MATT RIDDLE: Rob Schamberger Newsletter 23JUL23
You think everything's fine in the big time.
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Hi. My name's Rob Schamberger. I'm that guy who paints rasslers. And other stuff. I wish it was all fun and games but the price of fame is high.
Sometimes an idea for a painting and exactly how to execute it comes to me and that was the case with this Matt Riddle piece. Inspired by his entrance I added in a wild arrangement of animals all around him, illustrated realistically but with a more cartoonish rendering. I painted the black and grey for each of them with acrylic paint and then applied a colored glaze over that and finished off with white highlights.
Then I painted Riddle with watercolor in a more realistic way, yet still boldly colorful. I think it helps him to feel like he’s in the same world as the animals, but he’s still the obvious focal point of the composition. Bro.
I hope you have as much fun looking at it as I did making it!
Ink and watercolor on 9” x 12” watercolor paper.
The first trans male pro boxer. Three wins, no losses.
As a personal project, I thought it’d be fun to do a series of 10 paintings focused on various notable LGTBQ athletes being awesome within their sports. Once I’m done I’ll find an appropriate place to show them at.
The online discourse around folks like them and I can be hard to deal with, let alone all of the legislation being introduced and often becoming laws against us. So I’m doing a fun project to celebrate some excellence.
ICYMI, here's last week's Canvas 2 Canvas episode. Today’s episode will go up on WWE's YouTube channel at 3PM CST!
8/6 - Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green
Card subject to change.
WHAT I LIKED THE PAST COUPLE WEEKS
We got our power back last Sunday afternoon! I probably liked that the most!
I listened to the audiobooks for ‘The Last Coyote’ and ‘Trunk Music’ by Michael Connelly from the Harry Bosch series over the past few weeks while working. The Last Coyote is especially good, maybe the best since the first book. The majority of it is Bosch unraveling from PTSD, all of it being a bit too much for him to handle and his life and career collapsing through it all. So, the tough guy loner cop goes to therapy, begrudgingly at first, and looks into himself the way he would a homicide investigation as he builds himself back up.
I can relate.
Darkly She Goes by Vincent Mallie and Hubert is a gorgeous fantasy graphic novel. I’m largely not a fantasy genre guy, but this is a beautiful tale about breaking the cycle of generational trauma and seizing your own destiny. Plus there’s swords and monsters and stuff.
I’d been eagerly anticipating Star Trek volume 1: Godshock by Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing and a bevy of talented artists. Set a little while before Nemesis, some force is killing all of the godlike entities in Trek like Gary Seven and the Crystalline Entity. Captain Sisko(!) is brought back to our reality to lead an Avengers-like group including Dr Crusher, Worf, Tom Paris and Montgomery Scott(!) to find who or what is behind this and stop them. There’s also new mysterious characters on the bridge who bring a lot of unpredictability to the story. It’s fun stuff.
Speaking of Trek, the new season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is so far outstanding and I want to give a special mention to Paul Wesley’s portrayal of James T Kirk. In a recent episode of The Ready Room (written by my pal Jake Black!), Wesley talks about how he’s trying to be the character but not doing an impersonation of William Shatner and I think that’s what makes it work so well.
The same way Anson Mount as Captain Pike stood out so much in season two of Discovery leading to Strange New Worlds, I’d honestly LOVE to see Wesley as a young pre-Captain of the Enterprise Kirk serving as first officer of the Farragut.
Just need those billionaires to set their egos aside so that Hollywood can get back to work first though, right?
What We Do in the Shadows season five is off to an outstanding start, especially this week’s Pride Parade episode. The way they set things up throughout an episode to lead to an outrageous punchline is incredible, but that they also do it throughout a season is masterful. PLUS: Collin Robinson’s sex life revealed!
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia season sixteen was perfect. I love these shorter seasons, where they come in, do hugely funny funny episodes with Holy $#!+ moments and then get out before they overstay their welcome. And they DID NOT disappoint this season with this week’s finale being one of the best character studies in recent memory.
I hope they do a WrestleMania episode next year.
Katy and I watched Billions seasons one and two over the past few weeks and we’re really into it. I was kinda on the fence with season one, but they stepped up in a big way with season two and its penultimate episode was straight out of the twists and turns of a heist movie but instead done with high finance and its regulations, but somehow just as intense.
I listened to the Death on the Lot podcast hosted by Adam McKay while working and as a fan of old Hollywood I was instantly in. The standout episodes for me are the Hattie McDaniell and Errol Flynn ones. Hattie McDaniell led to redlining becoming illegal nationally? Errol Flynn was a slaverunner?!? There’s also an episode dedicated to George Reeves and his tragedy, as well as one with the perfect title ‘The Bomb That Killed John Wayne.’
To this day I still can’t believe that The Conqueror got made. John Wayne. As Genghis Khan. I guess it set the stage for Benedict Cumberbatch to be Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek: Into Darkness.
The Cypress Hill Tiny Desk Concert is outstanding (I assume you’re already all over the Juvenile one, which is unreal):
With Money Mark on the keyboard! WHAT! Their performance of Rap Superstar is good to listen to for this next part, by the way.
Tikka took Kima’s favorite spot on the tower and she’s not loving it.
Let’s do some real talk.
This is going to veer into territory where you might feel like you need to tell me you’re sorry about what I’m experiencing but that’s not the point of this. It’s just a rip-the-bandage-off look at the realities of doing business.
You probably noticed that my prints aren’t up on WWE Shop yet, even though I said they would be on Friday. And several times before. Kinda makes you feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about or maybe that I’m being jerked around by WWE. Those are the kinds of hot takes that get clicks on websites or shares on social media, but it’s not what’s going on here.
WWE and Fanatics are giving me the opportunity to level up Schamberger Labs and sometimes with business things come up that weren’t anticipated but that need to be addressed so that we can all move forward together. From the outside, it probably seems confusing on why things aren’t just continuing as normal, right? Why can’t we keep doing things the same way as we have for the past decade?
Last year Fanatics took over online retail for WWE, which includes WWE Shop and WWE Auction. Before, I worked directly with WWE in a vendor capacity. I provided artistic goods that they then sold. Think of it like the manufacturer of the t-shirts that they then sold, pretty much the same arrangement. But with Fanatics being a licensee of WWE, it was discovered that my existing deal didn’t cover them being able to sell my work as part of a process called drop-shipping.
So for the past couple months I’ve been working with WWE to negotiate a new deal that would cover this and potentially far more as my business grows. Instead of being like a t-shirt manufacturer, the comparable would instead be 2K or Mattel. This will be highly advantageous to me and Schamberger Labs in the years to come, but WWE’s legal department has been understandably busy the past few months.
And that’s the other part of why all of this had to be addressed now: WWE’s new business arrangement with Endeavor. Things need to be locked down formally, all of the i’s dotted and t’s crossed (did you know that you can dot a j and ALSO cross a J? Fascinating!) and I’m a part of that. This will ideally make sure I get to continue once the WWE/Endeavor deal is finalized and I appreciate that greatly.
All of that said, this has been a rough experience so far. On a personal level I’ve had to do a lot of therapy work as the situation triggers certain emotions in me. My two therapists (wasn’t that a sitcom in the 80’s?) and Katy are getting the brunt of that. Professionally, it’s a very expensive start-up process. Between my setup costs and the loss in revenue I’m out well into five figures at this point. That’s reality, that’s what it’s like operating at this level. Sometimes a process gets protracted and you find yourself out more than I used to make in a year at my old day job. But also: I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford this and I’m in this privileged position because of WWE and Fanatics and my other wonderful clients. And you!
Once we’re up and running, which is hopefully just a matter of days at this point but WHO KNOWS, I’ll recoup those costs pretty quickly. I’m making a massive investment in my future and a decade from now I’ll be able to look back and see that this was all worth it. That’s the plan, at least.
So. Thanks for being patient with me through all of this. I’m not leading you astray and I’m not getting messed with by the big evil corporation. Instead I’m navigating new waters and they’re pretty choppy at the moment. But I think I see the end of the cloud line yonder at the edge of the horizon.
Let’s sail towards that sunrise, friend.
Love you more,
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