« New Yoshida prints in the catalogue! | Front Page | Now on Facebook ... »

When it Rains, it Pours (III) ...

Posted by Dave Bull at   7:34 PM, May 8, 2014 [Permalink]

It's now quiet here this evening after a very busy day of work ... not so much by me - I didn't get much chance! - but by the crew here. We had a very rare 'total full house' with all five printers busy, the packing ladies also hard at it, and me trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to get some of my own work done at the same time.

I didn't think to take any photos, which is a bit of a shame, because it was a hugely 'fun' day for us all, and it would have been nice to have some pictures (or video!).

The first person arrived at just around 8:30 in the morning, before I had even begun to prepare the room, and the last one left just after ten in the evening, and I could shut things up and come upstairs and try to relax a bit ...

They're printing Portraits, and more Portraits, and more Portraits, and are having fun doing so, as these designs - by design - are right in the 'sweet spot' for them. There is enough difficulty to offer a challenge and room to learn new techniques and grow, and yet these prints are not so difficult that most of the sheets get spoiled.

Orders for the series are still pouring in after the major publicity hit we took last week, and we now stand at exactly 333 subscribers. As I mentioned the other day, this is far beyond our own capacity to produce (we had been planning to cap out around 250 ... or 50 per person), but we have another workshop lined up ready to print the new augmented edition, and as long as they turn out to be capable, we should be OK.

Now, about that photo I uploaded the other day, showing the building in Asakusa ...

The situation is very fluid still, and I haven't signed a lease contract yet, but have made a verbal agreement with the owner and the estate agent that I will take a two-year lease on the property (renewable, of course). I'm not permitted at present to publicize the actual address, because there are other tenants currently in the building, and we don't want to be bothering them in any way whatsoever with our own plans, but I can certainly divulge that it is very close to the heart of Asakusa, less than a minute's walk from Sensoji, the temple that is the center of the district. We're not going to be on the main Nakamise - the row of shops that lines the approach to the temple - nor do we want to be. We certainly couldn't handle the staggering rent that such a location would incur, and - honestly speaking - it's not going to be the 'tourist trinket' business that we will be aiming at.

When I talked about this the other day, it was with the suggestion that I would be joining forces with some other people to make a move like this, but it has turned out that such a thing will be neither appropriate nor necessary. The space that is available is too small for all of us, so I will be taking it on my own. There will be room for a small shop, a printer's workroom, and as for remainder of the space, I'd like to be a bit coy at the moment and hold that in reserve.

It may seem a bit overly dramatic of me to do that, but after studying the territory - and by 'territory' I mean 'print shops here in Tokyo' - I have realized that we here at Mokuhankan have a kind of 'secret sauce' that we can bring to a venture like this that the other companies are not utilizing (although they certainly could if they thought of it ...).

As we get a bit closer, I will certainly be talking more openly about our plans; I will need to do so, in order that we can hit the ground running. At that time, I'll put up the budget plans, etc. etc. so you can all go over them with a critical eye, in the hope that you can either find holes, or perhaps help convince me that we do actually have a workable business plan.

The timetable is good; the current tenants are (hopefully) clearing the building by the end of October. I would take possession on November 1st, and we should be open in 'test' mode a few weeks later, with the official opening perhaps on December 1st. It's still a bit too early to call. That means of course that Oct/Nov/Dec will be beyond insane for us; we'll be doing gangbuster business with our Gift Prints online just then (although preparation for that will have been done beginning in late summer), and we'll also be getting the new 2015 Heroes Subscription series ready for its January startup (working on the first print and on all the publicity).

In the meantime we have a ton of planning now on the table: a lot of spreadsheet work, project charting, staff training, cabinet building, on-line reservation system programming, store designing, etc. and (infinitely) etc.

And I also have to figure out which technology to use for building our sign, perhaps a canvas one like the small one on our present building, or perhaps a more permanent fully built-out 3D one ...

For now, a quick little Photoshop runup will have to suffice!




Added by: Guillaume on May 9, 2014 7:24 AM

My curiosity got the better of me and I wandered around Street View near Sensoji to find this spot, I must say that the location really is excellent. I actually walked past it while visiting a few weeks ago. Congratulations!

Added by: Jacques on May 11, 2014 3:49 AM

Dave, it seems to me that you recently:

  • touched a very responsive nerve;
  • struck gold;
  • hit the jackpot big time.

Take your pick. Absolutely wonderful!

Added by: Slawik on May 11, 2014 5:57 AM

I was reading this very interesting post when I suddenly came across this : "the new 2015 Heroes Subscription series".

Then, my brain couldn't help but think about it! Will you continue the portraits or will you change the formula like you did with the Chibi Heroes? Will it be video games related or will you also add anime or manga themed prints?

Can't wait to see this!

And about that 2nd floor: A cafe? A library? (both?) A workshop for printing lessons? So many ideas again...

Anyway, congratulations and good luck for the future of your new project!

Added by: Dave on May 11, 2014 9:28 AM

you recently ... touched a very responsive nerve

Let's all remember here that it wasn't I who touched that nerve, but Jed. It is his imagery that is driving this whole current tidal wave of interest in our work. The four people on that video chat the other day had no real idea what they were looking at; what caught their immediate attention and interest was the imagery.

And this, of course, is exactly how it was back in the old days. It was all about the image.

2015 Heroes Subscription series ...

Well, there is no way at all that I am going to leak any more about this at this point. That there will be a subscription series is a given; just what it will be is still being planned. Jed and I believe we have a dynamite concept lined up, but it is still just a seed, and we have to work out how to actually make it happen in practice.

And about that 2nd floor ...

Actually, I gave a huge hint in my post, easily enough to allow you to figure it out, but people either seem to have overlooked that, or are keeping their thoughts to themselves. In any case, I'll be talking more about it quite soon, because I will definitely need it to be open for discussion - and getting promoted - at least a couple of months before we open.

Thanks for the enthusiasm, everybody!

Added by: Julio on May 14, 2014 1:50 AM

Maybe have the big baren/mokuhankan logo design painted on the sliding shutter on the first floor as to not take away the light and the balcony view of the second floor....

Added by: Dave on May 24, 2014 11:55 PM

Julio, it makes no sense to have the big baren on the shutter, because that gets rolled up during the day ... nobody would ever see it!

Added by: julio on June 4, 2014 3:08 AM

Yes, I know it gets rolled up during business hours, but I thought for after closing when it comes down is a nice place at eye level to put some advertisement.


Add Your Input


Remember Me? (with a cookie ...)

(you may use HTML tags for style)