February 13 Creative Logo
 

bits

A bit of news, a bit of inspiration, a bit of new work... a bit random, a bit blogish. “bits” is where it all hangs out.

surtex diary, part 2

 

On Saturday the 16th we popped into our booth for a quick touch-up and to see how the rest of the show was coming together. As expected: full of color and a humbling wealth of artwork. It was an honor to exhibit with all these talented people.

I still don't know if our decision to forego look boards and lots of product mockups was a wise one, but we definitely got a lot of attention for the novelty of our booth design! It's not every day at Surtex that you see 5-foot high candy sticks, life-size partying penguins and a ginormous piñata.

Sunday the 17th was the first day of the show. It was a little slow, but exciting enough for us newbies. And it gave us plenty of opportunity to document ourselves, partying with our penguins!


Our home away from home and our refuge from the craziness of the show was the chic and oh-so-comfortable apartment of my sister- and brother-in-law and my darling niece. We are so grateful to them for their hospitality and generosity. They've spoiled us for future trips... it will take an awful lot of royalties to pay for accommodations as luxurious as these, especially with their spectacular views of the Hudson.



A zillion thank yous to my dear family for taking such good care of us!

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surtex diary, part 1

 

After all the years that I've dreamed and schemed about exhibiting at Surtex—and all the months that have gone into the actual planning and preparation—it's hard to believe that it's behind us now. It was a really successful and incredibly enjoyable experience all the way around. Here are some photos and thoughts about some of the best and most memorable moments.

The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Somewhere inside this imposing edifice lies 80 square feet that we can call our own for the next 5 days.


Amy and Pam, as we arrive at the Javits to set up our booth (Friday, May 15th.)


We were surprised to find the place pretty much empty on Friday, and a little incredulous that this dowdy, dirty, bland space could be turned into an inviting and colorful wonderland of artwork within 24 hours. But it happens... you'll see the "after" in tomorrow's post.


Booth 362, home to february 13 creative! What our $3900 paid for: corner 8'x10' with 2 hard walls, furniture, signage, carpeting, cleaning, and storage, for 3 days.


The boxes that I wept for (twice... once in despair—thinking they would never reach their destination intact—and once again in joy, when we found them in pristine condition, waiting patiently for us in our booth).


Unfurling our banners. Our motto for booth decoration (and for most of this show) was "easy, cheap and beautiful." Despite much advice to the contrary, we decided not to mess with elaborate product mockups or look boards. Instead, we designed nine banners (approx. 3'x8' each) to cover our booth walls and counter, and ordered them online at Empire Banners for a cost of $675 including shipping. We hung them with a nifty little system of wooden yardsticks (inserted into top and bottom pole pockets on each banner) and s-hooks. The entire booth went up and looked...


fabulous (pow!) in less than 45 minutes. (We hadn't put up the counter wrap when this photo was taken, but you'll see it later.) It was just as easy as we had imagined (honestly, how often does that happen?) and left us plenty of time on Friday afternoon to take a little field trip.


One of our favorite NYC destinations is the roof garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Starting in May each year (as if they were anticipating our arrival!) it becomes the "Roof Garden Cafe and Martini Bar." Combine gorgeous weather, panoramic views of Manhattan and Central Park, a fantastic contemporary art installation, specialty cocktails, and some really first rate people watching, and you have the girls of f13 in the palm of your hand. The installation this summer ("Maelstrom" by Roxy Paine) is phenomenal. I'm not sure these photos do it justice, but you can read more about it and watch a great video of the installation at the Met's website.




After exploring all 130 x 45 feet of this gleaming, tangled forest of stainless steel, we settled down for a lovely and refreshing beverage (featuring vodka, fresh lemon juice and thyme-infused simple syrup) and toasted our "easy, cheap, and beautiful" booth. Cin Cin!

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old-school social networking

 


So, pretty much everyone we ran into at Surtex and the Stationery Show was twittering and facebooking all over the place. I know how important all this social networking is to building awareness of our company, but I can barely keep up with email (let alone this blog)! Plus, like many in this profession, I will probably always be more charmed by a good old-fashioned piece of paper more than by anything digital. That's why I was so excited when our friends at Cardstore asked us to help them launch a great new product: personal business cards. I like to refer to them as "calling cards" because that's even more quaint and old-fangled.

These are just a few of the designs in our new collection. You can see the whole kit-and-kaboodle here. In addition to cards for personal use, we have a great selection of "mommy cards" for modern moms who want a stylish, easy way to share contact info and set up playdates.


And, for those of you who parent children of the four-legged variety, we've even turned Amy's fabulous "Good Dog" series into calling cards that you can exchange with new friends at the dog park! We have 16 of the most popular breeds now and will be adding more soon. Leave a comment here if you don't see your pooch. Send us the breed name or, better yet, email us a photo of your baby and we'll use it as the basis for our next design! (send to: gooddog[at]february13creative[dot]com)

As with all our products at Cardstore, these designs can be easily customized with your own photos and information. And, Cardstore has just introduced a new, greener paper for most of their products, including our cards. It's 100% post-consumer waste, chlorine-free processed, Green Seal Certified and manufactured entirely with wind-generated electricity. Yay!
And last but not least, order between now and July 31st and receive 15% off your first order of our calling cards. Enter code personal 15 at checkout.

see the entire february 13 creative calling card collection here.

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catching up!

 


Hey hey! We're back from a great show in NYC!
Technical difficulties while we were away have left me playing catch-up on lots of fun news. First off... Congratulations to Roberta for her winning entry in our first-ever f13 blog contest. Her sweet name for our frog friend, Cedric, was inspired by our motto, "celebrate everyday": CED[Celebrate EveryDay]ric. How could we resist? Roberta, you can spread the celebration around when you receive your prize... our lovely little set of gift tags (2 each of 6 great designs) in a reusable case, plus a coupon offering for our new product on Cardstore.com... personal calling cards! More on those in the next post, tomorrow!

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f13 on Print & Pattern today!

 

It made our day to get this nice mention and 5 awesome images on Print & Pattern, especially since it came right at the beginning of Surtex and may have explained some of the fantastic visitors we had at our booth.

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friday frog blog

 


All our planning and preparation for Surtex has finally gained momentum and, two short weeks from today, we'll be in NYC, setting up our booth. I feel like I have my head above water again and am happy to be back here on our blog!

This week, we sent our our first postcard to prospective licensees (and lucky friends and family). My dear friend, Cindy, at WilsonWest says our frog needs a name (that's him, above... he's on the back of our postcard, in case you haven't seen it). Cindy suggested that I post a little contest here on our blog to Name the Frog. (What a great way to find out if anyone reads this thing!)

So, here's your chance to make february 13 creative history! You could be the lucky winner of our very first contest. Submit your name ideas via a comment no later than 5/13/09 (cuz it's the 13th, and it's also our last day before flying off to NYC). We'll choose our favorite name and announce the winner on Friday the 15th.

What's in it for you, you may wonder? Well, aside from the opportunity to be our first blog contest winner (I know... as if that weren't incentive enough), we'll send you a gorgeous set of february 13 creative gift tags... 12 of them (2 each of 6 different designs) in a nifty, reusable case! I don't have a photo to show you just yet but trust me, they're delightful!

OK, now I'm just going to sit back and watch those name ideas come rolling in! :)

Happy Friday to all!
[and happy Saturday, too! ... ran into some technical issues at blogger.com last night when trying to post]

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they know we're coming!

 

Wonderful PR in advance of Surtex... a nice mention in this just-before-the-show issue of On the Surface, accompanied by Betsy’s “Birthday Hostess” design.

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3 birds in a virtual office

 


Until we hit the big time and move into our studio on the Embarcadero (yes, we have super-sized dreams), Pam, Amy and I work from our own home studios. As you can imagine, this presents some challenges for sharing and keeping track of all the work we’re producing… especially now that we’re in overdrive, preparing for Surtex. We are so grateful for all the amazing free or very low-cost tools available on the web that make it feasible for us to work together... but separately!

Now, I have no idea if anyone reads this blog (Hey, Pam and Amy!… Mom?... Dad?), but in case this is useful someday to any other artists out there who are trying to work the way we are, I am excited to pass along two of the best things we’ve discovered and tailored specifically for our own purposes.

Most people know about Flickr, of course. It’s being put to all sorts of cool and creative uses that its founders probably never imagined. I don’t know if our use is particularly new or creative, but it sure is helpful to us. We use it as a virtual bulletin board to keep track of work in progress. Before it dawned on us that we could use Flickr this way, we were just firing off emails (with image attachments) to one another all day long. Although we could each keep track of these on our own computers, there wasn’t an easy way to reference stuff we’d already shared.

“It’s that bird I did a few weeks ago. You know, the one on the crazy tree... No, not the blue tree. Well, I’m not sure you’d even call it a tree, it’s more like a … I think I sent the email around February 9th, can you look it up that way?”

Yes, we wasted a fair bit of time this way.

We still send one another our files via email (because it’s useful to see the images in detail when they’re being shared for the first time). But now I upload them immediately to a private page on Flickr. Flickr’s batch upload tool makes this really fast and simple, and I can quickly assign tags so that we can narrow our searches to a specific artist or subject, as needed. Now, when we want to find that exact crazy bird that Amy’s talking about, or when we’re trying to figure out if we’re on track with the 24 new Christmas images that we need for Surtex, we can quickly and easily do a search in our Flickr photostream to get the answer.

Then we get to the point where we’re satisfied with an image and ready to call it “done.” We wanted a way to catalog all those completed images so, for example, when Groovy Bed Linens calls us to say, “We want to put that crazy bird on a duvet cover,” we can easily look up the image (even if we don’t know the exact file name), make sure that it hasn’t been licensed for bed linens already, get the file name so Amy can locate the high-resolution art on her computer. And then, after we have a signed licensing agreement with Groovy Bed Linens, we need a place to store the details of that agreement, to keep track of that particular license. And, of course, we needed to include thumbnails of every image, for easy visual reference. Tall order, right? Especially since we have no money to pay for fancy database software.

Well, for all this (and way more), we are so glad to have found blist.com.* With Blist, we’ve created an online catalog of all our completed images that allows us to easily filter and sort these assets to see, for example: which are licensed, which licenses are about to expire, which are by Pam, which contain the color blue, which were created in 2008, which are good for baby showers, which contain peacocks… and on and on. And, we can keep the whole thing private so it’s only accessible by us. It’s an incredibly powerful tool and, although it’s still in beta and a little buggy, I’m not sure there’s an option out there that could do all this for us, and be available to all three of us in our own studios, instantly updatable by any one of us, 24/7… for free.

For all the enthusiasm I’ve just unleashed, I do have to admit that I’m still a little old-school in my attitude about all these online services. Putting private and/or proprietary information on the internet, particularly with unproven companies, freaks me out just a touch. I try to be very careful about how and what I post online. I always keep our data private and never upload high resolution images, for example. With these precautions, a good read of the terms of service, and a little trust in the goodwill of the folks Flickr and Blist, I feel relatively confident about the way we're using the sites. (Then, I hear the news about Facebook trying to change its TOS and get all jittery again…. )

But, until we can afford to be in the same space together and have in-house software (and good, old-fashioned bulletin boards) for keeping track of all this stuff, I’ve decided to trust and step gingerly into this brave new world.

*Three cheers for our good friend, Katy, at Cardstore.com. She’s the one who introduced us to blist.com.

1/6/11 postscript: blist.com is now opendata.socrata.com and they've made many improvements to the (still free) online software.

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cheers to us!

 

This week we launched the licensing section of our website with a small but tasty selection of the many wonderful pieces we’ve been putting together for Surtex. It’s just a nibble… The full feast will appear in the weeks and months ahead, so check back often to see what we’re up to. In honor of this launch and the completion of our website (woo-hoo!), I’m about to indulge in a favorite Friday ritual. In about ½ hour, my dear spouse will return from a hard day of lawyering and shake up my most favorite cocktail…. Cin cin!

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f13 talks Valentines on VFTB

 

Our friends at The View from the Bay invited us back to talk about DIY Valentines.

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