Posts Tagged ‘Surtex


Custom Robots

darbot 004I love my job.  Especially this time of year.   I should be up to my ass in Surtex preparations, and instead, I’m preparing to head west to Bristol, Virginia for the annual US 11 Antique Alley.  502 miles along the backroads of Appalachia, in search of cool Fobot junk.  But more on that later.

As I was saying, I love my job.  I love each and every Fobot equally, but as any really honest parent will admit, there are some I love more than others.  And this is one of them. 

I’ve done custom bots before.  There was the one that combined one man’s love for Altoids, painting, cowboys, and….chickens.  And the one I just finished for my husband’s boss upon her retirement from McKesson, combining the traditional “retirement gold watch” with golf and the sweetest little McKesson aspirin tin that I made into a briefcase.   But when my friend Darci’s sweet boyfriend Ted called and wanted to surprise her with her very own Fobot, we put our heads together and came up with this little guy. 

The camera–Darci’s creating a new line of designs featuring her photography.  She rescues kittens and is a lover of boxer dogs.  And of course, she’s an artist.  And although I never intended “Darbot” to physically resemble human Darci (she’s got much better hair, for starters), it does capture her sweet, optimistic, determined demeanor, if I do say so myself.

So for those of you who have been asking—yes, I do make some custom robots.  Coming up soon–an “automotive” themed bot for someone in Massachusetts.  Here’s hoping we find some cool car parts along US 11.


Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be licensing artists

snobot-bThe following is a letter I just posted to one of my Yahoo groups–“The Art of Licensing” to be specific (note: if you’re a professional illustrator who wants to get into licensing, JOIN THIS GROUP!).  Those of you who know me know how much I loathe typing, so I’m posting the note again here ’cause I hate to see so many keystrokes go to waste.

Hi, everyone–


I feel like I need to apologize or explain my absence from this board this last year.  Truth is, my heart just isn’t in it anymore.  And by “it”, I mean art and licensing, not the group!


When I first started out as an illustrator, waaaaaay back in 1982, I, like many illustrators, went to work for a big company–in this case, Hallmark, and then Current.  The money and benefits were great, and if you could stomach the politics, it was a good way to make a living.  Then, in the late 80’s, it seems like all the employers woke up and said “Hey!  If we make all the artists work freelance, we can pay them half as much and skip the benefits”.  And that was OK–I got to work at home, the politics were (mostly) a thing of the past, and the money was still pretty good.  Art directors would call me up and describe what they needed from me, I’d do it, and they’d send me a check.


Now, whenever I speak with an art director, she seems to be doing the job of six former coworkers, has no time to plan anything, and is one flat tire away from a complete nervous breakdown.  This past year I’ve had, for the first time in my career, clients go bankrupt, fail to pay me, and cancel jobs already contracted.  Sure, licensing is great if you hit it big, but frankly, I’m sick and tired of doing tons of work on spec, and hoping that someone picks it.  And then paying about what they would have paid for a freelance work-for-hire piece.  Plus, I absolutely SUCK at marketing myself.  I’d rather chew glass than cold call a potential buyer.


Yeah, I should probably look into getting an agent.  If I can find anyone that’s OK with me not creating any new work for a while.  I’ve started a new business–see — and I’m soooo much happier now.  Just got back from the Buyers’ Market show in Philadelphia (that’s a show like Surtex but where craftsmen sell their work wholesale to galleries) and have more orders than I can fill.  Some contacts from CHA are already starting to work out, and I’ll follow through on them, but after that, I’m out.


Speaking of Buyers Market and CHA–it was a real eye-opener how inexpensive they were and how lovely, helpful and accommodating the staff were compared to Surtex.  I just gotta groan every time I read a new message about Surtex.  They remind me of that routine Lily Tomlin used to do as Ernestine, the phone operator–“We don’t care.  We don’t have to.  We’re the Phone Company”.  Small wonder they’ve lost over half of their exhibitors.


Thanks for letting me ramble.  I’ve been wanting to get this off my chest for a while.  I will miss seeing you at Surtex this year.  If there’s one good thing that came out of all of this, it’s the many wonderful friendships that have developed with other artists over the years.  Best of luck, and I hope you all make it really big this year.






cha wrap-up, then on to Philadelphia

cha-2009-263I’ve been back from Anaheim–as well as Phoenix and the California bay area–since Saturday, and I’m wondering what the statute of limitations for blaming one’s spaciness on jet-lag is.  I’m hoping for a week.  Because the alternative is to blame it on a to-do list so long I go into minor meltdown mode whenever I look at it.  A week from today we leave for ANOTHER  trade show–this time, the Buyer’s Market of American Craft in Philadelphia.  There, I’ll be showing the Fobots to gallery owners who will fall in love with them and clamor to have them in their stores.  At least, that’s what I’m hoping…

But first–CHA.  A great show, well worth the relatively small investment.  Well, small compared to Surtex.  Sometimes it seems like my HOUSE is a small investment compared to Surtex.  But I digress…. The new location of the License and Design section, right in the middle of the Anaheim Convention Center show floor was a huge improvement over last year’s Siberian outback.  The show management flew in 10 VIP buyers from a variety of companies who license art, and who spoke with each of the exhibitors.  I’ve got a good feeling about some of these contacts resulting in some actual contracts, but I’m such a pessimist… I’ll believe it when the check clears.  But the best part is getting to visit with old friends, meeting new artists, and sharing information.  One Photoshop tip I picked up from another exhibitor (thanks, Robin!) had me so excited, I couldn’t wait to try it out.  That’s me in the picture, in my booth, working on my laptop.  Only regret–The day we had set aside for Disneyland was cold and rainy, and the hotel room was warm and dry…

Note to self and future exhibitors–if you’re planning on shipping anything from the convention center’s FedEx office–DON’T.  Take a cab to any other FedEx office–it’ll be cheaper than the $45 “handling fee” they stuck me with in addition to the shipping costs.  But aside from that, a great show.  I could go on and on, but the to-do list is calling.  Not just calling–screaming.


We’re going to Disneyland!

cha-anaheim-2008-009Actually, we’re going to the CHA (that’s the Craft and Hobby Association) Winter Show in Anaheim, January 25-28, 2009.  But as long as we’re in Anaheim—Woohoo!  Rides!

We exhibited at last year’s show in the License and Design Section.  It’s sorta like Surtex West, for those of you in the biz.  Illustrators from around the country display their artwork, hoping to license it for use on a variety of products.  You get to meet with old friends (Hi Darci! Hi Robin!), make new contacts, maybe attend a few seminars.  So no, the “Craft” in the show title has nothing to do with the Fobots.  Although if anyone else wanted to license their images for use on, say, stickers or wrapping paper…

October 2021

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