Please introduce yourselves ; what is poketo and how did it all start?
Poketo was founded by the two of us, Angie Myung and Ted Vadakan. We first launched our artist wallets in 2003 with a handful of artists. We produced an art show up in San Francisco and made the wallets as a limited edition item for the show. It was one of those rare, balmy nights in SF, all of our friends were there, we had live music and djs, art was all over the walls, the love was in the air, and people were loving the Poketo wallets for the show. The artists designed the wallets exclusively for us and we were able to promote the artists by adding bio and contact info inside of the wallet (something we still do on all Poketo stuff). After that first art show and collection of artist wallets, it just snowballed and we continued to release more collections with different artists and slowly branched out into other products, like tees, sketchbooks, and homewares.
What was the artist response at the beginning of poketo was it immediately embraced?
Our first Poketo series came about by inviting some of our closest artist friends. Some of the first artists to be involved were Chris Pew, Eamon Ore-Giron, Nathalie Roland, Jill Bliss, Evah Fan, Tom Vadakan, Saelee Oh, Chris Bettig, Chris Duncan, Isaac Lin, OGI, Andy Howell, Susie Ghahremani, so many more… we’ve worked with over 100 artist now! Poketo is a collective of different creative minds and ideas, which makes it so eclectic and spontaneous. When we work with artists, it is a natural collaboration because we all want to be involved in something creative and limitless. When we decided to have our first show around the Poketo wallet concept, everyone we invited instantly jumped onboard! Making art that goes beyond the traditional gallery space is exciting to most artists because it has the possibility of reaching the widest audience. We want art to travel, and we do this through our products, website, art shows, and other online communities.
How is a poketo wallet made?
They are made out of vinyl. It’s funny because we did a “how to make a Poketo wallet” for ReadyMade Magazine Holiday issue last year and someone, did a workshop on making a Poketo wallet. The magazine instruction was a modified, easier to make Poketo, but it was great because we had artist, Nathalie Roland, create original graphics that were downloadable from the website. They said they had a lot of fun doing it. It makes us happy to know that our products bring smiles to people’s faces.
How do you select the contributing artists for each series of poketo wallets; is poketo open to artist submissions?
We’re always looking at people’s work. We get tons of emails everyday from artists from all over the world. This keeps Poketo fresh and eclectic. Many artists we work with are very established in the fine arts and commercial world and some are just starting out. We work with people whose work inspires us, moves us in some way. We are always talking with artists online and going to shows, we like get a sense of their work, but, also love to see how we connect with them personally. Often times, we get to meet artists in person and it just makes the work a million times better. We also work with galleries globally to co-curate collections, so far we have had artist collections from Tokyo, Paris, Barcelona, and many more in the works right now. It is great that Poketo can connect the art and the artist to the wider world. That is a big reason why we started it, to be a catapult for artists.
Any thoughts of redesigning your wallets and/or experimenting with other materials?
Definitely. And we are always dreaming up new projects and ideas.
What’s the deal with poketo.jp ; how is it different from poketo.com?
poketo.jp is a collaborative project between us and a friend of ours in Japan. It is a part of poketo, but it is more customized for the Japanese audience with its own Japanese series of wallets. But part of the Japanese series will be introduced on poketo.com very soon.
Any current projects you’re particularly excited about?
Tons of stuff. The new Paperback Writers journals, new artist plateware, The Dreambook project, and new tees and wallets.
We invited Chris Pew, Anjel Van Slyke, and Martine Workman to design the Paperback Writers. They are blank journals designed to look like old paperback books. We asked the artists to design an imaginary cover and to take inspiration from stories and themes that have influenced their own artwork. They are made with recycled paper and printed with soy inks, one of our efforts to be more green.
The artist plates are getting tons of attention. Artists, OGI and PCP from Tokyo designed this first series. They are a double set of 10 inch, melamine plates. They all come in beautifully hand-screened boxes. You’ll see a whole new series of these type of artist plates next season with designs by Brendan Monroe and Marco Cibola, just to name a couple.
What started late last year is the Dreambook Project. We have several of our Poketo Dreambooks, which are hardcover blank journals, travelling the world from artist to artist. They are drawing and painting in it and then passing it on. We are documenting the travels and artists contributions in the book on our flickr site.
And of course, all the new tees & wallets featuring new designs by Andrew Jeffrey Wright, Thom Lessner, Brian Ralph, Alex Noriega, Zosen, Ashkahn, Overture, Leah Chun, Marc Atlan, OGI, Leif Parsons, and more .
What does a typical day in the poketo HQ involve?
Our days are different everyday recently since we’ve been travelling for shows and stuff. We just got back from having a show in Spain to kick off a series of Barcelona artists. But, a typical day consists of talking with a lot of different artists, art directing, designing and brainstorming for new product ideas, drinking of a lot of coffee, forgetting to eat, and of course lots of emailing, orders, running errands, etc. It’s just two of us with two part-time interns so things can get sometimes crazy and hectic but it’s totally fun and we love it.
Has anyone ever grabbed your poketo out of your hands to “inspect” it?
We did a little contest on our Myspace asking people what they thought the correct way to pronounce “Poketo”. It was a multiple choice test listing all the ways we’ve heard it pronounced. Of course most people chose Poquito(as in small in Spanish) but some people actually chose Poke- Too. Really? You get Poke-Too from Poketo? I guess so. Poke – too… we still get a kick out of that.
People always ask us where the name comes from. We started out with wallets first and Poketo (pronounced Poh-Keh-Toe) came to mind. It’s a Japanese pronunciation of the word, Pocket. But few people pronounce it how we intended and we really don’t mind since I think it’s pretty fun to see how people infuse their own meaning into it.
Favourite free time activities?
Taking walks around the neighborhood, hanging with friends, karaoke(yes, karaoke!), travelling the world, eating good food. We’re really really into food as evidenced by all our food pictures on flickr.
Daily reads/ bookmarks?
Flickr, thislife.org (Public Radio show, This American Life), Dwell Magazine, McSweeney’s Quarterly, random books half-finished. I have a habit of jumping from a book to book everyday.
More info @ www.poketo.com
*Ted and Angie photo taken by the Fabulist!