Once you’ve seen Shannon Kirsten’s ethereal flora & fauna, you are not likely to forget them. She uses mostly watercolor and gouache to create her fanciful illustrations, inspired heavily by nature.
“I am a big animal and plant lover so that is reflected in a lot of my designs. I love patterns and fabric of the past and vintage fashion. Travel is a big part of my life as well. I am never without a sketchpad on adventures!”
Shannon has had an impressive trajectory, with her illustrations having been featured in the likes of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and she has collaborated with the likes of Hallmark and Anthropologie, with her most recent creation for the latter being a dish towel and dessert plate set.
“I am so thankful to have worked with a number of amazing, large brands,” she continued. “I actually began working in illustration almost 10 years ago, freelancing surface design and doing a lot of art licensing in the beginning. I began offering wedding invitations and had several weddings featured —on Vogue, Bazaar, Brides, Style Me Pretty, Southern Weddings to name a few! That exposure helped grow my Etsy shop. Over time I wanted to have more products that everyone could enjoy (not just brides) so I eventually grew my stationery collection and participated in my first National Stationery Show in 2016. We’ve made so many valuable connections there!”
And, in a few short weeks, Shannon will be bringing her magical world back to NSS for its inaugural August edition! “This will be our fifth show,” she explained, “fourth time at NSS but we did Winter NY Now before the shows were combined. With the change in show dates from May to February this year, we couldn’t attend because of our wedding and honeymoon being the same dates! I was disappointed to miss a show but I am so excited about the opportunity to show more than once per year now.”
The newlywed actually has her new husband to thank for her current booth — he made it! “We have done both a 10’x8′ and 10’x10′ in line booth,” she recalled. “My husband built our booth after our first show so that it could expand or be condensed depending on the space. I like this size for now and I enjoying having three walls (over a corner) as I like to have a lot of product and frames on the walls.”
Shannon never knows quite who will walk into her booth, part of the allure of NSS. “One of my first and very exciting connections I made at the Show was with an agency who works with Trader Joe’s,” she described. “They ended up licensing one of my greeting cards and it has been so fun to see my designs on the shelves. I made connections with PaperSource who ended up ordering wholesale a while after the Show. I connected with Hallmark and Anthropologie originally through social media for art licensing projects, but the show is great for those types of contacts as well. I get to chat with their teams in person and show them what’s new in my collection! We also have repeat smaller boutiques and a sales rep who visit every year. It’s so nice to see everyone in person each year, which I think really encourages those relationships.”
For Shannon, the best part of every Show is getting to share her love of stationery with other like-minded souls. “We go to Minted’s party every year and it’s just always so beautiful and fun to see what they come up with. I also have some friends from high school and college who live around the city so it’s a great time to catch up with them, they will sometimes come help a day or two at the show and we always plan something fun each night that we are there.”
So what can you expect to find in Shannon’s booth in a few weeks? “I always work hard to put out a large amount of greeting cards each NSS. I love No.10 sized cards right now and am introducing a few of those. I am excited about some new pattern designs that I am using for prints and cards. We have some fun new notepads and postcard sets as well!”
I couldn’t not ask Shannon what advice would she give a first-time exhibitor or buyer. “Something that has always stuck with me from the Proof to Product is to remember that not everything will go to plan but it’s okay because you are likely the only one who knows it. It gets very stressful as time is running out during set up so this has been a helpful reminder to me: Let the little things go and make sure you are focusing on letting your products shine. As for buyers, I don’t know how they do it in a few short days, there is so much amazingness to see! I think it’s great when buyers leave business cards with every booth they are interested in. Things are crazy during the show, catalogs can get heavy to carry around and I’m sure they are just as busy when they return home. This has always helped me keep track of who I’ve spoken with and who is interested in what. I will make a note of it on their card so I can follow up after the Show.”
Shannon can’t wait for the doors to open August 10 to experience the co-location with NY NOW for herself. “Since we missed February, I am just very interested in seeing the difference of having two shows a year and combined with NY NOW. I hope some of our favorite buyers return, and that we make some new connections with stores who maybe did not visit NSS when it was solo. Also, don’t forget to visit us in Booth #207!”