Here's where you get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how we do what we do at
The Greatest Agency in all the land.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Moleskine brand sketchbooks not cool

We've been working on a couple of really cool projects to launch House of Plaid, our soon to be limited edition design goods site.

Today, we suffered a minor setback, and discovered something icky about Moleskine brand sketchbooks. We had commissioned custom linoleum block Plaid artwork, to be printed on Moleskine sketchbooks. There would only be 50 pieces of this wonderful object ever made.

As our artist put together the order with her Moleskine distributor to complete our project, she was informed that Moleskine "does not allow for the resale of customized merchandise unless approved by the manufacturer. Once approved they have their own company that you must use that does commercial printing (but not letterpress/fine art printing)".

Sucks. For us, yes - but the bigger picture is that Moleskine, possibly the coolest brand of notebooks that I've used religiously up until today - doesn't understand current art culture. They should consider a project of this sort the ultimate fandom - and celebrate its existence. Like the artists who customize MacBooks. Or the countless other "mashups" that have become the norm in popular culture. We (or the artist we commissioned) were not attempting to present this product in any other way that might compromise their brand. Bad, bad, bad brand move on Moleskine's part.

So, now we're on the hunt for similar sketchbooks. Preferably a direct competitor to Moleskine. Our linoleum blocks are ready for printing. Know any good manufacturers who have a clue?


posted by darryl ohrt @ 11:05 PM   17 comments


At May 29, 2007 11:47 PM, Blogger Mark said...

You should check Kikkerland, makers of the Moleskine. Because when I sold 100 little Moleskines with a silkscreened design on Boing Boing ( the people at Kikkerland were so delighted they sent me 100 free moleskines.

At May 31, 2007 8:55 AM, Blogger Moleskine Bytes said...

Really? They should celebrate your destruction of their brand image for the sake of your "superior" view of things? It seems to me that the only problem is with re-selling them. Since you're only making 50, why don't you just give them away?

At May 31, 2007 9:55 AM, Blogger Patrick Ng at Moleskine Art said...

Which distributor you were talking to? As far as I can remember, their "premium" business usually customize just the sleeves, de/emboss with logo/letters or package the notebooks in various different ways, never seen one like yours (I might be wrong). You may want to propose being one of their source for such production?

I saw some customized Moleskine sold in Japan in 2005, but of course that was when they hadn't started pushing their "premium" business.

Check out the photo here:

At May 31, 2007 11:15 PM, Anonymous Christy said...

This look really, really cool.

While I respect brand copyrights (or whatever?), I also support free expression and, dang, these look awesome.

I hope you'll find a competitor, or (ideally) partner with Moleskine to release these. You could bet I'd purchase my fair share of those 50 notebooks. Good luck!

At June 1, 2007 6:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


if you buy 50 from any online retailer they are yours and you can do what you want - imagine Audi telling you not to have a re-spray!

They can try!


At June 1, 2007 2:52 PM, Blogger Make the logo bigger said...

What about just coming up with an outter sleeve, wrap for it instead. Then, you could brand it however you wanted.

At June 1, 2007 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that what the person above said is correct. They can threaten all they want; an object cannot have a copyright.

If you were making black notebooks and marking them with the Moleskine name and selling them, THEN they'd have the right to stop you.

What you plan to do is completely legal. Once you buy something, it is yours to do with what you please. Think about other customizations that are pretty common - screenprinted t-shirts, custom painted cars, modified computer cases... No difference.

And "moleskine bytes": how does fifty plaid Moleskines "destroy" the Moleskine "brand image"? Please.

At June 2, 2007 9:44 AM, Blogger oasis said...

Nope nope nope, it's wrong. Kikkerland can choose not to like your product, but they can't stop you from selling it. It's an art project, once you decorate it. Look at Etsy. Lots of them, mostly the cahiers, all decorated...
Do it! Sell them!

At June 4, 2007 3:48 AM, Anonymous kate said...

im pretty sure that kikkerland is just the USA distributor for Moleskine. Mondo and Mondo make the things. (my USA bought molies have Kikkeland printed on them, my UK ones dont.) that may be why Kikkerland is ok with the other artist reselling them, as, in essence, that is what THEY are doing! if customisation and reselling was illegal, Etsy wouldnt exist, and you couldnt sell your house!

At June 4, 2007 8:44 PM, Blogger darryl ohrt said...

Thanks for all the excellent comments. We're moving full steam ahead, and 50 limited edition Plaid sketchbooks will be here shortly.


At June 8, 2007 2:45 AM, Anonymous Evan "JabberWokky" Edwards said...

I question the legality of that, at least in the US. The physical objects are yours as you wish to do with them. Rip out the pages and sell them folded as paper airplanes. Once purchased you can do whatever you want and sell them however you want.

It is only the use of their trademark that they can contest, and I'm fairly certain that value added resellers have some rights to the original trademark to sell to end users. VARs make up a good chunk of manufacturers, and this kind of use is pretty durn common.

Sounds very very fishy.

At May 17, 2008 10:54 AM, Blogger gogarza said...

If you are looking for a practically exact duplicate of the moleskine for about half the price, you should try the Hand+Book journals. The only difference is the cover is slightly different texture. I have seen some in a suede like cover, but then at Hobby Lobby in USA - Texas, they have the black hard cover like the moleskine. Paper is pretty much exact same as the moleskine sketchbook, shape, binding, bookmark, die cut corners, elastic closure, etc. Maybe you can check those out; here are some

At December 30, 2008 11:21 PM, Blogger Victoria said...

That sketchpad looks excellent.

Might I ask what type of ink did you use to print on the leather surface?

I promise I won't knock off your design. (And also promise to the moleskine people I won't sell my own ;)

At December 31, 2008 1:51 PM, Blogger darryl ohrt said...

Hey Victoria - not sure on the ink. You might reach out to the artist that we commissioned with for the production of these books:

At January 2, 2009 10:01 AM, Blogger Victoria said...

Thanks! Happy New Year

At January 16, 2009 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you buy it it is yours...Like a garage sale...If you had a pair of Levi's and then decided they didn't fit right or were not your style any longer what do you do...SELL THEM! If you want to sell them sell them! I think they rock! I don't think you are destroying them as someone said, I think you are adding to and giving them personality! You rock!

At January 27, 2009 4:21 PM, Blogger darryl ohrt said...

Thanks! The sketchbooks are actually currently available for sale here:



Post a Comment

<< Home

Previous Posts:
Plaid wins gold pen at ad club awards!!
Meet brian, our new intern.
plaid sketchbook rocks
Rob joins Plaid.
The hottest messenger bag
Plaid summer tour?
End of a wild week of Plaid
New website is live!
Adjust your feed!
Having a Plaid day

Brand Flakes for Breakfast


Site Feeds:
ATOM Site Feed

Subscribe in Bloglines

Add to netvibes

Add to My AOL

Add to Google

Subscribe in NewsGator Online

Powered by Blogger