Saturday, April 28

DIY Deco: Moleskine Notebooks

Now, anyone who's read EVERYTHING I'VE EVER WRITTEN EVERYWHERE may have detected by this point that I'm favorably inclined toward Moleskine (MOLL-eh-SKEEN-eh: I correct myself whenever I say it). And I have found there are two Moleskine websites: Moleskine (Europe) and MoleskineUS. Why are there two? I dunno, maybe it's just easier to have a European headquarters that takes care of all nations outside of the U.S.

The Euro Moleskine site has what they call an Artists Marketplace: users are invited to buy Moleskine notebooks, decorate them inside and/or out, and sell them here to a global market. I decided to try my hand and take the plunge, but so far there have been no takers. None from other countries, anyway: my friend Kate met me and, over ice cream, perused my selection and decided which (of the three I'd produced) she wanted.

Let me tell you about these notebooks. I purchased the pack-o-three "large" unlined Moleskine Cahiers with kraft covers. Among my statio is a file of old maps, so the notebooks are covered in a 1965 National Geographic world map. Their covers feature the South Atlantic Ocean (pictured), the North American continent, and the Scandinavian nations and northern Europe.

Piratical Typography

The Science Museum of Minnesota, which is awesome, is hosting a historical exhibit of what pirates were really like, as seen in the above bus shelter display. But if you're like me, what you notice almost immediately is the glaring typo. How did "takover" make it past all the levels of design, editing, proofing and print? It's not even a goof in the fine print: it's large, bold, and in decorative typeface.

I work in a marketing agency, and people in such agencies seem to know what each other are up to. I asked around to find out who was in charge of this campaign and someone thought, maybe, that this work might've been in-house. Trying to confirm that, though.

Stuff like this drives me absolutely crazy, having been an unemployed copy editor for eight of the past twelve months.

UPDATE: At least they're in good company.

Saturday, April 21

Processing, Processing...

Intel billboard, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Yeah, it should've been easier for me to find work overseas, red tape regardless.

Wednesday, April 18

There's More Work at the Post Office

Hmm. Out of all the organizations that could misspell "receive," I'd rather the United States Postal Service weren't one of them.

I was notified one of my change-of-address orders was about to expire. It was from an address where I was having my mail sent while I was overseas, to an address my wife and I stayed at temporarily until we could find a more permanent place to stay. Obviously I didn't need that forwarding anymore, but this typo on the confirmation screen caught my eye.

Thursday, April 12

Moleskine Loves Me, Specifically

I bought a pad of Clairefontaine once at a stationery store in southernmost Iowa. The owner recommended it because of the quality of its paper, the consistently high quality from batch to batch. The same could not be said of Moleskine: from book to book, you didn't know whether you were getting a fine grade of paper or something a little off.

Empirically, I had noticed this but I was too in love with the design of the sleek black book with rounded corners and the elastic binder. It looked professional and serious, unlike their ostensible rival, Rhodia, which used Clairefontaine paper. I couldn't get into its hyperextended, No. 2-pencil-yellow/orange covers, and the spines never seemed to fold the way I needed them to. So, Moleskine it was for me.

I began to suspect that Moleskine had identified and targeted me. I found their Charles Schulz commemorative notebooks appealing, their Pac-Man notebooks amusing. When they produced the Star Wars and LEGO notebooks, I was starting to be aware of something significant gathering momentum, but it wasn't until they came out with their Passions: beer notebook that I suspected they were actually reading my desultory blog posts and intermittent fanaticism.

Moleskine messages Postal Pocket Notebook
I thought they should make pencils and pens, and now they do. I thought a line of bags wouldn't be out of order, and they agreed with me. (Because I don't need reading glasses, I didn't foresee their generation of these.) But what is it now that makes me feel like I'm under the attentive gaze of a Big Beneficent Brother?

The Moleskine Messages Postal Notebooks. Do I not love all things stationery? In the main, I do. Have I not made my own folding pages/envelope sets? I have. Am I not impassioned about Moleskine products? To know me is to reconcile with my love of this series of handy, Euro-elegant notebooks.

And now I'm totally on board. If for no other reason than principle, I will not stray. For the most part I hold the concept of branding as misleading or at least tedious and beside-the-point, but in a few cases one manufacturer or service provider supplies a reliable product/service and they deserve recognition and, yes, loyalty. Moleskine does that for me. They are producing things I want, things I already have but with their unique spin and magical sheen, and while I'm not rushing out to buy everything they make, I will not pick up a notebook anywhere else.

As I said, I'm totally on board. Recently I bought a pack of large kraft Cahiers, decorated them with a 1965 National Geographic map, pages from a 1953 copy of German Through Pictures, and some Thai comics featuring troubled romance and ghost stories. I have put these up for sale on the international Moleskine site (they seem to have two main websites: one for the U.S. and one for everywhere else). If people find them worthy and buy them off me, why, I'll just pick up more notebooks and make more of these. I think that would be a pleasant outcome, for me.

Thursday, April 5

Minneapolis Postcard Collections

Once in a while, I discover something interesting embedded in the details of my city. I hope that such is the case with everyone, that I'm not the only one learning new things about their hometown, or that everyone lives somewhere with interesting things to uncover.

Image: Old Minneapolis Postcards
I learned a new word, for instance, when I discovered the Twin City Postcard Club of Minnesota. They describe themselves as deltiologists, "deltion" being Greek for writing tablet or letter. While I have two boxes of new postcards waiting to go out and twice that in cards I've received from around the world, I wouldn't classify myself as a deltiologist: my own collection is haphazard and byzantine, while these guys seem disciplined and focused on accruing a thematically consistent collection.

Here is an online gallery of vintage Minneapolis postcards, but if you're in the Minneapolis area, you must visit the Central Library. It's a beautiful structure in itself—one cool feature is the digital display of books being returned, broadcast on the sides of the elevators as they rise and lower—but here you will find the historic Minneapolis postcard collection in the Special Collections department. It's my intention to set up an appointment and bring some friends to check it out, because now I'm curious to learn what treasures are stored.