The Story - Vero Engineering Pocket Knife Poster
So there we were. Joseph was creating knives. Sam was creating photos. And I was creating posters. And then lightning struck. Here's where it started: I was awestruck. I’d been following Sam’s Instagram account, Raven the Pirate, for a good minute now, but this just… sang. It was visual music dancing in the disassembled shapes of a pocket knife. It was a siren song that I wanted hanging on my wall. But I also wanted to bring it to the people. The people needed this Vero Engineering Impulse Mini poster in their houses and garages (By the way: the people will be able to buy the poster on Friday, February 19, 2021, here.). A few minutes after the post, I was busy sliding into everyone’s DMs. Real talk, it was more of a crashing stumble into the DMs, but they were still cool when I pitched the idea of a collaboration. Here’s what I sent to Sam:
Sam was on board, but Joseph took a little more convincing. You see, while Joseph and I had run in similar circles for years, we’d never met. I don’t blame anyone for approaching my particular brand of insanity with caution and a little pre-project explaining to understand the wild ideas going on in my head. Vero Engineering makes premium pocket knives, and it’s one of those brands that carries the name of the creator within the brand itself.
Joseph Vero cares deeply about his brand, and he’s laser focused on its future. He's a mechanical engineer who quit his cushy job to pursue the wild frontier of knife designing and entrepreneurship. That’s part of the reason I was so excited about the prospect of collaborating with him: he’s a guy that has revolutionary knife ideas and he’s full-sending them. His level of creative commitment breathes deep in that sweet spot where the magic happens. A couple conversations, a proposal, plus a ceremonial Zoom call (it’s 2021, after all!), and Joseph was on board. I promised him I wouldn’t ruin his brand. So far, so good.
Now let’s dive into Sam. He’s also a mechanical engineer, a former professional photographer, a German who speaks better English than I do, plus a creative wizard. He caught my attention in 2019 when he started ramping up his Instagram photos. They were just… different. I’d spent 9 years looking at knife photos and Sam’s stirred something inside of me that is best described as white-hot inspiration. His work is completely unique in the knife industry.
Interestingly, he shoots on a 10-year-old Canon T3i using little more than a flash bounced against a wall-- the tools don't define the talent. When he shot the Impulse Mini, he was never planning to turn it into a physical poster, yet he masked out each piece of the knife, then painstakingly added shadows to each bearing and screw, the paper, and the frame. Sam gushes over shadows and the life they bring life to a piece of work. Start to finish, the Instagram post took him 4 hours -- 4 hours!??! Who does that kind of thing? Sam does. And the artistry of his work is exquisite. Check out his @raven_the_pirate account. He’s so good.
So why doesn’t Sam just print these without me? He doesn’t need Knafs to pull this off. Neither does Joseph. Why a three-amigo collaboration like this? Because the knife industry is the greatest. This poster combines all three of our skills to make it accessible to the masses in quick order. Any of us could likely do something similar on our own, but the reality is, it’s more fun working with friends. We have a nice royalty agreement in place to split the proceeds from the project, and we bring a wicked cool product to market. Everyone wins.
Next, let’s talk about the poster itself. It’s an 18x24” beauty printed on 100 lb Topkote dull coated, premium paper. My friends at Peczuh Printing bring their 50 years of experience to roll this thing off their press in Salt Lake City, Utah. They’re third generation printers who get dreamy and light up when they talk about paper, substrates, inks, and presses. They’re the type of people who treat a tiny little company like Knafs like the most important customer in their portfolio (I promise we’re not). They make a project like this painless and premium.
Lastly, a project like this doesn’t exist without people like you that read blog posts until the end. It doesn’t exist without excited Vero enthusiasts sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for Joseph to drop something fresh and cool. It doesn’t exist without Sam’s keen eye and crazy creativity. It doesn’t exist without the friends who got early samples of the poster to share with their audiences. This poster is one big case study in community. Thanks for being part of it.
Side note: you can listen to excellent podcast interviews on the Gearing Up podcast with Joseph, Sam, and me. Each episode is fascinating in its own right, and the host, Greg, asks fantastic questions. Plus Greg gushes. Don’t know what I mean? Go listen. His gushing is glorious.
Tom McDermott said:
This was an interesting and great piece to read, well done! And this kind of interaction and making of new friends over a knife or other gear is just awesome! Like that warm feeling you get when you are finally able to hit confirm purchase on a certain knife that up until that point has seemed unobtainable, getting that email that said package has been delivered (unless your physically able to be waiting for the mailman like a madman 🙋♂️), and finally able to get it outta the box/pouch and into your hands for the first time!!! This community rocks and so does this poster, great work on all ends everyone! Stay safe and always be sharp…