If there's one thing that I am guilty of when it comes to the Autograph Blog, it is that I tend to write a lot about through the mail autograph collecting while leaving out many tips, tricks, and stories of in-person autograph encounters I have had throughout the years. I have been fortunate enough to meet some of the biggest stars in sports, music, and movies. Some of my favorites include Roger Waters, Robert Plant, Brian Wilson, Adam Levine, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Gretzky, and many others.
When I met these stars, I was well prepared. I had several items to be signed, a binder, backboard, or surface for the celebrity to use as support to ensure the best quality autograph. The most important items I always had when going out to get autographs in-person was a reliable, trusty, bold marker and pen.
A quality pen and marker could make your autograph experience not only a great experience for you, but a great experience for everyone else in attendance. In most cases, a celebrity will use the first marker they are handed. I have heard horror stories of autograph hounds waiting hours for a celebrity just to have their item signed with a faded non-permanent marker which was handed to them by a person who was unprepared.
Here is my list of the Best Markers and Pens For Autographs:
Blue Sharpie Marker - This is a must-have for all autograph collectors. Nowadays, Blue Sharpie is the accepted autograph ink of all autograph collectors. They are perfect for getting photos, cards, pucks, jersey numbers, and paper autographed. You can purchase Sharpie Markers at any stationery store like Staples and Walmart.
Bic Round Stic - When getting baseballs signed, I use Bic Round Stic. These are easy to find. Like Sharpies, they can be bought virtually anywhere.
Deco Paint Pens - These are perfect for getting hockey pucks signed. Deco paint pens are also great when getting dark photos autographed. I use silver and gold. Many collectors may also use blue and purple paint pens. It's all personal preference. When using these, you need to be ready. Make sure that you have shaken the pen and the ink is flowing. There is a lot of debate regarding Deco Paint Pens. In my opinion, they are much more reliable than silver and gold Sharpie Markers.
Sharpie Markers, Deco Paint Pens, and Bic Round Stic Pens are must-haves for all autograph collectors. If you're packing a bag, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pack a few extras markers and pens for those around you who might be standing around with a Crayola marker or pencil crayon. Always come prepared when going out for in-person autographs!
The biggest misconception that a lot of through-the-mail autograph collectors have is that sending a TTM request to a celebrity or athlete's home will improve your chances of getting an autograph in contrast to sending a TTM request to a work, production company, agency, or team address. The myth of sending a TTM request to a home address is better, is exactly that - a myth.
Lately, I have received a lot of requests for home addresses of NBA players, most notably Steph Curry, Michael Jordan, Klay Thompson, and Kobe Bryant. First and foremost, none of the players I have mentioned sign through-the-mail. You would be better off throwing your stamps and items to be signed in the garbage. That is why it is essential in this hobby to do your homework.
Sending a TTM request to a person's place of work is more practical than sending to their home. In many cases, athletes and celebs spend more time at their place of work than they do at home. During the season, I send TTM requests to current professional athletes care of their team. I have had a lot more success sending to the team address rather than their home while the season is in progress.
Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks is a prime example of this. Dirk is arguably the best through the mail autograph signer in sports. If you send to him c/o Dallas Mavericks, it is almost a given that you will have your item returned to you signed beautifully in blue Sharpie marker. Have you ever seen a Dirk Nowitzki TTM success from his home address?
Home addresses are great when sending to retired athletes, actors, musicians, politicians. They are also great when sending to active professional athletes during their off-season.
My point is, don't be afraid to send to work addresses. Before sending always do your homework! Go back and take a look at all of the TTM Addresses of The Day posted here on The Autograph Blog. These are all addresses that you can use to enhance your growing collection!
Coming off the success of the first Autograph Blog giveaway, I am excited to announce another one! On June 22, 2016 I will be drawing a random winner for a Famke Janssen Autographed X-Men Photo!
Famke Janssen is a well-known actress best known for her roles in the X-Men movies, James Bond: GoldenEye, all three Taken movies, and most recently The Blacklist, Hemlock Grove, and How To Get Away With Murder.
In any hobby, there are "must-haves". The through-the-mail TTM autograph hobby is no different. A pen and paper is an obvious must-have, but the rest of the items might not be that apparent. I decided to compile a list of items I use in order to keep my collection healthy and up-to-date.
As a hardcore TTMer, these are the items I use to help enhance my autograph collection:
ITEMS TO BE SIGNED -
Photos - As you may have noticed from my previous posts, I am a big proponent for 4x6 photos. They are cheap to print and finding images on Google is as easy as searching the person you are looking for. I always use high-resolution photos. You can do a filtered search for high-resolution photos by using 'Search Tools' on Google Images and clicking Size - Large.
I purchase all my 4x6 and 8x10 photos online at MailPix.com. Usually, 4x6 photos cost me no more than 15 cents each to print. I usually receive my order from Mailpix within 2 weeks of purchase.
Cards - Non-Sports & Sports Cards are also favorites of mine. I purchase my cards at flea markets, local card shops, and online at Comc.com. I also purchase Rackrs cards which are blank autograph cards that are perfect for sports prospects, coaches, and front office team members who may not have cards or images available. You can purchase them online: https://rackrs.com/Store
Other Items - Although many athletes and celebs have stopped signing them, I send blank 3x5 index cards from time to time. Usually, I will send them to protect trading cards as I never, EVER send cards in toploaders. The reason I don't send my cards protected by toploaders is that I have had a few cards sent back to me with the plastic toploader signed and not the card.
4 1/8 x 9 1/2 inch Self-Adhesive Envelopes - These are perfect for sending a letter of request, photos, cards, and a SASE. When sending 4x6 photos, I will fold up a self-addressed stamped 4 1/8 x 9 1/2 inch Self-Adhesive Envelope inside along with my letter of request and item to be signed. These can be purchased virtually anywhere. I buy mine from Wal-Mart or I order them in bulk from Packaging Supplies by mail.
For European addresses, I always include a few bucks for postage. Stamps can also be found on eBay.
MAILING LABELS -
I don't know about you, but I send out a high volume of TTM requests each month. Anytime I can save a few minutes or save my hand from having to write, I will. This is why I print out all my return labels with my name and address on my home ink jet printer. I buy 2 5/8 x 1 inch mailing labels from the dollar store. There are 360 labels in total. This saves me time not having to write my return address at the top right hand corner of the envelopes.