Fabulous Awards

Out of a field of nearly 50 finalists, products from Tombow, Kuratake ZIG, and Dr. Ph. Marten received the most votes on Facebook to win our top Fabulous product awards this year.

The list of finalists included products AM retailers told us about last year, using phrases like “They jump off the shelf,” “A consistent bestseller,” “They’re very popular,” and “We love them as much as our customers do,” to describe them.

Markers, colored pencils and journals dominated our “Retailers Recommend” column in 2016 – and continue to do so today. They reflect what’s happening now with coloring, journaling, calligraphy, and creating manga and comics.

Use the Fabulous awards winners as selling tools, suggests former independent retailer and consultant Phil Wrzeskinki. “In retail, awards serve two purposes,” he says. “The first is recognition. The second is marketing. If you aren’t using award winners to help market your business, your staff, and your products, you’re leaving a valuable tool in the toolbox. Celebrate the award-winners and watch your sales climb.

“We merchandised award-winning products in a special area,” he continues. “We celebrated when our favorite products won awards. We even created our own awards for items that deserved recognition. We made signs, top 10 lists, and fancy displays.

“Awards are a perfect reason for you to create excitement around select products in your store,” Phil concludes. “Awards give your sales team an instant conversation starter with customers. Awards give you a reason for having product demonstrations. Awards give you a reason to have celebrations.”

Here, we celebrate our award winners.

First Prize

Artwork by Tim Jeffs @TimJeffsArt

Tombow’s Recycled Colored Pencils
Fabulous value

At Wet Paint in Saint Paul, Minnesota, last summer, Tombow’s Recycled Colored Pencils were a big hit, reported store staff. The pencils come in 12- and 24-packs, plus 5-packs in bright, primary, earth and jewel tones, and metallic.

“Recycled” refers to the casing made of recycled cedar wood.

The appeal of the pencils begins with their price. “I bought the set of 24 on a whim because it’s from Tombow and the price was so good,” says one Recycled Colored Pencil user. “At such a low price, the set would make a wonderful gift, especially with a nice pad of paper or an adult coloring book.”

“The 12-pack is a very nice set at a great price for a child, or even for an adult who enjoys coloring books,” agreed another. “I am ordering more for all the ‘tween’ birthday parties that my daughter goes to.” They come in a tin – another value-add.

As artistic tools, the pencils themselves are lovely, and using lovely tools inspires us all. Many users consider the pencils’ wood casing “beautiful,” and one calls the light wood-grain finish “gorgeous.” The printing on the barrel matches the color of the lead – a “very pretty” detail, notes a reviewer.

But it’s the pencils’ performance that seals the deal, particularly in terms of blending and layering color. “The biggest surprise I had is how beautifully and easily they blend!” says one review. “They also layer very well. I haven’t been counting, but I’ve been able to get many, many layers with these. With such nice blending capabilities, you’ll easily get much more than 24 colors with this set.”

“Blending was a dream!” says another review. “The pencils blended almost effortlessly, and I didn’t even need the assistance of blender pencils or blending solvent. Plus, their pigmentation is strong and vivid, and they definitely have a very smooth and buttery lay-down on the paper.”

The Tombow brand has been around since 1913 when Tombow Pencil Co. Ltd. was founded in Tokyo. The company estimates that since then, every student in Japan has used a Tombow pencil at school. Today, thanks to the company’s diverse mix of pens, markers, correction tape, gluesticks and other, similar products, Tombow ranks among Japan’s top five office products manufacturers. Its North American distribution arm, American Tombow Inc., was established
in 1983.

For more information, visit tombowusa.com

Different strokes

Ann Ebert from Central Art Supply in Medford, Oregon, told us that Kuratake’s ZIG Clean Color Real Brush started to sell the first day she put the product on the shelf. “The brush marker’s water-based dye color flows out of the soft brush tip, which makes it perfect for illustrating and cartooning.”

The pens’ built-in ink supply is an odorless, xylene-free dye that’s easy to blend. Eighty different colors are available.

Users offer positive reviews of the color vibrancy and watercolor-brush effect which, with no brush bristles, is smooth. The markers are used by beginning and professional artists, illustrators, cartoonists and mangakas, and people who just like to color or write in their journal. They all agree that the Clean Color Real Brush give them the ability to create precise strokes in a variety of widths, from very fine to very broad. It helps make their art fabulous.

For more information, visit kuretakezig.us

Artwork by Ellen Liu Chan designsbyellen.com. Instagram: @designsbyellen_

“The colors. Oh the colors.”

That’s what calligraphers say about Dr. Ph. Martin’s Iridescent Inks; shimmering colors that are waterproof, lightfast and have excellent flow. “They don’t run or bleed, and work with all kinds of nibs and paper,” explained Jennifer Allen from Paper and Ink Arts in Nashville. “Gold metallics are really hard to get right, and customers find that Dr. Ph. Martin’s Copper Plate Gold creates the gilded gold-leaf look with little effort.”

Copper Plate Gold is just one of the 24 colors available – shades of pink, purple, green and blue; plus brass, copper, bronze, nickel and silver; and white, black and yellow.

The inks are ideal for calligraphers, whether they use dip pens or folded pens, and are perfect for airbrushing and rubberstamping. To create painterly looks, artists brush the ink on a surface. The iridescent inks have great coverage on dark surfaces including paper, wood, board, metal and some plastics.

For more information, visit docmartins.com