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June 1, 2013
Boston, Massachusetts

Loitering outside the Paradise Rock Club I replayed the night’s performance in my mind. It was my first Tomahawk show but not the first time I was amazed by Mike Patton. Six years earlier at this very same venue I had seen him with Peeping Tom, another of many musical projects he’s driven since his days in Faith No More. In addition to being tonight’s headliner he was also my target. And luck was on my side.
Matt Raymond and Mike Patton
You see, the day before the Tomahawk show I pulled into a gas station, opened the car door and a bird shit on my face. Several of my friends assured me it was good luck. I hoped that good fortune (which didn’t feel very much like it at the time) would manifest itself the following evening in the form of an autograph and a picture with the rock legend.

Outside the club I said so long to my cousins Adam and Jeffrey and watched them disappear down Commonwealth Avenue through the thinning crowd. The night air held a surprising chill after a 90-degree day in the city. Groups of friends made small talk before breaking apart as the smokers stamped out their sticks on the ground. Moments later, security swept people off the sidewalk as I tried to be invisible by the conspicuously parked black cargo van out front. I stared at my phone, keeping my head down like a student who didn’t want to be called upon.

Then a young man with a curly black beard and a laminate hanging from his belt walked purposefully from the club’s front door past me, hopped into the van’s driver seat and fired up the engine. He took off down the street and banged a right at the red light. He was headed to the back door. My fast walk skipped into a sprint and I was quickly joined by other fans and a few graphers who had caught on to the vehicle’s intentions. Behind the club roadies were already waiting with stacks of equipment cases. A second man marched behind the arriving vehicle and shouted commands in Italian as the driver navigated the vehicle toward the open doors. Over the next half hour a small group of fans watched as the boxes were assembled Tetris-style into the vehicle. When the last case was placed the driver whipped out his phone. “To remember what it looks like when I have to take it out again tomorrow,” he said and snapped a photo.

With our adrenaline gushing and our focus on the club exit, a door creaked opened above us. John Stanier, the band’s drummer loomed above us and lit up a cigarette. He descended an iron with a smile, signed whatever we had and posed for pictures. Soon after, guitarist Duane Denison followed the same route down to street level. He was quiet but friendly and I added a second signature to the band’s self-titled CD. I noticed Denison was clearly skeptical of the graphers there with white sheets and drumheads—at one point he refused to inscribe “Tomahawk” and stated he had signed enough for one collector after several items.

After Stanier and Dennison boarded the van the wait resumed and I grew anxious as the clock rolled past 1 a.m. Graph or not I knew my son would be waking up in less than five hours. Was I feeling lucky?
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College student and experienced grapher Garrett Berthiaume steps to the front of the class to play professor in today’s episode. We discuss how to build your collection on a tight budget, ways to take advantage of on campus autograph opportunities (even if you aren’t a student), and his excellent autograph blog, GB Autographs.

Let me know what you think of this episode, leave a comment below.

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Listen to the Autograph University Master Class at home or on the go.

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Cool stuff to check out


To many collectors dealers represent the dark side of the hobby, but St. Louis-based 3 Monkey Sports isn’t your typical memorabilia shop. In this candid interview, Randy Stone discusses the company’s fresh approach and reveals in detail how private autograph signings are set up with athletes.

Let me know what you think of this episode, leave a comment below.

Subscribe to the podcast
Listen to the Autograph University Master Class at home or on the go.

Subscribe on iTunes

Cool stuff to check out


2013 Autograph University YearbookAs soon as I hit publish on last year’s inaugural edition of the Autograph University Yearbook I was looking forward to the 2013 edition. Why? I knew once people read the entertaining and emotional stories submitted by fellow members of the autograph community they’d want to get involved. I can’t thank enough the collectors who stepped up and participated in the 2012 Yearbook. They helped lay the foundation for what is going to be a monster publication this year. But to make it happen I need YOUR help.

I want your story for the 2013 Yearbook.

We all have a tale to tell, whether it’s a memorable celebrity encounter or a multi-signed piece you spent years finishing. To be a part of this amazing project email me a few paragraphs about something autograph-related you’d like to share with the community. Some ideas:

  • A favorite autograph adventure
  • The story behind acquiring a favorite item(s) in your collection
  • Why you collect autographs and love the hobby
  • “What I learned” about autographs (tips, etc.)

Submissions will be included unedited (except for typos.) The 2013 Yearbook will be distributed in June as an eBook and will be free to download.

Submission guidelines:

  • Submissions will be accepted until May 11. Email your submission to matt@autographu.com.
  • Your submission should be as long as it needs to be (although 100 – 500 words is recommended).
  • Have a picture? Send it along and I’ll try to include it (layout has yet to be finalized).
  • Include your Name and the Contact Information you’d like to appear with your entry (e.g., email, Twitter handle, website URL).

I’m so excited about this and I hope you’ll be a part of it.


If you don’t know Brian Flam odds are good you’ve seen his invention, The Autograph Card (I carry one wherever I go). In today’s episode we go behind the scenes at his operation and learn how this grapher turned a product of his passion into a full-time business.

I’d love to hear what you think of the episode in the comments section below.


Falling Off the Wagon with a Sharpie in My Hand

Sharpie in pint glassI’m less than two months away from getting my 1-year chip in AA—that’s Autographaholics Anonymous—and I’m feeling the anniversary is in jeopardy. You see, the last graph I got was on May 12, 2012. The signer was former Patriots safety Patrick Chung which is sort of like an alcoholic’s last drink being a shot of warm Bud Light. But my autograph abstinence wasn’t a goal in itself. I wasn’t seeking recovery. I didn’t have a problem (ok, well maybe a teeny tiny bit of an addiction). It’s just that since the birth of my son in June I’ve made the decision to be home to tuck him in every night. Stacked up against every team in town, every celeb filming in the Hub, he’s always won out. I stopped reading the local gossip column, unfollowed several Twitter accounts which sourced tips on celebrity sightings, and soon the ache of knowing (or not knowing) whom I could be graphing wore off. No regrets.

It may sound odd for a guy who runs a website that revolves around graphing admit he has kept his Sharpie capped for nearly a year. If you’re a parent you may not think it seems so silly. The truth is I do feel out of practice, but my passion for the hobby has never waned. In fact, prioritizing family first has allowed me to commit more time to helping you here at Autograph University. But last week I felt the heat of an old flame. She returned in the form of a film shooting in Boston this spring (currently referred to as the Untitled David O. Russell/Abscam Project), featuring a constellation of A-listers: Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Louis C.K. There was no way this was going to fly under my radar.

Last week I placed an order with Adorama so I’d have photos on hand…just in case…I happened to…by chance…accidently…on my way to the bank…run into one of the actors. I felt myself starting to slip.

A few days ago I re-followed @olv on Twitter and glanced ever so briefly at The Inside Track in the Boston Herald. I felt myself starting to slide.

Will I make it a year without graphing? That anniversary really isn’t important to me. What matters is that I never miss bedtime, even if it means losing out on JLaw or bailing on Bale.


Spring Training Autograph Tips with Mark Cooper

Autograph University Master ClassMark Cooper is an amazingly knowledgeable grapher—and teacher (how fitting for the Master Class, huh?) who calls south Florida home. In today’s episode we discuss tips for getting autographs at Spring Training, how “consignment” works, and how Mark uses his day job to his advantage while graphing.

I’d love to hear what you think of the episode in the comments section below.


EPISODE #2 Autograph University Master Class

Andrew George is a veteran IP grapher who hails from the nation’s smallest state (Rhode Island) but has a HUGE autograph collection. In today’s episode we discuss tips for networking with members of autograph communities and how to always be prepared for a chance encounter with a celebrity.

I’d love to hear what you think of the episode in the comments section below.


Autograph University Master ClassKeith R. graphs some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment. In today’s episode we discuss the importance of networking and staying organized, and explore the autograph culture of the two premiere celebrity hubs—New York and Los Angeles.

I’d love to hear what you think of the episode in the comments section below.


The Best Time to Get NBA Autographs on Game Day

Kevin Durant autographed picture with Matt RaymondMy basketball career began at the age of five when my parents signed me up for a local youth team. We were called the Cavaliers and my coach was a tomboy with a long braided ponytail that reached down to the small of her back. I was already a hoops fan, watching the Celtics championship teams on my father’s knee during the first half of the 80s. But playing the game transformed an interest into a passion and I would play twelve months a year through high school. (Incidentally, I was so convinced I was going to play in the NBA that I retired from baseball after Little League—even after hitting .600 my final season—to focus singularly on hoops. Yeah, that didn’t work out.) Though I didn’t have the chops to compete on the D1 level at UMass, my love for basketball persisted. So when I was introduced to in-person collecting I couldn’t wait to start graphing some of the stars I grew up watching.

Fortunately, of the four major sports basketball is the easiest to graph—they offer more opportunities and operate on an extremely predictable schedule. While hockey players are arguably better signers, there are many top-tier NBA players who are still generous with a pen, including Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki and Carmelo Anthony.

I’ve been getting a ton of emails from readers about when to head to the hotel for NBA teams, so I created this guide to give you the insight you need to graph in a smart, efficient way on game day.

Arrival (Evening Before the Game)
Your first opportunity to graph is upon arrival to the hotel. Typically, a team will travel on an off-day and you can expect them to check-in between 5-7 p.m. the evening before a game to give players enough time to have dinner, relax and get a good night’s rest. Because they come off the bus at once and the number of collectors is usually low, graphing multiple players can be a challenge. In this case having more collectors around actually helps because they can delay one player while you graph someone else. I’ve been in this situation many times and I wish I had another pair of arms to keep up with the flurry of activity.

In the event of a back-to-back game, you can estimate arrival time with the following equation:

Time game ends + 1.5 hours (postgame interviews/travel to airport) + duration of flight + travel time to hotel = Arrival time

It’s inexact but will get you in the ballpark so you can decide whether you want to invest your time. Regardless, in this scenario it’s going to be a late night.

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