Saturday, March 28, 2015

Moveable Type: Igloo Letterpress Plans Move and Expansion

There's a temptation to simply think of Igloo Letterpress as "the little shop that could"; the plucky, niche printing upstart swimming against the tide of digital image processing and online print orders. I suppose in a way they are that, what with their homespun origins and old-timey printing ways. The problem is, that narrative glosses over a set of pretty solid business fundamentals that have lead to both an impressive client list and expansion plans.

Igloo loves Ohio!

Not to get all MBA here, but businesses don't succeed and grow because they're cute. Businesses succeed and grow because they meet a need and do top-quality work. They succeed because they build authentic relationships; the kind of relationships that foster goodwill and ensure enthusiastic word of mouth marketing. They succeed because they provide value for their customers and their community. By these measures, "the little shop that could" has been putting on a clinic since re-locating from Minnesota to the central Ohio in 2008.

Igloo has a library! Books include "Books Without Paste or Glue" and "How to Fold"

As evidence of their success, Igloo will be moving from the cozy (cramped?) confines of 39 West New England in Worthington to a space that's four times larger and includes a High Street store front. The expansion will provide space for retail shopping and a visitor experience unlike any other. To strengthen their connection to the community, Igloo has launched a Kickstarter campaign in conjunction with the move. A successful campaign will give Igloo the chance to offer expanded community classes and take on additional public projects.

 One of Igloo's presses in action

I had the chance to go behind the scenes recently at Igloo, and can attest to all of the above. This is a business the that does top quality work, cares about its customers, and adds value to the community. The fact that they're plucky upstarts doing some serious niche work is just icing on the cake.

2T 4EVA!

Details on Igloo's Kickstarter campaign can be found here, Move Our Igloo. If you think central Ohio needs more of this, then back them any way you can. And if you can't make a financial commitment then feel free to tweet, retweet and share the hashtag #moveourigloo Every little bit helps.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Columbus Street Art, I'm Calling You Out

This has gone on long enough.


Listen, I'm no expert on street art, and I'm not usually one to call out deficiencies in the central Ohio arts scene, but enough is enough. If Columbus intends to establish itself as a world-class city capable of supporting and advancing the visual arts, we really need to step up our game when it comes to street art, murals, and graffiti, because we clearly aren't world-class in this area yet.

Yes, I know we can all point to any number of individual successes, "What about the Short North murals? What about the Mini-Murals? What about Aminah Robinson? What about Urban Scrawl? Jeff Abraxes? Vinchen? Those count for something, don't they?" I suppose they do at some level, but I can't be the only one who browses sites like Unurth and StreetArtUtopia and sees a noticeable gap in quality between what's produced locally and what's happening further afield.

Part2ism, Opium Wars, London

And really, beyond those efforts listed above, who are the locals creating graffiti or street art that's of visual, emotional or intellectual interest? (Note: This is not a rhetorical question. If you know of someone, please school me now! Stephanie Rond and John Stommel are the only ones I can think of, and I believe John left town, taking his considerable talents with him). Is the problem documentation? Maybe great work is being done and I'm just not seeing it. I've maintained all along that someone invested in the local street art scene ought to start a blog and do the hard work of documentation.

Vinchen, Highly Desirable Luxury Object Retailer, Columbus

Maybe the issue is an inadequate support system. What systems do we have in place to develop really great street art? Where are public/private partnerships? What funding is available? What are the schools doing? Does CCAD still support it's Campus Mural Program? Could they expand it? What about Ohio State or Campus Partners? What about the GCAC, the OAC or the Cultural Arts Center? Does anyone even teach street art classes? Why not?

Jon Stommel, River Recreation Mural, Vancouver BC

I know the Short North is taking steps to encourage street art, and so is the Franklinton Arts District. A few years ago I highlighted some of my neighborhood's street art in an article for Columbus Underground (Counter Offensive: Street Art Gains Ground in Old North Columbus). While those initiatives were worth documenting, they were, by and large, modest efforts of an individual nature. Nothing noted in that piece was indicative of either systemic support or a larger cultural investment. Individuals saw a need to create and acted accordingly. That's great as far as it goes, but imagine how much more we could do if there were a coordinated effort to increase the quality, visibility and ricnhess of street art in Columbus.