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Design Times

Design Times

Another holiday season is upon us and our new designs & beloved oldies are up on our website. Because we wholesale most of the products you see to other lovely shops in Canada, the United States and abroad, our design deadline is absurdly early and almost always interrupts the sunny summertime, when we would much rather be riding our bikes & camping on small islands. Over the years we have learned when to squeeze in a last summer trip, and when to put our thinking caps on and listen to holiday music in August.

 

As artists, and human beings, our inclination is to procrastinate. And although we set our own deadline, it usually coincides with figuring out what the last possible date is we can launch our wholesale site, before getting nudged by eager shopkeepers. It is not so much the design process we dread, but the deadline itself, which always approaches at break-neck speed, regardless of how prepared we initially feel.

 

After deciding our launch date, we work backwards, diligently inserting every other time sensitive deadline into the calendar. If one of these countless, sometimes seemingly insignificant deadlines isn’t met, the whole precarious thing falls apart like a poorly built house of cards. Our list of tasks and deadlines includes, but is not limited to: deciphering poorly kept inventories from the previous year, extracting products from awkward storage areas, brainstorming new design ideas, taking inventory of all our products (both holiday and not), ordering paper (this step involves math, so it takes extra time), ordering envelopes & packaging supplies, actually finding a moment to sit down and design, creating product images & descriptions for our sites, getting files & paper ready for our printer, receiving a text from our printer saying he’s run out of paper, ordering more paper, texting our printer to tell him what a great job he’s doing, posting everything to our wholesale and retail sites, and finally, making sure we have left ourselves a sufficient amount of time to actually make & assemble all the things we’ve designed.

 

The most important (and enjoyable) task on the long ‘holiday to do list’, is our brainstorming & design meeting. This usually happens in August or early September at the very latest. We first decide what to discontinue from the previous year, and then we focus on how many new products we’d like to add to our catalog. We keep this list fairly ambitious, but not totally unachievable and then we get tipsy & try to come up with brilliant ideas. It is a fact that we are just a little bit funnier & freer with our silly ideas when we’ve had a couple of libations. Once our ideas, and the look & feel of each item has been talked about, edited, scrapped, talked about again, and finally decided upon, we create a master design list and divvy up the tasks based on our skills and individual aesthetics.It is usually quite clear who will do what, and if not, we try to convince the other that they would do a better job, thus shortening our own list. During the design process itself, we check in with each other periodically to make sure no one has fallen off the deep end, and occasionally, but probably more than we’d like to admit, we have to edit out a tipsy & slightly ill conceived idea part way through… but most of the time we are quite happy with the final outcomes.

 

Cheers, and happy holidays! 

 

Brandy Fedoruk
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Letter Writing Club

Letter Writing Club

Oh how we’ve missed our Letter Writing Club over the past year. The thought of twenty strangers gathered around a long table, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, sipping tea and chatting freely, seems like something from another life. In that life, on the first Thursday of every month, since September of 2005, we have been opening our doors to welcome letter writers to this free event. Some come to diligently correspond with their pen pals or relatives, others come to reminisce and reacquaint themselves with a feeling of days gone by, and even more come, young and curious, ready to try something new.

At six o’clock on one of these evenings, we lock our doors and spend an hour transforming our Vancouver store, while a little line-up of eager letter writers begins to form. We install one long table down the centre of our shop, surrounded by 20 vintage chairs, a typewriter at each, and some rubber stamps scattered around to decorate envelopes and personalize letters. On our front counter we arrange an array of writing paper & envelopes and a station with tea & cookies. At seven o’clock we open our doors to the patient crowd who filter in, taking a seat to get acquainted with their machine. If there are regulars in the crowd, they lead the way to the front counter to gather supplies, but more often than not, the entire group, having never been before, sit politely waiting to be told what to do. “Come help yourself to paper and get to work” we say.

There is something special about typing on a typewriter that our digital devices haven’t been able to recreate, something charming and more human about spelling mistakes and a linear thought pattern, un-editable in many ways. There is no delete or backspace or inserting a word where one wasn’t, and your fingertips sure take a beating. But there are advantages to the effort it takes, as it can surely be felt by the recipient, just ask someone who has received a letter lately. In a time when creating an image of perfection seems like an ubiquitous goal, we encourage embracing mistakes, highlighting them, fixing them with a red ‘x’ and starting your sentence anew. After all, trying to get a perfect copy on a seventy-year-old machine with its fair share of quirks and idiosyncrasies is near impossible, and we think, beside the point.

Although it could be awhile before we gather again indoors, we can’t wait to hear the cacophony of machines click-clacking away and the sound of happy letter writers with us once again.

Brandy Fedoruk
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Old & New

Old & New

Our 15th store-iversary came & went with little fanfare this past August. There were no handshakes, or hugs, or congratulatory pats on the back, but we reminisced, thinking of all the things that have changed and all those that have stayed the same.  

In honour of the changes, we have updated our crest to reflect the passing of time. 

Our fancy drink fountain of rowdy parties gone-by has retired, leaving room to highlight the trusted typewriter which has become a symbol for our business. Our collection has grown over the years and includes a healthy team of working machines which, in normal times, we encourage the use of, either in store or at our monthly letter writing nights. The tired and broken ones, still beloved, line our shelves and inspire our window displays, each one with a story to tell.  

The metal type from our dearly departed letterpress equipment has transformed into a mailbox.  The essence of our business is, after all, promoting the art of letter writing & staying connected to the ones we love.  

The hammer, although still a useful tool, has been replaced by a classic HB pencil for all the brainstorming and designing we do. And because we are getting older and more forgetful with age, the pencil records the ideas we have, so we don’t have to argue about who said what, or when. Now, all we have to do is find that scrap of paper we wrote it down on.  

Rebecca’s cat, seated at Brandy’s feet, still glares disapprovingly, but sadly used up his 9th life many years ago, hence the newly acquired halo.  

We also added a few telling lines to our faces; someone got glasses (yes, bifocals) and we changed our hairdos and put on new frocks to freshen up.  But amidst the change, a great deal has stayed the same, including: how messy our lockers are, how much we love coming to work, our obsessive list making habits, our hatred of cantaloupe, our problem solving skills, how stocked our liquor cabinet is, how much we appreciate our neighbourhood, how riding our bikes to work never gets old, our shared goals, our funny bones and most importantly, our friendship.

Brandy Fedoruk
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From the Archives

circa 2014 - when we renovated a container into our studio

Ladies of The Assembly
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Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather

Staying connected with the ones we love has always been at the heart of our business, and now more than ever, it is important to reach out to our family and friends, so they know they are loved during this current storm of uncertainty.

It’s been six weeks since we closed both our shops and we are feeling privileged to have been able to make this decision for the health and safety of our staff, customers and communities.

We feel thankful that our new website was up and running smoothly, allowing us to transition to online sales that will help us stay afloat. We had to set our employees adrift in small emergency vessels in hopes that they can weather the storm with the help of our government, as we try to steer the mother ship through the worst of it, so she can be there for them on the other side. We are strong sailors the two of us, having weathered a gale or two in our past, adaptable and ready for the challenge with our eyes peeled on the horizon, scanning for land or a ray of sunshine through the clouds.

In the meantime we are keeping our minds and hands busy. Introducing some timely products for your amusement.

Ladies of The Assembly
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From the Archives circa 2006

The Regional Assembly of Text Closed Early Sign

The Regional Assembly of Text Rebecca Sleeping

Ladies of The Assembly
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From Analog to Digital

From Analog to Digital

Our analog roots are strong, sometimes too strong, holding us stubbornly in place. When The Regional Assembly of Text opened its doors in 2005 we were recent Fine Arts graduates from The Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. Our brains were full. And our hands, they were inky from screen printing, slivered from woodworking, raw from dark room chemicals, sticky from collaging, sore from drawing, cut from the metal shop and dirty from scrounging for supplies in nearby dumpsters. Apart from writing essays and checking our new hotmail accounts, we had barely touched a computer, let alone learned any design skills.

 

Over the last fifteen years, we’ve taught ourselves a number of digitally useful things on a ‘need to know’ basis. After all, problem solving is the essence of small business ownership. And although we use our newly acquired computer skills as design tools to speed up process and maximize efficiency, we always start with a pencil and paper, our hearts firmly planted in an analog world.

 

We are inspired by the simplicity of days gone by. Old textbooks, maps & dictionaries line our studio bookshelves. We marvel over vintage packaging, mouldy receipts and dusty report cards. We fill drawers with historical postcards, postage stamps and outdated pamphlets. And we greedily hoard typewriters & old office supplies for fear of forgetting where we came from.

 

This new website is our heartfelt attempt to join the digital age, so we can spread our love of analog far & wide.

Ladies of The Assembly
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