The Bots are small (on rare occasions, big) totemic, art objects programmed to help. They are created by me, Gary Hirsch, an artist and * consultant living in Portland Oregon. I wake up everyday looking for Delightful Surprises and the Bots are my small way of making more of that in the world.

I make thousand of Bots, but also want others to make them as well. So on this site you will find kids, teachers, artists and others who are “stealing ” this idea and making their own Bots**. I love it! The world needs more of them because for some reason (that frankly I don’t completely understand) they seem to help. As a friend of mine once said to me, ”These little objects of Joy help people feel better and have conversations with themselves that they need to have”

Bots allow me to find all sorts of ways let go of my art so I can see what delightful and surprising things can emerge.

My vow is to keep making them as long as it is fun for me, so-far-so-good!

You can learn more about the inspiration and motivation for the Bots here in the article that Sharpie did on my work and here at a TEDX talk I did that featured them.

 I am always looking for stories about how you interact with them, where you take them, how they effect you and others. Add your thoughts to the Bot Blog.


Many have asked…so here’s how the process works, from blank domino-to-final Bot (p.s. read this, then steal all of the ideas and make your Bots!):

The idea for the Bots came from a sketch I did in 2000 as a prompt in an On Your Feet journal (On Your Feet is a creative consultancy that I helped start in 1996 that uses improv theater to help businesses).

Instead of having the robots be something that you visualize we  thought it would be cool to make them so you could carry them around in your pocket. so I made a test batch of 400 while on a family trip to Mexico and we gave Bots to clients and friends as our corporate gift in 2010.

The Bots were wildly popular with our clients and I LOVED making them. In my “real” work I am up on my feet, moving, facilitating, acting, improvising. When I am making Bots I am quiet, still, listening, focused and improvising. It’s a ying/yang thing. Bot making has become a vital part of my day-to-day action

When I make the Bots I start out with a pristine, blank domino, add color (one color at a time), then white and then the final black outline.
When I paint, I listen to books on tape (recent titles include Game of Thrones first 5 books, Bossy Pants, IQ84, a lot of great and sort of good Sci-Fi) This American Life and Radio Lab.
              I have no memory of any of the Bots that I paint.


I don’t plan what I paint. So when I see them on display after they are finished I always have a brief moment were I wonder “who made those?”…then I remember that I did.

It takes me about 2 days (working a bit and goofing off a bit) to finish 100 Bots. Here is how they progress: from the blank domino to the final clear coat so they don’t rub off in your pocket. I used a combination of oil paint pen and other metalic pens, and then I just loose myself and doodle:

Clear coat gets applied at the end, and then I try to scan or photograph every Bot for my records. Sometimes I get a little help…(or not)…

(note to self… always end a post with cute dogs, or babies)

*The original domino robots were imagined and commissioned by On Your Feet, a consultancy that collides improv and business, and that Gary helped to start in Nov. of 1994.

** my only ask is If you make Bots and put them out in the world please shoot some photos, and send your stories to me so I can share them here!!