Tuesday, May 28, 2013

National Stationery Show 2013 Recap

Last week was the National Stationery Show at the Jacob Javits Center and every year it's like my Christmas has come early. Approximately 800 exhibitors gathered in one space for me drool and squeal over their paper products. For paper geeks, this is the event of the year and as a fellow creative I loved talking about the industry with new and veteran stationers. Below, photos and notes on the booths I visited during the show.

1. The Saturday before the trade show kicked off, Dabney Lee, Haute Papier, and Rock Paper Scissors hosted The Year of Party, a little shindig at the Dabney Lee Showroom in Brooklyn to give a preview of their new products. I'm an Uptown girl, but I was digging the neon and gold foil stamped "Brooklyn" print from Dabney Lee.

2. The ladies of Haute Papier also embraced metallic foil stamping in their latest collection and added shimmering pencils and festive washi tape to the mix.

3. Rock Paper Scissors was releasing a line vintage style wrapping paper and monogrammed gift tags printed on kraft paper. The mesmerizing zebra wallpaper in the background is by Dabney Lee.

4. Sunday was the start of the National Stationery Show and I was super excited to go see my friend Cynthia LaColla's debut! Her booth turned out cute, simple, and clean with loads of patterned cards and illustrated critters filling the wooden shelves. I was rooting for her all the way and popped back in on Tuesday to see how the show was going for her. Loved seeing all the hard work she's put into Cynla and the leaps she's taken since we took Joyce Wan's greeting card design class at the School of Visual Arts back in 2010.

5. Claudia Smith of Fig. 2 Design had a selection of new gold foil stamped wrapping paper (I'm sensing a trend here) and her collaborative collection, The Letters for Love Project, with Lindsay Letters, Meant to Be, and Feast. Proceeds from the line will go towards a charity yet to be determined. P.S. Fig. 2 Design landed the cover of Stationery Trends' NSS issue!

6. Ilee Paper Goods had so many letterpress goodies - including this prickly love card that immediately stole my heart.

7. I had a nice chat with watercolor illustrator Julie Allen, who's one half of The Glendale Girls, about starting up the business and making it to the stationery show. That's the wonderful thing about NSS, the connections you make and the encouragements you'll receive from others in the industry. I only wish I could physically surround myself with that vibe all year round.

8. Paper cuts are also a huge trend. Avie Designs create these custom wedding invitations that are delicate and pretty enough to frame.

9. In my opinion, Chewing the Cud nailed it in the cute + eco-friendly division with their canvas buckets and multi-use tea towels. Not to mention their kick-ass presentation. Happy to note that the company ended up receiving an award for new eco-chic product of the year.

10. I'd actually stumbled upon and bookmarked Tamisha Anthony's stationery company Puffed Sleeves months ago because I couldn't stand how adorable her illustrations were. Well Cindy wanted to introduce me to another exhibitor who'd taken the greeting card design class after we did. At first I didn't recognize Tamisha (not that I knew what she looked like), but after taking a closer look at her work, I immediately recognized her style. Happily, she actually lives in the city so I hope to connect with her and Cindy more in the coming months.

11. I finally got myself tatted up with a Tattly, which are designy temporary tattoos. I also got to finally meet Tina Roth Eisenberg of ├╝ber-popular blog Swissmiss.

12. Laura Fisk's Fisk & Fern booth is another one of my regular stops at NSS each year. Her screenprint cards are full of vibrant colors and cheeky characters. Plus, the printing process gives each card a very nice almost grainy texture.

13. Plane Paper has taken the paper cut appeal one step further by adding pop-up hidden messages inside.

14. This chipboard calendar from 6.25 Paper, named after founder Abbey Fowler's wedding anniversary, featured snippets of words to remember.

15. Shelley Seguinot, a fellow Dominicana and former NYC police officer, was such a pleasure to meet and chat with during the show. Her company I'm Inkpressed was returning to NSS after skipping a year and expanding into greeting cards. Her customizable collection, which features a variety of characters and details in different color ways for children's events, prints, and stationery, is still her most popular offering.

16. Pei Pinney of Pei Design had always been inspired by Paris and this year she finally put out a collection in honor of the City of Lights. Her illustrated calendar and prints would look wonderful in a nursery or a Francophile's home.

17. I always love hearing the stories behind the companies and getting to know the people who push out these amazing collections year after year. Kate and Birdie is a favorite of mine and I was thrilled to discover that Gloria Wall is expecting a baby boy this August! We wondered if toy trucks and Hot Wheels will be making their way into her designs. Her husband Steve and daughter Sophie were also on hand for some banter and to help the mommy-to-be handle orders.

18. I'm still practicing my calligraphy so I can appreciate some hand-lettering porn like these designs from 9th Letterpress. The team even won the Rising Star Award at the Louie Awards (it's like the Oscars for paper geeks.)

19. Belle & Union's general store-inspired booth set-up made me want to grab a vintage basket and scoop up everything from the shelves - tiny toy campers included. They even had an old bell hanging off the corner.

20. I had to visit Penelope's Press' booth after my Souvenir Foto School teacher Michelle P. informed me that one of my foto-mates, Debbie, was exhibiting at the show. Her older sister Elaine illustrates while Debbie pumps out her designs through letterpress.

21.Watercolors are another hot ticket and Fine Day Press debuted their nature-inspired watercolor calendars and note sets.

22. Shino of Fugu Fugu Press explained that her design inspiration comes from vintage illustrations.

23. Sapling Press never fails to amuse. She's expanded on her line of words of wisdom and this Jesus card won her a Louie for Most Humorous.

24. The Surtex licensing show happens in conjunction with the National Stationery Show so I popped on over to visit another greeting card classmate Feng Liang to see her latest artwork. Let me tell you, the girl is pattern-making genius. I'm seriously considering asking her for a tutorial.

25. The Crow and Canary booth is also a fun one to visit. Not only is rep Carina Murray a doll, but you get to look through a number of lines that the group represents like Rock Scissor Paper.

26. Candyspotting, which is also represented by Crow and Canary, caught my eye with these intricate paper cut cards.

27. After spotting Ten-Four Paper's press kit, I needed to swing by for a visit because I loved the company's branding. Unfortunately, Julie Goethe wasn't in the booth at the time, but I took a closer look at her hilarious cards anyway. They're so rambly, I love it.

28. Sass & Peril has recently branched out to include a line of screenprinted paper goods called The Paper Cub Co.

29. Paper Lovely (top) and Fat Bunny Press (bottom) banded together again and filled their bright booth with letterpressed doodles and festive typography.

30. After spending Tuesday afternoon walking the show it was time to head to the Paper Party! The annual event, hosted by Nole Garey of Oh So Beautiful Paper, is a fun meet-up for exhibitors, stationers, and all who love paper. This year it was held at the swanky rooftop bar Hudson Terrace where the views were lovely and the drink were hella pricey. I walked over to the venue with Cindy where we met up with new friend Lynn Graham and had a good chat about the business with Sarah Rollinger of Tutta Lou Press.

Have I mentioned that I wish the stationery show could go all year long? I can't believe it's already come and gone!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Citi Bike Program Kicks Off in New York City

Today, New York City joins the likes of Paris, Montreal, and a growing number of cities with the launch of its first bike share program. After much anticipation, Citi Bike finally kicks off with approximately 6,000 bikes and more than 300 stations available in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Those with an annual membership ($95) who signed up by May 17 can start biking around today while daily and weekly pass holders ($9.95 and $25) and other annual members will have to wait until June 2nd. A Citi Bike App will help renters locate the nearest station, indicate how many bikes and docks are available, and offer route tips.

I won't say much about the fact that the bike stations are all located below Central Park and the program showed no love to Uptown or other boroughs, but I do hope it makes their way up there eventually and that New Yorkers are mature enough to have nice things. In other words, vandals better not mess it up for the rest of us. Or rather the rest of you because I hopped on a docked bike yesterday and at its lowest setting, the seat was still a tad too high for me. Maybe I'll try again once A. rents one for himself.

New Yorkers, will you be taking a Citi Bike out for a spin this summer?

P.S. Never mind. The NY Post reports that the first Citi Bike was stolen yesterday evening before the program even begun!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Angelina Jolie Undergoes Double Mastectomy

Sharing this for the few of you who might not have heard. Angeline Jolie penned an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times in which the actress reveals that she underwent three months of surgical procedures to remove both breasts as a preventative measure. Jolie, whose mother passed away from breast cancer at age 56, tested positive for the BRCA1 gene which increased her chances for the disease to 87 percent. Her risk dropped to five percent after the double mastectomy.

It's a powerful one that hit close to me. I was surprised that someone so praised for her sexy looks would go through a mastectomy just like that - for the sake of her health and for her children. I more than commend her for her bravery and for opening up about her experience so others can break their own silence and fears. Luckily, I tested negative for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that increase your risk for developing breast and ovarian cancers so I got away with a lumpectomy and radiation. Right now, I'm on Tamoxifen pills for five years to lower my chances of recurrence to about nine percent.

I don't know how I would've handled removing everything. I probably wouldn't have normalized as quickly as I have. Or maybe I would have, who knows? I feel that no matter how big or small your breasts are...they're still such a big part of femininity or at least that's what society has raised me to believe. I find myself dreading any trips to the beach just because I don't want to wear a bathing suit that'll reveal that my left boob is still slightly larger than the other, that the skin is still considerable darker as it continues to heal from the radiation treatment months ago, that I feel mangled and slightly damaged. But I'm still here, complete save for a small cancerous lump that foolishly tried to do me in.

"On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman," Jolie writes. "I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."

Reading Jolie's piece also made me think about health care access and how many can't afford treatments or the reconstructive surgery that could accompany a mastectomy. Genetic tests - conducted through blood samples - can be a huge help when deciding how to proceed and allows you to be proactive with your health instead of just getting swept away by the tide. It also costs several thousand dollars and it saddens me to think of those who'll be taken by surprise simply because they didn't or couldn't know. Had I not made the decision to seek individual health insurance coverage a year before being diagnosed (I'm a freelancer and therefore not under my employer's coverage), I would be drowning in debt right now. The monthly premiums and out-of-pocket maximums are still astronomically high, but if I didn't have that, I would be adding medical payment plans to the student loans I already have. Cancer is costly in so many ways.

Typically cancer stories fill me with dread because the disease typically comes out of nowhere or there's news that it's spread or somebody finally lost their war, but this one was positive despite the drastic measure. It was good, it was strong, and it showed that breast cancer can be overpowered and any whisper of a risk can be decidedly stomped out. Here's hoping that everyone - regardless of socioeconomic status - will someday have the ability to be just as decisive and proactive about their own health without needing to choose between providing for their family's immediate needs and ensuring they'll be alive and well for many years to come.

Image: nytimes.com

Monday, May 13, 2013

#IStillLoveCalligraphy

So I've started my calligraphy e-course and I have to say I'm slightly obsessed. I've been practicing every day for a week (save Friday) and find myself thinking about it when I'm not near my supplies. I'm still wibbly wobbly as I learn to "paint" the letterforms, but I'm slowly growing more comfortable with the pointed pen and today started linking the letters to learn how to properly kern - or space out - the letters. It's not as easy as it looks when there are so many loop-the-loops. (I fared better with "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" than I did with "hello.")

I've also searched around for a virtual calligraphy community and have found the super talented calligrapher Maybelle who teaches live classes around the country and will be popping into atelier Bellocq in New York City for two workshops on July 25. Check her Facebook page for more info.

One of my Souvenir Foto Shop teachers is also really into calligraphy. A browse through Miss Tristan B.'s Besotted blog yielded tips on great nibs, supply reviews, where to shop, and calligraphy fonts if you just want the pretty effect without the ink stains. As to where to buy, many recommend John Neal Bookseller and Paper & Ink Arts, which is were I bought my materials. The lovely thing about calligraphy is that it's incredibly affordable to take up. A nib holder and ink costs about $5 each and nibs cost less $2 apiece so you can easily play with a few to find out what lettering styles you like.

For some handlettering porn, check out Holly Hollon, Meredith Bullock of Hazel WonderlandCourtnie Johnson of Etsy shop Poppy Pedals, and Kelly Cummings' The Year of Lettering Tumblr blog. The hashtag #istilllovecalligraphy on Instagram will turn up images taken by students who've taken Melissa Esplin's I Still Love Calligraphy course. You'll find mine on there, too!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Taking Flight

Happy Friday and hello from California! I flew out here a couple days ago to spend some extra time with A.'s family before he arrives tonight and then tomorrow we'll be celebrating his sister's marriage. Even though I'm a bit exhausted (I'm still working through my "vacay" and helping chase after two adorable Energizer bunnies is no joke), I'm loving the sunshine and the little getaway to bond with the family.

I've also got lots to look forward to in the coming weeks. I've signed up for business development and marketing classes from 3rd Ward and General Assembly, a calligraphy e-course from I Still Love Calligraphy, and The Style Lab from Confetti Pop so I can improve my photo styling skills. Plus, I'll be selling Porcupine Hugs goods at the Artists & Fleas market this summer so I'll be busy prepping products to release this coming month.

What do you have planned for the summer? I've realized that the more time I leave open, the less I actually do so I'm looking forward to packing this month in with creativity and productivity. What about you?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Jumping Over Puddles

My dad is convinced that I'm going to be eternally disappointed in life and sometimes I wonder if he's right. I admit I expect too much from others or at the very least expect the same things I expect of myself: respect, commitment, self-awareness, honesty. Not everyone lives by those same rules, he says. And sometimes I let my mind dash off instead of focusing on the facts laid out before me, which often leads to heightened expectations.

Last month, I had to let go of a friend I'd considered my bestie for nearly 17 years. It was no easy decision, but after I'd realized how anxious the relationship made me feel and how often I excused her behavior, I knew I had to cut the chord. And despite the colorful language that came flying at me afterwards, I still wish her well, I still wonder how she's doing, and I still wish things had turned out differently.

Finding a new home for Toby has also been laced with disappointments and false promises from people who'd string me along. "Why can't people commit?!" I grrrr'ed. After accommodating the schedules of two potentials only to be left hanging in midair, I was ready to give up on my third prospect - a 73-year-old woman who regularly finds loving homes for dogs through her organization Earth Angels Canine Rescue. She seemed perfect and had the experience to handle Toby's growing health problems herself, but pinning down a time for her to come over was such a hassle. Sickness, a dead phone, and hectic volunteer schedule were just some of the reasons why I was stood up two days in a row and when three hours ticked past the time we'd set for Sunday, I was ready to tear into her.

"It's all a test," A. had suggested, "to see if you're a kind and patient person."

Sure enough, when she came to pick up Toby, I had melted back to human and scratched off her previous transgressions. Plus, I didn't want to waste any time being annoyed with someone who was probably just doing the best they could.

There's another letdown though that I'm still working through. A. and I had planned to move in together this spring, but after starting the apartment hunt we realized that we weren't ready just yet and decided to hold off. I had wrapped up so much into this milestone that I failed to see the missing pieces. I was also determined that what happened with Mr. First in 2008 wouldn't happen again - to find myself signing a lease only to let it all go (thousands of dollars included) and break up shortly after. A terrible motivation that probably added to my stress and while I felt slightly relieved when we decided to push it aside, I was still sad about it.

So I could continue to be disappointed - with him, with myself - that this didn't happen yet or I could choose to move past it and just appreciate each moment for what it is. I've always admired those who've been able to let things roll off their shoulder, the ones who live and learn, who stumble over obstacles, but dust themselves off and keep it moving. Five years ago, I was wiped completely off my feet and let the water pull me under for what felt like forever. This time though? I'm focusing on leaping over the puddles. I will not drown again.

Image: dancersamongus.com