Firsts are often big milestones when you start out in your business. The first show you choose to travel to can be a vexing decision. When that show is also brand new, that can make taking the leap to apply even scarier. Rosemary and Robin of Los Angeles-based Ink+Smog Editions decided to make the first West Coast Craft their first out-of-town show. They packed up their urban paper goods and headed up to San Francisco then wrote about the experience for us when they got back.
Q: Tell us about your shop? What do you make? How long for? What's the process?
A: Ink+Smog Editions is Rosemary Dardick and Robin Belcher. We are a small letterpress print shop and urban paper goods company located in Los Angeles, California. Our urban paper goods are a combination of linocuts, drawn and carved by hand in battleship linoleum and vintage letterpress printing blocks. All of our cards and prints are currently printed by hand on our bottlejack printing press in Koreatown, They’re inspired by our love for cities and urban environments. We’ve been working together for a little over a year, but launched Ink+Smog in April.
Q: How did you hear about West Coast Craft?
A: We had heard about the event through social media, and some of the other local makers that we know were participating. It really seemed as though they were doing a good job getting the word out.
Q: What's the application and jurying process like? What requirements do you have to meet?
A: We actually didn’t apply at first since we hadn’t done any shows outside of L.A. and we were concerned about traveling for a show since our price points aren’t very high. The organizers ended up approaching us and really made us feel welcome and reassured us that they understood where we were coming from and that this show was going to be a good fit for us. After that, the application process was pretty standard, an online application with the main requirement being that you had to be located on the West Coast. We imagine that they looked over our shop and social media presence as with most shows.
Q: What was the atmosphere like? Who was there? What could you do?
A: The atmosphere was great. You could really tell that although this was the first West Coast Craft show, the organizers had done a really good job thinking not only about the larger aspects but really paid attention to the smaller details. It was this attention to detail that made the event so much fun to attend as well as to participate in. We heard a lot of really great feedback from our customers. There was a really good mix of people who attended the event, there was a steady flow throughout both days, and they were able to attract a pretty good cross-section of ages.
Q: What was the set-up like? Indoors/outdoors? Walls? Where was it at?
A: The event took place at the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center in the Marina in San Francisco. It was an indoor event, with a few food vendors located just outside the front doors. Everyone had their own individual booth, either a full booth or a half-booth which really allowed each of the vendors to create a personal space. The booths were set up on a pipe system draped with plain black fabric.
Q: What kind of vendor would do well here or not do well here?
A: That’s hard to tell, the organizers did a really good job of making sure that a lot of different kinds of vendors were represented. We met a lot of people making home goods and jewelry and furniture as well as some really great food vendors and artists. It seems as though pretty much everyone we talked to had a really good weekend.
Q: What should people considering West Coast Craft know about it? Was it worth traveling from LA?
A: For us it really was. It was a great introduction to a new market for our work. Our biggest piece of advice would be to really take advantage of your display space. This show had a very different approach to booth space. There were no booths split down the middle, instead, if you had a half booth like we did, you were arranged along the outer wall in spaces that were 5’ deep and 10’ wide, side by side, separated by a half-wall. This really meant that the space was ours, and it was really worth putting in the extra effort to build it out and create a unique space all your own.
Q: As a non-Bay Area resident how did you feel like your very LA aesthetic did?
A: Our plan was always to apply our aesthetic to different cities and neighborhoods. We moved up some of the Bay Area-themed cards we had in the works to make sure that they were available for the show and that certainly helped. We were really happy to see how our new pieces were received. We didn’t however expect to sell as much Los Angeles themed work as we did. Overall, people really seemed to like what we were working on.
Q: Anything else?
A: We had a wonderful time and we got to meet a lot of people. It was really nice to be able to meet up with some of the people we had met on social media and it was a great introduction to doing shows in another city. It was really nice to see some of the vendors that usually come down the coast for the LA shows. And it was fun to do a show in San Francisco with some of the makers we know from L.A.
Q: Where can people find your stuff?
A: We sell online at our Etsy shop and we’re available at a few local shops as well. We’ll also be at the Unique LA, Eastside Handmade and Renegade Holiday Shows over the next few weeks.