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Bad Words Aplenty

This arrived today. And, boy, are we excited.

If you are wondering, it’s a sheet of high-density polymer that we’ll use to print a series of letterpress greeting cards. Back in the day, all letterpress work had to be hand-set. Type had to be lined up in perfect rows of tiny lead characters, letter by letter. Illustrations had to be carved by hand in wood or forged in lead.

We have neither the time nor the patience nor the skill set for that sort of mastery. And so Robbi creates her designs in Adobe Illustrator, converts them to a PDF, and sends them off to Boxcar Letterpress. A few days later, we get a sheet of polymer, which we then cut into separate chunks, adhere to the printing plate, and use to create our stuff.

I wish I could show you some of the finished cards printed from the plate above, but I can’t because they are not yet finished, but I can show you some other stuff that we’ve been up to, including our Baby is Disappointing letterpress card set, which includes six illustrations from the book.

Perhaps my favorite is the baby with the flaming baton.

Our partner Jodi is doing all the actual printing. In addition to being a savvy business woman and an excellent printer, Jodi is a flautist, and an accomplished one at that. She goes to all sorts of flute conventions where flute-loving people gather and engage in flute-related consumer frenzy. To sate their desire for flute-themed merchandise, Jodi teamed up with various famous people who have made famous observations about the flute to create a set of art prints.

Perhaps you did not know that the flute was an instrument of questionable moral standing? Are you willing to question Aristotle?

Perhaps you did not know that the flute is nothing but an elaborate metaphor for the body at work?

I am particularly excited about our set of Matthew Draws greeting cards, featuring four of my favorite portraits.

These will eventually be fore sale on the Haywire site, but for now, every Idiots’Books subscriber will receive one card with his or her copy of Matthew Draws Anthology, which is due to go out in a couple of weeks. If you think your subscription might have lapsed, here’s the link.

Yes, the Chandler & Price is getting something of a workout these days.

Jodi is busily printing, creating inventory for the Haywire store, which we hope will launch some time this fall.

We say “hope” because, like all things, the ideal is a moving target. This fall we’re also trying to launch a new umbrella website (robbiandmatthew.com), overhaul the Idiots’Books and Bobbledy Books stores, illustrate our book with LB Kids, write and illustrate two more Bobbledy Books and two more Idiots’Books, give two talks, and do a workshop/presentation at a local elementary school.

So we’ll see what’s doable. In the mean time, we’ll keep sharing work as it rolls off the press.

First Day of First Grade

Yesterday was Alden’s first day of first grade. I tried to snap a photo of her posing in front of our house, but she was too excited to get going, and so I snapped a photo of her running away from me as quickly as she could, with little brothers in tow.

The little brothers were being brought along for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was Alden’s desire to show them her new school, which is significantly larger than the only school any of the three of them has known until this point, our beloved Friendship Montessori.

The brothers were also being brought along to sate their own curiosity. Kato, especially, was entirely skeptical that this new school could possibly be up the challenge of providing the educational necessities for his only sister. August expressed his concerns as well, but because he is almost entirely incoherent, we have no idea what they were.

Our journey took us up High Street and through Fountain Park.

Alden paused for just a moment, so I took the opportunity to ask her how she was feeling. She “answered” by jumping up and down in a frenzy.

I think it was a sign of enthusiasm.

We managed to convince her to pause a bit longer in the middle of the park, that we might pose for various family portraits in front of our very lovely (and recently restored) fountain.

These are the sorts of shots that will make us weep someday.

I remember when this thing weighed six pounds and felt so fragile I thought I would break her as I carried her across the room.

Now she is but the sturdiest member of our tiny band.

We walked a few more blocks and reached our destination. Henry Highland Garnett Elementary School, the very same building where Robbi spent her elementary years.

The doors were not yet open when we got there, so we stood by, basking in the excitement that ran through the crowd. There is something so earnest and hopeful about beginnings.

And then the doors opened, and we all streamed inside.

Alden knew where to go. She led us down the hall to the first grade wing.

August and Kato took it all in. “This place is pretty big,” said Kato.

Augie made an observation that might have been quite thoughtful. The world will never know.

A moment later, we reached her classroom.

A short search brought us to a desk that seemed to have her name on it. Alden confirmed the desk was hers, and August seconded the motion.

I cannot say with certainty, but I think the child was pleased.

We exchanged various hugs and words of wisdom and advice.

Mine was, “don’t bump against the tank, thus causing a minor avalanche of rocks that smashes the class newt.”

Fortunately, Alden’s classroom lacks a newt and thus also the possibility of her repeating my tragic mistakes.

The time came, and we prepared to make our departure. I stoically prepared for the tears, for the wailing, for the trauma of being left behind in a brand new place, forced to face the driving winds of first grade on one’s own.

Instead, we got a cheerful smile and the faintest suggestion that everything would be perfect if we would simply mosey on back home, thank you very much.

And so we left and returned to our desks and spent the whole day wondering what was happening a few blocks down the street at Garnett Elementary.

At 3:25 sharp (we had to ask a friend to let us know what time to pick her up, as we had neglected to ask this ourselves).As directed, we headed to the gym, where Alden was waiting in a small cluster of kids who do not ride the bus.

We asked her about school and she responded with an entirely nonspecific series of affirmative statements. School was no less than “great, awesome, and perfect.” And no more, apparently.

In an evident attempt to contain the overwhelming waves of enthusiastic energy that were at that moment coursing through her, Alden picked up August…

…and carried him right out the door. And halfway down the block.

Before joining her good friend Sidney (also a newly minted first grader) for a hand-in-hand serenade down Calvert Street.

During dinner, we got a few more details: she did an alphabet-based connect-the-dots, she made an autobiographical book, she learned the rules, she ate lunch in the cafeteria, she went outside for recess, she met a few new kids, and she had a good time.

She admitted that she had been a little bit worried because she had feared that first grade was going to be “really hard.”

But instead, it was really fun. Apparently, she is really looking forward to going back tomorrow.

Which is, I think, the most important measure of the day.

Alaska 2014: The Best of the Rest

I reach this point every year. I’ve written various posts with stories about our adventures in Alaska, but I’m left with a bunch of miscellaneous photos that didn’t really fit into any other post. And so I’ll share a handful of the leftovers here, with brief commentary.

In no particular order.

Augie mugging for his public, while Robbi does her best to keep a straight face.

Clearly, her best in not enough.

This summer, our resident electrical engineer Daryl installed a wind generator.

I managed to photograph it just as the sun slipped out from behind a cloud.

I probably don’t need to explain what’s happening below, but the detail minded among you might be gratified to know that it involves granola.

Driving the four wheeler in the wet sand gets the axle and undercarriage all covered with salt water. Which causes it to corrode. And so we drive it through the freshwater creek to give it a good rinse.

A boy discovers the pleasures of a life jacket that first just right.

A girl discovers the pleasures of sitting on an idling ATV and gunning the engine.

One day when we were driving along the bluff, a couple of foxes ran with us. They were utterly unconvinced that we presented any sort of threat. They were correct.

Eventually, the foxes ran off, and we had nothing to do but take this selfie.

I had to stop to appreciate the signage on the inside of the men’s room door at the local fish processing plant.

A girl and her ride.

Coming into Anchorage.

A couple of bears made a nightly circuit that cut right through our compound, down our road, and along the bluff below our property.

We awoke to fresh evidence every morning.

Most nights, the kids would tuck into their beds after supper and watch a movie on my computer. Apparently, on the night pictured below, the featured film was especially hilarious to August.

Or perhaps I’m reading too much into his expression, which seems not dissimilar to the one depicted in the scene below, which is exciting, but certainly not funny.

To each his own, I suppose.

After breakfast, we often walked along the beach, sometimes writing cryptic messages in the sand.

Inscrutable words like Alden…

…and Kato.

Our house has no electricity, and thus the only light we get is whatever streams through the window.

I made the stained glass in the upper middle panel back when I made stained glass.

We had an uncommon number of sunny days this summer. Most years, it rains 60 percent of the time and is overcast on 9 out of 10 days.

This summer, more than half of the days were sunny. So we took advantage of it.

One of the kids’ favorite pastimes is riding out into the tundra. Alden is already steering and working the throttle. She’s just not quite tall enough to reach the gear shift. But I suspect she’ll be driving herself in a year or two.

For now, she is content to leap across the holes in the tundra.

It is nice to be up there for a few weeks and really disconnect from all technology and the accompanying urgency.

There’re so much more time for just being and noticing.

Here is a tundra classic: a flounder-print t-shirt.

And here is the unfortunate flounder who volunteered.

We played a lot of Uno this summer. For any of you who loved Uno when you were a kid and wonder when your kids might be ready, Alden (6) and Kato (4), both love it and are able to not only play along but also beat me with frequency.

Here is the “after” picture from the day Alden and Raiden helped with the fishing.

One sunny afternoon, I climbed up on top of the shipping container that doubles as our pantry and lumber storage.

Here’s a view of the main house (upper right) and the Kumajo (with the boarded up window), the building where we store our nets.

Here’s a glimpse in the other direction. That road leads down to the beach. And that odd looking structure is a cabin that we inherited when our family bought the property 37 years ago.

Here is a view from the bluff. In the foreground is the net rack, where we stack the nets for cleaning and mending.

This is another of our handful of residential outbuildings. The ropes are there to keep it from blowing off the bluff.

One of August’s favorite Alaska activities was heading down to the shoreline and chucking rocks into the surf.

Big rocks, small rocks, it did not matter. The pursuit of the splash was the only thing that mattered.

If throwing rocks is your game, it’s awfully hard to fail.

Which means that the boy was frequently gratified.

Perhaps “frequently” is not adequate to capture the persistence of his good cheer.

The gratification was constant and unending.

Still, he felt obliged to approach his task with some degree of guile, as if the only way he would succeed in hitting the surface of the water with his rocks would be to sneak up upon it and strike it unannounced.

Eventually (though usually not before relocating a significant pile of rocks), he would tire of his industry and begin the long march up the bluff.

Did I mention that the march was also steep? What’s a small boy to do when he has so exhausted himself in the act of rock-chucking that he has nothing left to spark the journey home?

This, my friends, is where sisters come into the equation.

That’s all, I think, for this year’s Alaska chronicles. If you find yourself wanting more, take heart in the fact that we are scheduled to return in approximately 10 months.

Happy Monday.

Matthew Draws 33

Alright folks! It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another round of Matthew Draws. I must confess, I am confounded by your persistence in the face of Matthew’s utter lack of improvement. Have you ever heard of Sisyphus? Yeah, well, that’s you.

So, once again: good luck.

Good luck, good luck, good luck.

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The second weekend that I ever went to visit Matthew, after almost a year of long distance corresponding (one might say that we had an epistolary romance, though I would argue that one of us was definitely more romance-minded than the other, ahemnotme), I was taking a shower and he ran in and dumped ice water on my head. I did not like it. I screamed like a terrified schoolgirl. I cursed like a drunken sailor (is that actually a thing?). I was not pleased, and yet had to behave with some dignity, given that I knew in my heart I was going to marry him someday and would need him to feed me and do my dishes. And so I have waited 14 long years to get back at him. And I have finally been given the chance, thanks to the writer/illustrator/father/son-Bobbledy-Book-subscribin’ team Michael and Diego Mongue of Awesome Robot Science Fiction Comix, who challenged us to take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

If you don’t know what the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is, please take some time to check in with your facebook or twitter feed. If you don’t have a facebook or twitter feed, please recognize that this is the 21st century and you are missing out on 90% of the useless information that is consuming the rest of us. So the basic idea is that you dump a bucket of ice water on your head as part of a viral fundraiser to support the ALS Association fundraiser, take a video of it, donate some money, and then challenge someone else to do the same. We had grand plans that involved slow-motion and kids, but at the end of the day we couldn’t find the time to actually orchestrate anything. So this morning I woke up and discovered Matthew was already in the shower. I remembered that fateful day 14 years ago and filled up a mixing bowl with ice and crept downstairs, shaking with anticipation at the shrieks I would witness.

Well, damn it! He barely even hooted! Who was this man that I thought I married? Where was his weak spine? His tender skin? His delicate constitution? (He cannot touch the steering wheel of the car in the middle of winter because “it’s too cold,” for goodness sakes!). I am wholly ungratified and am now on the hunt for something better. LOOK OUT, MATTHEW.

At any rate, given that it’s a fundraiser as well as an awareness campaign, please take a minute to check out the ALSA website HERE, learn a little and donate what you can towards research as well as support for those suffering from this debilitating disease. Donate and be glad that I am not challenging any of YOU to the ice bucket challenge!!

Jumping and Other Stuff

Those of you who don’t know August personally haven’t had access to the delightful odyssey that has been his long, slow, fumbling, and still-far-from-complete journey into the English language. His comprehension is good. And so are his internal thought processes. He knows what he wants, grasps the vocabulary in an abstract sort of way, but pressed with the challenge of funneling those thoughts into sounds that are recognizable to other human beings, the poor boy is sorely lacking.

None of this matters when we go to the pool. When we go to the pool, the need for spoken English goes out the door and the only exchange that matters is between August and the surface of the water.

The boy likes to jump.

You might argue that it’s easy to be bold when your adversary is nine inches of water, but don’t tell that to August, who uses both body language and vocal barbarism to show that water who is boss.

Did I mention his enthusiasm for jumping in the water?

In addition to jumping from the side of the pool, he will occasionally jump from the end. Which is, as you know, far more difficult.

After completing his conquest, August likes to recover by double-fisting granola bars and seaweed, which is, as you know, the most intimidating snack.

Go ahead and tremble.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

All that jumping was on my mind when I took August in this morning for his 30-month checkup. The nurse ran through the battery of questions: Does he have 7-20 words? Can he play with other children? Can he jump in place?

“No,” I wanted to yell. “No he can not jump in place because he is too busy showing the pool who is boss.”

But I did not say this. I said yes, and we moved on to, “can he identify at least four colors”?

August was glum throughout the interview.

August was glum about getting measured.

And glum about getting weighed.

It was as if he understood the solemn family genetic responsibility of being incredibly small.

He clocked in at 3rd percentile for weight 5th percentile for height. And growing.

Alden noticed and did her best to effect an attitude makeover.

Her squeezes can be highly persuasive.

August’s newfound cheer trickled into the exam itself, in which August willingly opened his mouth very wide for the doctor. At which time the doctor saw what seemed to be a cavity on one of August’s molars.

Luckily, all three kids had dentist’s appointments later that afternoon.

It was August’s first trip. He had heard all about the dentist from his brother and sister (mostly rave reviews of the toys one receives upon successful completion of the teeth cleaning ordeal).

With Alden holding one hand and Kato the other, he prepared to face his latest adventure.

Alden showed him the ropes.

And, sensing that his eyes were a bit too sensitive for the harsh glare of the overhead lights, our hygienist gave him some cool shades.

I might even call them bitchin’.

While Kato sat for his cleaning, Alden and August looked on from the blue stool at the far end of the room. I have to hand it to the little guy. He didn’t flinch or protest once throughout the ordeal. On the contrary, he handled the situation with the steely-eyed resolve of a seasoned jumper.

August was so enthusiastic that he paid Dr. Brayton the ultimate compliment at the end of our visit.

Gone was the ruthless vanquisher of the baby pool. In his place, a loving, clean-toothed veteran of the dentist chair.

It was a big day for the little guy.

And many more to come.

Idiots on Instagram

Happy, Monday, all.

It is a happier Monday than most for me, because my family has returned.

They rolled into Chestertown late Friday night, and we have had a few days of intense hugging, story telling, and swimming.

But cheerful family reunions are not the point of this morning’s post. Quite the contrary.

When Robbi and I were at the Alt Summit in Salt Lake City in June, we learned about the importance of various social media outlets that we had been largely ignoring. And so we resolved to be better patrons of Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

We had both already started Instagram feeds, and both enjoy taking photos, so we started there.

If you follow us on Facebook, you might have seen some of the following pictures over the past few weeks and months.

August peeking out the window of our house in Alaska when he was supposed to be sleeping.

Alden and her two new friends having lunch at the Lake of the Ozarks in July.

August and Robbi doing their best imitation of Lady and the Tramp.

This strange yellow fish that got caught in our nets.

Sunset on River Road, from a run I took in late June.

A fence on Truslow Farm Road.

A gorgeous orange balloon posing with Robbi at the Alt Summit garden party.

My two cheerful and one curmudgeonly children last Mother’s Day.

Our 1921 Vandercook Platen Press. It makes beautiful prints, but it might be the greater work of art.

But not as great a work of art as Robbi herself (who also makes beautiful prints, I should add).

The kids at the dentist.

Alden at a face-painting themed birthday party last spring.

Those photos above were from my Instagram feed. The ones below are from Robbi’s.

Alden at the Bennington Monument.

The kids sharing ice cream at the Wind Chill Factory, just south of Ticonderoga.

Kato harnessing his inner buccaneer at the Silver Bay YMCA program (in case you can’t tell, he is a Wee Woozle).

August and Bob napping in the afternoon sunlight in the cottage at Lake George.

Impromptu midnight picnic in the Anchorage airport baggage claim (courtesy McDonalds, open 24-hours).

Robbi sketching on her Wacom, designing the tutorial for Benji McBean’s Amazing Machines.

Kato and Alden getting ready for a roundup.

Robbi settling in for a sugar-and-caffeine-fueled all-night drawing binge .

Robbi painting the final art for the cover of Benji McBean, using her digital sketch as reference.

Painting the rosy cheeks on a bully.

Outgoing mail.

First watermelon of the season, on Bob’s back steps.

Working.

Just finished binding make-your-own mix-and-match book templates for our workshop at the Reisterstown Public Library.

Painting.

If you enjoyed these photos, there are many more for the viewing. Robbi and are both in the habit of posting to our Instagram feeds several times a day.

You can find us at:

@writingmatthew

and

@drawingrobbi

These are, incidentally, the handles we use for Twitter, too, though I cannot make great claims for the quality of our Twitter feeds at present. That’s the next horizon, to be tackled when we’re feeling ready. For now, we’re having fun taking pictures.

We’d love it if you’d join us.

Matthew Draws 32 - The Answers

Here’s how it goes. On Friday, I post a bunch of drawings, not really knowing if they’re any good. Not really knowing whether I’ll get through to any of you. The next six days are agony as I await the results of your guesses. Now, on Thursday evening, I have the pleasure and pain of reviewing the referendum on my latest batch of drawings.

I’m savoring this last moment of innocence before I see your guesses. Right now, in my own mind at least, it’s perfectly possible that each of you correctly identified all four of my drawings. I’m tempted never to abandon this beautiful fantasy. But, of course, I must.

The making of art is about the pursuit of truth. Or something like that. It might just be about the thrill of reading your desperate guesses.

I gave you this guy.

And here’s what you said. 

  • Kojak. That or Mr. Clean minus his earring.
  • Bruce Willis. That’s the best we’ve got.
  • Billy Zane??
  • Coyote Ugly
  • Pele
  • Bruce Willis. I am pretty sure I see his essence.
  • Howie Mandel? Nah, he has a beard on his chinny-chin-chin, methinks.
  • I think it’s Bruce Willis. Except in real life Bruce Willis has quite the prominent chin. I think you’re trying to engage in misdirection here. It will not work.
  • I’d say Bruce Willis but he’s normally very smooth and not stubbly.
  • A very angry Dalai Lama
  • Sloth from “The Goonies”?
  • Dr. Evil
  • Dr. Eeeevil
This is the point at which my sunny dreams of breaking through collapse into the dingy overcast of reality.
But one of you (and it only takes one) redeemed me by guessing Vin Diesel.

Next I led you into these treacherous waters.

 

And yet you navigated with such confidence and calm.  

Although there were a few dissenters…

  • Phyllis Diller with a really scary eye. Or Cujo.
  • SUSAN BOYLE! Finally.

…most of you were fairly convinced that this was Joan Rivers.

  • Joan Rivers
  • Joan Rivers? Cruella Deville? Joan Rivers as Cruella Deville?
  • Joan Rivers. Oh man, she really does look like that, unfortunately.
  • JOAN EFFING RIVERS. I would bet the life of someone I mildly like on it!
  • Joan Rivers
  • OH JOAN RIVAHS HONEY!!!
  • Joan Rivers. you captured the ‘scary’ well
  • Joan rivers
  • Joan Rivers. Or Cruela Deville. Same dif.
  • Joan Freakin’ Rivers (apparently after having sucked a mound of lemons)
And, indeed, it was.

But what about this one? I had forgotten about this one. I’m feeling pretty sure that none of you will have correctly guessed this young woman, who is, I must confess, a favorite of mine.

And all but one of you guessed incorrectly.

  • Hello Botox.
  • Rashida Jones? Or just, you know, your generic woman with teeth, eyes, and hair.
  • Kristin Wiig
  • Shania Twain
  • Chelsea Clinton again?
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Carmen Diaz meaning well
  • Phoebe from Friends
  • KATIE COURIC HELLO.
  • Tyra Banks
  • A Stepford child
  • Reese Witherspoon?
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Scarlett Johansson
  • Ashley Olsen. NOT Mary Kate Olsen. God, I am crushing it this week!
God bless you, lone, solitary genius person who said Ellen Page. God bless you.

The final challenge was a bit of a throwback. I thought maybe his dapper mustache would help to place him historically.

And you did seem to grasp that I had drawn a gentleman of a bygone era. But, alas, that is where your success ended. This fellow is not:

  • Laurence Olivier? Somebody doing Shakespeare, at any rate.
  • The dude from the 70′s sitcom Alice
  • Oh, man. Super good try though!
  • Boris Karloff
  • That guy who played the dad in the Addams Family movies. Raul something or other. He’s dead now, isn’t he?
  • Schneider from “One Day at a Time.” Or Gomez from the Addams family.
  • Some ancient brooding king from Masterpiece Theater
  • Peter Sellers?
  • Oh god, I know this but cannot think of his name. anyway he looks like a character from a mid-20th c play.
  • Can we just go back to my awesome Joan Rivers guess and skip this one?
  • Chris Pratt? Only because he’s on basically every magazine on earth right now for the new Marvel movie. Oh, and he has a mustache.
  • FRANK N. BARRY
  • Gomez from the Addams Family as far as I can tell.
  • Clearly a bust of a Frenchman. Or Spaniard.
  • Raul Julia????
  • Marlon brando
  • Omar Sharif.
  • Lord Puffy Shirt
But one of you (with some degree of external assistance, it seems) did guess correctly:
  • I had to consult with my old man on this one…”It’s Clark Gable with his big ears” was the verdict
The answer is actually “Clark Gable with the ears that God gave him.”

Now for my favorite part of Matthew Draws, the bonus question.

Which of these people is in the witness protection program? What did they see? What did they do?

  • All of them would make for an interesting reality TV show.
  • All of them. They were on the Orient Express. Look at those guilty/crazed faces.
  • #4 and his disguise is really good… He’s really a former professional sports cheerleader (lady cheerleader, to be clear) who saw something weird, illegal, and dangerous happen outside her local coffee shop. I can’t say much about it, but it did involve a goat and some questionable life choices.
  • The first guy. What *didn’t* he do?
  • I think Gomez from the Addams family must have witnessed something horrible and had to go into witness protection AS Schneider from “One Day at a Time.”
  • It is too late for Cujo. How about Miley? A wrecking ball is after her?
  • Peter Sellers. Because The Pink Panther.
  • Def Joan Rivers. She sees all, she knows all, and sometimes she spills.
  • Protect Joan Rivers at all costs!
  • Picture #1 – Clearly whomever it is has now become unrecognizable. He is a cliche – accountant for the mob who provided evidence against his bosses.
  • #2 tweeted something innane, accusing fellow celebrities of committing a crime (joking), not knowing that they actually had
  • Joan Rivers. But it’s for our protection, not hers. Seriously, why does she keep getting air time?

And that, my friends, is that. I feel moderately comforted to know that each of my drawings elicited at least one correct answer. I feel extremely glad to know that the stresses of waiting for your guesses is now behind me for another week.

But now it’s time to go get a piece of paper, take up my favorite pen, and set to drawing.

Wish me luck. Or don’t. It doesn’t seem to make a shred of difference.

Matthew and Robbi at the Society of Illustrators

Pinching ourselves as we say it, we are delighted and humbled to announce that we have been asked to deliver the keynote address at the Society of Illustrators Educators Symposium this fall in New York City.

I am equally delighted to announce that we said yes.

It is, without a doubt, our most prestigious speaking engagement to date. Now, all we have to do is not suck.

More than a century old, the Society is a venerable organization dedicated to promoting and supporting illustrators and illustration, celebrating the history of illustration, and providing programming and education for and by illustrators. It’s also a gorgeous building in Manhattan that features a gift shop, multiple galleries, meeting spaces, and a fabulous cafe.

The Educators Symposium is a biannual gathering of the men and women who teach illustration in colleges and universities across the country. They come together to listen and learn and network and have a little fun. Or, hopefully, a great deal of fun. We will do our best to set a tone.

We’ll have the stage for 90 minutes. We plan to start by using our story as a lens for looking at the three modes of collaboration we encounter most often in our creative lives. Then we’ll do a collaborative group exercise—making microflash picture books together—before attempting to unpack the underlying mechanisms of collaboration so that others can leverage it in their classrooms and creative lives.

That’s the plan, anyway. Now all we have to to is figure out what to say.

If you are an illustrator or an educator or an educator of illustrators or an illustrator of educators, we would love to see you at the Symposium. I think it’s going to be an incredible weekend. Click here to buy your ticket.

 

 

Idiots at SXSW? We Need Your Help!

Friends, Robbi and I have applied to speak at next year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin.

If you’re not familiar, SXSW is a huge group celebration of film, music, and emerging technologies, with related conferences in education and environmental issues. SXSW is a big deal and it would be great for us to be chosen to speak.

Which is why we need your help! But more on that in a minute.

Building a proposal centered around the TEDx talk we delivered last spring, Robbi and I have put together a two-hour workshop on collaboration and have pitched it to both the SXSWinteractive and SXSWedu conferences.

The interactive proposal is just Robbi and me, and the edu proposal also involves our friend, the nonfiction writer Joshua Wolf Shenk, who has spent the past five years researching and writing about collaboration (his findings culminating in the recently-published Powers of Two).

SXSW speakers are selected via a competitive, juried process, but 30 percent of the decision comes down to public voting, so if you are willing, we would really appreciate it if you would go to the SXSW Panel Picker site, register, and cast votes for both of our proposals.

Here’s what to do:

1) Create a SXSW account.

2) Check your email to confirm the account.

3) Click here and enter your login info.

4) Click here to cast your vote for our SXSW edu panel (Click the thumbs up icon to vote yes. It will turn green once you’ve done it).

5) Click here to cast your vote for our SXSW interactive panel.

6) Congratulate yourself for being such a thoughtful, kind, and patient, friend and supporter of us.

Many thanks in advance for helping us out with this. It should take less than two minutes to do (unless you’re Robbi’s dad, in which case it may take two hours), and it could make a huge difference for us.

To give you a taste of the sort of thing we’ll be talking about, here is our TEDx talk from last spring.

Happy Panel Picking!