poketo began small in 2003, conceived by angie myung and ted vadakan w/ the simple idea of making art more accessible to peeps who couldn't afford it. they began collaborating w/ artists in san francisco five yrs ago. w/ in that time poketo has produced hundreds of wallets, worked w/ hundreds of international artists and have expanded to bring us not only unique, artful wallets but other great items such as tees, paper goods, house-wares, and accessories.
this coming saturday poketo will open their brand, spanking, new studio to the public and host their inaugural 'first editions' show featuring exclusive limited edition letterpress and giclee prints by 25 international artists. if you are in the la area, do drop in, all information about the opening is here.
i had the opportunity to interview angie, co-owner of poketo via email. she talked to me about how the company started, some of her favorite poketo items, and opportunities poketo has had in the past five yrs. read on to hear more...
cutie pie ted and angie proprietors of poketo.
why wallets? were there any beta products in the beginning? or was it wallets from the get go?
we started with wallets from the get go. duct tape wallets were all the rage at the time so i was toying with making something more beautiful and artful so we came up with the idea of putting art on wallets.
we used to throw a lot of art shows in SF. all our friends always showed up because they loved art but none of the artwork was sold because we were all too poor. so we decided to make something that was affordable. we invited 6 of our friends to join the series. we called it the san francisco artist series. we had them for sale at the show and people were crazy over them and they were soon featured in ReadyMade Magazine. they were pieces of art that we wanted people to walk away with, keep on them always, and be the catalyst for interesting conversation.
i think a wallet is a perfect form. it is something that you're always carrying around. it's always on you. to have a piece of art in your pocket or in a bag seemed like a perfect idea. a little piece of something special that is always with you. you know, it's goes with our whole motto: art for your everyday. every wallet comes with an artist bio and this is something we did from the very first moment because we always wanted to expose our artists to a wider audience. we like knowing that something so banal like a wallet can put a smile on someone's face.
andrew jeffrey wright t-shirt.
who were your first artists?
what are some of your favorite designs of the wallets over the past five yrs?
they made up our first series, San Francisco Series. we still collaborate all the time w/ chris pew, nathalie roland, tom vadakan, and los cremators. chris pew, nathalie roland, and tom vadakan are in our show: FIRST EDITIONS on march 22. it is our inaugural show to celebrate the opening of our new studio in downtown los angeles.
it's so hard for me to just pick a few. we love all the designs! that's why we made them.
pietari posti limited edition print.
when you first started did you have a business plan and specific ideas of what poketo was to become? or has it slowly graduated to where you are today?
this was totally an accidental business. i am a documentarian turned graphic designer and my partner, ted is a filmmaker. we didn't come from any business background and we didn't know anyone who owned a small business. if someone were to tell us that we'd be working full time with artists from all over, creating products we love, we wouldn't believe them. so no. we didn't have a business plan or anything similar to that.
we just made what we wanted to make for ourselves and hoped that other people liked them. so we made t-shirts, and stationery, and then home wares. so far, it's been great. we're still a tiny operation. it's still the two of us and an assistant. we still do everything from concept to design to shipping and packing orders.
kate bingaman wallet.
do you have any advice for peeps first starting out w/ their own?
i would say to try to have an original idea, not to simply copy other's ideas. people are so keyed into what's going on nowadays that it's hard to pass off someone else's idea as your own. so having an unique vision is really important. having passion for what you're doing is also key. i think that passion comes through in your ideas and products. obviously, having a business of your own is really a labor of love more than anything so if you don't love what you're doing, it would be really hard to keep going and i think people soon realize that.
soon to be released melamine plates by marco cibola.
name some of poketo's products you are especially excited about.
we're releasing some limited edition prints to celebrate our inaugural show at our new space. they're all so beautiful! we're also releasing a set of new melamine plates by marco cibola and some great new stationery items like a new travel journal. and a great new series of wallets and tees are also coming out soon.
anke weckmann wallet.
what is the best experience you have had so far w/ poketo?
working with and getting to know hundreds of amazing artists from all over the world. traveling to different places to have shows with such artists. we went to barcelona to have an art show with our barcelona series artists. in april, we're part of the glasgow international art festival and will have a show with some of the best artists from glasgow. later this year, we're putting out a large series with 13 australian artists and we'll be having a show in melbourne.
we got to participate as 2 of 6 jurors for the new american illustration annual this past weekend. it's an annual that comes out every year that features the best of the best illustrations from the year. we looked at over 7500 images within 2 days and narrowed the selection down to about 300 images. it was a really fun and interesting experience. i think finding young and undiscovered talents and exposing them to the world has been probably the most gratifying part of what we do.
out-of-print susie ghahrehmani wallet for postal service.
poketo has had the opportunity to work w/ a few great bands. how did that happen? any plans for more band related products
postal service reached out to us in 2005 and from then and it just kind of happened. since then we've worked with weezer, the shins, autolux, minus the bear, matisyahu, and arcade fire. we've also worked with fine art institutions such as de young and SFMOMA. this spring, we're collaborating with 826LA, the non-profit tutoring center founded by dave eggers of the believer magazine. we're inviting some of the best artists to illustrate the stories that the students of 826LA write. all the proceeds from the show and the sales of the wallets will go directly to the foundation. we love working with people and institutions that we love and respect.
gilbert & george wallet for the de young museum.
you also were able to collaborate w/ gilbert and george for the de young museum. what was that like? did you get to meet the artists? i hear they are a real hoot.
the product curators at de young asked us to make some special wallets for the gilbert and george exhibit. we haven't met them personally, but the curators told us that they loved the wallets! i'm sure they're a real hoot. their artwork is crazy, amazing and we had a lot of fun putting that project together.
leah chun planner.
if you could have a poketo wallet from any artist living or dead...obviously all of your current and past wallet's have and do rock...but if you could choose anybody in history who would it be?
i don't know... i guess we haven't really been about big brand name artists. which reminds me i need to look through my bookmarks and contact the artists i've been meaning to contact...
who are some of your current favorite artists?
we're in the process of putting together the australian series and mexico city series and there are so many amazing talents whose work i haven't seen! it's been a lot of fun.
the little friends of printmaking limited edition print.
will we ever see a brick and mortar store or will poketo always only be available on the intrawebs and at special events at your studio?
we would love to have an actual brick and mortar store/studio/cafe/bookstore
/events place and what not someday. but one thing at a time, i suppose. hopefully we'll get there soon.
out-of-print saelee oh wallet.