national stationery show 2011

in the last year, i’ve become more and more curious about the national stationery show, and it seemed like it could be a next step for me. so i timed my spring new york trip to coincide with the show, and patricia and i made plans to go together last week, representing her red bow studio. but the morning we planned to meet it was raining cats & dogs, making it difficult for patricia to meet me, so i went solo.

it was interesting… i think that’s my word…

but first! minnesota, represent:

national stationery show : igloo letterpress
the first familiar face was allison’s of igloo letterpress. allison taught many of the workshops i’ve taken at minnesota center for book arts, and was one of my favorite instructors. she left minnesota for ohio around 3 years ago and this was the first time i had seen her since she left. it was really fun to catch up, but it’s also hard to chat because if anyone walks by that shows interest in the booth, you don’t want your friend to miss out on any opportunities.

national stationery show : igloo letterpress
allison does amazing work with wood and metal type, and makes bookbinding kits that i secretly wish i had created. the highlight for me was seeing the softcover letterpress brownstone journals: i’ve wanted one since chandler posted about the first batch last year. the illustrations are by chandler of anagram press, and printed & bound by allison. yum. i really hope the show brings good things to igloo.

national stationery show : hungry dog designs
my next stop: hungry dog designs, which is the work of my friend paula. i first met paula when we were in our teens, but we recently reconnected via handmadeMN when i recognized her name in the forums. i was excited when she told me she was participating in the show and that i’d be able to see her booth. she recently moved to bogotá, columbia with her husband and boston terrier (oscar!), so we’re not able to meet up for wine and conversations about making stuff anymore.

national stationery show : hungry dog designs
paula’s paper doll gift cards are so much fun! and i’m not just saying that — they caught my eye at a few local shops before i even realized i knew their creator. we had dinner together the night before i went to the show, so i already had the scoop on her experience from the first 2 days and could focus on her work and be a cheerleader. i really want paula and hungry dog designs to be a huge success, and i know she made great connections at the show. i hope that the exposure continues to bring her good things this year!

then there were some new names!

national stationery show : design orange
down the aisle from paula, i discovered designorange, which is the work of local designer jada schumacher. i walked up to her and i think i said something intelligent, but in my brain it was more like: “me jen. me also from st. paul. me like orange.” and i think i also expressed surprise that i hadn’t heard of her or her work before, but sometimes i forget that there are thousands of creative people in the twin cities and that i probably know of 1% of them. duh. but anyway, we had a nice chat and it’s always fun to meet other creative locals and talk “shop.” i hope our paths cross again.

national stationery show : printerette press
and then… printerette press: the color and presentation of the booth was absolutely perfect. and i had another “how do i not know about this person?!” moment. i actually didn’t have a chance to meet catherine, the dynamo behind printerette, but since we are both in st. paul, maybe one day it will happen. until then, i’ll admire her work via the interwebs.

national stationery show : printerette press
since the show, printerette has gotten some great press, and it’s fun to cheer on the hometown talent. whoooo!

i’m sure i missed other minnesotans… the show is enormous, and i got overwhelmed quickly. also, i had a retail badge, which made me feel like i was wearing a big red R. i felt like if i randomly started to talk to people they’d really think i was a retailer, when in reality i was a lurker. and my little blog is little… there were plenty of design blogs covering the event. so i tried to be low key. still, it was fun to see familiar names while wandering the aisles. the work and talent at the show sets the bar high, and i hope that all the independent designers there are wildly successful.

soooo… would i do it? i’ve got some ideas that i want to explore which might make me a candidate for the show in the future. but i really don’t know if i could smile and sell myself enthusiastically for 3-1/2 days. the thought of it alone sounds exhausting. i could possibly handle 1 day, but not much more than that. that could change (pharma?)… but now? nope. and it’s not a cheap endeavor.

and honestly? despite the beautiful work, i didn’t walk out of the show feeling inspired and full of possibilities. maybe it was the endless grey sky and rain that followed me to manhattan. maybe it was pms. maybe it was the wine consumed the night before. maybe tried & true is the way to go in this economy. i had hoped that i would leave the show bursting with creative energy, eager to get home and start designing and making… instead, when i walked out of the convention center, all i wanted to do was eat lunch.

and i think that’s ok.

10 responses to “national stationery show 2011”

  1. jackie says:

    yep, it is ok. and I love your totally honest approach to the whole thing.

  2. Anna says:

    But now you know. And you got to find out about some local talent and touch base with old friends. That’s worth it. Those brownstone journals look marvelous! I love how it’s lined up and sized so that one goes on the binding. Brilliant.

  3. Jaci says:

    I love hearing about the show and almost feel I was there.

  4. aimee says:

    me aimee. me love your photos. and i think lunch should always be first priority. you were smart to scope it out — and catch up with friends in the process! wins all around!

  5. jen v says:

    I think it was good for you to go and explore that possibility. i loved your account of the whole thing, the jen version of things is always what i look forward to here. also i agree wholeheartedly with what aimee said.

  6. CJ says:

    Thanks for the recap, Jen. I didn’t know you were going to the show, so it’s great to learn what you thought about it after the fact. I had talked with designorange about sharing a booth with her (I’ve never met her but she contacted me via Etsy), but I didn’t have the funds to swing it. I *think* I’d like to be a vendor in it next year, but I’m not sure. Info like this will help me make my decision.

  7. Ayama says:

    omg toooooo many things to lust over!!!!!!!!!

  8. jenn says:

    Well, hello Allison!! So good to (kinda) see you! And your work. So amazing. And so cool that you saw so many locals. We live in a super duper cool place, eh?

  9. cindy says:

    if you can go to that show and not see work like your own on display by others that’s all that matters & is inspiration in its own right. carry on.

  10. Chandler says:

    Okay, my brain went completely A.D.D. when I read this post:

    “Whoa! She went to NSS?”

    “Did she see Allison’s booth??”

    “Guh! Look! It’s the brownstone journals! I didn’t know she made more of them!”


    “Oh, look, a shiny object!”

    Sigh. Clearly I have some catching up to do on your blog. But in the morning, when I’m less addled. Glad you went to NSS—I’d love to chat with you about it!

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