Community Adventures – FAB LAB TULSA & PRAIRIE HIVE


This week I went to a Tulsa Blogger’s Meetup.  It peaked my interest because it was being held at a place called ‘Fab Lab Tulsa’.  I hadn’t heard of it before but it sounded cool.  I also wanted to go because the presentation was going to be given by the director of an online magazine and blog called ‘Prairie Hive’.  I didn’t know anything about it either but it also had a cool name. I get seduced by cool names, can you tell?


I got there a bit early and a young woman named Mary gave me a tour of the lab, officially named Hardesty Center for Fab Lab Tulsa, and explained what it was all about.  Fab is short for fabrication.  The idea is to have a place where entrepreneurs, small manufacturers, artists, programmers, and others can come to build prototypes of products, experiment and learn techniques in materials, create art, and develop ideas for projects. In a word, the place is awesome.


There is an electronics bench, a milling station, vinyl and laser cutting. It was most impressive.

It has a classic fabrication shop with the addition of an incredible ‘ShopBot CNC Router’ that can precisely cut in 3 dimensions.
They have a 3D printer that can make actual working objects, like the wrench and bicycle chain pictured, from a file you send it.

Recently they hosted a Hackathon for programmers and this weekend they are hosting a ‘Start Up Weekend’, basically an intense incubator for entrepreneurial idea generation and development.  I suggested to them that a similar event for artists could also yield some amazing work.  Some day I hope I have a project that will allow me to use that space!


After I got some appetizers and cookies and greeted some of my fellow Tulsa bloggers, Tasha of TashaDoesTulsa, Kate of Fat Ass to Fit Ass, Melanie of Blogging Basics 101 and Kelly of Partially Motivated, we got to hear from Sarah Vespasian, the founder and director of Prairie Hive.

She told the story of the inception of the blog and online magazine.  Basically she kept seeing a lot of cool design stuff online from all around the US and Canada and said to herself, “I could do that for where I live, the midwest prairie.”  She also realized in short order she couldn’t do it alone. So she gathered a group of dynamic women and they became the hive behind Prairie Hive.

They germinated the idea in February, 2011.  And had it launched by April. Pretty impressive if you ask me.  It’s even more impressive when you hear that they completely had no technical clue what they were doing. But as with all great entrepreneurs, that didn’t stop them. They kept learning and now they have an online magazine that stands with the best of them!


Check it out, you will see what I mean.


I love how dynamic and energetic the Tulsa community is, whether blogging about design in the home or creating detailed prototype products.  It’s a great place to live and work!


Social Media Tulsa Conference – 2011

On Thursday I had the privilege of speaking at my first conference!

Social Media Tulsa Conference 2011
Only once before had I spoken in a public forum about the Napkin Dad story. It was at a Rotary Club meeting.  I remember trying, in the early stages of putting the presentation together, to make it inspirational and motivational.  But what they ended up hearing was a dry chronological recitation of the story. It fell flat.

When Cheryl Lawson, the SMTulsa Conference organizer, gave me the opportunity to speak, I was determined this time around that the Napkin Dad story would be told in a way that moved people, inspiring them and motivating them. After all, that’s what I work on every day in my drawings and commentary, why shouldn’t it be what I do in public, right?

Cheryl Lawson
The title of my talk was ‘The Napkin Dad Explains: Strategies and Attitudes in Social Media Engagement’.  Each chapter of the Napkin Dad story had a strategy, an attitude and a lesson to be learned.  I had 9 of each but in the early stages of preparation I had about 24 of each.  That wasn’t going to work! I really had to focus on editing at that point.

Here’s a funny thing. One of my chapters was about making what you do real. I mean materially real, as in something you can hold in your hand real. The great thing about making something real is that revelation occurs.  When you have to move your communication from one medium to another you have to edit it, you have to transform it. That act leads you to understand yourself and what you do better.  I was doing that exact same thing as I prepared my talk.
Becky McCray
The keynote speaker at the conference was a woman named Becky McCray.  She is from a small town in Oklahoma and has become a nationally known speaker on the topic of turning small town values into success in business.  Her presentation was fantastic, with great stories, images and lessons to be learned about how America and the world can benefit from the best aspects of a small town mentality.

When I got to the room where I was presenting I found the Keynoter, Becky McCray, listening to the speaker before me, a friend of hers named Mandy Vavrinak.  Becky didn’t know me from Adam but Mandy was going to stay and hear my talk and encouraged Becky to stay as well.
Mandy Vavrinak
The very beginning of the Napkin Dad story, as many of you know, is when my daughter gave me all the napkins I had drawn that first year back to me on Father’s day. She had kept them all without me ever knowing.  (if you don’t know the story you can read it here).  While I haven’t spoken often in a formal public arena about the story, I have told that portion of it out loud many times.  So, I was NOT expecting to get choked up as I came to that point.  But, boy did I.  It came out of nowhere!  My voice wavered and I got a bit flushed, but I simply stopped, looked at the screen for a moment and continued on.
Me speaking at SMTulsa 2011 © Cheryl Lawson
The rest of the talk followed the outline of the story from then to now, with each chapter followed by three napkins, one illustrating a strategy I used, an attitude I had while going through it, and a lesson I learned from it.  I felt pretty good about it afterwards. I got applause and I even heard a hoot in the back.  I was happy.

You can see my Presentation Slides (as a PDF) here.  I will also have a video of the talk up in the next week or so.

I was even happier when Becky McCray came up to me and was very positive about it, giving me ideas and recommendations of where I could go with it all.  I was even happier when I read her tweet that she posted right after my talk:
@beckymccray: Prediction: @TheNapkinDad is a rising star. You will hear much, much more about and from him. #SMTulsa
Wow.  Not much else to say but thanks!
SMTulsa 2011 speakers
After I was done I was able to enjoy the other speakers. I heard Michael Butler talk about Social Good, Carlos Moreno on Traditional vs. Social Media and Blake Ewing give the closing talk on Making Good Things Happen in Tulsa.  I was in good company, that’s for sure.  I also had great conversations with speakers Ronald Skelton,  Heather Cupp and many others.

And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a Napkin! Michelle Butler asked me to draw a napkin at the cocktail party afterwards. Here it is.
Guest Napkin – Social Media Tulsa Conference 2011.
Thanks to Michelle Butler for unknowingly posing for me!
So, all in all a VERY positive and exciting experience. My thanks goes out to first and foremost Cheryl Lawson of Social Media Tulsa and Party Aficionado who put on the conference!  Thanks to all who attended, especially Becky, who tweeted and FBed their positive feedback. It really made my day!

Speakers ‘Meet-Meme’ Trading Cards

Social Media Tulsa Conference – Coming March 24th!

The first ever Social Media Tulsa Conference is Coming up on Thursday, March 24th at the Hyatt Regency, downtown!

I will be a featured speaker in one of the afternoon breakout sessions.


Strategies and Attitudes in Social Media Engagement

I will use the Napkin Dad story and drawings to illuminate key strategies and attitudes that work for me and can work for you in the social media platforms of 2011.

Come prepared to absorb (like a napkin) ideas that you can wipe up with! So, scoot on over to the Social Media Tulsa site and register.  See you there!


>I Cannot & Will Not Cut My Conscience


Times change, and some things become accepted wisdom, the uninvestigated way of thinking.

Here in Oklahoma it is fashionable recently to have a hissy fit about how the majority religion, Christianity, is being sidelined.  A current example of this is the hissy fit our senior Senator Inhofe is having over the annual parade that occurs this time of year.  In the past it was called the Christmas Parade of Lights.  Last year the name was changed to the Holiday Parade of Lights.  Sen. Inhofe has made a grand proclamation this year where he says he will refuse to ride his horse in the parade unless the name is changed back.  We also have a City Councilman and others threatening to not allow a parade permit unless the name is changed back. The argument is that ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ and so it should say Christmas in the name of the parade.

The reason given for changing it from ‘Christmas’ to ‘Holiday’ is one you have probably heard before.  It is that many people in the community are not Christian, they celebrate other religious (or non-religious) events during the same time frame and in the interest of having them feel included in both the parade and the seasonal atmosphere the word Holiday is the better word to use.

But there is another argument that I have not heard.  It is more Christian to have the parade name include ‘Holiday’ than it is to have ‘Christian’ in it.

The essence of the day-to-day practice of Christianity is love.  Love is made manifest by, among other things,  kindness, gentleness, thoughtfulness, patience, selflessness, sacrifice, and inclusion.  

If I know that some in my community are celebrating holidays other than Christmas, then why would I not want to reach out to them and find ways to include them in the community wide celebrations.  If by one simple word change that doesn’t affect my religion, doesn’t affect my worship, doesn’t affect me being ‘Christian’ in any way I can reach out a hand of love and joy to Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and those who don’t believe anything in particular, then why wouldn’t I want to do that?  Why woudn’t that be the Christian thing to do?

If I do so, then my church is still intact, my worship is still secure, my example is still as it should be, Christian.

That’s my conscience speaking to me.  What is yours saying to you?

Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by Lillian Hellman, from a letter to the chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, May 19th, 1952.

All The Beautiful Sentiments In The World


When I was in Jr. High I had this fantasy.  I was in a school bus and we had a wreck.  The prettiest girl in school was hurt and I was the one who helped her.  I can remember to this day the exact location of the accident and the little slope she was laying on as I bandaged her and stayed with her until the ambulance came. I was a hero in my fantasy.

In reality I never was a hero to that girl.  We did eventually become friends and she wrote something nice in my yearbook. But I wasn’t a hero. It was just a sentiment and a desire to be a good person that stayed in my head.

But it illustrates this quote perfectly for me.  A hero is someone who takes action for the benefit of others.  It can be heroic, it can be small and easily overlooked.  But the action is what is lovely, not the sentimental idea.  Without the action, it’s just a dream, like my dreams of adolescent heroism.

Here are a few of my friends,  fellow Tulsans, who have taken action in their lives.  They are heroes.  Check out their stories along with others.


Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by James Russell Lowell, 1819-1891, American poet, writer, diplomat

>I Draw In Church – The Milky Way


It’s ‘I draw in Church Sunday’ here at The Napkin Dad Daily.  I draw a lot.  In bookstores, trains, plains, waiting rooms, and my favorite place to draw, church.  

She sat in front of us on a warm summer day at church.  I enjoyed seeing the cosmic message from the pulpit on the skin of a person right in front of me.

Drawn at All Souls Unitarian Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma.  6/24/07 by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily.

If You Obey

Yesterday I spent almost the entire day at two different arts festivals
about 3 blocks from each other in downtown Tulsa. The morning was
spent at the Blue Dome, a locally organized festival with local artists.
The afternoon was spent at Mayfest, Tulsa’s premier outdoor arts festival
bringing in artisans from around the country.

Going to an arts festival is sort of like searching for the needle in the
haystack. You are looking for the one bright shiny idea in a sea of
sameness. It’s always worth going just to have the pleasure of seeing
the artist or the person walking the festival who stands out because they
are having fun. The pink shoes, the original idea, the little bird they
carry with them or the weiner dog with the goggles. There is fun in
their hearts because they respond to what gives them joy instead of
what constrains them.

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” –  Katherine Hepburn, American actress


Local interview – Fox 23

Check it out, a local station’s interpretation of the napkin dad story. scroll down the choices on the right until you see the napkin image. It should be at the top for the weekend at least. Thanks to Janna Clark and John Gibson for coming out to the house to do the story. They were very cool and creative I thought.

Tulsa World, 01-04-09



My local newspaper ran these two articles about the napkin drawings today. I feel pretty lucky that people have caught on to the story and the napkins!

Interviews and Articles

Interviews and Articles

Mia Magazine – Winter 09 edition

mia magazine

A friend from years ago contacted me after seeing one of my interviews and expressed interest in having the Napkin story featured in a new women’s magazine she was introducing.

I suggested that my daughter, Chelsea, could perhaps write the article, which she did.



Absorbent Ideas | April 25 – June 6, 2009


exhibition & sales website




KOKI – Fox 23 – On The Road – 2/16/09

Reporter Janna Clark and her videographer, John Gibson, came by our house at the beginning of February, 09 to do an interview with myself and my daughter, Chelsea. They spent almost 3 hours interviewing and videotaping the two of us, separately and together. They recorded us talking about the napkins as we leafed through them and as I drew one.

See the story here:

koki capture


The were quite creative in their editing and I enjoyed the end result, even if I do sound like a doofus!


Good Day Tulsa – Studio Interview – 01/08/09

Kristin Dickerson of Good Day Tulsa (KTUL/channel 8), a local morning show, interviewed me about the napkin drawings and about the inclusion of the Obama napkin in Time magazine.

See the interview here:

screenshot of video

The interview was a lot of fun and the on-air and behind-the-scenes people were enthusiastic and very helpful.

Ms. Dickerson was kind enough to mention my other artwork as well. In particular she directed the audience to my ‘Velveteen Woman’ photo-collage series on my website. She was also enthusiastic about contributing to that same series.



‘Drawing on Love’ and ‘Dad’s Napkin Messages’ articles in the Tulsa World Newpaper – 01/04/09

My local newspaper, the Tulsa World, published two articles about the napkins today. One was the local angle on the national Time Magazine article and the other about the original Napkin Story.

Read the stories here:

They were nice enough to put a link on their front page for people to purchase the book. The reporter, Matt Gleason was a very cool guy and I enjoyed the interview quite a bit. I am very grateful people have caught on to the napkin stories and are passing it along to others!



First TV Interview – News on 6 – KOTV Tulsa

I contacted an anchor/reporter I knew, Lori Fullbright, at KOTV in Tulsa after I did the initial interview with the Tulsa World (but it had yet to be published). She liked the idea of the napkins and arranged quickly to come visit my studio and do an interview.

See the interview here:


It aired 12/31/08 and was then picked up by their sister station in OKC and aired a few days later.

I really appreciated Lori’s enthusiasm and interest in the story and how determined she was to get the interview done and broadcast quickly.


‘America the Beautiful’ in Time Magazine – 12/29/08

On November 5th, 2008, I drew a new napkin (the first since 2004). I drew it in response to Barack Obama’s election as our next president. I happen to be a supporter of his candidacy, but the emotion and happiness went beyond the politics of the moment. I searched my napkin drawings for an appropriate image and quote that expressed my sentiment and, finding none, drew a new one.

america the beautiful

The morning after the election I scanned the drawing and posted it on my blog and on my site. It got immediate attention (as did many posted that morning) and a great conversation ensued below it on flickr.

Eventually Time Magazine saw it and decided to include it in their ‘Person of the Year’ issue (Obama being person of the year for 2008, obviously).


The Nun Story

In November, 2008 I received an email from an Irish nun, Sister Patricia Murray, working on her Masters degree at a seminary in Chicago. She found my blog when she googled ‘Imagination’.


napkin napkin


She became a subscriber and had interest in a number of my napkin drawings. She wanted to purchase the rights to 5 of them for use in her thesis on ‘Imagination and Peace Building’ and in presentations in southern Sudan where she was doing her work. She said she would use the “drawings to show how simple illustrations can be an inspiration to capture ideas and to give courage.”


napkin napkin


I loved the idea and sent her the drawings. She is will be sending me the presentation she uses them in once she is finished with her thesis and back at her work in Africa. I am excited to have them be part of something so important in the world.




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