Last fall I contacted Jonathon Hofley, owner of Motor City Publishing, about doing a project for Branch. He has handled all of the print advertising for Detroit Garden Works, from the first day we went into business. He is responsible for everything we do to speak and spread our story-from inserts in the New York Times, to the lettering on our trucks. He maintains the garden cruise website, he arranges to have our landscaping company and garden cruise tee shirts printed. He answers me, even if I write him on a Saturday night. If you have a business that needs an advocate, he and his brother Eric do an outstanding job. For the record, they write and publish the Michigan Gardener magazine. We pass out their free publication like crazy every month. Both of them are serious gardeners. The both of them have a mission to spread the good gardening word, which makes them an ideal partner.
But back to last fall-I had a special project in mind. The Branch Studio has been producing great ornament for the garden for going on ten years. Manufacturing anything takes an incredible amount of time to get right. The Branch boxes, pergolas, and fountains underwent countless revisions. Revisions in size and proportion. Revisions in construction details. We were at the point where I felt we had beautifully made and weatherproof ornament for the garden. I felt it was time to formally introduce ourselves to people who had both professional and personal interest in ornament for the garden. To gardeners and designers in other places who were not in a position to visit Detroit Garden Works.
I told Jonathon that I wanted to imagine, produce and print a catalog for Branch. I wanted a catalog with great pictures that would tell the story. He immediately suggested we engage a photographer whose skills we admired. I already had a photographer in mind, a local photographer named Roy Ritchie. His photographs of Detroit are graphic, edgy, and beautifully composed. I especially like how the raw image itself is a starting point for his work- and not necessarily the end result. How he handles light and color makes him, in my opinion, an artist.
November last we began shooting the photographs. Roy wanted to take a picture of a box, in a garden, in a way I would have never have imagined. Though Roy’s ideas about this first picture made my head swim, we went with his recommendations. We hired a photographer, an artist, and an expert. Once we spent enough time with him, explaining the history and the process, we got out of his way, and gave him the freedom to work without restriction or commentary.
We have been making steel garden ornament long enough that I had lots of pictures of Branch objects in gardens, and in a variety of seasons. Once Roy shot the major full page photographs, Jonathon took on the job of laying out each page, and arranging each of the photographs. With the exception of a few paragraphs about the company and the products, the catalog is an illustration of who we are, and what we make.
The back page is the back of of our house. We show the sizes and styles of the stock pieces we build. 12 boxes, 3 vase shaped pots, 3 pergolas, and three fountains. Each piece is dimensioned. Of course we have the capability to manufacture by special order. We mailed out 650 catalogs the end of March. We’ve been very pleased by the response. Buck and his group have been busy non stop, producing both stock and custom pieces. I especially like that all of the hard work and effort Buck has put into bringing this enterprise to life is getting some attention.
If you are interested further, there are plenty of pictures, and a digital version of the catalog at www.thebranchstudio.com