Friday, August 8, 2008

Boyntonology: The Study of Whimsy

I've known for a long time that Sandra Boynton was a personal hero, but that was just based on her cute hippopotamuses and her sense of whimsy. I couldn't resist picking up her book "What's Wrong, Little Pookie?" recently even though I don't have kids yet. Now I've run across her website and can say that her Boyntonography reads like an essay titled "My Perfect Life."
...I couldn’t face the prospect of waitressing again, though I had almost perfected the requisite accommodating manner. Instead, I designed gift cards and Christmas cards, had my Uncle Bill, a printer, print them, and I trudged around to various East Coast stores selling them. In the summer between college graduation and graduate school in drama at U.C. Berkeley, I continued to sell the cards, did more designs, took them to a trade show in New York City, and at summer’s end, signed up with a Chicago company called Recycled Paper Greetings...

Over the past thirty-odd, odd years, I have designed, by varying estimates (none of them in fact mine because I’ve not yet gotten sufficiently motivated to start counting) somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 greeting cards. Almost all were published by Recycled Paper, 1975 to 1996. They sold 50 to 80 million Boynton cards per year in the peak years (1980’s)...

I choose the projects I do and products I design somewhat at whim, and only if there’s a company that looks interesting to work with. I only “license” what I can develop and design myself, rather than letting companies adapt my characters according to their own sense and sensibilty. I have no agent, no business manager, no contracts attorney. This is a rather haphazard way to do things, but it’s more fun than an actual plan. Since I’m not sufficiently committed to Optimizing Market Potential, I seem to be a bewilderment and, one hopes, a minor annoyance to many.

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