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Swaggable Stuff

I have a real soft spot for economic developers, and I have a real soft spot for artists-makers, so I’m always looking for ways they can help one another.  Economic developers spent a lot of time and energy figuring out how to promote their areas and create community, and that includes making decision about what kind of promotional “swag” to invest in.  Artists live in those communities, are part of those communities, and often create work that celebrates the places that inspire them.  I’m featuring here some artists I’ve come across that I think would make great partners for economic developers – they create things far more memorable that something you can buy from a catalogue and put your logo on, and you get to support these small business entrepreneurs that are so much a part of the quality of place you are fostering. Check back from time to time, every time I go to an art show or a museum something new catches my eye.  Oh, and it’s not just artists, don’t be surprised if you see food, or drink, or other swaggable stuff featured here.  Chances are I could come up with an idea for your state or your region or your town in no time!

Danilo Cuevas www.printedcanvas.com





Danilo Cuevas paints on canvas and converts the paintings into cards and prints.  Chicago is just one of his subjects.  There’s probably an artist just like this in your community, and you probably would have an option of lots of other products to use with the images. The great thing about receiving something like this if you are a consultant or a prospect, and not from the community, is that I think people are more likely to keep something with an image of something iconic, like the Art Institute or the Planetarium, than something with an image of your logo or tag line.


Megan Steffen







Megan Steffen is the artist/owner of Dishtique, and her product line includes dishware and tabletop gifts.  One of her themes is geography, specifically a series of works for each state.  The best stuff, in my opinion, for economic development swag are the coasters featuring the “anatomy” of each state and the “periodic table of elements” for each state.  She keeps inventory, so if you need something on short notice, this might be the place for you, but like many artists custom work is also a possibility.


Sug. O’Shen










Now this is fascinating stuff.  Sug O’Shen takes water sample from you and uses that water with acrylic inks and other mixed media to create amazing abstracts.  Each is labelled with the latitude and longitude of the place.  It’s a great example of a way to make a piece remind people about your place without hitting them over the head with the name of your organization or your logo.  The originals are well priced, but too expensive to use for large volume orders, but she also makes prints that are more economical.  When we talked at the One of a Kind art show in Chicago, she was open to conversation about other ways to use her pieces.   She follows the water, but has studio space in Indianapolis.


Lauren Stegeman
Green Blanky Studio







 Lauren Stegeman is based in Cincinnati and is the designer behind Green Blanky Studio.  Here ready-made prints and notecards are availble for all 50 states and many big cities, but she will also create custom pieces featuring what special surprises your place has to offer.  Here’s how she describes what she does:  




Oklahoma City Chamber
2018 (?) Holiday Card






 This one is a little different.  This is a shout out for what I think was a great example of using a local artist and featuring some of the Chamber’s economic development initiatives and the city’s distinguishing features.  It’s a great idea for a site selector holiday card, because if they had used it to send  a T-shirt or something like that there is a good chance it wouldn’t have seen the light of day – remember it can be hard for us to promote your area.  On the other hand, the image could absolutely be used by local ambassadors and fans.



Kansas City Area Development Council
2018 and 2019 Holiday  Swag







 Here’s another shout out for a job well done.  This time it isn’t an artist, but it is an interesting way to get people to explore and engage with your community.  When you receive this Kansas City Giving Card, you have a credit you can use to donate to a variety of not-for-profits in the metro area.  Actually, the recipient can choose to donate to any non-profit, but I think it’s nice to put the resources back into the community that sends the gift.  Another example of everyone winning!