Robots + Monsters
In 2008, my wife and I were running a marathon to raise money for AIDS research. As part of the commitment, we each were expected to raise $2500. After nagging my friends, family, and work colleagues, I was still about $700 short with 2 weeks to go. Thinking quickly, I decided to offer quick custom illustrations of either robots or monsters, as defined by three adjectives, like "neapolitan, ice cream, menace" for 50 bucks a pop. I thought, at best, I'd get 15-20 and be able to make my donation requirement and get a little sketch work in. Robots+Monsters was launched, to little fanfare.

Then, BoingBoing and Neatorama picked it up.

It what can only be described as some of the most hectic few days of my life, I had orders coming in approximately every 3 seconds: I could literally watch my inbox fill up with orders. I recieved calls by the Boston Globe, the NYTimes, and Wired by the end of the second day. It ended up taking 9 months to actually get to all the drawings I had promised people.
I was surprised, and also totally emboldened. I think that a big part of the attraction of the effort was that it was for charity: I ended up raising about 15K for AIDS research, which felt pretty good. So after I had a break, I opened it up again, and I got a similar response: I raised about 25K for, and then about 35K for Medicens Sans Frontiers. Then, there was the teeshirts, the calendars, the speaking engagement offers, and all the rest.

It was a pretty wild time, and I didn't make a cent of profit off of it. 🤷
By the last rounded I opened, I had enlisted friends into the effort, incredible artists like Apelad, Gary Panter, Molly Crabapple, Jeanine Schafer, John Martz, and many others.

All told, we ended up making about 500 Robots + Monsters and got a lot of link love along the way, a lot of which is lost to the mists of bad permalinks and old blogs, sadly. We had some false-start conversations with larger brands about the property, but they never went anywhere: it didn't seem to capture the spirit of the project.
In the end, it was a tremendous amount of work, and not much to show for it, beyond the fact that we raised a ton of money for some really good causes.

I'll take it.
All work copyright Joe Alterio © 2019 unless otherwise noted.