As 2015 comes to a close, I've been thinking about Ginko Papers and all it has brought me over the years. It has brought me closer to my favorite home away for home, Japan. It has brought me closer to many customers across the US and worldwide. Many loyal fans of Ginko still send my family Christmas cards today. That's always a treat. It's brought me closer to the stationery world, which I still love. Of course, I've learned a lot from Ginko. I raised my first child as I unpacked inventory and made space for it on the office shelves, then converted the garage to a warehouse for more. I gave birth to my second child while running trade shows and writing press material. Ginko was intertwined in our lives, our home, our vacations, and our daily routines.
I closed Ginko a year ago and I've thought back on the times we shared fondly. I've wondered how you're doing and I'm hoping you're all well. I wanted to let you know that things are busy here. Mina is six and Mark is three. They keep us running around all day. Ive also been visiting more of Los Angeles and getting out to make small journeys of exploration to places I love. I've been writing about these visit and posting my writing on Medium. I'd be thrilled if you'd stop by to read some of my work.
Until then, please have a wonderful new year. May 2016 bring you love, health, success, and happiness. May you write letters, send cards, and share your warm heart with your loved ones. I know you always loved doing that. Send some of the stationery you bought from Ginko Papers and brighten someone's day!
All my love,
Maybe I've talked about it already and you know where this is going. Maybe you're hearing about it for the first time. Either way, please let me say again, I love Kyoto.
Yes, I quite like Japan and I would never turn down an opportunity to go to Tokyo. But there's something magical about Kyoto that can't be found anywhere else. So unlike any other worldly location I can think of, I am truly in love with this place.
I think back to all the Kyoto visits over the past decade and they all blend into each other like a fond mash-up of all the early dates you went on with your spouse.
Like that restaurant you used to go to where there were no kids and candlelight was all you needed to read a menu.
Like when you'd browse the bookstore for a few hours and laugh at ridiculous magazine covers and find amazing books to buy.
Like taking a walk at twilight and for the first time your fingers touch and slowly, but surely, you hold hands. Thinking about Kyoto is just like that - all beautiful and twinkly, with no rough patches and most certainly, no hard times.
Like any love story, there's more to the first meeting and the love falling. Since 2002, there have been some misunderstandings and a bit of forced distance. But for now, let me share with you how it all began.
Here are some moments I always look back on. I'm sometimes surprised I was there, that I took those photos, that it was once a real moment. As I keep looking at these images, they become more fantastical. Take a look with me before we move on.
This one's blurry because when you wake up very early and run to look out the balcony the first morning you've arrived, you take a blurry photo. It's still my favorite.
Walking down Sanjo dori (street) after a light summer rain.
A few times, we stayed at an apartment right on the Kamogawa (river). In the summer, all the restaurants across the way build decks for summer dining and string them with lanterns.
A dining moment in Kyoto - simple, beautiful.
Born and raised with Hello Kitty is not uncommon for a stationery loving, letter writing, pencil-box collecting girl. It's less common if that girl grows up, has a daughter, and then shares all her coveted, saved, revered goodies with her own little girl. That's me and that's Mina! The passion has been passed on to the next generation.
Thanks to the exhibit Hello! Exploring the World of Hello Kitty at JANM I got to see personal collections very similar to my own as well as an amazing array of Kitty inspired art pieces. As part of a huge celebration of Hello Kitty's 40th anniversary, the show opened on October 11th and will be on through April 26, 2015. If you care for Hello Kitty, please go visit. Really! After reading this, click over to JANM's site and get your tickets. Now that you're excited to get going, quench your enthusiasm with some photos below.
Here we are standing at the entrance. Amazing, huge, powerful wall decals are all over the place.
Mark trying to get in on all the action. What's this Kitty thing all about? Can you eat it?
Overall fun, all around.
Below is Pomme Party! by Tadao.
We met this very kind artist, Jeni Yang, as she was putting up her installation, Merry Go Round. Mina was over the moon after talking to her and watching her put up her work. Wow, a moment not to forget!
We'll be going to Hello Kitty Con in a few weeks. I'll be sure to let you know how the Kitty festivities continue.
The Miyako Hotel in Kyoto is a special place. I went there on my second trip to Japan and loved it. I made that trip alone and the Hotel became my instant best friend. A few years later, I went back with my boyfriend. He proposed there and I said Yes. We've gone back as husband and wife and will go back again when we're sane (or insane) enough to make an international flight with two kids.
On one of our trips, Garo and I made it up to the Miyako bar lounge. I love jazz. It was a jazz, bar, lounge. I especially love jazz interpretations by Japanese musicians who love jazz way more than I do. So this was the place for me. A cocktail, followed by a glass of wine. Some assorted nuts next to a flickering candle. Over to the right, there's a view of ancient and modern worlds. Miyako hotel, bar. I love you.
As it turns out, Portland, Oregon, was perfect place to be last month. It was especially magical if you were there on September 11th and stayed through September 14th. It was even more unbearably wonderful if you were at The Redd surrounded by Erik Marinovich's mural.
Four weeks ago, my husband, Garo, and I took off a few days to go to XOXO Fest in Portland and we didn't know what we were in for. We figured, at least we knew each other and we loved the idea of the internet-meets-arts conference, so that was enough to go on.
Walking onto the XOXO grounds at The Redd was a welcoming experience unlike any other. It was like a reunion where you were meeting people for the first time. A beautiful buzzing sound of conversation met with smells of fresh roasting coffee and delicious food carts as we made our way to get badges and figure out the lay of the land. Good morning Day 1 at XOXO, I didn't know this was where I always wanted to be.
The XOXO days were filled with amazing lectures and the nights turned into morning with live music, video games, films, and storytelling. If that sounds like heaven, it was - a really enriching, stimulating, and physically exhausting heaven.
Garo met some of his online heroes; John Roderick, John Gruber, and Andy Matuschak. He also went head-over-heels when we were invited to an open house at Panic, which he corrected me by stating, "the legendary offices of Panic." (Just wanted you to know he's serious about that company.) Basically, this was the perfect conference for Garo.
I went in knowing nothing about anyone or anything. But that changed fast. I cried my eyes out after hearing Jonathan Mann tell us about his Song A Day project. I fell in love with Song Exploder, a podcast by Hrishikesh Hirway, that's dedicated to breaking a song down and revealing its every nook and cranny. I shuddered at the personal accounts of sexist hatred endured by Anita Sarkeesian. But most of all I felt inspired and widened. My understanding of how we use the internet to tell our stories has been deeply broadened by XOXO. These stories told through words, images, music, animation, and code come together to form our technology driven world.
XOXO opened the door not only to new thinking, but also reminded me to tap into core passions. It's why I started Fresh Ink again, why I've been observing and assessing, and why I'm giving myself the chance to ask those big life questions. XOXO has also brought about fearlessness, a sense of adventure, and real feeling of new possibility. For all this, I thank you XOXO. I hope to see you again next year.
The exterior of The Redd. Amazing and vibrant. Such a joy to go there every day.
Did I mention, The Redd was a steel factory? Here's a bit of machinery left behind. This building was very busy during WWII.
A 1940s photo of people sitting in the factory. The chairs are positioned exactly like the XOXO conference seating. Not much has changed in the past 70 years.
Garo was in love with the arcade setup. He found a track and field game from his childhood and wouldn't let go.
Looking back at some of the old blog entires here is always fun. I see how quickly time goes by, while at times I think things are moving so slowly.
In 2011, I had an entry about Mina turning two. So I felt it only fair to pause and let you know that since then, I've had a second child, Mark, and he just turned two this weekend. Here we are, celebrating his birthday.
That's Mina on the right, now five, looking on encouragingly. It seems like she's thinking, "You can do it, Mark! Blow the candle!"
I'm the kind of person who stands in the card isle looking at "just one more card" until I've looked through them all. By the time I'm done, I've picked out my favorites and might even have to buy two of a card just because it's so wonderful. The LOUIE Awards celebrates those perfect cards that you fall in love with and want to give a huge hug to, with a glass plaque of course!
In 2013 and 2014, we submitted our cards to the LOUIEs and have been lucky and honored to have had our cards nominated both years. 2013 was an especially big surprise, because one of our cards, Mother's Day, WON! Each year, the event picks a theme. 2013 was a celebration of the Awards' 25th anniversary. The displays and paper crafted centerpieces were amazing and exceptionally detailed. A beautiful entryway was made of paper airplanes with each nominated company's name cut into them. I've never been so excited and awed by walking through a tunnel of paper.
Here are our nominated cards from 2013. Mother's Day, on the left, was the surprise winner. On the right is one of our very popular pop-up Baby Cards.
We had one nomination in 2014, our pop-up Children's Birthday card. I affectionally call it, my Sweet's Shop. If only it was slightly bigger and real, I'd never leave it. Here is the card on display at the Awards.
Having dinner, chatting with card lovers, and celebrating cards - the LOUIE Awards are truly a nice place to be!
Art Center College of Design is affectionately called ACCD. If you've gone to Art Center, you can hear these clanging letters pronounced one ofter the other as a slightly tongue-twisiting acronym that's not meant to be said out loud, but nonetheless, is. A - C - C - D. There. Now you've said it too.
A few weeks ago, I decided to visit my old haunt for inspiration and walked onto campus only to find that I had gone on the last day of undergrad orientation. Oh my! I'd never been around so many post-high school aged people in my life. Or at least since I'd graduated high school. There was nervous giggling, guys sounding tough and cool, girls asking nervous questions like, "When are we supposed to turn these in?", and adult administrations trying to get students' attention by loudly clapping. I was whitnessing the start of a highly hormonal journey towards enlightened career decision making in the arts.
I wanted to stop time and say,
"It gets better. Don't be nervous." (To the girls standing and shifting their weight from one foot to the other.)
"It's just sex. Don't agonize over it. It'll happen." (To the guys cracking jokes and hoping they're liked.)
"Don't procrastinate. Time flies here and you'll fall behind fast." (To everyone.)
"Take a deep breath." (To myself.)
As I backed out of the crowds, I walked in search of some old spots that I'd spent time in. The coffee vending machines, the photo dept sofas, the film dept office, the concrete hallways, the art gallery. Like visiting any familiar place left behind, the luster of memory gives way to fading. But something wonderful may take its place. Like discovering Alexander Vidal's work in the student gallery. Like seeing a young student smile at the sight of Keith Haring's mural popping up the staircase. Art Center is a place for the new amidst the past.
Here are some moments from the day.
There's nothing like being in New York City in May. Everything bustles of promise and new possibility. Us out-of-towners enter upon the scene having never shoveled snow or walked in frigid temperates. We saunter in at that lovely moment of awakening, birds chirping, buds blooming, and witnessing beauty all around. We get the best of all worlds. Until of course, May showers hit you. Then it's a wet, rushing into doorways, skidding on the sidewalk, NYC reality check!
In many ways, this is exactly what the National Stationery Show is like - beautiful and gritty, magical through hard work.
Having exhibited at NSS for the past three years and at Javits countless times for NY NOW (NY Gift), we know how to put on a show. At least we think we do, until we get our next best idea or next best plan or next best strategy at the show we're doing for the one coming up. Like any art form, once you learn the basics, you can grow, experiment, and hopefully find your own voice and vision. It takes time, but it's worth the investment.
Walking down the show aisle for the first time on the first day of set-up is a bit like unravelling a mystery. Will my crate be there? Who are my neighbors? Are my lights set up? Are the hard-walls correct? Once you set foot in your space, it's all action! The best part is when your partner in crime meets you in the booth and starts to make things happen. In my case, it's my ER doctor sister. She take time off her day job to work the shows with me - thanks sis! You'll see her in the pics below. The best part of doing these shows is not doing them alone. I've done that too. We'll talk more about that later. Basically, try not to do it.
Here are some setup photos and finished booth photos from our show this past May. Enjoy!
PS. Next up, being nominated for LOUIE Awards and Trendy's - the parties, the winning, the fun, and the long year in between.
My life is a small, one person story. I'm in it and some reoccurring characters. There's nothing glamorous. No flopping, felt hats or big, black rimmed sunglasses. No pouting red lipstick and softly falling waves of brown hair. Nothing very mysterious or magical. But most certainly something personal and real.
Just to make clear the basic level of things in my life, let me share with you a daily ritual I've embraced called "Packing Lunch." Already from the title, I'm sure you guessed what this is all about, what it entails, and if you've ever indulged in this activity, you know there are some minor emotional archs as well.
The question that starts this game off is always, "What?" What to pack, what to make, what will get eaten, what will withstand lack of refrigeration, what will look appetising? The next question is, "Who?" I pack two lunches a day, one for my daughter and one for my husband. My daughter is five, in kindergarden, eats confusingly, and loves to hate the things she loved. My husband is in his forties (early), in work, eats anything, but has gourmet opinions if asked. These two along with the rotating contents of my fridge and pantry make "Packing Lunch" an exciting and challenging daily ritual.
For my daughter, I've made great investments in lunch containers, lunch boxes/lunch bags (whatever she may be correctly calling them at the time, as she feels like it, but is nonetheless the expert), small forks and spoons, cute bento containers with smiling monkeys, and an assortment of baggies that I sometimes adorn with Sharpie smiling faces.
For my husband, I've searched the world wide web intensively (thank you Amazon) and found a very impressive and masculine bento container that fits perfectly in his bike pouch, which he then rides unwaverengly the five and a half miles to work. This sleek, black, bento also has a side slot enrgonomically designed to hold chopsticks - which quite possibly makes everything packed inside more exciting during eating.
If you're wondering about some process and what these containers look like, I didn't want to hold back on photos. They should help illuminate this possibly confusing process of "Packing Lunch" I've been trying to explain (wink, wink).