Enter our Tin Man colouring contest

00:41, Jan 03 2013
Tin Man by Stephen Pennruscoe
COLOURFUL: Stephen Pennruscoe's stunning entry.

Tin Man creator Tony Cribb has designed a colouring competition for Press readers. 

You can download the black-and-white drawing by clicking here.

Tony Cribb considers himself  ''an absolute accidental artist''. He's one of those guys who appears to be an overnight sensation, with exhibitions from Auckland to Dunedin.

Tin Man creater Tony Cribb
TONY CRIBB: "It's a goal of mine to stay childlike."

His work appears on tea towels, coffee mugs and even a shipping container en route to Sumner, but he's actually been toiling away for years.

Cribb is the product of parents whose best art is probably ''a mean stick figure'' and the youngest of four creative boys.

He went to Papanui High School in Christchurch, or ''The Langdon's Road Academy'', as he calls it.


Cool Bananas by Tony Cribb
SUMMER STRIPES: The Cool Bananas by Tony Cribb

''Some people knew what they wanted to be,'' he says.  ''I was a real drifter. I dreamed of being a What Now presenter and I only stayed at school until the final year so I could wear mufti.''

A couple of school friends decided to do a foundation course in art at Hagley Community College, so he enrolled, too. By the end of the year, he had a folio of  artwork, so he supposed he ought to apply to polytech. He was accepted, so he thought he might as well go.

In 1998, he graduated with a degree in visual communications from the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology and decided to try a career illustrating for advertising companies.

''But I caught myself off-guard. I hated it. I wanted to be somewhere I was able to draw my little monsters.''

So he returned to creative art and let those little monsters out. After selling a couple of pieces, he started to believe this art lark might just work.

The 36-year-old's most memorable character is Tin Man. And while the Tin Man in Wizard of Oz was sad because he had no heart, this innocent, hapless orange robot with the goggly eyes has heart enough for everyone.

The long-running series The Adventures of Tin Man sees him go  on dates, box, get in trouble and save the city.

Tin Man fell out of Cribb's brain 11 years ago as a copper creation on wood. This early Tin Man was innocently picking daisies with a bullet hurtling towards his head. The piece was called F... Off Tin Man.

He has no idea who bought the first Tin Man - if you've got it, get in touch).

''It was a one-off and that was the end of the matter. But in 2003 I had an exhibition and it dawned on me that I didn't have enough, so I needed something to fill the gaps.''

Looking back through his folio, Cribb found a photo of his about-to-die Tin Man.

''I did three paintings and they were the first three to sell. A lightbulb went off. It has been the same as everything else - another happy accident.''

These days his Tin Man originals sell for about $650, while Cribb's other paintings, which tend to be much larger, go for between $2000 and $4000.

Of course, the price wasn't always that high - or conventional.

Cribb sold his first painting to a schoolmate for seven or eight marbles. ''It was during that craze of playing marbles at school - I wasn't very good at them, so the guy probably just won them straight back off me.''

Perhaps that little memory inspired the loveable line drawing Cribb has created for The Press's colouring competition on page 6. In the drawing, Tin Man has literally lost his marbles, 10 of them.

His advice for any young artist and those entering the colouring competition is: ''Be fearless. Have fun and be awesome.''

Tin Man's look may not have changed over the years, but some facets have. ''At the start he was a little bit me, a little bit him. Over the years he has totally grown into his own personality. Now he sort of belongs to everyone.

''I get requests for commissions for Tin Man to be doing certain things. But sometimes I have to say no, because I am respectful of Tin Man as a character and how he's viewed. He's a good guy, an everyday joker like us. Bad stuff happens, good stuff happens. Like life, it's haphazard.''

Tin Man truly is one of the good guys. The pair now raise thousands of dollars for charity, as Cribb is often asked to donate paintings for fundraisers. He says yes just about every time, because he operates under an ethos: Thou Shalt Make the World a Better Place, the title of an earlier painting.

To that end, Cribb is a volunteer at Camp Quality, an annual camp for children with cancer. This January will mark his 12th year matched as a one-on-one companion at the week-long camp.

Tin Man appears on coffee cups, T-shirts, tea towels, fridge magnets and in books. Is it selling out to have an artwork mass-merchandised?

''He's kind of my bread-and-butter line. Sometimes being an artist means selling your soul a bit, so Tin Man has become really commercial, but he gives me freedom to paint the larger works.''

When not painting, Cribb loves BYC (back yard cricket) and has been playing footie (football) for the same team for the past 12 years.

Cribb and his partner, Pipa Henderson, have an 18-month-old son, Jimmy (named after one of his biggest inspirations, Jim Henson).

He says their son has changed his perspective, but not his art - although he suspects when little Jimmy is able to start drawing, he'll pick up a few tips.

''My nephew was about 6 when he drew this picture of Pipa being pulled along by Wilma [the dog] on a skateboard.

Pipa was a blue blur, the colours were all wrong, but it was invigorating. It inspired me. I love children's artwork. It's a goal of mine to stay childlike.''

One influence over Cribb's work has been the aftermath of the quakes. Post-destruction, he drew up the immutable ''Cribb Criteria for Arting Excellence'' in which each painting now follows a ''strict guideline'' to: 

a) inspire you

b) make you laugh

c) make you think

d) none of the above

In other words, it's nice to sell but if you've had a look and a smile, his real work is done - and that's no accident.

The Cool Bananas were inspired by characters from a previous Tin Man painting.  The stripes are reminiscent of a beach towel. The Press and Cribb will do something charitable with the painting in 2013.

Colour competition rules and prizes:

You can download the black-and-white drawing by clicking here. and look for your entries online at press.co.nz

Tony Cribb's Tin Man has lost his marbles. Can you help him find them all? There are 10 marbles hidden in the picture.

When that is solved, colour in the drawing and send it to The Press for a chance to win great prizes from Hasbro.

Because the age categories are large, we're judging creativity and flair.


Under 5

Win Elefun, a butterfly catching game for kids with an elephant full of fun! Motorised elephant blows colourful butterflies into the air so kids practice their catching skills.

Boys age 6-16

Win Connect4 Launchers. Rapid fire four in a row. Launch it to win! Grab your launcher and send your  checkers zooming through the air with three fast-flying checker challenges.

Girls age 6-16

Win Bop it Smash.  Can you time it right and smash the light? This lightning- quick version of the favourite Bop It game lets you choose from three intense modes: Solo, Pass it to Your Friends  or Multiplayer, which  challenges up to six players to see who's the fastest  smasher.

Teen to adult - yes, grown-ups can enter too (with pic in folder, hasbro words with friends)

Win Words With Friends, the wordiest fun game that's based on the addictive online game.  Take seven tiles and create words vertically or horizontally that connect to previous words. If you use all your tiles first, you get  to add the points from your friends remaining tiles to your score.

Mail entries to The Press Summer Colouring Competition, Private Bag 500055, Christchurch, 8140. Or drop them into Press House, 158 Gloucester St during business hours Monday to Friday. Or email your creations to press.colour.comp@gmail.com

Competition closes at noon on Monday January 14, 2013. A winner will be declared in Your Weekend on Saturday January 19.

The Press