Much like every event I attend, I bring my camera to document the festivities through my eyes. I make it my personal responsibility to be each event’s “official photographer” whether I’m given the title or not. The Atama Grand Opening was no different. I’m making my rounds shooting any and everything that looked interesting. The crowd is beginning to swell and walking room is becoming scarce. So I head outside for some shots. It was 7pm, and the Texas sun was winding down from a busy day of baking people within their cars like microwave safe containers of leftovers. I hurried back into the shop. I walk in behind a 50-something man with disheveled gray hair and weathered stuffed doll under his arm. Again, we’re in Atama, a toy store for adults, so a man carrying a doll isn’t strange… it’s downright normal, expected even. Upon closer examination of the doll, I notice some of the markings, and the style in which the doll was designed. I immediately realized the doll was “Toby” and the person I was behind was acclaimed artist/designer/illustrator Gary Baseman. (google him, you’ve been touched by his work whether you realize it or not. He’s HUGE.)
After fighting through the star-struckness, I see a few people crowding Gary for autographs, and remember immediately that my own sketchbook is in the car. I’m not one to bother anyone, but couldn’t let the opportunity pass to have this living icon draw in my sketchbook.
I waited in the never dwindling line, and nervously asked him if he would do the honor, he happily accepted. His demeanor, a lot more personable and jovial, than his body language (or pictures) would suggest, asked me who he was making it out to and immediately began drawing. While he drew we talked about everything from his upcoming projects to my own work. A genuinely great guy with A LOT of art knowledge. He is truly living the dream: his art, has given him countless riches, and is allowing him to travel the world to talk about it, and meet the people that support his craft. Let’s see, Gary is 53 so that gives me roughly 23 years to continue building a name for myself, and do the exact same thing. Ready go.