FIT FOR A POCKET
BY PETER SHERIDAN
Poketo’s mobile gallery of wallets makes fine art affordable.
Gustav Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer make them all by hand. We print the image in four-sold for $135 million in June, setting — at color on high-quality paper, laminate it, and then
least for a few brief moments — a new use an industrial sewing machine to stitch the wallet
world record for a painting. made of durable vinyl.”
You don’t need quite as much in your wallet to Some of Poketo’s wallet artists are graphic novel-
own a piece of fine art, however. In fact, it doesn’t ists, whose characters leap off the page and into new
even matter if your wallet is empty, as long as it is adventures in their designs. All create original art for
a work of art in itself. the project, which now generates four collections a
More than 70 artists from around the world have year, each featuring seven new artists and wallets in
produced designs for Poketo, the rapidly growing editions of up to 200.
artists’ collaborative that literally puts affordable “Poketo merges arts and crafts — but it’s not your
fine art in your pocket. mother’s crafts,” says Myung, also 32, who can hardly
Launched in 2003 by artist Ted Vadakan and imagine Poketo’s wallets at the same crafts fair as
graphic designer Angie Myung, Poketo has produced macramé potholders and driftwood incense burners.
more than 100 limited-edition wallet designs. It has “There’s nothing Martha Stewart about this.”
since expanded into fine art T-shirts and messenger Vadakan agrees: “We’re merging arts and crafts
bags; this year it’s launching ceramic housewares. in a hip, urban way that is the new subculture in
“We started this as a complement to a gallery the crafts world these days. The line between arts
show we were presenting,” says Vadakan, 32, in Los and crafts has blurred, and that’s where Poketo sits.
Angeles. “We had seven artists and invited them Our artists are working in the world of galleries and
each to design a wallet — something that people crafts, producing utilitarian art for a different world.”
could buy if they couldn’t afford the art on the walls. You can find Poketo wallets in art galleries and high-
The wallets became a mobile gallery space for art- fashion boutiques, design stores, and museum shops.
ists, taking their art out and about every day.” The craft of bringing art to the masses also appeals
The show got a great response, as did the wallets. to the egalitarian world of rock ’n’ roll, where special
“So we decided to do a second collection of those,” Poketo wallets have been commissioned by bands
he says. “We’ve used artists from across America, including Weezer, The Postal Service, and The Shins.
and from Paris to Tokyo. A wallet is universal.” Poketo wallets cost only $20 — a savings of
Art and commerce can be uncomfortable bedfel- $134,999,980 over a Klimt original — and unlike
lows, as any starving artist will tell you, but Poketo the Austrian symbolist’s costly canvas, each comes
piques artists’ interest by combining the two elements with an artist biography and an artist-designed badge.
in a challenging new canvas: a wraparound image If Klimt had thought of that, just imagine what his
with an interior divided by billfolds and transparent paintings might be worth.
credit card holders.
British expatriate Peter Sheridan has worked for the past 20
“We just give the artists the basic layout of the years in Los Angeles as a foreign correspondent, covering the
wallet and let them do the rest,” says Vadakan. “We West Coast for newspapers and magazines in the U. K.