Growing up in Mount Vernon, NY, Rose Tannenbaum developed a love of painting—portraits, landscapes, and abstracts. In college, she decided to apply her artistic abilities to pursuing a BA in design at Cornell. While there, she honed her graphic design skills, setting type the old-fashioned way for poetry books. She then went on to work for a typesetting house called Type-Graphic (from which she later derived the name for her own business), using an early computerized system for newspapers and magazines.
It was a summer trip to the Berkshires to visit her brother Matt (of The Bookstore in Lenox) that inspired Rose to live here full-time. She launched her home-based business, Berkshire TypeGraphic, in 1991. Her design aesthetic perfectly aligns with the laid-back vibe of the Berkshires, which she describes as “casual, traditional, and homestyle.” Over the years Rose has worked with local nonprofits like the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, Olga Dunn Dance Company, Blue Rider Stables, and Berkshire Grown to produce logos, brochures, flyers, and ads. She loves all of the detail work—from choosing colors to identifying fonts—but she particularly appreciates typesetting and copy-editing. Her reputation for attention to detail and her knack for playful illustrations have led her to specialize in creating books for self-publishing authors as well.
Rose has also worked with BerkShares to create the ever-evolving business directory distributed at local banks and has been a critical part of BerkShares history. In describing her appreciation for BerkShares, Rose compares them to a secret society: “Only those in the know–meaning those of us lucky enough to live and work in the Berkshires– can use them and accept them.” She elaborates, “People standing nearby look over your shoulder and wonder what is going on - exchanging goods for play money? But here, it’s real.”
She even designed a predecessor of BerkShares, similarly named “Berk-Share,” which was a consumer loyalty-incentive program issued by merchants in the early 1990s. For every $10 spent over the summer at any of 70 participating businesses, a consumer would receive 1 Berk-Share, redeemable for goods and services during a three-day period at the end of the summer. Of the 75,000 Berk-Shares distributed over the summer (representing $750,000 spent locally), 28,000 Berk-Shares were redeemed, demonstrating the power of local shopping and keeping money circulating locally. This program encouraged the business community to launch a full-time currency—today’s BerkShares.
Rose does her part to use BerkShares and spends her local currency with fellow creatives like Kwik Print and JWS Art Supplies. Having worked with so many different organizations and businesses over the years, she sees the most promise in the arts and culture sector as a key economic driver for the Berkshires. As a board member of the Guild of Berkshire Artists, she’s witnessed an encouraging jump in membership recently. Despite the effects of COVID-19 on local art, she hopes for its quick recovery. Rose concludes, “it’s good for the economy to have artists and art appreciators in the Berkshires.” It’s that much more meaningful when your currency is a piece of artwork as well!