In my August installment you joined your disgruntled hero as he railed against the destructive nature of friendships and blind attachment to affable personalities above artistic talent. I described for you the negative aspects of a very small and insular scene that unfortunately places less than adequate value on creativity and risk while favoring the rote and safe. That is to say the organizers and galleries favor these things. The very explosion of garage and home studio resin slingers is evidence enough that the fans are pretty tired with what the shops, galleries, and bigger production companies like Kidrobot are presenting us. While there are only so many ways you can skin a cat, there are even fewer ways to customize the same Dunny figure we’ve all been staring at for years. But I’m getting away from today’s point.
While last month I put down the unproductive side of friendships in the art world, I wanted to take some time to recognize that if it weren’t for a very specific and serendipitous meeting of my own, I would never have been given the opportunity to be writing to you now. Is that reason enough for you to begin your design and construction of a time machine? The story begins a little more than two years ago, more specifically the first full day of San Diego Comic Con, 2010. While sitting at work, I pulled out my phone and began flittering through the tweets I’d missed throughout the day. As I’m scrolling through the list a new tweet pops up from writer Jeremy Brautman, whose blog I’d enjoyed for some time though had never interacted with. But this one tweet, sent almost assuredly in a manic state, was a proposition to his followers to split a pair of Ron English Telegrinnie figures being sold only in sets and of which he only wanted the green colorway.
That tweet changed my life and, in a much more insignificant way, yours too. It was without much thought that I replied immediately that I would. As fast as I could type out the words on my phone, the tweet was sent, and a dialog with an Internet stranger began. We agreed to meet that evening to exchange cash for his unwanted purple Telegrinnie, thus beginning what would become two years of a beautiful friendship. Ultimately I ended up selling him back the Telegrinnie because, for me at least and in a very stalker kind of way, it wasn’t something that appealed to me as a piece of art so much as a way to get to meet someone I’d come to be a fan of.
It was that night, standing there in the dark and loud bar hosting the annual Munky King SDCC party, that two strangers talked and where the well known one took the time to introduce the unknown one to people of significance. As artists would pass he would extend his hand out, point to me, and introduce me like I was someone. Like I mattered to any one of the people in that room at all or had anything to contribute. Standing just outside the roped off VIP section I was star-struck by the people mere feet away and Jeremy, all on his own, became a gateway for me to meet my idols. From there, from SDCC 2010, everything changed for me. My love of art toys grew in a different way. The fact that I was meeting, shaking hands and conversing with people I’d been collecting toys by, rocked me. It wasn’t until that started to happen that I realized how small the scene really was. How everyone knew everyone and while I wasn’t anywhere near Jeremy’s level and certainly not an artist, I was a part of it now too, and was welcomed without fail.
The best part of this story for me is that no matter how many times I get the opportunity to meet an artist, or writer, or other collectors, I’m still just as star-struck. It hasn’t worn off. I still get butterflies just replying to tweets and a silly grin on my face when I look up at my shelf, see a toy that I love, then notice its artist replied to a blog post I’ve written or is making fun of me on Facebook. It is a small world, a small scene, and while that isn’t always a good thing when those friendships become more important than the art, it is fantastic in the sense that it means that everyone is involved, from the fan on up. Artists don’t get to keep doing what they’re doing if we as fans don’t keep doing what we’re doing. While I would never wish SDCC on anyone as it is a cesspool of sweat and dry-humping strangers through tight aisles, it will always hold a special place in my special heart as where a new life for me began.
My story isn’t unique. I think this happens to a lot of fans and budding artists. There are a lot of people I know now that, through Twitter and great annual community events like Designer Con in Pasadena, CA, have had the opportunity to create relationships with people they never thought they’d be in the same room with much less share ideas. The best thing I can say about the people that I’ve met and would dare to call friends is that they are (as corny as this sounds even to me) fans just like us. If they weren’t as in love with the art as they are they wouldn’t be creating it. And because they’re fans like us they are (as corny as this sounds even to me) easy to talk to and are approachable and welcoming (with only a few notable exceptions). For as much as I complain about the things I see wrong around us and for as down in the mud as I get, it’s only because I love these people so much. These people, their art, delivered me through difficult times and it’s when the people you love let you down that it hurts the most and when I get the loudest. There is room for everyone here at this party, and that’s a great thing. So reach out to an artist today. Tweet at them or comment on their blog or Facebook wall. Take a chance to make a connection that I promise will change your life forever and for the better. There is room for everyone.
Oh, and bonus points for those of you who know the song from which the title of this post was stollen. Don't Google it, cheaters!