What We Learned This Year #21: Ink Lounge Creative (Stu & Nicky Alden)

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To make things happen you gotta boon your doggle – Every 6 months or so we find a coffee shop and hash out where our company is and where it is going. This often leads to drinks at a nearby bar as our discussion and excitement cannot be quenched by coffee alone. In our January boon (or doggle) we realized that having two companies, Idaho Stew AND Ink Lounge, was a fragmented brand and that we would scold each and every one of our clients if they approached us to communicate/brand a business model like this. We are many things, but hypocrites is a label we did not want to wear. So we decided to say some lovely words about Idaho Stew and respectfully lay it to rest, with maybe a 21 gun salute, and welcome Ink Lounge Creative. And it made sense, because overall we are a creative company who has built great relationships with our clients, who really don’t care what our name is as long as we serve them well, and with the community who has gotten to know us as Ink Lounge. And did we screenprint our sign and our website? Yes, yes we did.

Mother Nature is a bitch – we had heard that you can expose a screen by using the sun and eagerly tried it out, discovering that it takes mere seconds outside to do what it takes us 6-7 minutes inside using our exposure unit. We even exposed one on a cloudy day during a rain shower – fantastic! We were doing a workshop at the University of Wyoming and this was so much fun we figured we should have the students use the sun to expose screens there. Except that Laramie is a higher elevation, the clouds kept creeping over and their setup wasn’t exactly like ours. The first group was kinda hit and miss so we quickly pulled out lights and went to plan B, which worked great but by then we were stressed and just overall disappointed that Mother Nature was not cooperating, although the students had a great time and were not fazed much at all. Ok, so what we really learned is to have a stellar plan B, and if Mother Nature is part of any equation you better test your process in other parts of the country. In the end we had lots of smiling faces and that’s ALL that matters: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14868235@N02/sets/72157629831181327/

Your head will explode if you don’t say “no” – We have a tendency at Ink Lounge to say “yes” to almost everything that comes our way. Craft fairs, workshops, new clients, speaking events, portfolio reviews, student tours, you name it, you ask it, we do it. And we don’t do it half-assed, we stay up all night, we get up early, we work weekends. Why? Because we love what we do and are super excited to share it with the world. That is until this year when our heads literally almost exploded, and then we understood that if we don’t say “no” occasionally we don’t get to actually enjoy what we do. We want to always love it, and people understand you can’t do it all. It’s not a new lesson, it’ just that sometimes it takes getting knocked in the head by a truck to bring it to the surface.

Cross the pond to pull a sicky – we love to travel and we love design and we love to screenprint and if you can combine all of that into one British ball of amazing, by all means do it. When our friends moved to England for the year and offered up a spare bed to crash, we realized that all that time we spent searching the web for workshops overseas has finally paid off. We sent off our fee to pull a sicky (I swear that’s what they call it) at Print Club London, bought plane tickets and spent 2 weeks learning how the Brits screenprint, design, eat, drink, travel and celebrate the Olympics, plus got a taste of Belgium too. Getting out of the country once a year puts our life into perspective, feeds our creativity and opens our eyes to the world. And even though we already know how to screenprint the Ink Lounge way, there is always more to learn. Wa-lah!

Dudes are crafty too – Technically we did our first Holiday Mancraft in December 2011, but it was a bit of an experiment to see if we gathered a bunch of guys in one place to show what they were made of, if anyone would come to check it out. And they did. So, in 2012 we put even more guys in a place that serves food and makes whiskey, to show what kind of awesome crafts they can man-up and make, and do you know what happened? Even more people come to check it out. And they buy stuff too. Maybe the lesson here is talented guys + manly craft + good food & whiskey + festive holiday shoppers = an awesome time by all http://www.flickr.com/photos/14868235@N02/sets/72157632215558144/

Cheers to 2013!

To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.


Congrats on all your success Nicky and Stu! You've been bedrocks of our community here in Colorado and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2013 holds for you! BTW, I'm pretty sure I owe you two a drink or four…

Wow - a screen printing shop in Denver. How unique.

Looking forward to what you two accomplish in 2013!

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