell visual stories about the baseball card boom and subsequent bubble burst. Soon after, I started creating my gum stick-inspired art... as an analogy for stained careers. It's since evolved into something broader.
Rosen's 1979 Topps Phillies Burger king collectible gum cards
During the COVID-19 quarantine, like many others, I was uncertain about the future. My corporate event jobs were all cancelled, and I needed to conserve my budget and resources. Creating these large pieces of art required significant material cost and space... so, I went small. And thus, I began making my collectible gum cards!