I’ve recently gotten back into playing guitar which has brought all of my gear-head tendencies back to the surface. I spent way too much time at Atomic Music in college back when it was a shitty shack off of Route 1 a few blocks away from campus. Had way too much fun bringing back really cheap gear to the dorm room and pissing off my neighbors.
Anyway, I’ve always kind of wondered why there aren’t any Artist Edition art supplies out there. In the guitar world, manufacturers practically fight each other to land prominent artist endorsements. Here’s Orianthi introducing her signature SE PRS:
Probably the only acceptable time to put sparkles on anything and it sounds amazing. If I had the extra cash, I would be proud to own a red sparkly guitar. Of course, I’d slap a giant Kamen Rider sticker on the bastard. I have no idea where to find sales figures of things like this so I don’t know how well the Orianthi SE model sells. But PRS boasts one of the strongest artist endorsement rosters of any guitar company out there and I’m sure adding Orianthi to their lineup helps drive sales.
Guitarists and cartoonists have a lot in common, especially when it comes to our tools. When we find something that fits us, we stick to it with an almost religious fervor. Whether it’s picks or strings, brushes or ink, when we find one that works it becomes THE one.
Now it’s certainly true that a guitar costs way more than even the most expensive water color brush. But the artist endorsement is really more about brand loyalty. Carlos Santana was the first artist to really endorse PRS guitars. Without him, PRS might be one of those boutique guitar makers that you kind of hear about, but only if you’re a guitar freak. But because they were able to land Carlos early, and because he agreed to exclusively play PRS guitars, other guitarists flocked to the brand. They had to know what was so great about PRS. Now, they’re one of the strongest guitar brands in the business.
Art suppliers could certainly stand to build this kind of brand loyalty. Take a look at this sketch from Adam Hughes:
Adam is one of the most well known cover illustrators in the industry and one of the best known “good girl” artists in the world. He uses Faber Castel PITT pens for his line work and COPIC markers for his grey scale shading. He publicizes this fact very well and I’m somewhat appalled that neither company has contacted him to do at least a formal product endorsement if not a whole Adam Hughes line.
I recently went out and bought a handful of PITT pens specifically because I know that Adam Hughes uses them. I will never give up my brush work, but I have used a variety of pens that I sometimes use for backgrounds and such. And because Adam has lauded the quality of the PITT series, I decided to give them a try. I don’t think I’ll be sticking with them, but that’s a sale that was the direct result of an artist endorsement. I’m willing to bet that a lot of artists following him on DeviantArt have gone out to at least try a few PITT pens and COPIC markers.
Sharpie is another company that I could see grabbing an endorsement from say the Greatest Live Art Competition in the Known Universe. Many of our fans now know of the existence of the Sharpie Magnum because of our shows and I’m sure a number of Art Fight hopefuls have gone out to pick up a few to practice at home.
With guitar endorsements, you get the feel that the guitar companies are working with players to create new product. I don’t get that sense when it comes to pen manufacturers or brush makers or ink whateveryoucallthems. I feel like there’s a real opportunity here for some of the art supply manufacturers to engage with the cartooning community on a deeper level.