The Art of Gifting

Gimme! Gimme!
We artsy types are the toughest to shop for. Ultimately we drive our loved ones to mega shopping centers thronged by swarms of panicked last-minute gift seekers, knowing that they are likely to make numerous gifting mistakes in an attempt to show us how much they care. Or perhaps you are the befuddled gift giver. Either way, we are here to help you put a stop to the insanity! This year, eliminate holiday stress by cribbing from our list of great gifts. We’ve compiled a bunch of unique gifts for artists, art lovers, musicians and those who appreciate all things creative. Happy gifting! •

The collapsible Plattan headphones from urbanears are great for on-the-go listening, and they even have a socket in the ear cap that allows a friend to plug in his or her own headphones and listen to the same music as you. With over fourteen juicy colors to choose from, you’ll be hard-pressed to buy just one pair. (Urbanears Plattan Headphones,, $60)
For the budding Rothko or Renoir this thoughtful Wax Crayon Set is as intriguing to look at as it is to use. Twenty-four colors of beeswax-based crayons are the perfect size for tiny fingers, but we think the set is so pretty it could be displayed on a shelf or table for adults to enjoy too. Utilitarian objects as art, anyone? (Wax Crayon Set, Design Within Reach, $60)
Whether it’s a shopping list, a note to the family or a reminder to buy those Tallest Man on Earth tickets, written notes are a part of our daily lives. Nix the traditional Post-it pad for a stylish whiteboard from Three by Three Seattle. Jot notes on silver, green and even bamboo-print magnetic whiteboards in a variety of sizes. This is the right choice for the über-organized. (Hang on Board,, $25)
Chalk it up to the bad economy, but these days saving money is on everyone’s mind. For those with ever-changing goals the delightful Ladies and Gentlemen Chalk Piggy Bank allows for quick-change labels and loads of creativity. The large cork means no one will be breaking this bank. (Ladies and Gentlemen chalk Piggy Bank, Far4, $60)
If you’ve hung out in Seattle much, you’ve probably noticed a good number of Alchemy Goods Ad Tote Bags in action. Wildly popular, these funky, stylish bags are made locally from repurposed materials such as discarded advertisement banners, seat belt straps and bicycle tire inner tubes. The AD bag is great for hauling groceries, art supplies and schoolbooks, and works great as an alternative, no-waste gift bag. (Alchemy Goods AD Tote Bag, Seattle Art Museum Store, $35)
Every artist loves a good notebook. Whether it’s for sketching, drafting poetry, writing song lyrics or making collages, creative people can never have too many places to record their ideas. Upgrade from the dime-store spiral version and give someone on your list this Waru Leaf Journal from Ten Thousand Villages, a fair-trade company that seeks to improve the livelihood of disadvantaged artists around the world. That’s twice the giving in our book. (Waru Leaf Journal, ten thousand Villages, $20)
Do we even need to explain why this is a great gift? The Witmark Demos features fortyseven songs recorded by Bob Dylan for two of his music publishers between 1962 and 1964. Fifteen of the tracks were recorded solely for the demos and have not been released until now. if you happen know a music fan who doesn’t already own it, this is the gift to give. (Bob Dylan: The Witmark Demos: 1962–1964, Sonic Boom records, $16.99)
The owners of Poketo understand the fact that not everyone can afford to buy art off gallery walls. So when they founded their company in 2003, they sought to provide customers with access to affordable art. Poketo started collaborating with international artists who created designs to be put on wallets, T-shirts and other accessories. Aff ordable art you can wear? That’s economy. (Poketo t-shirts [styles vary], Kuhlman’s, $32)
Know someone who loves words? We’ve got a gift that will fit to a T (or an A, or an R…). To be honest, we haven’t had this much fun with letters since kindergarten! Designed by local artist Trudee Hill, the sterlingsilver Letters Form Words alphabet rings are sold as separate letters but can be combined to spell out a truly personal message. (Letters Form Words rings by trudee Hill, Facèré Jewelry art Gallery, $56 each)

Art supplies that are truly art themselves: that’s what we think about this Excursion Paint Set by Ferrario, the Italian-based producer of fine-art supplies. Housed in a beautiful wooden case, the set includes fourteen watercolor tubes, ten charcoal crayons, a sketchbook, five brushes and more. (Excursion Paint Set, Anthropologie, $298

While none of the artists in the book Beautiful Losers should actually be considered “losers,” it’s obvious that they are outsiders of the art establishment. Beautiful Losers explores the world and work of 1990s fringe artists and creators such as Spike Jonze, Terry Richardson, Shepard Fairey and Harmony Korine. As Andy Warhol once said, “Art is what you can get away with.” (Beautiful Losers, Blackbird, $39.95)
We think the way you show off your stuff says just as much about you as the stuff itself. Designer Ron Arad must have felt the same way. He designed the outrageous Bookworm Adjustable Shelving System for Kartell in 1994, and it has been a hit in the design world ever since. Sturdy enough for books, CDs and even small art objects, the Bookworm shelf is sure to spark conversation, even if it’s left empty. (Kartell Bookworm Adjustable Shelving System, Chartreuse International, $425)

Give someone the ultimate gift of musical creativity: a UO DJ Mixer that allows its user to mix music from two iPods, two MP3 players or one
of each. (UO DJ Mixer, Urban Outfitters, $120)

Ever wish you could control time? The fun and functional Areaware LED Clock allows you to arrange (and rearrange) the digital number cubes in any order you want. Just don’t blame us if you’re late.(Areaware Clocks, Velocity Art and Design, $80)




You’d be forgiven if, upon walking into NuBe Green, you mistook the store for an art gallery. From every angle there are eye-catching products that one could spend hours examining, and owner Ruth True encourages her customers to do just that.

Located in the historic Oddfellows building in Capitol Hill, NuBe Green opened just over a year ago as the result of a family trip to China which left True questioning the state of consumerism in the U.S. “We went to seven provinces and fourteen cities, and I only saw blue sky for half a day. It was alarming.”

Back in the States, True began planning a store that would only sell items made in the United States with materials either sourced or produced in the U.S. This includes organically grown cott on, wholesale recycled metals and repurposed “found items.” “Everything in the store is 100 percent U.S.,” True says. “I wanted people to feel good about what they were giving as gifts.”

The merchandise in NuBe Green is a thoughtful mix of furniture, housewares, jewelry, clothing, toys, stationery and more. Many items blur the boundaries between functionality and art, leaving the consumer to question where these boundaries lie.

But shopping doesn’t have to be so serious. Honestly, anything from this store would make a great gift, but True recommends glassware by Green Glass Company or bags by Alchemy Goods (both are best sellers), or a series of blankets made from ground-up scraps collected from New York’s garment industry. The limited-edition blankets feature the familiar series of hands painted by local artist Ellen Forney.

No matter what you choose, True believes in giving thought to every gift you buy. “I think the art of giving is fi nding a gift with layers, a gift that has a story or has other meaning or symbolism for that person, or for the giver. It doesn’t rely just on the gift , the meaning behind it is important too.”

921 E. PiNE ST., 206.402.4515


Nestled in the heart of Phinney Ridge, Sasquatch Studios proves almost as elusive as its namesake. Located on Phinney Avenue North in a building shared with several other shops, Sasquatch Studios is small in size, but big at heart. Owner Sacha Maxwell is young and friendly, and she stocks her shop with some seriously cool, seriously affordable stuff.

Originally from Martha’s Vineyard, Maxwell moved to Seattle ten years ago for graduate school and hasn’t left since. With her background in environmental consulting and an undergraduate degree in art, it’s no wonder she opened a boutique specializing in reclaimed products and featuring local artists.

“I kind of always wanted to get back into doing some art stuff,” Maxwell muses. “I was really sick of being in an office. The higher your career goes, the more you are stuck in an office. My mom and I talked, and she encouraged me to just go ahead and open my shop.”

Sasquatch Studios makes environmentally sustainable products a priority. Maxwell focuses on stocking her shop with items that are made in the U.S. or from reclaimed materials. From vintage clothes to one-of-a-kind locally made jewelry pieces, Sasquatch Studios truly is a one-stop shopping destination. There are dozens of items priced under twenty-five dollars, which makes it easy for the cash strapped to find a unique and personal gift.

For the upcoming holiday season Maxwell suggests several popular items from her shop as fabulous gifts for the art minded, including the whimsical paper-on-canvas art by My Chloe Flower, gorgeous fused-glass jewelry by local artist Susanna Prince and bright silkscreen T-shirts and scarves by Sweetnature Designs. Maxwell contends that it really isn’t about how much you spend on a gift , but rather about the thought put into finding just the right one.

6108 PHINNEY AVE. N., 206.784.5561