Today we are talking to the folks at Plaza Artist Materials.
RD: Please give us a short description of your store.
PA: Plaza Artist Materials has been serving artists since the summer of 1960, when we opened our first store on 58th Street in New York City. Plaza was founded by Rubin Zelenko—his son, Eric Zelenko, continues the Plaza legacy today. Our mission is to provide a comprehensive selection of artist products and deliver the best possible customer service to artists of all kinds. Customer service is our top priority and we love helping local artists and arts organizations in the communities surrounding our stores. We operate a total of 13 stores, with locations in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. metropolitan area; Cincinnati, Ohio and Nashville, Tennessee. Our newest location opened in the University City area of Philadelphia in late 2013. We also offer products online at www.plazaart.com.
RD: Have digital devices and apps changed how people use notebooks?
PA: Digital devices have definitely changed the way people take notes, create calendars and store information. But smart phones and computers haven’t necessarily changed the way that artists use notebooks. More artists may be experimenting with digital sketchpads and various art apps, but nothing can replace real life sketching. Whether you’re a painter, illustrator or sculptor, you need to be able to sketch. Rhodia graph paper pads are popular with our customers, as are Rhodia notebooks. People may not use notebooks in the workplace like they used to, but many people continue to use notebooks for hobbies and personal projects. Writing on high quality paper is a different experience from writing in a cheap notebook.
RD: What do you see as the future of notebooks?
PA: People of all ages are buying Rhodia notebooks and other high quality papers to create writing and drawing that is special to them. A well-designed notebook that can withstand wear-and-tear continues to be important to customers. Even as our world becomes more digital, high-quality notebooks will continue to be popular among artists and writers. Notebooks and sketchpads may not be able to delete mistakes or spell-check, but they also can’t crash like a computer server. Good paper holds up for hundreds of years!
RD: Why do (some) people continue to use paper in a digital world?
PA: People still enjoy the feel and the focus of writing on real paper. Notifications can’t pop up and distract you when you’re writing or sketching in a notebook. In addition to notetaking and journaling, many people enjoy creating handwritten notes and hand lettered designs to share with others. Some artists and designers work by hand first and then scan their drawings into a computer program. Handwritten and digital work together all the time; using pen and paper is just fun too!
RD: How do people “discover” paper and notebooks now that so many stationery and office supply stores have disappeared?
PA: Along with displays and stack-outs in stores, the Internet and social media have allowed people to quickly and easily discover the perks of high-quality paper. You can read online reviews and watch videos of a product before you buy it online. At Plaza Artist Materials, we have a great selection of stationery and office supplies in addition to our traditional inventory of artist materials like canvas and paint brushes. We display these items in our stores so that customers can pick them up, feel them and check out the quality before purchasing. Word-of-mouth, dynamic store displays, paper samples and online reviews can all help people discover stationery.
RD: Any additional comments or observations that you would like to add?
PA: Writing and drawing by hand may seem old-fashioned, but it is a necessity for artists to be able to render by hand. As long as artists continue to create art, notebooks will be needed!