Sol Neelman

Who printed it?

Never thought I’d be able to boast that Topps printed my promos, but they did. You can upload your photos on their site and pair them with designs from some of their vintage trading cards.

For common cards to fill the packs, I collected old baseball and pro wrestling cards and defaced them with stickers of my masked face. Those were printed at home on shipping labels with my temperamental Epson R2880.

As for the photo stickers and packaging labels, I used Can’t believe how great a job they did.

Who designed it?

I borrowed basic design elements from Topps cards and wrappers over the years for my DIY promo pack.

The front sticker features a sketched version of my photo on the cover of Weird Sports 2. Tanyia Johnson, an old friend and talented graphic artist, drew that. She also held my hand – a lot! – and gave great feedback throughout the process.

For better or worse, baseball cards and wrappers back in the day were not designed by anyone nearly as talented as TJ. Many times, I got away with using my basic design skills.

The sticker insert is a slightly modified version of the cover of my first book, Weird Sports, designed by Katha Stumpf at Kehrer Verlag.

Tell me about the images?

With the advice of friend, agent and consultant Maren Levinson (, we chose 5 images from my Weird Sports book series: Redneck Games, Frog Jumping, Dirty Dash, Ostrich Racing and Drag Queen Softball.

Because of the size and dimensions of the trading cards, I needed images that could hold up well small and were quick hits. I put just one of those 5 collectibles in each pack.

Since my goal with this entire project was simply for folks to check out my updated web site (, I was able to lean more on the WTF?! factor for the entire presentation. Trying to showcase work on a 2.5” x 3.5” piece of cardboard is seldom ideal.

How many did you make?

I made 500 promo packs, and I’ll likely do follow-up special editions for special occasions.

While most of those promos have already been mailed out, I am sending out a little something fun and weird for those that mail me a self-addressed stamped envelope. (My addy: 589 Park Place #14, Brooklyn, NY 11238 USA.)

How many times a year do you send out promos?

Honestly, this is really my first-ever promotional mailer.

This process for me started when Maren asked me this very same question. When I replied that I never mail out promos, she told me to get on it. I wanted to do something that was unique, weird, memorable and – most importantly – felt like me. Also I wanted to create something that was less likely to be immediately trashed.

Usually, when I meet with clients and art buyers personally, they’ll get a signed copy of one of my Weird Sports books, along with a custom luchador mask. Individual leave-behinds have always been fun for me to dream up. Mailers for the masses, not so much.

I loved unwrapping packs of cards as a kid, excited to discover fun gems inside, and I hoped to share that feeling with others. I’ve been toying around with something like this for years, just needed the kick in the rear to get on it. (Thanks, Maren!)

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?

I have no idea, Rob. Having been in this game for awhile, I’ve learned that there are many seeds planted before anything bares fruit. I’d love to think that advertising art buyers got one of my Weird Sports promo packs in the mail, laughed their asses off, checked out my web site and tossed my name in the ring for a fun gig. But who really knows? At least I had fun making them.

To see more behind the scenes on this process visit Sol’s facebook page:

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