Oh Dier comes to No Coast Craft-o-Rama

Categories: Art
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Has Black Friday and Cyber Monday failed you? Do you still need some good stocking stuffers? There's no need to get your Santa hat in a twist. This weekend, No Coast Craft-o-Rama is arrives at Midtown Global Market with thousands of amazing gifts on sale. The free, two-day event will feature 100 vendors selling unique items that will make it look like you had a whole gaggle of elves working for you when you finally give out gifts.

Oh Dier, a local sign and print-making company, will be showing off its quirky goods at the event. The business was founded by William and Katie Dohman in 2008, and since that time the innovative duo have made quite the name for themselves among design geeks, hip decorators, chic upcyclers, and anyone looking to add a little flair to their space. With beautifully scripted wood carvings of text and silhouettes, this small Minnesota business is far from ordinary, and has become famous around the world for its attention to simplicity and detail.

We recently talked to William Dohman about the St. Paul-based company's success, sarcasm, and what Oh Dier means.

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Your signs are sometimes very sweet and quirky, stating things like "Hello," "Bananas," and "Bonjour." However, with signs like "Motherf*er," "Shut the front door," and the grenade silhouette, it looks like Oh Dier has a pretty playful and sardonic side to it as well. Do you have preference towards the sweet or the sarcastic?

I think both of us have a little bit of both attitudes, and we both have a healthy sense of humor and wonder about the world. There's a reason why people love salty-sweet desserts -- it's the perfect balance of both. I think it is an advantage for both our personal and professional relationships that we never swing too far one way or the other.

What can we expect to see from Oh Dier at No Coast Craft-o-Rama?

Signs, toys, and prints -- oh my! But seriously, we will have our upcycled/recycled wood signs, robots, and some poster prints. The focus is mostly on the signs.

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If you could design an Oh Dier wood sign or silhouette for whomever -- or whatever -- you wanted, who would you choose?

The Black Keys. They're our shop soundtrack. We would love to make super cool wooden posters for them. M.C. Hammer actually tweeted his approval over our 2 Legit print when it came out! We also think Samuel L. Jackson would approve of our motherf*cker sign.

You're an architect, and Katie is a writer. Oh Dier stemmed from combining your powers, so to speak. How has Oh Dier influenced your careers so far?

I quit my architecture job in February of this year to pursue Oh Dier full time -- it's now my day job. In architecture, projects can go on for months or years, but Oh Dier allowed an outlet for relatively quick ideas, so I could keep my creative energy flowing during a really long design process at the office. We both believe that pursuing other creative projects keeps you sharp -- you're constantly feeding off new influences, new ideas -- and then you can't help but feel more energized about all your projects.

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William and Katie Dohman
 
What's the process like in terms of making one of your works? How collaborative is it?

Just today we were flipping through magazines together, getting ideas for cool words, types [fonts], and seeing how people decorate their homes. Often, I make prototypes and Katie will weigh in on whether she thinks it will sell or work for a mass audience. We go vintage and thrift shopping together to get inspired, too. We are quite collaborative on the ideas end, although I do all of the actual creating. (Katie handles some admin stuff, too.)

As for our current process, we've really been in sort of an incubation mode. We have lots of ideas for new products and lines, but we recently moved from our loft to a home studio, so we've been feverishly trying to rebuild the shop, get our house in order, and stay on top of holiday promotions and shows.

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You just won a Best of the Twin Cities 2011 award from Midwest Home. When did Oh Dier really start to take off? And do you notice a difference in sales outside of Minnesota versus within the state?

Oh Dier has been in existence since 2008, but once we were the featured seller on Etsy a year later, the shop started to take off in earnest. Bloggers took note, and customers started to get on board with what we do. It was a snowball effect.

Most of our sales come from outside Minnesota, frankly, which is something that we'd like to change. We get a lot from New York, California, and abroad. We get quite a few from Europe. But it's especially interesting how often we hear from Australians. We love that because we love Australian shelter magazines. Somehow, we fit right in with their style.

You use the Dutch spelling for "deer" in your name. Can you talk about the reason you decided upon that?

I am Dutch, and I studied architecture in Holland. But to be perfectly honest, my brother-in-law gives me a lot of grief about being a "lowlander" as a joke -- "You have to make your own land out of the sea!" -- and we thought it would be a little funny to reference an inside joke.

Last thing: Have you got any other fun Dutch words up your sleeve you'd like to share?

We don't actually speak Dutch, but if you have a few beers, the language suddenly seems easier to understand! I miss the street vendors selling pomme frites, which came with curry mayo and a teeny fork--what great industrial design for drunken city-stumbling!

IF YOU GO:

Craft-o-Rama
Midtown Global Market
920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis
Free
3-8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
nocoastcraft.com/nocoast



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