January 30, 2009

NYIGF Winter Show Part 2: Letterpress at the International Gift Fair

Here I stand before the Jacob Javits statue, about to invoke BBH tradition.

And go... the humping of Javits' leg. Oh! Jacob!

We're currently recovering from a week of trade show madness at my mother's home in Warren, NJ. As always, the shows are hard work. Lots of walking and talking, lots of networking and explaining, making sales, keeping people happy, nursing a weeklong hangover, and maintaining the illusion of an even keel. It's exhausting. We're not used to working these hours-- the normal BBH shift is from 11ish-6 with some late nights here and there (mostly by Mike and myself, and mostly because we want to, not because we have to)-- but for the gift show its 9-6 for five days straight. We are notoriously late to our booth (usually by 45-75 min) and notoriously hungover when we do get in.

I have many things to report. The show went well for us. We were on the main floor of the Javits Center, which is unusual for a second timer at the gift show, and though our prime location should have made us more likely to rake in the dough, it wasn't our greatest show. The overall consensus I received from the oodles of exhibitors I spoke with was that it was an incredibly slow show, which I would agree with. The turn out was low, and the buyers who showed up were extremely careful and prudent about buying.

What might turn what I would consider a fair show into a fantastic show is that Urban Outfitters seemed very interested in carrying a boxset of our Obama cards. If they end up buying then we'll have definitely come away from the gift show feeling like it was all worthwhile. The Obama cards were the hit of the show and I'm extra proud because I haven't been serious about drawing in about a decade and rarely have I used my own drawings for the business.

On the last day we did an online video interview with Guideposts for some Earth Day broadcast that they will be doing. They were interested in us because we were featured in the show's Sustainability Display. The interview went incredibly well. However, I don't think that Guideposts, which is a christian magazine, is actually going to feature us once they go to our webstore and find cards like this, this, this, this, and this.

That's the skinny on what went down in the BBH booth-- but the real excitement lies in what gems I found elsewhere as I wandered the entirety of the gift show. This particular post will report on the presence of letterpress at the NY Gift Show-- though we of the press were lost in a sea of crap, I was amazed by how much letterpress there was to see at the show.


If you read this blog regularly then you already know how much I love Hello!Lucky. Whenever I go to the booth I ask "Where's the new stuff?" and pretty much buy all of it for my store. I'm really excited about getting my monkey on.


I found Red Cap in the New York's Newest category during the summer NYIGF. All of their cards are illustrated by owner Carrie Gifford- I have often likened her illustrations unto Edward Gorey. Though they mostly carry full color cards (offset or digital, I'm not sure) they also have a smaller line of letterpress cards, which when simplified to two color design, are stunning. I placed a small order with them this summer and their line sells better than any line I have carried in the store, and this winter is the first time as a buyer that I've had to reorder a gagload of styles on top of the new stuff they carried.

I also scooped up some awesome journals. Check it.

To be honest, I've heard Snow & Graham's name a billion times but never thought twice to visit them at the countless shows we've been at together-- but I was determined to say hello to every last letterpress exhibitor at the show and of course I ended up dropping dough before I said goodbye.

9 Spot Monk

9 Spot Monk, like Hello!Lucky, is a letterpress outfit run by two sisters-- Vivian and Tiffany. They have a studio right here in New Jersey. I am destined to visit their studio one of these days as I'm in NJ at least four times a year. I'm very interested in seeing their operation as they run Heidleberg Windmills using wind power (ironic, don't you think?)

What sets their stuff apart from other card slingers is their uber-urban style-- much of what they print can pass for grafiti. We carry their cards in the store-- they were the last stop on my tour of the show and I was tapped out of cash by the time I could say hello--but I'm looking forward to see what they'll have at the Stationery Show.

Motel Deluxe

Run by partners Michael and Douglas (Michael Douglas! I'm positive they've never heard that joke before) Motel Deluxe imports some really cool and smartly packaged french goodies, mostly kids toys like building blocks, puzzles and games--- but they also carry a line of letterpressed cards done up by Sesame Letterpress.

I met Motel Deluxe in Atlanta when a friend recommended they stop by our booth-- they came by and bought most of our Alice cards for their famous Manhattan store in ABC, called Cursive. I became extra friendly with them when they told me the Martha Stewart Show visited their store and the producer on site bought up every last Kmart Trash card they had and special ordered a dozen more. I thought for sure we'd eventually be issued a cease and desist if she found out about this card, luckily she has a sense of humor.


The Yee-Haw folk are our favorite neighbors over yonder Tennessee mountains, and a definite MUST VISIT if you ever get within a stone's throw of Knoxville Tennessee. I was absolutely drooling over this 30x42 woodtype specimen, which retails for $500.

Yee-Haw is right up there with Hello!Lucky in terms of huge commercial success, and when it comes to making business and marketing decisions I watch them very closely.

Saturn Press

Saturn Press hails from Swan's Island, Maine. Started in '86 in their garage, Jane Goodrich & James van Pernis print super colorful cards inspired by images from the 1870's-1930's. I interrogated them at the last Stationery Show when a distributor who buys their cards in bulk to sell in New Zealand and the UK stopped by our booth and tried to lowball us on our own goods. I wish I had a link to these folks website but none could be found.

Thank god its over. Stay tuned for parts 3 & 4 of the NYIGF Winter 2009 report.

January 27, 2009

NYIGF Winter Show Part 1: Preparation

by Mike Porcenaluk

This past week has been a flurry of activity around the Barnhouse; we rushed to print a slew of new designs to spring on the masses at the winter New York International Gift show, including some last minute ideas for our newly minted Obama designs, which happen to be selling like mad at the show.
Sarah and the interns keep the presses rolling..
All three presses ran day any night to pump out a total of 36 new designs... which put us at over 50 new ones since the Gift Show last August!

The mountain of new designs smothered our prep table.

As impressive as it is, this flurry of cards would be lost in the shuffle of the gift shows if it were not for the iconic Blue Barnhouse trade show booth. Made from panels of wooden siding, and featuring an authentic bale of straw and barnwood benches, this setup draws attention by starkly contrasting the sleek glitz of corporate card companies.

The BBH booth version 2.0 at the New York Stationery Show last year. We will no longer drive our booth to NYC and instead will store it offsite of the Javits Center. Delivery to and from storage is charged by the pound, so lightweight construction for the new booth was key.

While memorable, this old setup was EXTREMELY cumbersome, made from heavy planks and 2x6 framework, making our entire booth weight (including cards, furniture, etc) close to 900 lbs. Once packed in our trailer and driven up North, we were required to hire union labor to use power tools to help set it up, had to wait for said laborers to find and bring us our skid at the end of each show so that we could get it fork-lifted to the docks to load it into our trailer, and then haul it back home for a couple months before we had to turn around and do it all over again!

The new BBH 10x10 booth, in all it's lightweight glory.

This time around, we engineered the booth to be lighter, easier and faster to set up and tear down, and more sturdy. It features lightweight cedar siding screwed to a 1x4 framework, making each panel thinner and weigh less than half of the previous versions. Using a pin and hinge system between booth panels and toggle bolts/wingnuts to hang the shelves, the booth setup is entirely tool free and incredibly fast and efficient. Our booth will now be stored offsite of the Javits center so that for future shows we only need to hop on a plane with new designs and that's that.

Brandon sits down for a minute to admire the 10x12 setup.

The genius of this new booth is that it converts from a 10x10 foot booth to a 10x12 foot corner-booth setup for different shows, as well as having an aesthetic half-wall that doubles as a packing skid. At the end of each show, the half-wall folds down, everything gets stacked on top of it, and is ready to ship to the storage area!

Triumph! The booth stacked and packed, ready to be wrapped.

Here's to many bountiful years slinging our wares to the unsuspecting masses in the Big Apple in our beautiful hassle-free booth... from your friendly neighborhood BBH letterpress printer, booth builder, and guest blogger extraordinaire: Mike.

January 21, 2009

All is Copacetic in the Land of the Free

In two days we leave for NYC for the New York International Gift Fair, and are doing our usual flurry of printing new designs. But the crew stopped yesterday to watch the inauguration and to say farewell to George.

It was a very inspiring day and I spent most of the afternoon drawing some last minute Obama cards that we'll print up tomorrow.

This one was referenced from a paparazzi photo of Obama at the beach in Hawaii with his shirt off, just before his inauguration. Listen up people, he's ripped. It's a phrase that might just stick, as in, "Yo, that shit is solid as Barack!"

Devendra Doll

Here's mine. Make yours here on Devendra Banhart's website.

January 17, 2009

Great, er, I mean, Good, news...

While trying to find an image that would aid in my playing a prank on a retail customer, I accidentally ran across this caption scrawled in one of our books. An instant classic!

January 16, 2009

Crushed Potato Chip on the Drum Roller

A most curious circumstance indeed. Time to call in the professionals.

January 14, 2009

Vanity, New Designs Abound...

As the New York International Gift Fair looms we're back to our quarterly Gonzo Design & Printing Spree. Enjoy a small sampling of some designs that have happened in the last 24 hours.

January 9, 2009

On the Drying Rack: The Admiral

Sarah knocked out 2500 Coasters in half a day. They're for the Admiral, a cool bar/gourmet dinner joint a block and half from our shop. They look pretty snappy!

January 7, 2009

Dead Actors of 2008

I was sent a link to the following you tube video, the obituary is courtesy of Turner Classic Movies. A lot of cool actors died last year.

January 2, 2009

Fan Mail: Squeeka Da Pimp Mouse

Matthew Gellert of Bone Steel Films scribbis:

Gave the squeeka card for the holidays. And the family proceeded to make Squeeka out of sculpey. Thought you would enjoy seeing him in pseudo 3D.

The letter is referring to our resident pimp rodent, Squeeka da Pimp Mouse, created by one of our writers, Tyler Dockery. We made a card about him, here it go.

Blimey! The motherload, she's come!

To continue my posts on T-shirts that depict "it" "from the rear,"
the Threadpit has rear action T-shirts aplenty! Mother fuck the economy that prevents me from buying more t-shirts.

Whilst on the subject of funny T-shirt sites, divert thy attention to Busted Tees

which has its share of hits and misses.

Happy New Year, Everyone!