Paper Views

October 2018

I recently attended StL Print Week – an annual event in St. Louis, MO, dedicated to celebrating the art and industry of printing.

Volume 13, Issue 2 • October 2018

On That Note

I recently attended StL Print Week – an annual event in St. Louis, MO, dedicated to celebrating the art and industry of printing. I truly enjoyed visiting with the attendees there, all of whom told me about things they learned at the event to help them perfect their craft and grow their business. Another great benefit they mentioned was the feeling of belonging to a community of like-minded people. I extend my hearty congratulations to the organizers of this event, including Marie Oberkirsch of Central Print, Eric Woods of The Firecracker Press, and Kseniya Thomas of Ladies of Letterpress.
I’ve always been impressed with the way that makers in our industry support one another. Likewise, many NSS attendees have become friends over the years through the Show. The NSS is the central place for both vendors and retailers to come together to see one another, to share ideas, to learn something new and, of course, to do business! It's truly a special community of people.
The NSS's move to February to co-locate with NY NOW® will help to extend that community. NSS exhibitors will benefit from meeting thousands of new buyers who attend NY NOW but have never been to the NSS before, yet they list stationery products as a top category of interest. NSS buyers will also benefit from seeing more resources; and key-account buyers will be able to place orders sooner.
Our hotel list is now available online, and you’ll be pleased to see that rates are much lower than in May. Make your plans now to be at the NSS this February and to take part in our stationery community. It’s going to be a great Show!

American Folk Art Museum

The American Folk Art Museum is devoted to the creative expressions of self-taught artists, and features past and present artists of diverse backgrounds, origins, inspiration and goals. By showcasing the ongoing creativity of individuals whose singular talents have been refined through experience rather than formal artistic training, the museum considers the historical, social and artistic context of American visual culture. The museum's collection holds more than 8,000 artworks dating from the 18th century to the present, including portraits, painted furniture, incredible quilts, plus masterworks of the 20th and 21st centuries. The 650-sq.-ft. museum shop – ranked by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the best museum shops in the world – takes its inspirations from this diverse collection of folk art. Says Stefanie Levinson, Director or Retail and Visitor Services: "As I buyer, I look for gifts that are handmade, whimsical and beautifully crafted; and, if there is a great story behind it, all the better." Below she shares more about the museum and shop:

Stefanie Levinson, Director of Retail and Visitor Services, outside the museum.

Whimsical items are featured in the shop and museum.

1. The American Folk Art Museum has two locations. In addition to our Manhattan location, we have a new exhibition space in Queens, called the Self-Taught Gallery. It is a showcase for our permanent collection. The upcoming exhibition there is "Roadside Attraction." Both of our locations have free admission.
2. We are called the American Folk Art Museum, but the museum exhibits folk art from around the world, not just the U.S. Our next exhibitions, opening at the end of October, feature the artists John Dunkley from Jamaica and Paa Joe from Ghana. Like the museum, the shop features American-made items as well as handmade items from artisans around the world.
3. Folk art is made by self-taught artists – usually with no thought to selling it, showing it or having it end up in a museum. It is instead done out of need or as a way to communicate with the world. Self-taught art often has a powerful story behind it. One of my favorite pieces in the collection is a breathtaking silk-and-satin quilt done by a master tailor for his daughter to celebrate her wedding – the same daughter that was left as a infant on his doorstep. We look for items for the shop with these same sorts of wonderful stories.
4. The museum's collection is also a collection of unique, very special artworks. While we have works done in traditional media, we also have pieces made from bottle caps, chewing gum, chicken bones or even human hair. We try and bring the same uniqueness and whimsy to what is sold in the shop.
5. Jewelry is our top-selling category in the shop. Miriam Johnson creates one of our favorite pieces: a colorful bracelet made out of vintage Bakelite buttons. Another strong seller is Pamela Dalton's original paper-cuts. Pamela's images are made in the same manner as the scherenschnittes found in our collection, a folk art that dates back to 18th-century German immigrants living in central Pennsylvania. (Scherenschitte means scissor cuts in German.) I can't talk about best-sellers without mentioning socks, all socks. There must be something about being in a folk-art shop that makes one think cozy thoughts. Additionally, one of our favorite times of the year is putting out our incredible assortment of handmade ornaments.

Notecards are displayed amid unique gift items.

What was the best business advice you've ever received, and from whom?

"The best advice I was given was: 'Push yourself, sometimes it is good to take the leap before you feel completely ready.' I heard this on a podcast a few years ago, and now it is a piece of advice I like to pass on to other small-business owners. I’m not saying to leap in blind – you should certainly do your homework and prepare, but sometimes we get so caught up wanting everything to fall into place perfectly before moving forward. Sometimes you have to take a chance on yourself, and then it becomes clear what the next steps should be. I wish I had been given this advice a little earlier in my career!"
— Rhonda Camp Warren, Owner, Color Box Design & Letterpress, a Dallas, TX-based business specializing in letterpress-printed stationery items, gifts and custom wedding invitations.

Letterpressed "USA Travel Map" with flags and map pins from Color Box Design & Letterpress.

"'You don't need to do everything by yourself. You have a unique skill set that has gotten you to where you are today, but running a business requires wearing many different kinds of hats. Allow those who are better suited to complete the tasks that you're not built for (and probably hate doing anyway!), and they will get done faster and (probably!) better than if you did them yourself.' We received this golden nugget of wisdom from our buddies over at the Center for Women and Enterprise in Providence, RI, when we were getting our business off the ground and building a business plan."
— Arley-Rose Torsone, Co-Founder, Ladyfingers Letterpress, an award-winning stationery brand located in Colorado Springs, CO, founded in 2011 by Torsone and her wife, Morgan Calderini.

Letterpress-printed A2 birthday card from Ladyfingers Letterpress.

"The best business advice I ever received was from my grandfather, who purchased a struggling shoe store during the Depression and went on to create a successful chain of stores. He shared his favorite quote with me from Theodore Roosevelt ('The Man in the Arena') that I have always taken to heart. 'The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.' The key is to get in the game and never give up."
Lisa Arnett, Creative Director/Owner, Skel & Co, a Hermosa Beach, CA-based design studio offering funny, sarcastic, touching, sweet, unique gifts and more.

Hand-blown glass ornaments from Skel & Co.

These Products Have Gone to the Dogs!

There's no doubt that Americans are dog lovers, with more than 60 million U.S. households owning a dog, according to the American Pet Products Association's 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey. It's no surprise, then, that dogs are super-popular on stationery and gift items, too, such as these tail-wagging products from upcoming NSS exhibitors.

"Basset Hound" birthday card by Scott Church from Allport Editions.

"Dalmation" 8"x10" letterpressed art print from And Here We Are.

"Year of the Dog" letterpressed blank card from Big Wheel Press.

"Corgi" vinyl, waterproof sticker from Cactus Club.

Henries Awards Winners Revealed

The winner of The Henries' "Best Contemporary Trend Range" Award – a category sponsored by the NSS – is "Brushstrokes" from Stop The Clock Design. The NSS has been a longtime sponsor of The Henries – the U.K.'s greeting card awards program – which is produced by Progressive Greetings and took place on October 4 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. To view a list of all of this year's winners, click here.

"Just A Card" Campaign Promotes Small Businesses

Thousands of designers, makers, independent galleries and shops from across the world are adding their voice to "Just A Card": a volunteer-run, U.K.-based campaign that is spreading the word that all purchases, however small – even "just a card" – are vital to the prosperity and survival of small businesses. The campaign was launched by U.K. artist/designer Sarah Hamilton when she saw a quote by store keepers who'd recently closed their business: "If everyone who'd complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card, we'd still be open." To help support all creative businesses, you can download free postcards and posters from Just A Card; follow and retweet on Twitter and share on Instagram; purchase items from its shop; and more. Everyone passionate about the future of artists, designers and small businesses is invited to get involved. For further information, click here.