FRESNO, CALIFORNIA, December 4, 2017—Oh Boy Artifacts is an American brand of paper products designed by Dave Salanitro that premiered an ambitious collection of 64 complementary notebooks, journals, stationery, books of gift wrap and greeting cards, and more in the curated Accent on Design section at the San Francisco International Gift Fair in spring 2001. Enthusiastic audiences greeted the product—retailers, peers, the press, and the public at large.

That fall, at its New York International Gift Fair premiere, Artifacts became the first-ever freshman awarded the Best in Show prize. Similarly, two weeks later Salanitro accepted two more Best in Show trophies at London’s exclusive Top Drawer show. Upon his return from the UK, 250 retailers carried the line. Artifacts introduced another 39 designs 18 months after the first collection premiered. In less than two years, the company increased its inventory 150 percent and extended its reach to include more than 350 retailers throughout the United States and Europe.

“It may seem like a poor choice to invest in paper, but, like books (which saw a boost in sales in 2016, the industry showing growth three straight years in a row), paper, unlike a keyboard and display, bears traces of fingerprints—something as simple as a note on a scrap torn from a notebook and passed along to another several seats away. There is something very human about it, and it’s not going away,” says Salanitro of his choice to dive in where he left off.


In December 1999, Appleton Paper approached Salanitro’s San Francisco–based design firm, looking to team up on a holiday promotion. The result was a modest bound book of gift wrap. The promotion sparked in Salanitro a desire to design free of layers of input and to flex the firm’s creative muscles and inner critics. Further, he wanted to exhibit a designer’s capacity to work ahead of the pack and influence rather than follow trends.

For the fall 2002 line, the esteemed Mohawk Show recognized Salanitro and Artifacts among four honorees whose work reflected “higher thinking in graphic design.” Petrula Vrontikis, a Fellow of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, said, this is “something designers dream about but never quite pull off.”


Creating Artifacts is a deep dive into utility and beauty; neither holds a higher station because both are interdependent. No item is downgraded for being ordinary. For each product, the form is pared down to suit its primary function. A hefty book of perforated, French-folded sheets of double-face gift wrap is easily at home on your coffee table. Six patterns—filigree and fine stripes—alternate throughout the book, which keeps 24 sheets of gift wrap in pristine condition with only a 9 × 12–inch footprint (less if you slip it onto your bookshelf). Similarly, a book of 36 greeting cards, patterned on the exposed side and blank within, detach along their perforation. The books also sport dust jackets, “a bespoke suit coat,” says Salanitro, “worn inside out.”

“It’s a whole system—you can mix and match any parts of the system, and it works,” said AIGA medalist Kit Hinrichs, speaking in his capacity as a judge for HOW magazine’s International Design Competition, which singled out Oh Boy Artifacts as “an outstanding achievement” among thousands of entries. “This is one of the few times when the designer has put his money where his mouth is. So many times, we talk about how a job should be produced, but these guys have invested in it.”

“The idea of clashing came to me from years back, when I was practicing architecture,” says Salanitro. “Every morning I passed by a square off Kearny Street, where a group of Chinese women regularly practiced tai chi. I remember pink bags of Napa cabbage and bok choy resting on the ground beside them as they changed position, revealing mismatched socks. Their dress was entirely random: shirt, pants, sweater—all clashing. Years later we were in the initial phase of designing the first Artifacts line, the notebook and a less grand version of the book of gift wrap, and it seemed very ordinary—until I made the connection. The image of the Chinese women came back to me; that was when everything started falling into place. The gift wrap book wasn’t enough; there had to be more layers, more components: packing paper, sealing tape, ribbon, cards, gift tags. The key was to take matching out of the equation. I thought instead to make everything clash—that it should all clash exquisitely.”


In 2004 Salanitro granted to Chronicle Books exclusive license to design and produce Oh Boy Artifacts. Rights reverted to Salanitro in 2016. You can expect a relaunch, beginning with limited first editions of the original artifact (less than a dozen of each style across form factors designed and produced prior to Chronicle)—collectors’ items to many. Artifacts’ online store will open December 9, 2017. Once the stock is depleted, followers can watch Salanitro develop his spring 2018 collection, which he plans to fund on Kickstarter.

Of Artifacts more than a decade later, Salanitro says he wants to take customers on new journeys—but where exactly?

“I set out to make something the right way—a thing that was beautiful and worked properly,” says Salanitro. “It was about dismissing the form-over-function myth and asserting craftsmanship. I became invested when I realized the capacity the product had to make people forgo the paper sack and want to wrap a gift—that they might bring a sense of event back to gift giving. I imagined people smiling more, exchanging grins of knowing and anticipation. I believe we need that. I believe we need to take better care when we express our sentiments. I’m invested in grins. I’m interested in finding more ways to broaden smiles. That could lead me just about anywhere.”

Accolades and Press

Salanitro received the Silver One Show award, the National Silver ADDY, and 10 Best in Show honors for Oh Boy Artifacts. In all he holds 245 commendations for design excellence, among them the highest honors in the MeadWestvaco, Potlatch, and Black Book AR100 annual report shows. Graphic Design USA thrice named Salanitro among the nation’s Top 50 Designers to Watch. His work has appeared in 116 national and international dailies, periodicals, and volumes; it is part of the permanent collection of the Denver Art Museum.

Artifacts has been featured in more than 50 periodicals, among them the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine (“It’s a Wrap,” July 29, 2001); Elle Decoration [UK] (December 2001, January 2002, February 2002); Graphis (“The Paper Chase,” November/December 2001); Hamptons (May 25, 2001); Homes & Gardens [UK] (December 2001); Lucky (May 2001, April 2002); New York (December 2001); Real Simple (September 2001, November 2002); Time Out New York (December 2001); and Wallpaper* (October 2000).

Dave Salanitro