While walking the aisles of a major Gift and Collectible trade show recently, pausing to peruse the window displays that showcased the latest offerings, I was struck again by what makes The Trail of Painted Ponies so unique, and explains, in part, our enduring popularity. Most of the products I saw were new introductions, accompanied by the kind of promotional hype we’ve come to associate with “New Releases,” be they movies, books, CDs, or collectibles. Few would catch on, and in a couple of years would work their way back to the clearance section of the showroom… if you could find them at all. Painted Pony figurines, in the meantime, are entering their 13th year, which is a rarity in the gift industry.
Which collectibles capture the imagination and attract the attention of customers/collectors is a mystery, in the same way which movies or songs or books become a hit is a guess to their producers. There are any number of reasons why Painted Ponies have longevity, but a key reason is that we are an artist-driven property in a pure sense. Painted Ponies were not conceived by an Art Department or a single designer. They were not born in a corporate boardroom. Painted Ponies grew out of a grassroots, public art project that showcased the talents of over a hundred different artists, who responded to the invitation to pair painting and sculpture in the creation of original, one-of-a-kind designs that illustrated the potential of the horse as a canvas. The only thing that has changed since our beginnings in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2001, is that rather than inviting artist to express their creativity on life-size fiberglass horse forms sculpted by acclaimed equine sculptor Star Liana York, we have expanded the number of horse forms available, and made these artworks available to people in a smaller size and at a more affordable price. In that original project, almost ten life-size Ponies sold for between $25,000 and $50,000, and are on exhibition in museums and corporate collections today.
The fact that each Painted Pony springs from the imagination of a different artist also explains why, a decade after our start, we do not repeat ourselves. Painted Ponies today are just as inventive in their designs, and original in their inspiration, as they were when they dazzled those who strolled the aisles of the Gift and Collectible trade shows, over a decade ago.
Announced in Winter 2003
1st Painted Ponies figurine release
Guardian of Sunset's Gate
Announced in Winter 2014
30th Painted Ponies figurine release