Thirty Years of Allport Editions and counting...
Art and a garage. A cottage-industry is born. That’s how this humble little company got its start. At age 57, Ardys Allport might have been an unlikely mother to a brand new company, but she had passion and a vision to spread art. In 1982, in true cottage-industry fashion, Ardys cleared out her garage in northern California and launched Allport Editions, a fine art poster company aimed at making art accessible.
Sophisticated. And Funny? A happy accident occurs. After several years of successful poster publishing, blank note cards were added to the Allport line. At the last minute, Ardys’ son Michael threw a few humor greeting cards into the mix, almost as an afterthought. Little did he know the combination of art and humor would take Allport to the top.
Artful and Sharp. Intelligent and Funny. Greeting cards have since become the success of the Allport story. Allport Editions makes cards that are artful and cards that are funny, and sometimes cards that are both at the same time. We are the distinct combination of unexpectedly corresponding ingredients picked up along our 30-year journey. Art and intelligence, beauty plus wit - that makes us who we are today.
Michael Allport: Big Cheese, looking for a food adventure.
Mackenzie Jeans: Sensei in the Dojo of Cards, wine-lover.
Jared Pletz: Digital Wizard, ready for a game.
Amy Chan: Fix-it Ninja, stealth.
Mackenzie Griffith: Box Specialist, providing the comic stylings of Gustavo, daily.
Megan Vargas: Queen of Correspondence, pasty chef. Seriously.
Adrianne Jeans: There when you need her, able to nurse ailments of all kinds.
Interested in becoming part of the Allport Crew?
See our upcoming Staff Employment Opportunities here.
Reps: See our open territories list here.
And now for the rest of the story...
In 1982 Ardys Allport published a poster of some very large stones. The poster she published was a supplement to an art show she was having at her gallery in San Francisco. The artist she was exhibiting was renowned realist Alan Magee, whose paintings, even at that time, were out of the price range of most. Ardys firmly believed in educating people about fine art and making museum quality art accessible and affordable to all. She published the poster so that anyone who walked into the gallery could walk away with something elegant and inspirational to exhibit in their own home. The poster cost around $20. The original paintings were more like $5000.
The poster design was remarkably advanced for its time, complementing both the work of the artist and the subtlety of its graphic design. It was both dynamic and sophisticated. Powerful and soft. Not wanting to overextend herself, Ardys printed just a few of the stones posters, happily sold a dozen or so during the show, and tucked the rest away at the gallery. Life went on.
Strangely, a few weeks later she received an interesting phone call. Someone who had seen one of the few posters she had sold at the show was calling to ask if they could purchase 3000 of them to distribute to stores across the country. The correct answer seemed to be “Yes!” So that’s what she said. Then she cleaned out her little garage, ordered 5000 more posters, and Allport Editions was born.
The Allport line quickly grew from that one poster to over 30, providing gallery artists with a small but sustainable stream of income, which is often hard to come by in the fine art industry. Soon blank note cards were added to the mix, primarily featuring Maine and Bay Area artists, and then greeted cards and specialty cards. Each of these lines made its impact in the marketplace and each success propelled the burgeoning little company into uncharted territory.
Happy accident led to happy accident, posters led to greeting cards, greeting cards led to humor cards, and humor cards led to holiday cards. Within 10 years, Allport Editions became known as a world-class publisher of Christmas cards, and that is where they hit their stride. In the course of their journey Allport outgrew the tiny garage (and most of the living room, too!) They moved twice; once to a large storage unit in Novato, CA, and finally to hip and environmentally savvy Portland, OR in 1989. For 20 years Portland has been a most hospitable host to Allport Editions, a company that prides itself on local and conscientious manufacturing practices.
Over thirty years later, Allport Editions has evolved into a leading publisher that sells artful and intelligent social expression products nationwide and beyond. We have not lost sight of our initial business values. We are still a family-run company that continues to publish cards featuring the smart and beautiful hand-rendered artwork of artists across the country. We value environmentally sustainable and resourceful practices in our production process and distribute products from companies that are devoted to the same. We give back to the community by donating a portion of our holiday card sales to local and national children’s charities. We support our products with customer service that treats each person with respect and accommodation – just like our family.
To those of you who have supported us over the many years, we send our heartfelt thanks. We wouldn’t be here without you. Thank you.