The Making of “Pink Robots”

My latest limited edition pen design from Retro 51 has been released, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Titled “Pink Robots”, this pen was a huge stretch for me, both personally and professionally.

I shared the story of its creation with Pen Addict Members over a month ago, and wanted to share it publicly today. I hope you enjoy.


When I decided to make my first Retro 51 two years ago I was a nervous wreck. I knew I wanted something basic, but with a few tweaks to make it different than the standard Retro 51 Tornado. Of course it was going to be orange, but what else could I do with it?

I worked with Retro 51 on that original design for weeks. Dozens of mock-up, tweaks, and changes. I was sweating this one hard! I had never done anything like this before, design-wise or money-wise.

Even the minimum order of 300 units had me completely freaked out. Could I sell all of these pens?

Pen Addict Retro 51 Original

Turns out, I could. Fairly quickly I might add. The success of this project gave me the confidence to do more the next year.

I wanted to do something fun for round two, and that culminated in working with my friend Michael Jacobs and using his wonderful Ice-O-Metric design for the pen. It turned out amazingly well, and was everything I wanted it to be. It was cool and fun and a completely perfect design for a Retro 51 collaboration.

Pen Addict Retro 51 Ic-O-Metric

It was so perfect, in fact, that I doubled the amount of pens I ordered to 600. They sold well too, and as of this writing, there are less than 50 pens left for sale.

That leads us to the third iteration of the Pen Addict Retro 51, which I want to share with you today.

The first edition was basic, as I got my feet wet with the process of creating a pen design. The second edition was fun, as I believe all pens should be, and is a killer addition to any writing arsenal.

The third edition is personal.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a music fan. All of you members are probably like “Yes, Brad. We get it. You like the tunes!” I talk about it a lot, because it means a lot to me. And, over all of the years of my life, some music sticks with me more than the rest. It helps me to relax, to think more clearly, to get me through tough times, to pinpoint memories and places and things. At a basic level, it is entertainment. Other times, it is more.

To me, Yoshimi is more.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

The Flaming Lips released “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” in 2002 to great critical acclaim. If you’ve never heard of The Flaming Lips - much less any of their music - I wouldn’t be surprised. Their uniqueness is very much an acquired taste. It took me years to come around to them and their sound. “She Don’t Use Jelly” isn’t exactly representative of a band that has been making music for over 30 years.

Why I latched on to Yoshimi as a song at the time is still a mystery to me, but I felt something there. Who is Yoshimi? What is she all about? Why is she fighting the Pink Robots?

One of the great things about music is that the stories behind the lyrics are often nebulous. Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne says the song is about fellow artist Yoshimi from a Japanese band called the Boredoms, because she sounds like she is fighting monsters when she sings. Many who listen to the album as a whole say it is about love. A decade after the album’s release, Coyne created an off-Broadway musical where Yoshimi is battling cancer, represented by Pink Robots.

Matthew Morse Pink Robots

A few years ago, my friend Matthew Morse blindsided me with a piece of artwork he created. Titled “Go Yoshimi Go!”, it features Yoshimi, sword in hand, ready to stand her ground against the giant Pink Robots. It’s such a moving piece to me because Yoshimi is a hero who has the uncanny ability to stand up to whatever the Pink Robots represent to you. It could be your own personal fight against health issues. It could be depression, or anxiety. It could be oppression, or racism. It could be as simple as a college course whose ass you are about to kick. Yoshimi can be anything you need her to be.

And that’s why I love her, and need her in my life. She helps me through the tough times, through the daily fights and challenges that come my way. And now I can have her with me on a daily basis.

When I first approached Matthew to use his artwork for this pen, I was nervous. Not that he would say no - in fact he was all for it - but that I could pull off this project as a whole. Getting personal is rarely the best business decision. But, as you likely know by now, I never let business interfere with who I am as a person and what I stand for. I’m making this pen for me, if no one else.

Pen Addict Retro 51 Pink Robots

The end result came out wonderfully, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you. “Pink Robots” is slated to arrive in late September, and as Pen Addict members, you will get first crack at it. I’ll have more information on pricing and shipping as we get closer to release. (Note: The pen is available now to everyone.)

Pen Addict Retro 51 Pink Robots Clip
Pen Addict Retro 51 Pink Robots Side
Pen Addict Retro 51 Pink Robots Side 2
Pen Addict Retro 51 Pink Robots Side 3

Thank you Matthew, for collaborating with me on this project, and thank you, amazing readers, for allowing me to share my story with you.

Pen Addict Retro 51 Pink Robots Art
Posted on October 12, 2018 and filed under Retro 51.