When I started, I didn’t think that my sandwich bag art may go viral and that didn’t happen quickly. Unless you think 4 years is quick.
School mornings began with coffee, make sandwiches, make sure the kids were awake, draw something on each bag, make sure the kids had some breakfast, I had some breakfast, make sure the kids are ready and get those kids to school. There wasn’t much time. The drawings only took 2 to 5 minutes for both. 5 minutes was pushing the deadline to get them to school.
The drawings in the early days were limited to a black, red, purple, and green Sharpies, and a paper napkin ripped into a shape to get a white color. White was always a challenge. I would eventually use a sliver Sharpie for white until Sharpie offered a white oil-based marker.
I was already familiar with metadata in photos from my newspaper job. In order for others and me to find the bags on Flickr I had to make sure I added the metadata, a title, maybe a description but definitely a lot of tags. Flickr uses tags, they are like hashtags without the #. Each bag had the same tags
After these tags I would add tags that described the drawing
- Candy, and more
What did happen very early on is that Sharpie found me on Flickr because I included the Sharpie tag in all the images. I was featured on their blog, which had just been updated, in February of 2009. Around this time I bought a Sharpie multi-pack and the drawing became more colorful.
I started sharing from Flickr to Facebook which was a little time consuming, copy and pasting links and adding text to Facebook. My Facebook friends in the early days would comment when I forgot to post. There were a few summers that I didn’t make many sandwiches and was asked why no bags.
As I got to know the Flickr community better I joined some groups that made sense like, Make Something Cool Everyday, GeekDad, Creatures of the Mind, Drawing: We do it everyday, and Sharpie Love. My views on the Flickr site started to go up, about 100 views a week, as did the “likes}” and comments.
It took years of uploading to Flickr, sharing to Flickr groups and other social media. Wired magazine GeekDads section posted in November 2012 about my drawings. At that time I had about 100,000 total views. The Gizmodo blog/news site had seen the Wired post and shared my sandwich bags in February 2013. My daily views on Flickr began to go up.
Flickr shared my drawings in a Flickr Friday they used to do on their home page. They even brought me to their New York office to shoot a video in March and again In April Flickr featured me on their Weekly Flickr blog. Shortly after that I had over 500,000 views in one day. It didn’t take long before I had over a million views and I was getting requests from all over the United States and other countries asking for an interview or if they could share my drawings.