THE Oscars’ “night of nights” on Monday shone the glare of international publicity on an art and stationery company based in Chelsea.
The adventure began when Marini Ferlazzo founder Nathan Ferlazzo contacted organisers of the 87th Academy Awards in Los Angeles two weeks ago offering his intricately made greeting cards and zodiac cards as gifts to category winners.
His samples so impressed LA-based Distinctive Assets that they asked the Kelvin Grove business to arrange a 2000 card shipment – pronto – for inclusion in gift packs.
The cards will complement other goodies, including a year’s rental of an Audi car valued at $20,000, a $14,500 train ride through the Canadian Rockies and a $20,000 dream analysis and horoscope from Enigma Life founder, Olessia Kantor.
The awards – and the “premium-end” greeting cards – were presented to actors by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
The family-run Marini Ferlazzo came about when the graphic design student set up the business with its wildlife conservation theme and intricate pen-and-ink illustrations in 2011.
His aim, through his collages of interwoven botanicals and wildlife, was to capture the imagination of people in a way that inspired them into active conservation of endangered species, such as the Bornean orangutan and South China tiger.
“It’s been an amazing experience so far,” he said.
“The Oscars idea popped into my head a year ago after another company did a similar thing and it worked out well. I thought I might do it, too.
“I called Christina at Distinctive Assets, who collates the gift bags, and told her what we did and a little bit about the business and she looked at the website and loved it.”
Then it was all hands on deck as Ferlazzo family members sat around the kitchen table packing the huge order and having extra cards printed “right up until the last minute”.
It was a big task: Each of the 26 gift packs contained 12 wildlife cards, 12 zodiac cards and 12 zodiac bookmarks – and there were 10 packs for the press and 35 packs for what’s termed the “satellite media tour”, including TV shows such as Entertainment Tonight.
The cards gift was a well thought out labour of love – even though it cost “several thousand” to compile and send off. “It was a goodwill gesture as we had to donate the cards but it is all good publicity,” said Mr Ferlazzo, who attended St Bede’s College, Mentone, and lives at Carrum.
“The cost is small fry compared to the amount we would be charged if we advertised in magazines.
“These are the people who can really push our message and give exposure to worthwhile organisations, such as the World Wildlife Fund.”
The products are designed to be kept and passed down through families. “We go to a lot of time and effort on each presentation,” said Mr Ferlazzo, who draws inspiration on life and nature from books on architecture, art, and by visiting galleries.
“My most direct inspiration came through an exhibition of the works of the wilderness painter Eugene von Guerard at Federation Square,” he said. The Austrian artist’s 19th century pen-and-ink drawings are remarkable for their shadowy lighting and fastidious detail.
Since then the card designs have struck a chord and the resultant publicity is, in Mr Ferlazzo’s words, “priceless”.
“Things are out of control now; people are engaging with us and the response has been fantastic.”