Our mix of original fine art, high quality prints, with plush toys, apparel and trinkets really worked well. Although a diverse set of products, they were all pulled together by the comic style and ethic from which they all spring.
Pete’s large, 800 x 800 cm canvas painting of the Triplet Monster sold on the first day so that set us off to a good start. Woo-men did really well, proving that we have a solid base of fans. Even our new Zakka Dolls, on a bit of a stylistic tangent, drew some interest. Despite being in the summer season we also sold a fair number of Cat Hats. Our ‘Doos’ T-shirts continued to find their way to special customers!
But our best seller was our comic art posters. We even had to order an emergency run of more prints on the second day of the show. People loved Pete’s sketchy style and curious, quirky characters. Everybody who bought a poster at the show was lucky to get it personally signed by Pete. We have already added more posters to our catalogue. Pictured on the left is the popular image called ‘Fool Moon’. Below is a new addition to the catalogue, called ‘Nice Hat’.
You can order posters directly from us in either digital or archival print quality. We even do framing for only R405.
My previous post on this blog was in May 2011. Yup, nine months ago. This blog has been dormant for that long. So what have we been up to? Well the Co/Mix exhibition at the National Arts Festival was a huge success for us (see previous post). That took up most of my energy last year. It had its costs though, and sadly not every professional relationship survived. I decided to forgo enormous projects for a while. Much as I love the challenge, they take too much out of me and cause me to neglect the real things.
Ever since a trip to Ambiente in Germany at the beginning of 2011 some goal setting and reforming of our business concept has been going on. We finally put our ideas down on paper late last year and then began to work on our new branding, and new products and services.
There were two obvious things we had to do. One was to bring Pete and his comic illustration fully into the Woo-men business. So we now have an expanded product range with comic art collectibles by Pete and customers can access a full illustration service. The second obvious thing we had to do was to start offering a custom toy design service. We’ve been talking design to people and unofficially quoting on projects for a year now. We get so many interesting enquiries and have certainly built the knowledge to take them on so this is now official.
I’ve also been hoarding an awesome collection of fabric and collecting toy making books while following Zakka and Indie crafts, which I feel naturally drawn to. It hasn’t really found expression within the comic and Woo-men world until now. So for this Design Indaba I developed a new doll in my interpretation of Zakka style. She looks a bit like Cherrie but more ‘sophisticated’. If she is loved, and I’m sure she will be, then she will join our plush family. So yes, Woo-men is now a good blend of the tastes and offerings of both Elaine and Pete Woo.
Thus after 9 months (according to this blog) we give birth to the new Woo-men Design Studio. Hehe. Yup, the bunny has certainly jumped out of the banner for us. Plush toys are still a big part of what we do, but now there’s so much more. Come to Design Indaba – Stand 209 – and see for yourself.
We are very busy organising the Co/Mix Exhibition, events program and gallery shop taking place at the National Arts Festival In Grahamstown from 30 June to 10 July. After last year’s Fringe exhibition we vowed to return with something bigger, but even we didn’t know how big it was going to be! We have 26 local and 6 international comic artists and illustrators taking part. If you’re gonna be in Grahamstown for this year’s Fest, you cannot miss it.
Read about it on page 43 and 47 of the Main Festival Booking Kit.
In a little more detail …
CO/MIX 2011 is an innovative group exhibition featuring 26 South Africans and six international artists, each involved in some aspect of comic art and sculpture. CO/MIX is concerned with comic art as an aesthetic form and a narrative platform. It leapfrogs over the barricades that once defended fine art from pop culture, bringing cartoon images onto canvas and fine art works onto usable, wearable surfaces. Drawing inspiration from the Beautiful Losers DIY street art movement, CO/MIX conjoins expressionist comic art with political and underground cartooning and the contemporary visual subcultures of skate, surf, street, hip hop, Indie craft & graffiti, overlaying it all with a passionate concern for aesthetic integrity in the creation of unique art objects.
The exhibition is curated by Andy Mason (CCIBA) and Pete and Elaine Woodbridge (Woo-men Plush Toys) and coordinated by Lieve Vanleeuw (Words & Images). Part of the main festival programme at the 2011 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, CO/MIX 2011 includes a number of related events, including workshops, seminars and an outdoor graffitti wall. A gallery shop selling merchandise such as prints, t-shirts and toys by the artists will be part of the exhibition.
Here are a couple of pics of our stands at recent trade fairs. First up is Ambiente in Frankfurt which we attended with the DTI during February. The space you see below was designed for us and part of a large South African Pavilion with something like 24 exhibitors. Everything was very well organised by the Germans. It was awesome to be part of an international show and to see the other designer products available. Quite a challenge talking to people from many different countries. The European market is very competitive but Woo-men got a lot of interest from buyers who had never seen us before.
I usually don’t show other products on this blog, but I have to share something gorgeous with you that I found in Frankfurt (not available in South Africa yet). Below is a pic of Puno one of the animal characters made by a company called Zuny. He is a limited edition ‘toy’ made from faux leather and is actually a bookend, stuffed with lead filings or something to make him extra heavy. Visit the beautiful Zuny web site and see them all.
Next up is Design Indaba which we attended right after getting back from Ambiente. We really enjoyed designing and decorating our stand and making it look all homey. We used a warm chocolatey brown paint and added hand-painted ‘Noodles” in white. These are illustrator Pete Woodbridge’s signature icon. The best part was discovering the plastic punnets which we used to display Woo-men on the walls. Our large size toys were a success and we also got to display our one-of-a-kind crochet wall art (usually available at Kalk Bay Modern). It was our fourth Design Indaba and just as busy and fun as ever before.
Hooray tomorrow we are setting up for our favourite show in the whole world – Design Indaba 2011. Find us at stand 2027, which is near the Exit. We are so looking forward to 3 days of excitement and inspiration and to meeting more Woo-men fans.
Our full range of Woo-men characters will be on show, with lots of choice, packaged in our new cheap-chic plastic punnets. A couch load of huggable, large toys and whole armies of Mr. Tiny will be waiting to take all your stress away. You can also buy our unique, framed crochet artworks. Illustrated cards by comic artist Peter Woodbridge will also be for sale.
“Design Indaba Expo is a 100% local-is-lekker celebration of South Africa’s ingrained creativity. Advertising, architecture, craft, decor, film, fashion, graphic design, interior design, jewellery, new media, publishing, product design and visual media, are all presented shoulder-to-shoulder.” How absolutely brilliant. You cannot go wrong deciding to spend an entire day hanging out at the fabulous Design Indaba Expo! Read More about it.
Friday 25 February 2011 from 10h00 – 20h00 (On-site tickets sales close at 19h00)
Saturday 26 February 2011 from 10h00 – 20h00 (On-site tickets sales close at 19h00)
Sunday 27 February 2011 from 10h00 – 18h00 (On-site tickets sales close at 17h00)
Adults R60 – Pensioners and Students R40 – Scholars and Children R30 – Kids under 10 FREE