Today we are talking with Kristina Fjellman, marketing manager of Wet Paint Art in St. Paul, Minnesota.
RD: Please give us a short description of your store.
KF: With over 30,000 items, in-store classes, and a knowledgeable staff, Wet Paint is a one-stop shop for all things creative. A respected, independent art store with an almost 40-year history in Saint Paul, Wet Paint carries art supplies for all kinds of artists of all ages including paints, brushes, pencils, and thousands of specialty papers. Our professional staff of 18 has over 215 combined years in the art materials business, and we love to share our excitement with you. Today our community has expanded to include customers from around the world who regularly visit us at www.wetpaintart.com.
RD: Have digital devices and apps changed how people use notebooks?
KF: Yes. With the variety of digital options for collecting and storing information, there has been a decline in the “need” for handwritten notes in notebooks. That said, we’re seeing more and more customers who want to put down their screens and return to “analog” writing – notes, lists, or for meetings at work, appointments, etc. Many say that the physical act of writing is more enjoyable than typing onto a screen. For some, digital options have not changed how they use notebooks, but there has been a switch in what types of notebooks they want. Now we see customers wanting journals and notebooks of a higher quality, such as Rhodia, to go with their higher quality writing instruments because they love to write by hand, and want a more pleasurable experience with their pen on paper.
RD: What do you see as the future of notebooks?
KF: We have seen a continued demand for high quality journals and notebooks that feature excellent paper, sturdy binding, and attractive covers- all of which Rhodia has been consistently great at. We also see artists who are using journals and notebooks to write and draw on the same page- many of whom like the smooth ruled or graph paper rather than blank sketchbook paper. Additionally, we have seen a demand for small, pocket-sized notebooks that are inexpensive for folks to carry around for everyday use. Perhaps next these small notebooks will be the size of mobile phones with a strap that will attach them to the phone?
RD: Why do (some) people continue to use paper in a digital world?
KF: Many folks who are still writing on paper are doing it for the physical experience and moment that they get to create something with their hand- whether it is a quick note for later, or a thoughtful letter to a loved one, they enjoy the act of writing. There has also been a resurgence of interest in penmanship and creative lettering because these hand-written styles are more unique than most digital options. And, more importantly, because the time, effort, and personal touch put into something hand-written is highly valued by the artist and the viewer. And, frankly, it is a lot of fun.
RD: How do people “discover” paper and notebooks now that so many stationery and office supply stores have disappeared?
KF: They visit Wet Paint, of course! We’re constantly adjusting our inventory, staying current with the best of the old and new in writing & drawing surfaces. The availability of information on the internet, as well as interactions on social media and blogs, has greatly increased our access to what our customers are looking for. In some instances, our customers who like to be well- informed about paper and notebooks will even know about new products before we do!
RD: Any additional comments or observations that you would like to add?
KF: Consumer emphasis on quality surfaces is being joined by a renewed interest in penmanship and writing in general. Our pen department has been thriving alongside the resurgence in paper products, and our lettering and calligraphy classes have been selling out regularly.
Thanks to our friends at Rhodia for continuing to manufacture notebooks that inspire and endure.