30 Apr Celebrating a Milestone with Custom Art and Framing
There are times when you need to do more than say, “I appreciate you. Thank you for everything you’ve done.” Sometimes, you have to show it. Ask anyone that has forgotten someone’s significant milestone or given an underwhelming gift, and they’ll probably agree. “It’s the thought that counts” will only get you so far when a truly special moment is happening.
A thoughtful, meaningful gift — regardless of price — will make an impression every single time.
The Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) celebrated their 50th Anniversary this year, and they wanted to create something unique to show their appreciation to those that had been supporting them since the very beginning — through custom art and framing.
MANTS’ Creative Process
Since its inception in 1970, MANTS has been known as “the place where horticulture industry leaders gather every January because MANTS means business.” The show is sponsored by the State Nursery and Landscape Associations of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, and has been at the Baltimore Convention Center for the past 40 years. The 2020 show brought in over 12,000 total registrants (including exhibitors) from over 44 states and 15 countries and 968 exhibiting companies.
The team at MANTS not only wanted to make this show extraordinary because it was 50 years old. They wanted to celebrate the six exhibitors that had been a part of the show since the beginning. “We wanted to recognize those exhibitors and give them a show of appreciation and recognition,” says Vanessa Finney, Executive Vice President of MANTS. “We wanted something different. We didn’t want a plaque; you can do that any time.” They wanted something unique.
Together with their graphic designer, Greg Cannizzaro, and board, the team at MANTS began brainstorming. They wanted to incorporate the Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia state organizations (flags, state birds) and the various venues that held the show prior to the Baltimore Convention Center. “We let Greg take over the creative genius part of it and work with illustrator, Mark Loraditch, to take the ideas to paper,” says Finney.
In addition to the state and venue aspects, they wanted to incorporate meaningful symbolism. Finney’s father, Carville M. Akehurst, was the first Executive Vice President of MANTS, a role passed to his wife after his death in 2001 and now to his daughter. “My family is the only family that managed the tradeshow,” explains Finney. “Akehurst is German for ‘living among the acorns.’ The oak leaves and corn cob pipe tie back to my family as a nod to my father. It’s truly a reflection of our history and a reflection of everywhere we’ve been for the past 50 years. It’s the backbone of everyone that has been involved with this over the years.”
An Emotional Response
The art came to Coyle Studios for reproduction and custom framing. We shot the art and printed copies to match the original. A portion of the copies were being framed for the six original exhibitors, while the others were being matted as gifts.
When it came to framing the art, they decided to use a gold and black palette. The art was colorful and needed a neutral framing design to help the art pop. “We had a black and gold theme for the banquet,” says Finney. “It is very dignified and classy, and it was celebratory for the 50th. We wanted to carry that through to the framing.”
We double matted the art with shiny black mat and gold undermat, and we used a gold foil frame with a distressed speckled pattern throughout the moulding. The end result was spectacular, and the recipients were more than pleased. “It was a total surprise. They cried,” explains Finney. “The original members were given the honor of accepting the framed art. They teared up because it was beautiful and representative of MANTS with its symbolism. It was so well done. It’s substantial, not a rinky dinky thing.”
Tips for Custom Art and Framing
Thinking about creating your own custom art and framing gift? Take Finney’s advice, and do not rush into it.
“Know what you want to do, but then take the time to figure out what you want the representation to be. Make sure you have the right people that can help with the creative process to get what you want in the custom artwork,” suggests Finney. “Don’t settle. Work through the ideas, and don’t accept that first draft if it doesn’t hit you. We saw drafts and changes, but the art hit us.”
She also advises doing it right and not cutting corners. “It’s a lifetime piece. It’s a statement, and you want it to take center stage. If you’re investing the time, effort, and money into a situation, make it the best you can do,” urges Finney. “When you’ve had an event for 50 years, and it’s been primarily in one place, it’s about relationships and recognizing the people and organizations that got you to where you are. If you can do that with a piece of art, then that’s pretty remarkable. I think that’s why people got so emotional.”