catjazz My friends and their creative fingers bring me so much joy!

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 thinking about how art can help and the Bots have been my vehicle for doing this in (hopefully) a delightful and surprising way.

I experiment with the Bots by making thousand painted small on the back of dominos, and a few painted giant on the sides of buildings,

10254133_304661739691065_227002617_nI also want others to make them as well. So on this site you will find kids, teachers, nurses, artists and others who are “stealing ” this idea and making their own Bots. I love it! The world needs more Bots 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 without my planning or control.

Why robots? Not because they are repetitive, mechanical, or automated. For me they are embarraries of your desired future. They are a little vehicles for bringing your current    aspirations into reality (whoa!). Also they’re fun!

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.

 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. Or if you are making Bots please use #botjoy to share what you are doing (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, and all the other usual and unusual suspects)


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.

Here’s a different way to understand the Bots , a poem by my friend Robert Poynton


This is a robot.
A robot in possession of a luscious secret.
This robot knows that the landscapes of your day,
The comings and goings that worry and fret you so,
Are just scenery.
As insubstantial as a cardboard cut out.
As lasting as a sherbet fountain.

The robot knows that whenever you come
Before whatever you take to be your god,
Your every whimpering sinew will forget,
What it was that seemed to matter so.

The robot knows that you are not the imposter,
That the real imposters are the shadows you chase,
The reputation you yearn for,
The hopes you hold that he will tell her
That somebody said that
You really are so good, so clever, so right,
That someone, anyone or everyone will love you.


And here is the secret secret.
The robot is inside you now.
Worming its way into your mind, your heart, your eye, your ear.
It may fall silent for a while, but it will never go away.
And it will whisper to you always.

“Nice pants” it says.