“Where do you get all these autographs?”
It’s one of the most frequently asked questions I get and fortunately, an easy one to answer. For most, a chance meeting with a celebrity is a once in a lifetime experience. Yet you may be surprised how often celebrities are around you. All you need to do is know where to look.
I reflected on my twenty years of graphing experiences and came up with a list of the top nine places to get a celebrity autograph. But a list of where is useless without knowing when you should be there, so I will be weaving in timing tips as well. Now, to the list.
9. AUTOGRAPH DEALERS
Say what you want about people who obtain autographs with the sole purpose of selling them but they’re doing the legwork and meeting a demand in the marketplace. Many collectors don’t have the ability to get in person autographs due to factors such as where they live or the time commitment involved. Even for those of us who live in a metropolitan area, there are a thousand ways to miss a celebrity when they come through a city. And let’s not forget, a lot of celebrities don’t sign autographs, especially the dead ones.
Rampant forgery has made it nearly impossible to trust that what you are buying from a third party is, in fact, authentic. The only way to have 100% confidence is to see it signed yourself. That’s not to say that all autograph dealers are crooks—I’m sure many are honest, upstanding citizens—but because I am a realist, I can only recommend two autograph dealers: Upper Deck Authenticated and Steiner Sports. These two companies specialize in signed sports memorabilia and have built reputations on transparency, quality and exclusive partnerships with big name athletes. Looking for a Lebron James or Michael Jordan graph? I wouldn’t get it from anywhere except Upper Deck. Yankees or Red Sox fan? Check out Steiner who is based in New York and recently opened an office in Boston.
8. AUTOGRAPH SIGNINGS
Yes the prices can be outrageous, but an autograph signing offers the chance to meet a celebrity and get an item signed in your presence. Also, since no one is in a rush and the celebrity knows you paid to be there, the signature you receive is typically higher quality than the scribble you get out on the street. Waiting in line stinks, but that’s why we have smartphones, right?
Typically, I’m averse to paying for an autograph, but there are a couple scenarios where I would make the exception:
• If my kid’s hero was appearing at a signing, I’d buy a ticket rather than dragging him/her through the streets of Boston where the experience would almost certainly not be as good.
• If I got so fed up with getting denied by someone over and over that I break down and purchase a ticket just so I don’t have to stress about chasing them anymore. (See you at your next signing, Paul Pierce.)
A great resource for finding autograph signings near you is SigningsHotline.com. The DeLuxe membership is a bargain.
7. BOOK SIGNINGS
Like autograph signings, a book signing is a great opportunity to get up close to a celebrity in a controlled environment. For the most part, it’s less expensive because buying a book gets you a place in line, whether it’s an up and coming author or a best seller. Not to be overlooked are the celebrity authors who make appearances during a promotional run. Writing can be an extremely personal activity and you’ll often find that celebs are more engaging and authentic when promoting a book than a film.
A couple years ago, I met Alec Baldwin—a notoriously rough signer—at an appearance for his book, A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce. Have I read the book? No, and I hope I never feel the need to, but I got a great graph and a little face time. When I approached Baldwin with my book I asked if he had any tips for a guy who just got engaged and he spent a full minute thoughtfully answering my question (in summary, get a prenup that outlines an agreement to participate in mediation for a year). Did I mention my future wife was filming this exchange?
Here’s a fantastic list of celebrity book signings. Also, check the websites of your local bookstores for upcoming events.