To Sign or Not To Sign: A Personal Observation Of The Art Toy Culture

Starting out amidst the art toy culture, I used to think artists and creators at conventions / fairs / shows are supposed to sign anything and everything folks put in front of, and under their noses. "Hey, they could doodle a drawing on my sketchbook, why couldn't they draw on a toy that is not designed by them?"

Then came a time shortly afters, when I found out about certain artist/s who charge a price for a doodle, especially if that item to be signed on is not their own product, much less bought from them there and then. To say I felt not disgusted then, would be a lie. But I begun very quickly to understand the intentions (via my own reasoning tho, not based on factual answers) and recognized the need for the artist to "protect" themselves, in this instance when they/you have become a "brand" upon yourself. And by that I mean recognized artists / designers, versus unnamed designers working in a corporate structure (where they personal name will never be listed on the toy-box nor blister-card). Such is "business" perhaps (I know not the facts otherwise), and one of the main differences between "art toys" versus "mass market production toys". Nothing good nor bad about it, as it is just, "business".

"Hey, us toy-collectors and enthusiasts are just happy we get our awesome-cool toys, don't we? We don't care where it came from..."


Fair enough you'll see autographed items being auctioned off online, that perhaps is the nature of the consumerist beast, versus hardcore fans of any artist / designer / creator / individual (and not corporate "brand", mind you). And beasts are always on the opportunistic "hunt" (to make a quick buck or otherwise chosen line-of-work), while fans, well, just remain "hopeful" ~ to score a treasure, to fulfil a toy-dream, all the intentions of a sunny rainbow haha. Basic demand+supply blown out of proportion, some times, most times too often, IMHO.

Be that as it may, every artist /designer / creator has their own chosen way to deal with situations like these, especially in conventions and gatherings like Comic Con. And on the other side of the coin, everyone has their own agendas, and everyone strives to achieve their agendas in different ways. Some remain devious, while some might well have begun as harmless intentions, but are in danger of becoming a dreaded convention urban-myth come true ... case in point:

"Someone posed as a fan, asked us to sign a glass bottle, and once we did, revealed he was from (major corporation) , said he would let us know how they plan to use the bottle. So thanks once again to these big companies for now making it impossible for us to sign anything other than our own work. (no more blank figures, other objects, etc). Greeeaaatttt! And If you ever do see anything signed by us in glass..."

The above quote was posted by David Horvath of Uglydolls on their Facebook page, in reaction to an event that happened to them at the San Diego Comic Con. And while I resist in asking further details about the situation ("What type of glass bottle? What corporation?" etc ~ don't need to get everyone into any "trouble" without the firm facts), I realize too that I may not be helping the situation, nor enriching the toy culture we dwell in, and am instead fanning the flames of discontent and anger, in lieu of the given facts. This is merely an "observational blog-entry".

And with that, let me state very clearly this post is published of my own undertaking, and is in no way encouraged by Uglydolls or David. I can only but wish everyone practicing or involved in this pop culture (encompassing toys), to have clarity of vision and intent, and at the very least to be respectful to one another, whichever side of the table you might be sitting / standing on. Everyone is trying to make a living, to perhaps have a dream come true, to feel a smile on their face, and in their hearts, at the end of a toy-day.


Sjors Trimbach said…
Amen. Good post Andy.
Glass bottle+major company = Coca Cola?
Brian said…
I'm kinda confused as to how this is a big deal. What could you do with a signed bottle?

Unless my understanding is wrong, even though they may have the bottle, they couldn't 'reproduce' the signature without his consent. They can't claim he endorses their product.

Maybe they could give it away as part of a promotion?

Please don't take this wrong. I'm totally supportive of artists protecting themselves from exploitation. I just don't see what one douche bag can do with one bottle.
toysrevil said…
Brian: It's less to do with what they will do with the signed bottle afterwards (it could be for charity, it could be for auction etc ~ ie out of the artist's control), and more to do with how the bottle with signature was obtained in the first place. Something the artist could possibly have been informed about the intentions of signing the object, in the first place.

Hey, you can argue no one ever needs or have to mention why they want the item signed in the first place. But that isn't the crux of this entire post :p

It might not be a big deal to you. Or even a deal enough to warrant a post. But it affected me enough to post about it, as simple as that :)