Saturday, May 6, 2023

One More for My Symposium Tin Collection

My beloved symposium tin collection

During all the social media buzz around the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Auckland last month, of course I was wistful (perhaps even a bit self-pitiful) that I wasn’t joining the fun and excitement this year. Sure, I missed all my sketcher friends whom I happily reunite with in exotic cities around the globe. Certainly I enjoy attending workshops and sketching sights I never see at home. But we all know what I regretted missing most: the Cretacolor pencil tin with the symposium logo!

Luckily for me, a dear friend who attended isn’t attached to symposium souvenirs, and the Auckland tin was happily given to me (is it still considered a gift if I beg?). When I missed the Singapore symposium in 2015, I had put out an entreaty on Instagram, and I was touched by the number of friends who had offered their tins.

The tins contain varying assortments of Cretacolor
pencils. I don't hoard the contents, though -- in fact,
I let the donor of the Aukland tin keep the pencils.
Begging for pencils? Please -- I have some pride.

Since Paraty was the first symposium with a logo’d Cretacolor tin, I thought my collection was complete – until 2017. That was when I spotted a photo on Instagram of a tin with the Barcelona logo – which I didn’t receive in my swag bag! My first symposium, Barcelona is particularly special to me, and completing my collection with that tin would be especially sentimental.

I went to great heights that year to inquire among friends who had attended Barcelona, but they didn’t get one in their swag bags, either. Perhaps only a select few had received one – symposium organizers only? I even pleaded with a couple of executive board members, but they didn’t have them, either. Perhaps it was a Cretacolor sample, which was ultimately not provided as part of the sponsorship? I may never know.

Someday years from now, perhaps a Barcelona tin will appear on eBay for an astonishing sum that no sane person would pay. Or perhaps, needing a down payment for a house or to put a child through college, the owner of the only Barcelona tin on earth will recall my original plea and offer it to me – for a suitable price. I know which country she lives in; I haven’t ruled out theft.

How far will I go to complete my collection? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I’m ever grateful to kind friends who are willing to indulge me.


  1. My heart sings!! The Cretacolor tin was my first thought when I realized you weren't going this year. I have seen your collection in several blog posts and it felt sad to interrupt it. But, the Barcelona tin!!! How could this happen? Did someone hack the design on their own just to tantalize? If so, it worked. I would never condone theft, but....
    Anne HwH

    1. I'm guessing that the Barcelona tin will need to be pried out of cold, stiff hands, so I have a challenge ahead. ;-)

  2. LOL I can't believe YOU OF ALL PEOPLE don't have a complete set. I'm glad you were able to get the Auckland one! Maybe someone will surface with the Barcelona one yet.


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