Williamsburg

Talking Paper Interview Series: Lauren Bilanko

Talking Paper Interview Series: Lauren Bilanko

Lauren Bilanko co-owns and operates fantasy games outlet Twenty Sided Store (TSS) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In April 2016, she and co-owner Luis Chato will celebrate five years of serving customers from their storefront at 362 Grand Street, and providing a friendly backroom space to players of Magic: The GatheringDungeons & DragonsSettlers of Catan, and other games. Those loyal customers generated enough word of mouth to earn TSS the title of "Best Game Shop in New York City" from the Village Voice in 2014. Following a store expansion, Bilanko collaborated with Nomadic Press to present The Backroom Theater music / reading / film showcase in December 2015 within the refurbished gaming space. In advance of the TSS five-year anniversary, I interviewed Bilanko about her business, some of the popular games she sells, and the enduring popularity of tactile games crafted from paper and cardboard.

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Talking Paper Interview Series: Steven Peterman

Talking Paper Interview Series: Steven Peterman

Steven Peterman is the co-founder of The Sketchbook Project, based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and founded in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2006. Since moving to its current space in 2009, the wall shelves of the organization’s Brooklyn Art Library have (as of September 2015) grown to hold some 34,000 5” x 7” sketchbooks containing the writings and drawings of artists of all ages and approaches from more than 135 countries. Like any library, those booklets are available for visitors to withdraw and enjoy in the pleasant confines of TSP’s cozy reading room space. Reflecting the Project’s egalitarian approach, its marketing informs prospective artists, “by getting a sketchbook, you are joining the movement, adding your voice and becoming part of something huge. Draw, write, collage, cut, print, photograph—it starts with an idea.” To help facilitate those ideas, and better engage with artists, TSP organizes an annual summer road tour with its own trailer full of sketchbooks. The 2015 edition began in Brooklyn in May, and made stops in Georgia, Florida, Texas, California, Washington, and Illinois, before wrapping up in Toronto, Canada, in late August. A printed showcase of hundreds of TSP artists from different countries was gathered into The Sketchbook Project World Tour, a 256-page 8” x 10” book curated by Steven and his wife, Sara Elands Peterman. I interviewed Steven at Brooklyn Art Library to discuss The Sketchbook Project, and the creative service it has provided to more than 70,000 participants over the past nine years.

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