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 ti 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’.
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!