Notebook Developments, Stuff To Do, and Giving Back

Notebook Developments

I’m still fine tuning notebook designs. To date all the notebooks for sale in my store are handmade prototypes. What I would like to do is develop a consistent look and production method to do a handmade production run. If that is successful I may look into a larger machine run bound.

Operator concept jam page

Operator concept jam page

One of the words I keep coming back to for a line of notebooks is “Operator”. My full-time job is a warehouse operator, but the word can refer to lots of things. In this case I used it as an excuse to draw a lot of vintage telephones in reference to switchboard operators. Maybe you’re a motor vehicle operator. Maybe you operate a punch press or a bicycle. Maybe you’re just a smooth operator. In any case, we all operate something.

Operator Word Notebook in red

6 x 8 inch “Operator” word notebook concept in red

Some “Operator” notebook concepts feature just the word. I’m less fond of the above design than when I first made it. There will be lots of playing with type to get it just right.

Concept cover for a 3.75" x 5" notebook with a spoked wheel on blue stock

Concept cover for a 3.75″ x 5″ notebook with a spoked wheel on blue stock

The spoked wheel design came about before “Operator” came into play. I just like it.

The tentative plan now is to buy about $600 worth of paper for covers and notebook inner pages. It’s a little scary, but I’m looking to maybe hire one or two people to help assemble 6 x 8 inch hand sewn notebooks and 3.75 x 5 inch stapled pocket books. That might be capped off with a promotional giveaway of a couple hundred pocket notebooks. More on that as it develops.

To Do

Screen in washout booth

Screen to be washed out in my dimly lit booth within my dimly lit basement.

The studio is a mess. My washout book needs a backlight solution. I need a better storage space for my screens. Today I hope to mix up some emulsion so that it has time to degas before I’m ready to coat screens. There are a couple of screens I really need to washout and I should give all of them a once over with degreaser just to account for any dust I can’t see.

Throughout this week I will be working to finalize cover art for the notebooks I plan to produce and once I have the paper in hand I’ll start to print covers.

Giving Back

It’s so easy both in our personal and business lives to focus on how we could be doing better and making more money and having bigger televisions and nice clothes that we often forget how good we really have it. I try to remind myself that it’s up to each of us to make the world better. I think I’d like Neat & Keen to get in the habit of making a solid contribution once a quarter whether business has been profitable or not*.

School supply donations for Hesed House

School supply donations for Hesed House

Hesed House is an organization in Aurora, IL that assists homeless people. Currently they have 50 children staying with them that would otherwise be homeless and these kids needs school supplies for the upcoming year. Earlier this month they posted a list of needed supplies on their Facebook page so I ran out and got what I could.

Additiionally, I have a surplus of supplies that I looking to donate to local teachers right here in Dekalb. This includes thermal laminating machines, scissors, Post It notes, rolls of tape and other things. Hopefully I’ll get these items to someone who can make good use of them soon.

All The Rest

In a previous post I wrote about how I would be getting some money later this summer. The check is on the way and already I feel like it’s not going to go far enough. I could really use a new computer and a dedicated camera. I’m trying to be responsible and put some into retirement. However, I’ve been working 60-hour weeks in a hot warehouse all summer and I kind of want to buy myself a cheap motorcycle (regular readers will recall I sold my ’96 Triumph Thunderbird to start Neat & Keen in the first place).

It’s been far too long since I actually screen printed anything. Getting the covers for the books going will be a nice start, but I am tentatively planning to do a series of prints based on older film cameras after that. Stay tuned.

Business cards! I ordered some back in June and they are nifty. It’s my great shame as a screen printer that I ordered them instead of making them myself, but time is in short supply these days. I’ll make the next batch.

Exercising is completely awful, but I’ve been doing more of it. Getting in better shape give me a little more energy to push forward with business needs.

I found time to write and record a rough video performance of a song recently. I’m kind of putting myself through the paces of recording audio and video and some light editing so that I can finally get some videos going about what Neat & Keen is about and plans for the future.

(*Neat & Keen has not once been profitable, but we’re working on it! Go buy something in our store. Tell your friends how awesome we are. Follow our Facebook and Instagram pages.)



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