Last week, one of my favorite stationers called me out of the blue. It was a wonderful surprise.
I’d like to tell you that I’m always chatting it up with my friends in the industry. The truth is, aside from a couple close friends (and facebook group discussions), I don’t take enough opportunities to talk shop with colleagues.
This incredibly talented friend called about a concept she wanted to propose to a client and she knew that I had some experience with the materials she was considering.
We talked for over half an hour about the concept and how to approach it. There were many permutations of my favorite phrase…”what happens when…?” as we explored possible approaches. It seemed clear that the way I have approached it in the past wouldn’t work for her situation and, through a good bit of feeling around at the edges, we came up with an approach that I believe she’s testing as I write this.
In the end, I practically begged her to call again with a similar challenge.
It was exhilarating to explore the edges with a fellow visionary. Because
Quick. What pops into your head when I say “stationery?”
Or how about “wedding invitation?”
I’d put money on the fact that a little rectangle of paper fills your mind’s eye. But that’s such a small part of what’s possible. Most people put what I do into such a small box that there’s almost nothing unknown to explore. A7 or A8? White or Ecru? Letterpress, foil stamped, engraved, or embossed? All text or illustration, too?
There are thousands of permutations available and so much beautiful work that can be made on that little rectangle of paper.
But I’m far more interested in rust and wood and slate and plastic. Chrome and enamel paints and laser cutters and 3D printers. I’m interested in taking an approach to furniture design and turning it into a way to communicate with your tribe. In translating a ballet costume into a gala invitation.
There’s magic in the edges of what’s possible.
And that’s where I prefer to operate.
If I’m honest, it can be incredibly scary – the outcome is never guaranteed. But the payoff is immense. I can create things for my clients that their guests have never seen. A business card that won’t get thrown away.
It sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
But it requires something of you, too. It requires you to have vision and faith.
Vision because the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts and you may have to make choices based solely on the parts. Vision because my feeble sketches can’t come close to expressing the fullness of the final result.
And faith because sometimes things get ugly before they become beautiful. Because you may get to see how the sausage is made and we all know that’s not always pretty.
But if you’re brave enough – if you have the vision and faith – we can make something spectacular together.
Because there’s no such thing as thinking too big.