PG Live seems to come around quicker every year! It’s a two day greeting card trade show held in the Business Design centre, Islington. It was my fourth time exhibiting, and it’s an important even in the trade show calendar. It brings in visitors from over 40 countries, including some top UK buyers. Max Exhibitions Ltd organise the show and they really go all out to ensure exhibitors and buyers alike are very well looked after. As a result of this, everybody has a wonderful two days! Visitors are greeted by women wearing dresses made from greeting cards. These have been donated by various exhibitors, and they have an official opening on the first morning of the show!
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
Unlike other trade shows, there are people going around with tea and coffee trolleys offering free refreshments which is lovely. What’s even better are the free – yes free lunches! It can cost a small fortune purchasing dinner at other trade shows, and PG Live offer a meal to every exhibitor and visitor to the show. This years menu didn’t disappoint and you even get dessert! The dining room is sponsored and decorated by a different exhibitor each year. Gorgeous card company Lagom are celebrating their 10th anniversary, so they took over the dining hall and decorated it with monochromatic geometrics and large colourful balloons.
I am pleased to have just launched new greeting cards, and you can see some of them below. If you are a wholesale customer you can browse the range here.
The first night of the show sees a lively drinks party take place in the dining room.
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
I was thrilled to receive a Sunshine Ticket from the multi award winning shop Mantons. This is a wonderful outlet situated in Port Erin on the Isle of Man. Retailers that have been shortlisted for a RETAS award receive tickets to spend with publishers of their choice at the show. Here I am pictured with director Chris Beards. I am thrilled to be supplying Mantons with my colourful cards!
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
There is an image of my PG Live stand below and then a section of the Deva Designs stand, whom I have worked with since 2014. I love working with repeat patterns so it is a pleasure to produce art for licensed gift wrap and bags. This years offering showcases my signature illustrative style. My wraps are the three bottom left designs. The Christmas patchwork and skiing scene can also be seen on roll wrap, bags and tissue.
The Ladder Club at Pg Live
Whilst PG Live was a great show, a number of exhibitors, organisers and retailers were saddened by the loss of industry legend Lynn Tait. Lynn lost her battle with Myeloma, just days before the show. Lynn owned a thriving outlet in her home of Leigh-on-Sea. She also wrote articles for Progressive Greetings magazine as well as being a photographer. I best knew her for setting up the Ladder Club seminars, which she organised alongside Jakki Brown (editor of Progressive Greetings magazine) each year. The seminar days are intended to help greeting card publishers that are starting out, and give them the support required to grow in this thriving industry. I attended day two in 2014, and since then Lynn became a friend. She was admired by many and was hugely respected in the industry.
Lynn has helped hundreds of publishers over the years through her seminars. More recently, anybody that has attended a seminar has been able to join a private Facebook group. A mixture of new and experienced publishers all support each other and offer advice on all kinds of card related topics. I felt honoured to be asked to join Lynn on the admin side of this in 2016, and Megan (of Megan Claire), came on board recently. Megan and I will now continue to run the Facebook group and Lynn’s legacy will live on.
It’s a tradition to have a ‘Ladder Club’ photograph each year at the show, and the 2017 one can be seen below. There were lots of members exhibiting, some for the first time. The flowers and text are a tribute to Lynn, who is going to be really missed.
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
Looking ahead to 2018
PG live was the last trade show for me in 2017. I will be at Spring Fair next February, where I’ll be launching 2018 Christmas and loads of new cards!
I published a blog post last week about the work side of my trip to New York, so I thought I would write one about some of my personal highlights from the trip. Despite being in the city for work, we did get some time to sightsee, shop and eat in some lovely places.
We spent 6 nights at the Row Hotel which is on 8th Ave between 44th and 45th Street. This was really handy for a morning walk to the Javits Center for the exhibition. Although small, the room was very clean, with a good shower and comfy bed so I wouldn’t hesitate to book a room there again. That said, there are so many places to stay in NYC, it would seem wrong not to stay at different accommodation next time! City Kitchen was joined on to the hotel, which became our go to breakfast spot. It has a laid back vibe with numerous vendors, each offering tasty food. We enjoyed pancakes, waffles, pastries and donuts during our time there, all of which set us up nicely for busy days in the city.
We were lucky to have some fantastic weather whilst we were there, which made it great just for wandering around. I spend a lot of time sat at my studio desk, so it was nice to get out and about, doing lots of walking whilst taking in the sights.
One of my favourite bits of the trip was walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. It was my third time in NYC, but I hadn’t had chance to do this previously. We took the Subway to Brooklyn and joined hundreds of other walkers and cyclists and walked over this iconic bridge. The rest of the day was spent meandering all of the way back up to our hotel on 45th. We stopped off on the way for cake, wine in Union Square and food at delightful restaurant Boqueria (more info on that below).
The High Line is one of my favourite walks to do when in New York. It’s a 1.45 mile long elevated path, built on a disused railway line. It begins at Gansevoort Street and runs up to West 34th Street. It’s a really popular walk for locals and visitors alike, giving a unique perspective of the city, being elevated away from the traffic, but not too high that you can’t take in the sights the city has to offer.
I thought I’d include a list of a few of the places we ate, drank and shopped at whilst in New York. There’s so many more places I’d like to go, but I’ll have to save them for next time!
Shopping in New York
Shopping is never at the forefront of my mind when I’m away on trips, but there were a few outlets that we couldn’t resist visiting!
Anthropologie – beautiful fashion and jewellery, but the main attraction for me are their gorgeous homewares.
Fishs Eddy – just on the corner of 19th Street and Broadway. This store sells illustrative and quirky ceramics, glass and textiles for the kitchen. Reasonable prices.
Marimekko – right near the Flatiron building. Shop for fashion at homewares at this iconic Scandinavian brands NYC flagship store.
Papersource – contemporary greeting cards (including some of mine!), stationery and some gifts. Papersource can be found at many locations across the city.
Chelsea Market – largely food with some other outlets including Posman books and Anthropologie.
My card in Papersource.
Eating & Drinking
Tick Tock Diner – big portions and fast service – available 24/7! I’ve eaten here a few times before, and it’s part of the New Yorker hotel. I would love to stay there one day.
Rosa Mexicano – Mexican food with ridiculously more-ish guacamole and tasty cocktails. I’ve eaten here many times now. Rosa Mexicano is a chain restaurant but with an independent vibe, and it never disappoints.
Boqueria – a real highlight. We went to their 19th Street location, but they have 4 restaurants across the city. We had their Parrillada mixed grill, which I’d highly recommend. It’s a large portion and intended to be shared!
The Park Chelsea – good food to be enjoyed in an eclectically decorated interior. It has a glassed in patio and a rooftop garden that overlooks the High Line.
Bobby Van’s – recommended to us by a local and was right near the hotel (45th between 6th and 7th Ave). However, they have locations across the city. We enjoyed sitting at the bar for a post Surtex wine.
With so much going on before I flew out to New York, there wasn’t much time to research places to go before I went. I look forward to exploring more of what the city has to offer in terms of food and drink next time! After a brilliant six days, I felt a bit sad to be heading home. I was so focused on getting everything prepared, it seemed like quite a big build up. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to visit ‘The Big Apple’, which hopefully won’t be too far away!
I exhibited at Surtex for the second time this year alongside Jules McKeown, under the booth name The Pattern Social. We debuted our art at the popular show in 2016, and I wrote about it here. We were thrilled to have a lovely reaction to our work, so we immediately signed up again for 2017. The Javits Centre is a fabulous but huge building located on 11th Ave between 34th and 40th Streets, in Manhattan.
There are a mixture of exhibitors. There are design ateliers don’t tend to license artwork, but just sell off art on a flat fee basis. Then there are studios who license and potentially sell off work flat fee. We were in the latter section, but right next to where the atelier aisles began. This worked well as we did have some art available for outright purchase.
In contrast to some of the UK trade shows I have done, Surtex remains busy for the entire duration of the show. We even had people coming up to us to chat as we began to take our work down. I personally left feeling immensely positive about the reaction to our work again. Some definite projects were discussed, and we had some firm artwork sales in the bag.
We met a wide variety of potential clients, but there were certainly a lot of stationery companies walking around. This was probably partly due to the fact the National Stationery Show was taking place at the same time. Everybody was so friendly, and it was nice to have some in-depth conversations with different types of buyers who sat down and spent some time at our booth.
Jules and I allowed ourselves an extra day in the city this time, so we could have a little down time before the show began. This was lucky as it took slightly longer than one day for us to get everything put on to the walls. It was nice to pop back on Saturday morning and take a look with a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ and make some tweaks. After many hours, and a ridiculous amount of velcro and mess later, our booth was ready! I had planned out my space before we went but as we were putting the display up, I changed my mind on a few bits. Jules and I have quite different work, but our colour sense is very similar, making our art sit well together.
Jules’ work is on the left, and mine is on the right.
Surtex Promotional Materials
This year we took promotional double sided postcards that gave a flavour of our work, alongside personal business cards. This worked well, as despite us exhibiting under our collective name, all artwork sales and licenses will be done individually.
Most of the artists showcasing their art in the licensing section get portfolio books printed. They are designed to give potential clients an idea of your work, but don’t include the entire portfolio. We didn’t have books last year, but I much preferred having one, and I chose to just print the art I had available for flat fee sale on larger sheets. It helped me to be really clear with buyers about which art was available for purchase, and that which was part of my licensing portfolio.
My portfolio book showed a mixture of repeat pattern and placement designs. I also showed some product mock ups and examples of previous collaborations. I spent a lot of time putting the pages together (some examples are below), but I was pleased with the result.
Jules and I are both back at home enjoying some of the bank holiday sun now. This coming week will be busy following up all leads and catching up on admin! I’ll be writing another post soon with photos from the trip alongside some recommendations for places to eat and shop!
It’s weeks since I posted about my trip to Chicago and I intended to follow it up with a post about the rest of the holiday, so, here it is! Chicago was definitely the full on part of the trip, so having the most relaxing few days ever in Cape Cod and Boston afterwards was just lovely. I have always wanted to visit New England. The trip left me yearning to spend a few weeks there, ideally in October. I’d love to just do some travelling up the coast when all of the leaves are changing colour and it’s not very busy.
We flew in to Boston on a sunny Friday afternoon and had a couple of hours spare before heading to Cape Cod for the weekend. We popped in to the Society of Arts and Crafts, and had a lovely chat with Carrie and George who were working there. I couldn’t believe it when I saw my wooden coastal postcards (in collaboration with Timbergram) on sale.
We then boarded the fast ferry and headed to Provincetown for the weekend. The ferry was a great way of getting to P-Town and I’d recommend it to anyone heading to ‘The Cape’. The sun was just beginning to go down as we reached the port, and the view from the boat was lovely!
We stayed at the Gaslamp B&B which is highly rated online and it didn’t disappoint. The hosts were incredibly friendly and made amazing breakfasts. These were served in their private garden and we were able to use the hot tub at our leisure. The other guests were so friendly and we spent Saturday afternoon socialising in the sun with them. I have never been to a town that is so lively, yet feels so relaxing to be in. We walked, hired bikes, sunbathed/napped on the beach, climbed the Pilgrim Monument, shopped and of course ate a lot!
My food highlights were ice cream from Happy Camper (so good we went twice in one day), and our evening meal at the Lobster Pot. This is a famous restaurant situated right on the edge of the beach in the centre of town. Despite growing up by the sea, I cannot stand the taste of seafood. So, I opted for a chicken and veg dish, that was absolutely cooked to perfection.
On Monday morning we boarded the ferry and headed back to Boston for the final two days of the trip. We walked part of the Freedom trail before getting distracted by food and tasty Downeast cider at Quincy Market.
The next day we headed to Harvard and I’d really recommend the guided tour. This was particularly topical for me, as I’ve recently become obsessed with the US tv series Suits. We naturally had lunch at Pinnocio’s pizzeria and wandered the campus of this world famous university.
It was also great to wander around Charlestown. This is a district of the city that I was familiar with because of the movie The Town. I loved looking at the colourful wooden houses. The weather was great so we wandered back over the bridge to Quincy Market and enjoyed another fantastic lunch, washed down by more cider!
The food highlight in Boston for me was breakfast at The Friendly Toast, which was conveniently a stones throw from our hotel in Back Bay. I had coconut pancakes (twice), topped with chopped nuts, whipped cream and chocolate chips. It was delicious! We had to wait for a table but it was really worth it, and the service was great.
It’s never nice when a holiday ends but I felt particularly sad to be heading home this time. A few days of soaking up the sun, eating and drinking was exactly what I needed. I’m now working hard on new designs to launch in 2018. Watch this space for those coming soon!
I got back from my summer holiday just over two weeks ago. It was a mixture of full on sightseeing in Chicago, followed by three of the genuinely most relaxing days of my life. These were spent on Cape Cod, and then three more days in Boston. My friend and I had both been harbouring a desire to visit one of America’s largest cities for some time, and I am so glad we did.
We stayed in a hotel overlooking Millennium park, home to ‘The Bean’ (formally known as Cloud Gate). The park is in the east of the city and is right next to the shores of Lake Michigan. This was an excellent base point as it was right near to the loop train. This made it easy to access any area of the city that we wanted to visit. We did a lot of walking on our first day, which included The 606 – a 2.7 mile trail designed for walkers and cyclists alike. It is elevated from traffic and gives a lovely view out across the neighbourhood. It is similar to the Highline in New York, which I wrote about here.
Chicago From Above
We rounded off the day with a trip up the 108 storey building Willis Tower. The viewing area which is open to the public is on the 103rd floor, but a super quick lift means you get there in no time at all. It is the second tallest building in the USA, and offers incredible views across the city. The landscape is so flat and you can see for miles and miles. We went just before sunset. It was great to see the city lighting up as the sun went down, and it was the perfect end to the day.
The view from Willis Tower
One area that I would recommend to anybody to visit whilst in Chicago is Andersonville. This district in the north of the city (nearest Metro stop is Berwyn) is an old Swedish settlement. There are plenty of places to shop, eat and drink. We had lunch at Hopleaf, a bar with a Belgian inspired menu and plenty of beers on offer. There was a delightful stationery store and framers called Four Sided where we both bought ourselves some souvenirs.
We spent the next couple of days wandering the Old Town, watching fireworks at Navy Pier (Wednesday’s and Saturday’s in summer) and eating lots of food. The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra played in Millennium Park one clear warm evening, which was a lovely unexpected treat.
Jazz in Millennium Park
The highlight of Chicago for me was the architecture boat cruise which is run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. A docent volunteer leads the tour and our guide was incredibly knowledgable. We opted for a twilight cruise so by the time the hour and a half was up, it was dark and the tall buildings lit up the sky. The particular tour is listed in the top 10 on TripAdvisor in the whole of the USA!
More Places to Dine..
No visit to Chicago is apparently complete without sampling a deep dish pizza. Lou Malnati’s was our pizzeria of choice and it didn’t disappoint. A simple margarita with a pepperoni topping was delicious and I wish we’d had time for more!
Other food highlights included a waffle breakfast at Eleven City Diner on Wabash Avenue and the liquid chocolate drink at Goddess and the Baker which has three locations across the city, including Wabash Ave.
Goddess and the Baker cake and biscuits. My friend bought the birthday one despite her birthday being in March.Apparently it was tasty!
Eleven City Diner.
Thank you Chicago (and my friend), for a wonderful 4 days in ‘the windy city’.
As I wrote in my last blog post, I love collaborating with companies on products that I wouldn’t normally manufacture myself. I was excited to hear from a contact at Comme Des Garcons late last year,with regards to a potential collaboration. Comme Des Garcons is a Japanese fashion label based in Tokyo and Paris. The company was founded by Rei Kawakubo in 1969. The Costume Institute’s Spring 2017 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York is dedicated to her. It features around 140 examples of her work from the early 1980’s to the most recent collections. The exhibition runs until September 4th 2017.
I created two pieces of artwork under the direction of Junya Watanabe. The finished garments are included in the Homme A/W 2017 collection and are on the theme of ‘happy army’.
The company had seen one of my repeat patterns featuring colourful cars, and wanted me to emulate that look for the designs to be used on their garments.
My initial sketches (some seen below), were done in pencil and ink, and mocked up in to repeat.
I went on to redraw my sketches and colour the artwork in a similar way to my car design. The end result is two statement prints that have been applied to high quality shirts for men.
I really enjoyed creating the art for this brief. Designing repeat patterns is what I love to do most. Working with such an iconic fashion brand is certainly one of my career highlights to date, and I look forward to working on more exciting and varied briefs in the future. If you’re an art director and are interested in finding out more about my designs, then head to my design portfolio page and fill in the contact form.