My OTA Experience

Have you ever been involved in something so amazing that it is hard to put your thoughts and feelings into words because you are worried that some small, but ridiculously important detail will be overlooked? That was OTA for me and Spark.

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OTA is a collaborative of creative catalysts and community changemakers that connects the social and creative capital of South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. You can learn more by visiting the OTA website. OTA founder and curator, Hugh Weber, was kind enough to bring Spark on board as a production partner for this year's event, which means we were able to be a part of the fun printed collateral created for the event.

On March 15 the people of OTA converged on the Augustana College campus to take in a killer line-up of speakers. I'm not sure if I should refer to this group of fantastic individuals as speakers because they really were something far more exceptional. They didn't come to rattle off a few statistics or blandly sell a product or idea. They came to engage, entertain and inspire, all the while exceeding our expectations. Throughout the course of the day I was taken to lands near and far, provoked to think about abstract ideas and concrete solutions, challenged to live my life with more everything-that-is-awesome and less of the ordinary and expected.

Some of my favorite quotes from the day:

"Exceptional people can tell you why they are." -Ricardo Crespo of 20th Century Fox

"Do good work for good people." -Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co.

"You can't A/B test your way to a vision." -Karina van Schaardenburg of Foursquare

And pretty much everything that was said by Dave Brown of Holiday Matinee and MKG

Be sure to check out:

Pencils of Promise: What Adam Braun has accomplished since 2008 will astound you. The world needs more people like him who are willing to do what it takes to make a difference in the lives of children around the world.

Ferocious Quarterly: How could I not love what Nate Utesch has done to beautifully capture the talents of current artists? The power of print is alive and well in this publication.

Pre-Session Mailing

The first pieces we designed and printed were for a pre-session mailing to the speakers that they received two weeks before the event. The two pieces were wrapped in kraft paper, and tied with baker's twine and a note welcoming them to the OTA family.

Inside we had a card that asked the speakers to tell OTAns what they had  in store for them. The cards said "Hey OTAns, preapre to be ______________ on  March 15, 2013." Here are some examples of what was received. Fun,  right?

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The other piece in the mailing was an art print we designed of the OTA region  including a vintage map in tone-on-tone transparent white, custom  opaque red and black inks. We outlined the states with the speakers'  names and used the intersections language from the OTA manifesto to tie  it all together. Both pieces were printed on 29 pt. chipboard on the same press sheet on our Heidelberg KS Cylinder. 

Stay tuned for my next post about the OTA manifesto and class of 2013 prints and the other pieces!

-Valerie

Stay tuned for my next post about the OTA manifesto and class of 2013 prints and the other pieces!

-Valerie

Retailer Profile: Smudge Designs

The mother/daughter duo!

Smudge Designs
Julie Stern and Joanna Stern, Owners
132 Sheppard Avenue West, Suite 210
Toronto, Ontario M2N 1M5
Canada
Tel:  647 347 4343

How long have you been in business?
We have been in business now for 4 years! Whew. 


When did you realize that the stationery business was the right one for you?
My mom (Julie) and I were brainstorming invitation ideas for an anniversary party she was throwing. We were having so much fun together coming up with ideas and researching different printing methods that we never wanted it to end. We love that we can put our crazy ideas to good use.


What part of working with new brides is the most exciting?
I love when the bride receives the final product. Seeing their reaction, seeing how excited and happy they are is always a delight.


When people say, "well it's just paper…it's going to get thrown away anyway" what is your reaction?!
That’s always a tough thing to hear. But custom stationery isn’t for everyone. We just politely tell people that we are very passionate about invitations and the impact they can have on your event. We are true believers that it starts off the wedding, and can really get people excited about the events to follow.


What do you do with card and invites you receive from family and friends?
I love receiving invitations! I have saved every invitation I have received since my bar/bat mitzvah days. They stay on the fridge until the event then they are carefully placed into a memory box.


What tip can you give a bride about the invites she might order?
Make sure to be honest about your budget. I know it’s an icky topic, but it needs to be talked about. We want every client to be comfortable with the amount they are spending, and can work within a budget to create something beautiful. But you have to let us know what that budget is.
 

What is a color combo that you're in love with right now for invites this season?
Anything and everything GOLD! I am dying over gold foil with blush ink. I also like to keep warm in the colder months (Canada gets freezing!) so I find using softer grey’s and pewter tones instead of black help to give the invitation some much needed warmth.


Do you find Pinterest and Facebook helpful when relating with potential clients and how do you utilize social media?
Yes and no. It is always good to have visuals and inspiration to start off the invitation process. Having a client know exactly what they want is always helpful. However, pinterest and facebook can also provide too many options, and it sometimes may be overwhelming. We try and blog as often as we can...it’s a great place to show off recent jobs we have done and it gives a potential client a sense of our style and who we are.


Brides rarely have a clue what they want when they sit down for invites…how do you lead them in the right direction to find their dream invites?
It is perfectly okay not to know what you want! First and most importantly we want them to relax and enjoy the process. It shouldn’t be stressful it should be fun! We like to chat, joke and get to know each other first. We ask the simple questions, do you have wedding colors, is your event formal, are you more traditional or more modern, where is the event taking place. After we have a bit more of an understanding we begin to flip through books and invitations carefully selected by us that we think will fit your needs. We like to sticky note invitations of interest, and we will re-visit them later. Once the bride has selected a couple options, we look at her choices in more detail and begin to customize it more towards her needs.


What trend are you seeing this season for invites?
Foil has been a huge trend this season. It is a great way to jazz up an invitation, and create visual interest. Gold foil especially.


Best advice for bride or bride-to-be about finding the perfect invite suite?!
Forget about trends, forget about what other people are doing, forget about what other people are telling you to do. Focus on what you and your fiancé like and will be happy with.


The Spark sisters met Julie and Joanna at the National Stationery Show in May.  We are thrilled to have them selling our custom letterpress stationery!

National Stationery Show here we come!




Well, the National Stationery Show is still weeks away, but amidst the craziness that is wedding season here at Spark, we are spending every spare millisecond preparing for the stationery industry's biggest show of the year! Whether it is putting the final touches on some of our notecard designs or press checking a freshly picked Pantone color, we are all about new product lines here at Spark in 2012.

Here is a brief summary of what we will be debuting at NSS:
  • Party Papers: A line of letterpress lovelies for the stylish soiree. We're giving all of you hosts and hostesses a running start on your next party with this new line or ready-made party stationery including invitations, thank yous, coasters, gift tags, place cards, decorative food picks and small signage. Choose from our lightly-themed designs and coordinating pieces to make your event shine when all of those little paper details are attended to perfectly!
  • Foil + Letterpress Cards: It was a thrilling moment when I hit the send button to get our copper engraving dies made for our new line of foil and letterpress blank cards. We have been doing foil on many other things here at Spark for years, so we figured it was about time to pair our two favorites together for a stunning suite of cards. Four patterns will be available and each will be done in two colorways.
  • Our Signature Collection: Like many of our esteemed colleagues in the world of paper, we have a few patterns and some stunning vintage maps as part of our collection. Tired of being relegated to the occasional envelope liner or only being printed in subdued tones, these cards take advantage of some of our favorite colors (think bright, fluorescent and metallic) and are ready to jump out of their adorable little boxes into the hands of retailers everywhere.
  • Impress: We launched this line at the beginning of 2012 to a small group of current Spark retailers and are ready to show off what this line is all about at NSS. We are only looking for a select few more retailers because this couture line is meant to be lovingly represented. If you are interested, please make it a point to see us early in your show plan so we can talk the talk!
  • Mitzvah: Many of you that we have talked to over the past few years are muttering to yourselves "it's about time!" and we couldn't agree more. We know we've promised to get this line out for a while now, but we promise that good things come to those who wait! You can check out some of our more fun non-traditional designs as well as those with a more classic feel. Either way, everything we offer for this line is fully customizable.
  • The Pressroom: In 2011 Spark undertook a major endeavor of launching an online-only company to carry designs of some of our favorite stationery designers (who also happen to be some of the most talented out there)! The Pressroom has met great success and we are excited to share these amazing designs with our retailers. You can expand your collection of event stationery designs by more than 80 when you purchase the rights to represent The Pressroom.
NSS Buyers, visit us in Booth 2174/2175!

Introducing Spark Impress - New for 2012!




Spark Impress is more than our newest collection, it is the blueprint of what's next for the design studio at Spark. Whether you need custom stationery for a wedding or Mitzvah or simply want to write some beautiful notes to a friend; we will work with you to create stunning paper goods that fit your personal style. In addition to our design services, we handle letterpress printing, foil stamping, die cutting and intricate finishing methods in-house which means your order is lovingly cared for from start to finish. The 2012 Impress Collection Includes:

Gemma.
Dark purple matte and gold and gray metallic papers along with gold and purple inks create this stunning color palette. A new trifold design opens to reveal the invitation and a petite belly band holding additional cards.



Mia.
Cream cotton and Japanese cane papers paired with melon, sunshine and mocha inks. A die cut seashell tag and folded seashell weekend events card make this suite even more special.




Andrea. Navy and fuchsia are paired in matte and metallic papers for a vibrantly chic look. This suite features a laser cut belly band and weekend booklet cover. All pieces fit nicely into our new luxury mailer.




Carina. This simply designed suite has a timeless quality and can easily be modified. Midori ribbon, Arturo paper and our house cotton stock all come together beautifully in this new square mock trifold design housed in pointed flap inner and outer envelopes.



Chelsea. Museum board and pale peach metallic papers coordinate swimmingly with pearlized peach foil used throughout the suite for the magnolia art. Our new calligraphy font is paired with classically styled fonts for an understated yet charming look.




Daphne. Already a favorite of our staff, this cheerful collection tells the couple's story through the die cut initials and heart invite. A modern tin sealed with a mailing label holds the various pieces including a reply postcard and detailed map.




Hilary. This oversized invite panel pairs cooper foil with steel ink and thick Arturo paper in soft white. The copper foil on the invite and reception card complement the copper metallic paper. A square crystal adorns the invite, menu and accessory sleeve.




Alyssa.
This suite has it all - a pale amethyst crystal adorning the invitation, lilac color edging, our new calligraphy font and a laser cut wrap like no other. Arturo papers and envelopes only enhance the gorgeous details of this suite, especially the tone-on-tone letterpress printing.



Whitney.
The photos do not do this suite justice - what can be pared down to a lovely black and white suite, has been all dressed up with its details. Two new items for Spark include a luxury mailer with a curved flap and a coordinating accessory sleeve to hold additional cards.



Zoe. White foil and clear varnish letterpress create a tone-on-tone look to keep everything understated. Bright purple accents in the color edging, liners and backers that pop of color. This modern suite is perfect for the minimalist and type-loving couple.




Katherine. Based on one of our most popular custom designs, this design shows transparent gold and gold inks - one of our most popular pairings. The main panel uses our thickest paper, 4-ply museum board which pairs nicely with our soft white papers.




Tessa. Our increasingly requested airline ticket invitation design can be customized with almost any of our maps and your client's destination. Luggage tag die cuts complete this suite for a save the date or welcome basket, and can be finished with an eyelet, ribbon or string.



Visit an Impress Dealer to get started.
Spark has enlisted an intimate group of our best dealers nationwide who can help you create the stationery of your dreams. Our Impress dealers are just receiving the designs above in the stunning box pictured below, so CONTACT US to find a dealer near you. If you do not have an Impress dealer in your area, we are able to work with you directly.

Retailer Profile: Aileen Invitations




Aileen Invitations
2584 Miami Gardens Drive, No Miami Beach, FL 33180
305.935.5601
www.aileeninvitations.com
aileen@aileeninvitations.com
Year Established: 2008
Store Owner: Aileen

Brag a bit about yourself and your company. What would you like people to know about Aileen Invitations? What are you most proud of?
We have the best selection of up-to-date invitations, are very selective on what we have in our store and order what our clients ask for. We take extra time to help our clients. We have an interior design background so we love to customize invitations. Our employees work hard to become friends with our clients and make our store very comfortable. We invite customers to come in, hang out and take their time looking around to get what they want. Letterpress is the most popular and we love to show them all the fun options available.

What makes you different from other stationery shops? What makes you unique?

I think we’re young and fresh and up-to-date on trends. We’re all very fashionable and do a lot of research to stay ahead of the rest. We’re not only an invitation store, we also have other fun paper products as well. We try to read the client on what they want so we can set the tone for their event.

What is your favorite Spark design and why?

Margaret – I did it for a client in Napa. It is so beautiful and I love the detail of the design.

What are some current trends you’re noticing in the stationery world?

Weight of the card is becoming more important to the customers. If it were more affordable, they would like more of a heavier cardstock. This year there were a lot of elegant and formal designs.

2012 is approaching quickly. What do you predict will be the biggest wedding or stationery trend for 2012?

I think people are definitely still going with letterpress. Mixing letterpress and foil is becoming big and being requested more. So I think foil will be bigger in 2012. People are slowly moving away from the elegant and formal designs and going more towards modern, fun and casual.

Retailer Profile: Landis Gifts & Stationery



Landis Gifts and Stationery
Established in 1990
Edie Frere, Owner
138 N. Larchmont Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90004
323.465.7003
http://www.landisstationery.com/
info@landisgiftsandstationery.com


Brag a bit about yourself and your company. What would you like people to know about Landis Gifts & Stationery? What are you most proud of?

(Allison) Not only are our employees knowledgeable and helpful, but everyone who works here has great taste, which is invaluable when it comes to designing your own stationery/invitations.
(Erin) And in addition to stationery we carry a variety of gifts, from deliciously-scented candles and monogrammed silk pouches and bags to beautifully packaged soaps and so many fun little odds and ends.
(Joanne) We are a store who takes time to know our customer. Some of the people who come to the store just come to chat and ask what is new in the store.

What makes you different from other stationery shops? What makes you unique?

Twenty years of experience, to start. Also, we offer invitations and stationery by a wide variety of companies, as well as our own designs, so there is something for every desire and budget.

(Joanne) Some of our staff live in the area and know many of the people that live in our area, which makes our store more neighborhood friendly.

What is your favorite Spark design and why?


(Edie)
The fun die cut shapes for business cards and holiday cards are my favorite. No one else has fun shapes like these so they are fun to see.
(Leela)
Lucinda – I love the bark’s texture.
(Allison)
I love the chipboard paper so much I bought Spark business cards using it!
(Erin)
I’m torn between the Ava and Joy styles. The peach and pink are just lovely, especially for springtime or summer weddings or soirees.
(Joanne)
I like the transparent silver ink. To me it looks blind embossed which is a look I always liked.

2012 is approaching quickly. What do you predict will be the biggest wedding or stationery trend for 2012?

We still see lots of plum and green combinations, and also a trend toward black and white. Simple elegance seems to be the biggest trend. There is a definite trend toward relating the Save the Date cards with the wedding location, and sometimes with the wedding invitation.

(Joanne) Something that catches the eye and allows the engaged couple to put a personal or unique style to the invitation. Affordable but not cheap looking.

What are some current trends you’re noticing in the stationery world? Colors, designs, papers, etc.

(Allison) Modern shades of purple are popping up more and more. Also, business card-sized enclosures with the couple’s website info in wedding.
(Edie)
Personal calling cards, with just a name and perhaps an email address.
(Joanne)
Letterpress invitations, as they are becoming more affordable, more popular. Bold pattern borders or a bold motif seem to be chosen more often.

The staff at Landis Gifts & Stationery offers so much creativity and stationery expertise. Stop by and talk to them about your next stationery project! Please tell them Spark sent you!

The Dandelion Patch and Spark Impress



The Dandelion Patch, Vienna, Virginia Location

Thanks to The Dandelion Patch for the above photo.
Left to right: Heidi Kallett (Owner),
Valerie Carlson, (Spark Art Director),
Chen Li (Winner of Free Invitation Suite!)

Thank you so much to all of the staff at The Dandelion Patch for having us at their stores last week. Valerie and Andrea enjoyed meeting the staff, taking part in a special paper party event and offering individual stationery consultations at three of the four store locations in the DC area. The Dandelion Patch staff are truly experts when it comes to creating custom stationery, which is why all of us at Spark enjoy working with them.

Spark sponsored a giveaway at the paper party, a FREE 1-color letterpress invitation suite. The lucky winner will be working with the staff at The Dandelion Patch to create her custom Spark look. Congrats to Chen Li and her fiance!!

During our visit, we were proud to introduce our new luxury line of custom stationery - Spark Impress. Check out these quick shots below of the new designs taken at the paper party last week. The Impress designs are fully customizable, featuring new papers and envelopes, custom luxury envelopes, laser wraps, foil stamping, jewels, color edging and more. There will be a total of ten Impress designs, and we can't wait to show you more!

Impress will be available in select retail stores soon. If you would like more information, please don't hesitate to contact us.

The photos below feature Whitney (black & white), Mia (beach theme), Daphne (die cut letters mailed in silver tin), Gemma (purple and gold trifold), Chelsea (coral foil magnolias) and Katherine (elegant scroll). Don't worry, more photos and details coming soon!


Letterpress Elegance - How to Customize



We talk a lot about customizing your invitations, but what does it really mean? Does it have to be a complicated process? Absolutely not! Take the above invitations as an example. The first image shows our Margaret design, taken right out of our custom wedding album - the only thing that has changed are the inks and papers. The client also mimicked the invite design on the reception card.

The second image is a customized invitation, not featured in our custom wedding albums. The design is inspired by our Margaret suite, with the following changes:

- Chandelier artwork added to top (pattern removed)
- Pattern at bottom changed to our lovely "Brocade" pattern found in our design book*
- Burgues (swoosh) font toned down a bit
- Paper changed to grout gray, ink is warm gray

*All of our retailers have a Design Book they can share with you during your consultation, providing additional choices for papers, inks, fonts, patterns and other artwork. If you are working with us directly, we can send you a PDF with your customization options.

Whether you are working with Spark directly or through one of our retailers, let us guide you through the customization process. Don't hesitate to ask questions, we want to hear your ideas and inspire you to create something one-of-a-kind!

Spark Promotions - Free Insert Card and 15% Off!

The Special Promotions listed below are redeemable through a Spark retailer near you. If you do not have a retailer in your area, please contact Spark to work with us directly. Both offers are effective today and valid through October 31, 2011. Our promotions are not retro-active for orders already placed whether in the design phase or production phase. Only one Spark promotion may be used per order received.

Free Insert Card

Spark is offering a free insert card when you order any 4-piece invitation suite (invite panel, printed invite envelope, reply card and printed reply envelope). The free insert card is a flat A2 size (5.5x4.25) card or smaller, printed in one color letterpress on any of our standard 1-ply papers. This insert card must be printed in the same press run as the rest of the invitation suite, and is valid for the same quantity as the rest of the order. Upgrades are available with this offer. Please reference "Spark Free Insert" on your order form to redeem.

15% off the purchase of 2 event day-of items

Spark is offering 15% off when you order two or more printed event day-of pieces. Day-of items can include programs, menus, placecards, gift tags, coasters, table cards and thank you note sets. This special does not apply to rush orders or design only orders. Please reference "Spark 15% Off" on your order form to redeem.

Contact Spark if you have any questions!