February 5, 2009
Wall art from Erin Smith Art that caught my eye, and my wallet.
A week has passed since the show, and we're pretty much caught up on orders, saving those that are dated for later shipment. Sarah has a handful of reprints on her plate, nothing too serious. Farrell and Mike sent out 19 packages on Thursday, all sample updates for our reps, each carrying 50 new designs for 2009 plus a heads up on an across-the-board price hike on our stuff come May. I was kept busy all week by appointments with people I've been putting off for the last month and a half.
Some good stuff that's happened: We picked up a new rep in Ohio at the show. We had a nice flurry of orders come in at the beginning of the week from our Chicago rep, who exhibited at the Winter Chicago Gift Show.
Currently, our rep in San Francisco is showing our line at the San Francisco Gift show. Unfortunately for the Bay Area, the gift show's reputation has been flushed a little further down the pipe with every event, as both attendance and (good) exhibits are in serious decline. No orders reported as of yet but we picked up an Oakland rep as well as one for Reno/Tahoe--both are folks our SF rep networks with regularly.
Our SF rep reported on Friday: "Show only going in to 3rd day today...so far not so good overall. Seems like New York was the only good show this winter. Hope there are some dollars left for SF."
One thing to be sure, we were way in over our heads after the August NYIGF and it took us a few months to recover, but it wasn't just the show, we were riding a wave all summer that crashed on us in September and caught us by surprise, and the shop was overwhelmed with reprints as we ran out of most of the product from 2007.
I think we were a little more prepared to be slapped silly this time, but it's certainly evident that the decline in the economy continues. Next week we contact all our house accounts who normally would have been at the show and let them know we have some cool new stuff and are offering the same show specials to the folks who stayed at home.
Hitting the pavement is what its probably going to take to keep the gears turning this year. I'd be interested to see what the Stationery Show in May brings, whether things will start warming up or continue sliding away. We're already locked in, and I'm preparing to break even.
Anyhow, lets get into the more fun stuff. I couldn't pass up on several lines that were not letterpress, though I smartly staggered their ship dates a month apart so to be not hit over the head with expense. I've also featured some folks we've made friends with at past shows who are doing great work.
O + D
Olga from O+D (offensive & delightful)
Occasionally we are asked if we are familiar w/ O+D, as they too are famous for being an edgy and funny card line sure to piss at least a few people off. They cross the line, but I would say in a more direct and blunt way than we do, as most of our outrageous stuff is being written by someone who lives on the moon.
I would never carry anything that is remotely similar to our work-- and I would say though we share a similar genre we are clearly doing two different things. I think BBH and O+D's work compliments each other with virtually zero crossover as far as ideas go.
Alena Hennessy, in the Handmade section, actually has been a client of ours for custom work and calls Asheville her home. Her products are wall art and textiles that incorporate elements of her paintings-we accidentally bumped into each other at our first Atlanta gift show and at that time she was already a seasoned exhibitor, and taught me alot about the world of gift shows when I was still green.
Alena has seen a lot of commercial success and pretty much is in a comfortable place with her clientelle-- though the show went well for her she has decided that after this show she will be taking it easy for a while and spend money she would have spent in New York on catalogues and mailing campaigns.
Maybe BBH will get there one day but until we've either saturated the market or start losing money on the shows, I feel its still worth networking and building our customer base.
ERIN SMITH ART
Erin Smith Art hails from Decatur, GA and was around the corner from Alena in the Handmade Section. She incorporates family photos into collage art that can be bought as wall art or greetings. The prices were reasonable and her designs clearly needed to join our demented family here at the shop. My favorite piece of hers is the headlining image for this post.
We met these Canadian kids during the Toronto Show last year and saw them again in New York's Newest this summer. I always stop to talk to these guys because I have a great friend in the plush monster business, John Murphy of Stupid Creatures, who sculpts one-of-a-kind custom monsters out of discarded socks. (He also has occasionally been a guest artist/writer for Blue Barnhouse.)
A Stupid Creature by John Murphy.
We may not see Monster Factory at future US shows, as customs laws for manufactured imports regarding child saftey are about to become very strict and the mountain of paperwork, forms, and expense getting to prove their work meets these standards is more effort than its worth. They are looking into having a similar line manufactured in the US.
A build your own ukulele.
I found Noted when former BBH crew member and a great friend of mine, Buzz Poole, paid his usual "visit to the BBH booth before drinks" and took a walk with me at the show. As we were gawking at the sea of crap, he recognized some acquaintances he had worked with via his current post as editor of Mark Batty Publisher. MBP was founded by Mark Batty, former CEO of ITC Fonts and likewise the former editor of arguably the best typography magazine of the 20th century, ITC Font's U&lc. MBP is well known for their books that focus on design and modern culture.
U&lc: Influencing Design & Typography, by Mark Batty Publisher
Noted, who's crew includes a trio of MBP veterans (a writer, a designer, and even a former printer of MBP books), carries a number of cool and inexpensive imports from Japan, most of which require assembly and/or interaction with its recipient; for instance: a build your own Pinhole Camera, mechanized paper art, build your own catapults, and some beautifully crafted gliders.
An animatronic paper Chinese dragon that roars and slashes its tails and claws with the turn of a crank.
Build your own Hishou Glider
Most of what I ordered will double as some fun father and son activities (and at a nice price, for a wholesale buyer) w/ my 7 year old son Toby.
That's about the breadth of what caught my interest at the Gift Show, excepting our favorite crazy kids at Spitfire Girl. Up next, a full length blog about my favorite stop at any given gift show.
Stay tuned for part 4 of the NYIGF report or Spitfire Girl is gonna shred you (and me) a new one.