Who’s Who: Preston Arts Center

October 11th, 2018

The current family of origin at Preston Arts Center: Don, Andrew, Alex, Kathy and Amelia Preston

Who’s Who celebrates a member of our industry community. If you would like to nominate someone, please email us at artdogblog (@) macphersonart.com with their name, position, company and a short description.

Kathy Brennan and Don Preston, the owners of Preston Arts Center in Louisville, KY, celebrate owning their family business for 40 years this month. They are major players in the independent world, and they have been able to thrive in a city with major competition.

This month Andrew Preston, Kathy and Don’s son, will be hosting a two hour reception for vendors and their best customers, some of whom have been shopping with them since the beginning. In addition to the reception, a store-wide sale is in order and the rest of the family is coming home to celebrate.

What Matters Most

“Preston’s has always been a place where the staff has had to know everything.” Kathy wrote in their most recent newsletter. “I remember one sign writer who came in and yelled at me because I did not understand what “Showcard Paint” was. I remember custom mixing paint, figuring wallpaper, making craft samples, teaching craft classes, and so on.” Art education has always been a top priority–that and family.

“From our children’s earliest ages there was no mystery about what mom and pop did for a living,” writes Don in his celebratory blurb. “Although the dinner table may have contained a recapitulation of the day’s work, it was a tangible experience for all three children and we hope contributed to their maturity and outgoing personalities. To be business partners with your spouse is an extra benefit that extends family solidarity beyond the norm.”

All In The Family

Kathy and Don are eventually passing the business down to their son Andrew, who works in store and will mark the third generation to take on the business. We called in to learn more about their business, their family and their community—which we quickly discovered are all one and the same. When discussing the challenges and benefits of working in a family business, Kathy admits a challenge before focusing on the benefits—an attitude that no doubt has led to success for Preston Arts.

Because family members know one another so well, “it’s hard to keep difficult feelings from showing…on the other hand, it’s easier to work like a team. We are together 24/7. My husband has been a pillar of a partner, and it has been a pleasure. We have supported one another through it all; it has been a give and take.”

Preston Arts Center remains a major player in the region of Kentuckiana. When we ask how they’ve managed, Kathy cuts to the chase. It’s all about creating that personal experience. Not just a community feel, but an an actual community.

“It’s all about treating people like guests. Being personable. Students become friends, go out to lunch together. In the spring we have a big event and invite reps to do demonstrations. One of our reps mentioned she’s never been in a place with so many hugs!”

As for her proudest accomplishments, she instantly thought of the store’s relationship with chosen family: customers, staff, and vendor partners.

“I’m proud that our customers are our friends and our extended family. We had a theft over Thanksgiving weekend—they took every brush, watercolor and oil. We posted about it on Facebook and people came in to order supplies in advance… We made $1500 more in sales that week, more than enough to cover our losses. Suppliers and vendors were so supportive.

Art education, and the pursuit of education in general, is another core value for the Preston Arts Center family.

Don and Kathy’s life drawing class presenting Thank You gifts

“I’m also proud that we’re also one of the largest private art schools in the city. We have 50 regular classes, everything from watercolor to alcohol ink to acrylic to hyperrealism. The education piece is big.”

The Next Generation

After chatting with Kathy, we reached out to her son Andrew, who (literally) grew up in the business. He shared his perspective as future third generation owner. Just like his mom, he admitted a challenge before refocusing on the positives. Realism must run in the family!

“Working with family presents all of the joys and all of the difficulties of being with your family. It’s great being able to support each other, develop ideas together. We watch out for each other. We share traits, so we might share a bias or a blindspot. We look out for that and are honest with one another.” Other benefits?

Don and Kathy with their son Andrew receiving an award for service to the art community from the Arts Council of Southern Indiana in 2007

“I don’t have to travel to see them. And if there is a childcare emergency, I bring my baby into the store and say, ‘Hi Grandma, Hi Grandpa… Have fun!”

Roena, the next generation, “helping” Grandma work

The family-friendly work environment is a long-standing tradition. “Some of my earliest memories? As small kid, there were a number of cool displays that I could crawl around in and hide in. My family used to have a building downtown, three stories with a cool creepy basement that was filled with all kinds of stuff from the paint and wallpaper store, including a giant furniture slide that went from the alley down to the basement. We would grab cardboard and slide down it. We had a blast.”

“I started working in the store around the age of 10, setting up classrooms and displays, doing odd jobs. At the age of 33 I still do all of the things I used to do when I was a kid. At the store we all pitch in. No one is superior to anyone else, we all pick up jobs no matter how long we’ve been at it.”

While he has been involved with the business since his first NAMTA show at just two and a half weeks old, his interest in art supplies came later.

“Up until I came back from school and came back to working in the business, I actually had no interest in the supplies. It had always been a summer job for me. But as I got to talk to artists more, and understand their drive to create, it became much more appealing. I realized I could use the supplies to create something to be appreciated.”

His gateway into the realm of art supplies? “To play a hipster card, I was into paint pouring way before it was popular. We had a Liquitex person come in to test out a new pouring medium. I made presents for friends, my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife. There is a lot of unique experience you get being around artists. They don’t fit into the typical mold; they create their own projects and own directions.”

Andrew with the newest addition to the Preston family, Roena.

Carrying on family traditions is crucial—down to naming new family members! “My daughter Roena is named after my grandmother because she did so much for the family. Continuing to honor tradition is important to me.” Roena’s great grandmother, Roena Preston, co-founded the store with her husband Andy . It was originally a wallpaper and paint store (hence the contents of the basement from Andrew’s childhood antics).

Names aside, Andrew emphasizes that the family traditions he holds dear include encouraging creative expression, creating a warm, familial atmosphere and prioritizing the pursuit of learning. Three generations of collective knowledge within the art supply industry runs deep; and for artists and other members of our creative community, it goes a long way. Andrew recalls a heated conversation with a seasoned tattoo artist at a demo they recently put on that explored the art and design styles of tattooing.  “He was talking about how tattooing is a traditional art form with hundreds of years of history.” The artist felt that the tradition wasn’t being honored properly by the demo. “When I told him that I’m a third generation future owner of the store and, he softened. My name is above the door, my dad’s name, my grandfather’s name… this tradition shows that we are invested, that we care.”

The most rewarding part of his day?

“On a regular basis, we get glowing reviews for our staff. All of our staff are artists; we take our jobs very seriously and we take our customers very seriously. There are people who may shy away from certain things, like exhibiting their work, working with other artists, or doing commissions. [Part of our work is] giving people the confidence they need to bare their souls to others. We do what we can to make their hopes and dreams come true.”

Check out the wonderful work of staff and instructors! From looking at their work online, we can only imagine the impact they have when they bring their expertise and creative energies to the classroom or sales floor. Artists in the Preston Arts staff and instructor community include plein air painter & muralist  Catherine Bryant, painter Debra Lott, illustrator Kevlen Goodner, watercolorist Judy Mudd  painter Dawn Johnston, illustrator Harrison Fogle.

Lynn Busch, Andrew’s co-manager and long-time staff member shared her experience as a staff member. Her testimony says it all:

“13 years ago I was looking for a job in the field of art. I had just moved to town, finished up with my teaching degree… I stepped into the shop and it was a full on family atmosphere. That’s what I was looking for: a mom and pop. As I grew with them, it’s one of the most endearing qualities of the store: everyone who works together feels like family. We help each other out. Beyond just staffing, the customers are like family, too. Everybody knows everybody. There’s also always been a very strong push to future educate yourself in whatever ways inspire you. I’m a fiber artist, and I’m an educator for Jacquard products.”

At the T-RExpo. From left to right: Jeremy Miller, Kathy Brennan, Lynn Busch and Andrew Preston

Strong Foundation, With Willingness To Grow…

The common threads that knit Preston’s community together and allow it to flourish: a passion and drive to constantly learn more about the arts paired with an open, “welcome home” attitude that has customers coming back decade after decade. We are already looking forward to the 50th anniversary; by that time Roena will have her own stories to tell!

Ann Walsh: Colors Exhibition Opening Reception

October 5th, 2018

GOLDEN Artist Colors, Inc.

Ann Walsh: Colors opened last week at The Sam & Adele Golden Gallery (THE SAGG) at Golden Artist Colors. This survey of abstract paintings and sculptures by artist Ann Walsh underscores her commitment to the expressive possibilities of color and her investigations of the use of new materials for making art. Walsh has lived in New York City and maintained a studio there since 1980. An illustrated catalog with an essay by artist and critic Franklin Einspruch entitled, “Ann Walsh’s Mechanics of Color” will be available as well.To learn more about Walsh and her artwork, visit http://www.ann-walsh.com/index.htm. Visit The Sam & Adele Golden Gallery website, www.thesagg.org for more information.

The Sam & Adele Golden Gallery (THE SAGG) at Golden Artist Colors, 188 Bell Road, New Berlin, NY

October 6, 2018 – March 15, 2019

 

Innovative Collaboration: Calligraphy With POSCA

October 5th, 2018

Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

The beauty of our industry is in the connections we make. Oftentimes shop owners and staff are uniquely situated to connect with niche communities and play a part in sustaining local art scenes. Annette Wichmann of Kensington Art Supply & Instruction in Calgary, AB Canada has done just that. Her close ties with a local calligraphy guild and her rapport with customers, instructors and staff strengthens the tightly knit and growing calligraphy community in Calgary – and her fearless exploration of POSCA paint markers and Art Alternatives Creative Surfaces has given us serious food for thought!

A scripture-inspired piece on wood panels; two quotes on denim and burlap Art Alternatives Creative Surfaces.

Inspired by Assistant Brand Manager Tucker Russell’s POSCA demo at Dealer Workshop and intrigued by the Art Alternatives Creative Surfaces, Annette had an idea – and she knew her calligraphy instructor Kerri Forster would be game.

Using the POSCA markers and the Art Alternatives Creative Surfaces, Kerri created several works of art. She used a chisel tip and the PC-17K with amazing results and utilized smaller tips for embellishments and details. MacPherson’s Account Manager Jackie Hangebrauck brought different creative surfaces for people to try: burlap, denim, wooden slats. Calligraphy Guild members attended, new and repeat customers tried it out, instructors took what they learned at the demo back to their classes. Annette ran a 20% off sale on POSCA and the Art Alternatives Creative Surfaces during the demo and the following weekend; sales were positively impacted, people were curious and everyone got to try all eight POSCA tips.

Right: A quote on both the back and front of the glass of an empty frame. Kerri loved being able to work on glass, a difficult task without POSCA on hand!

Kerri (left) outlined why POSCA markers are delightful for calligraphers:

  1. Versatile surfaces. “Paper is fine, but you always want to put your calligraphy somewhere else. Glass and boxes and walls and furniture… a brush and paint might do it, but not always. Having a POSCA marker with all those different tricks is kind of like, wow, this is fun.”
  2. The Nibs. “One of the nibs has bristles and calligraphers love that, because we need the bristles to move with angles and speed and pressure. The PC-17K is like a brick with a slight bevel. I took an X-Acto knife and cut that bevel off to make a square, so I was able to get my thin strokes even thinner.”
  3. Layering. “Some markers are stinky, or transparent, or dry too fast, you can’t build color up unless you are on a white surface. POSCA is super helpful for learning, also for doing backgrounds, adding embellishments, doodling or going back into the serifs.”
  4. Coverage & Finish. “It sure has nice coverage and is really nice opaque with a flat finish. These markers were so fun to play with and it was a real treat being able to blend.” Cassie Brehmer, Macpherson’s Account Manager, took it upon herself to create a demo of how blendable POSCA markers are! Check out the video below to see how they blend on a non-porous surface like YUPO paper.

The result? Boosted sales, additional interest in calligraphy classes, and a happy, inspired instructor.

Sales Tip: Novelty Experiences & Instruction

Our conversations with Kerri and Annette got us thinking about savvy ways to incorporate staff talents and pique customer interest in products and classes. If calligraphy is a poetic, intense, lifelong love, hand-lettering is the enthusiastic younger sibling. By cultivating calligraphy in your store, you are tapping into the powerful trend of hand-lettering and deepening what might have been a one time purchase into a lifelong artistic practice.

Novelty Experience: Unlikely Demos

Combine two products that don’t usually get put together and see what happens. “Using different tools help people explore and get more comfortable / excited,” Kerri explains. See below for a holiday demo idea.

Face to Face Instruction

“People buy a calligraphy kit and say, think, Well this doesn’t work. That is like buying a piano and saying This doesn’t make music!”  We need instruction in real time: face-to-face connection is crucial. If someone runs into issues with a pen at home, they put it down and move on. With workshops, demos or in-store conversation, there is space for encouragement. “I teach people to understand the basic tools and help them understand the journey,” Kerry says. “Calligraphy is exciting and difficult and fun and terrible at the same time. You need encouragement and reflection.”

Customized Moleskine Cahier Notebooks, written with FW Inks. On the right: Ella Minnow Pea was inspired by this book.

Irresistible and Cost-Effective Freebies

Customize the cover of a journal your customer has just purchased!

Annette elaborates:

“I noticed the Calligraphy Guild next to me at a pop up event and I had the Moleskine Cahier notebooks with me. Someone thought it would be cool to write someone’s name on it. Then we started doing quotes. From then on there was a constant line of customers. So now Kerri comes into the store for Christmas or Valentine’s Day: the first customization is free, then I ask for a nominal fee for additional ones. It gets people interested in the products Kerri is using and gets them to try classes.”

Combining unlikely products? Close with a niche art community in your town or city? Let us know – email us at artdogblog (@) macphersonart.com. We’d love to learn more and share your story with the greater industry community.

A Closer Look: Kensington Art & Calligraphy

October 5th, 2018

Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

When we called Annette Wichmann, owner of Kensington Art Supply, about a recent POSCA demo by Kerri Forster, our conversations led to a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between niche communities and art supply retailers, as well as a lesson in calligraphy we won’t soon forget. We decided to delve deeper into the hows and whys of their tightly knit community. Learn more about the POSCA and calligraphy demo that sparked this conversation in the first place.

Kensington Art Supply & Instruction carries a wide array of products, with two 1,000 sq ft studios and instructors who either rent space or run workshops. Annette knows many of her customers and instructors through the Bow Valley Calligraphy Guild, one of the largest calligraphy groups in Canada. Annette was a member of the Guild before she became the owner of the store. Her enduring friendships within the calligraphy community have both diversified the store’s inventory and generated unique selling opportunities.

“I carry a ton of calligraphy products because of my relationship with the Calligraphy Guild.” Annette explains. “Back when I used to go to more classes, they’d always ask, If you’re coming, can you bring…? I always had a little collection of stuff. I thought… why don’t I just bring more? They used to send me a supply list. Then when I couldn’t go, instructors still wanted to bring the supplies, so I implemented a system. My instructors take product on consignment for students who are in need of tools, so that they can buy the right ones right away and use them that day. These are people I can trust, so I feel comfortable giving them product.”

Kerri Forster, the store’s calligraphy instructor, teaches monthly classes with students of all ages and abilities – from people who have never tried calligraphy to experienced members of the Guild. She also attends events on behalf of Kensington Art, such as a comic expos or maker fairs. She’s happy to showcase the products Annette carries, especially because the calligraphy inventory is the result of direct asks and conversations. “[Annette] “gets” an artist’s mind – the fears, worries, wishes. She’s a huge blessing to our community here. She turned a little tiny shop into an incredible art store.”

The Culture of Calligraphy

Retailers understand firsthand the benefit of employing brilliant working artists who are excited to play the part of educator, salesperson and/or cheerleader. As a seasoned calligrapher, Kerri has a lot of knowledge to share. Chat with her for more than five seconds about calligraphy and find yourself itching for pen, ink and paper. Here are a handful of impressions that stuck with us:

Learning calligraphy is like learning to play music.

“You learn each ‘hand’ and it’s rather like learning a musical instrument. You keep adding to your body of knowledge. It gets more complex and interesting and nuanced: you can literally pursue it your entire life and still be learning.”

And once you get it, it’s like a dance.

“Lettering is really tactile. It’s hard to describe the feel of paper, pen and ink working together. It’s like a dance, and you can feel it. There isn’t one element that’s the best. You need to find which combination works.”

People who letter together, flourish together.

“People in the calligraphy community know one another for so many years because we you just keep pursuing it. You grow and the friendships grow. Typically calligraphers are very generous with their information. You share what you know, and the next person adds their special spin to it.”

Handwriting is our humanity, lettering is our community.

“When calligraphers get together and do the same “hand,” we can tell who did it. Whatever you learn, you make it your own. We have a well-rounded, encouraging environment… you can do it by yourself, but you need to be with people to learn.”

Choose your words, use your voice.

“Some people like to use what’s running through their mind, classical quotes, letterform and structure, scripture or funny quotes. The words you letter have to be something that speaks to you, resonates with you.”

Does your store have a strong relationship with a niche community? Would like to feature a member of your staff who has insight and knowledge to share around a specific medium? Get in touch with us at artdogblog (@) MacPhersonart.com – we’d love to share your story.

Venerable Vintages: The Ghosts of Products Past

October 5th, 2018

An early iteration of the Prismacolor logo; over time the rainbow arch has simplified to an iconic prismatic line.

Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

Introducing Venerable Vintages, a monthly feature of archaic art supplies. Anything from art industry ephemera to unlikely heirlooms; Venerable Vintages is a chance to indulge in the art supply nerd in all of us. To submit a collection or special item, send images and descriptions to us at artdogblog (@) macphersonart.com.

Many of us have a soft spot for vintage labels, first edition products or timeless typography from “back in the day.” The classic designs, often done by hand and screen printed onto the package, are in harmony with the contents. Aging art supplies are more than rusty compasses or dried out paint pans – they can tell a story, too.

This month we are taking a look at the collection of Prairie Clark, manager of I’ve Been Framed in Portland Oregon. I’ve Been Framed (@ivbnframed) is known for buying, selling and loving vintage art supplies. Prairie, who has been at the store for 24 years, is known for her collection, which includes the iterations of the Prismacolor logo, from a rainbow band to a spiral of color to a colorful gradient with packaging that features original colored pencil artwork. We took an interest in the Magic Art See and Draw Copier – an ingeniously simple predecessor to the projector.

Prairie’s enthusiasm for all things vintage is so effusive that on her birthday her coworkers gifted her a display case so that she could show off her treasures properly. They call it “The Museum,” and repeat customers beeline to it whenever they visit to see if anything has changed.

“I love having a little display case so we can rotate the supplies. It’s always fun to hear the stories – my grandpa had that one, or I had that one in college. Back then, all of that stuff was hand done by artists; that’s another element I love. Even the packaging and logos were designed by artists.

This set of Speedball linoleum cutters, a recent acquisition that Prairie rescued from an estate sale, feature designs clearly made from lino prints (we have a set at the MacPherson’s Emeryville office, and up close you can see the carving marks!).

There may be more to getting giddy over old art supplies than nostalgia; classics often resurface in the next trend or craze. For instance, the hand-lettering trend can rekindle interest in calligraphy supplies.

Stay tuned for our feature next month, where we explore a handful of items from MacPherson’s archives, and send us images of your favorite oldies!

Inspire & Spook With DecoArt Outdoor Living Paint

September 28th, 2018
    DecoArt, Inc.

It’s the most shudder-ful time of the year! With Halloween just around the corner, DecoArt has a range of products that will make your customers shudder with delight. Treat your customers to DecoArt’s Americana Decor Outdoor Living paint to make this selling season truly spooktacular. Durable and weather-resistant,  this paint does not require sanding, priming, or sealing. Outside spaces are being decorated as elaborately as interior rooms, especially during a holiday season. The addition of the DecoArt Outdoor Living line to your store makes it easy and affordable for all customers to transform any piece from daunting to happy haunting. It’s permanent and durable adhesion to concrete, terra cotta, masonry, wood, metal, plastic, glass, and more makes it one of the most versatile paint products on the market. Americana Decor Outdoor Living is an easy to use product for both indoor and outdoor projects.

Here’s a monster mash-up of Halloween projects to inspire your customers to purchase all the materials needed to create a boo-tiful front porch!

Don’t lose your “ghoul!” These 2-3 step projects are simple, even for the most novice craft customer.

Tip: Drive sales by providing your customers with our free downloadable project templates, located on each project page (Practical Potions and Witch’s Chair).

Practical Potions Sign

“Sit for a Spell” Witch’s Chair

Pack your porch with even more thrilling DecoArt projects. See below for even more coordinating ideas and bewitched inspiration for you and your customers!

Learn more step-by-step instructions via the DecoArt Project Gallery: make a Witch’s Brew, a Bubbling Cauldron, a Witch Hat or a Witch Silhouette!  

“Best Witches” from DecoArt, in all of your art adventures!

To purchase DecoArt Outdoor Living products, contact your MacPherson’s representative or shop online today!”

Reminder: Golden B-T-S Promotional Period

September 28th, 2018

A reminder from GOLDEN Artist Colors that the last date for additional promotional advertising is September 30, 2018! Please revert to the maximum 30% off beginning October 1st.

Paperwork People Actually Want

September 27th, 2018
Cassie Brehmer, Midwest Account Manager, MacPherson’s

This holiday season gift your customers with basic instructions for simple activities and projects for all ages. These Activity Sheets are especially helpful for aunts, uncles and grandparents who may be seeing their young family members for the only time this year. Plenty of easy DIY projects can be found online; all you have to do is assemble the desired items in-store in an easily shoppable layout, highlight that you have a FREE activity sheet, and provide an example of a finished project for reference. For the Holiday Season, going a little crafty is ok! Make sure to include your social media handles, website, and store hours and information on this handout so customers can connect and remember the value you added to their shopping experience.

Examples:

Kid’s Popsicle Stick Ornaments

  • Instructions like these, from the blog Fireflies and Mudpies, are available with a quick Google Search and provide ample inspiration to get you started creating your own project sheet.
  • Materials to highlight:
    • Acrylic paint or paint markers
    • Paint brushes
    • Popsicle sticks
    • Wood glue
    • Glitter/pompons
    • Scissors
    • Hemp/Twine

Photo from Francois et Moi

Shibori How-To

  • Indigo has been making a big comeback, and Shibori dyed fabrics are all the rage. Encourage your customers to try this trend by providing instructions on how to properly tie dish towels or flour sack towels to create the perfect patterns
  • Materials to highlight

Our New WMS is Going Live Oct. 8

September 27th, 2018

WMS goes live in Reno as of October 8th, 2018!

We are excited for this new chapter and technological milestone in our company’s history. As you may know, last year we made the decision to upgrade our Warehouse Management System (WMS).  This is the largest technology investment in MacPherson’s history. WMS is the “brains” of our distribution centers that tracks inventory locations and determines how orders are processed and how freight is shipped. We are working with the leader in warehouse software platforms, Manhattan Associates, and our team has devoted hundreds of hours to configuring and testing the system to ensure successful implementation. This innovation strengthens our commitment to service excellence, and we are looking forward to sharing more updates with you.

To learn more, please visit the Announcements page of www.MacPhersonArt.com.

Retailer’s Choice: Next “Demo Days” Feature

September 27th, 2018
Cassie Brehmer, Midwest Account Manager, MacPherson’s

Last month we introduced a new feature called Demo Days, which outlines instructions and materials needed to create an in store demonstration or workshop.

Regular in-store activities help to foster a sense of community and make your store a destination spot for artists and hobbyists alike. Allowing your customers to participate in a hands-on activity that educates them on products and lets them leave your store with an item they are confident they can recreate. We’ve put together a list of demo ideas for 4th Quarter. Let us know which activity inspires you and we’ll outline how to do the most requested one in our next Demo Days feature. Want to see something that’s not on the list? E-mail us at artdogblog (@) macphersonart.com to let us know!

  • DIY wrapping paper – block printing on craft paper
  • Giant snowflakes with decorative papers.
  • Wintertime felt trees
  • Furniture antiquing techniques
  • Face painting for parents
  • Making your own calligraphy inks
  • Marbling glass ornaments
  • Oven Baked Clay – beads, ornaments, and more

Best Practices: Plan Ahead For Holiday Merchandising

September 24th, 2018
Cassie Brehmer, Midwest Account Manager, MacPherson’s

The holiday season brings in customers beyond the everyday shopper, which is an exciting opportunity to connect and encourage repeat business from these “non-regulars” throughout the year. In reality, it is also the season where empowering customers to help themselves will keep sale opportunities moving through your retail space in a healthy flow. Early October is a great time to set-up a a semi-permanent featured items table or end-cap up in store to rotate through Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the December holidays. Your regular customers may notice something new – and your new customers will see fun products at great prices.

October

Ah, Halloween, the season where a customer could ask for literally anything under the sun to create the perfect costume… The obvious requests for essentials like masks and face paint and glitter arise – but for creatives wanting to explore more advanced costume making techniques, consider featuring any of the following:

  • Mold making tools and supplies
  • Plastercraft
  • Styrofoam
  • Carving tools
  • Armature wire
  • Glues that adhere to multiple surfaces
  • Fabric paint and glue
  • Oven-bake clay
  • Beads and ANY craft supplies (buttons, sequins, rhinestones, findings, etc.)
  • Economy acrylic paints
  • Googly eyes
  • Tissue paper

Provide project ideas, images of how the products can be used, and share relevant YouTube videos on your social media pages. This a great time of year to educate curious customers on new materials and inspire them to try something out of their comfort zone at a great price.

Click here to revisit featured Halloween items on www.MacPhersonArt.com!

November

Holiday shopping begins!  You can leave a lot of your craft items from October on your features table here. In preparing for the holiday rush, start showing your customers how to make their own wrapping paper or placemats using a block printing techniques, how to create a handmade “hostess” gift, fold easy origami ornaments and the classic – homemade holiday cards. Consider featuring the following:

  • Craft supplies
  • Block printing tools and materials for printing on paper and fabric.
  • Craft paper rolls or white paper rolls
  • Hemp/twine/ribbon
  • Candle or soap making supplies (easy hostess gifts!)
  • Origami paper and other paper crafts
  • Card making supplies (see project ideas from Strathmore here)

This is also a good time to get store staff involved by writing notes about supplies they are “thankful for” and prominently posting them on displays. Start to set out some holiday sets as a preview for what’s to come.

December

Holiday Bonanza! It’s time to feature all those sets you brought in at great discounts for the holidays. Create signage to educate your customers on the differences between sets. Physically separate them into categories for “Child/Beginner,” “Hobbyist,” “Student” and “Professional.” Don’t forget to have a few sets open and ready to try with appropriate surfaces. Focus trending products under a sign: “Your Grandkids will LOVE….{Insert: marbling, alcohol markers, slime kits, or glitter gel pens}”. Put together a house kit for a trend like bullet journaling, with a creative staff-made examples! Other products to consider:

  • Fine paper/wrapping paper
  • Ribbons/twine/hemp (for wrapping and gift tags)
  • Gold and silver writing pens
  • Scrapbooking appliques and stickers
  • Blank cards (see top selling Strathmore cards on Page 25 in the Buyers guide)
  • Knives and blades
  • Tape (double sided and regular)
  • Glitter/glitter glue
  • How-to-calligraphy and hand lettering books
  • Paper mache figures
  • Origami paper
  • Ready made frames

Calling All Staff

September 24th, 2018

You may have noticed an uptick in posts these last few weeks. With support from your Account Managers and Category Managers, our Creative Services team is revamping and revitalizing Art Dog Blog! In addition to industry news and resources you’ve come to expect, some of the features we are introducing include Who’s Who, an opportunity to feature a member of your staff who is doing an incredible job, Best Practices, where we explore trends, merchandising hacks, demo ideas, and other in-store strategies and of course the Art Dog of the Month. Make sure to share Art Dog with all members of your team, because there is something for everyone.

Have someone on your team who might want to submit? Please send submissions to artdogblog (@) macphersonart.com.

Art Dog Of The Month: Q

September 24th, 2018
Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

 

We are pleased to feature a member of the Mac Fam for this month’s Art Dog! Q is Merchandise Manager Cathy Denny’s beloved pup. Possibly a Rottweiler of some kind, Q was in a high kill animal shelter earlier this year when Cathy and her husband discovered him. Q likes to sit in on team meetings, partake in distracting .GIFs (very silly mini-videos that loop constantly) and hang out under our desks.

Wicked Halloween Assortments

September 24th, 2018

Halloween is just around the corner, so don’t forget to check out this assortment of key Halloween items and seasonal goodies, perfect for a prominent display or end cap.

White pumpkin, marbled with black and white Marabu Easy Marble

Thumb Through Your Fall Buyer’s Guide

The Fall 2018 Buyer’s Guide is full of inspirational resources for the coming fall (check MacPhersonArt.com for a link to the current Buyer’s Guide and promotions). Try a fun fall demo so customers can see how easy it is to use some of these products, like the marbled pumpkin featured on page 61. Click here for a refresher of how to transform a pumpkin into festive decor – no carving required!

Who’s Who: MacPherson’s Jeanine “JD” Davids Celebrates 30 Years

September 24th, 2018

Introducing Who’s Who, a feature that showcases a member of our industry community who is doing an incredible job. If you would like to nominate someone for a Who’s Who feature, please email us at artdogblog (@) macphersonart.com with their name, position, company and a short description of why you would like to nominate them.

Jeanine (right) with her best friend “Bud.” This is the only picture Jeanine would let us use – if we wanted her, we get Bud too. Jeanine and Bud met in 1986 at Art Hardware in Boulder, Colorado (now Meininger’s) and became close friends; when Jeanine left for California to join MacPherson’s Bud followed shortly after, taking over Jeanine’s purchasing responsibilities when she went on maternity leave. Sadly, Bud passed away in January 2017 but their friendship is eternal.

Category Manager Jeanine Davids just celebrated her 30th anniversary with MacPherson’s. Jeanine is known around the office for her expertise, off the cuff sense of humor and willingness to innovate. We had to cap our talk at an hour, but we could have gone on all day! Jeanine started out as an assistant to the purchasing manager back in 1988 when the department consisted of two people; she moved on to become a Buyer, a Merchandise Analyst and now a Category Manager, where she handles the realm of paints, mediums, adhesives, brushes, storage, and printmaking supplies.

What initially inspired you to work within the art industry?

In high school I spent every possible moment in the art department so it was just logical for me to work in an art store.  I still remember the ad in the newspaper, Art supply store needs sales help. In August of 1979 I applied, had one interview and the rest is history. The store was on Long Island in Hempstead, NY., called Orange Front. It was actually a paint, wallpaper and window treatments store with the art supplies tucked into the back of the store.

What are some of the highlights of working at MacPherson’s?

My favorite experiences at MacPherson’s are related to NAMTA – I’ve always loved it because I like when a lot of people in the industry are experiencing the same thing at the same time. You get real time reactions from people – I like having the vendor-customer relationships at the tip of my fingers. It’s also great to see all of our hard work pay off!

What do you love most about your job?  

I love working on projects with people who are as engaged and invested in the outcome as I am.  In the 30 years I’ve been at MacPherson’s, that element has always been there. As long as I can contribute to something meaningful, I’m happy.

What keeps you engaged?

MacPherson’s is always changing. Always looking to do new things, increasing value to our retailers and vendors. We’ve never sat on our laurels. I always learn new things, and that is how we have gotten to where we are as a company. We are always asking that question: what can we do better. It’s never boring for me, because change excites me: what am I gonna learn now?

So, what kind of new things have you learned recently?

The concept of retailer engagement and how people connect with their customers. People have to turn a store into an experience and destination to give the customer a reason to walk in. Our department is embracing these terms with open arms…now when we look at a product, we think, how is it going to play out at the retail level? What about it is going to entice a retailer, or a consumer? This is different thinking than what we’ve done in the past, which is so fun.

What is your typical day like?

My typical day is a mish mosh – it all depends on what our department is working on. There is always a Buyer’s Guide in play. A ton of meetings with ideas, brainstorms, trends…I also process data from vendors, see what they are offering. Running alongside of that, we’re bringing in new products, planning a product launch, tracking down product information. And meeting deadlines because without deadlines we wouldn’t be civilized!

What is your team like?

Right now I’m working with the strongest team we’ve ever had in my thirty years here – and it’s 100% how Cathy Denny has brought us together. The way we work together, we are constantly collaborating and talking about projects. The transition of the Buyer’s Guide is a beacon of success, too. I would love to be a fly on the wall with the retailers and see how the they use the guide, how it helps them, what we can work on.

Are you involved in the arts in your free time?

I’m always artsy! My daughter is into art and I mat her artwork. I’m always working on something. Covering things with paper, customizing and personalizing anything and everything.

Do you have a motto or manifesto for your attitude towards work?

It’s the same for work as it is for my life: change we must to live again.

Word On The Street…She’s a Superstar!

“What comes first to my mind: Jeanine is a…

  • Vendor’s advocate and true partner who prioritizes supporting others,
  • Industry knowledge guru and proponent of change and innovation,
  • Dynamic personality entwined with a fantastic sense of humor
  • Team player with the desire to be the best that she can be.”
    -Cathy Denny, Merchandising Manager

“Jeanine’s unparalleled sense of humor and irreverence, combined with her vast knowledge and experience in this industry makes her my hero and an ART SUPERSTAR. Jeanine for President!”
– Hannah Reineck, Web Content Specialist

“In her 30+ years here Jeanine has seen it all and is always looking out for the best interests of MacPherson’s… She is also a charter member of the MacPherson’s in house band, “One Night Stand”.  Jeanine provides back up vocals as well as taking the occasional lead on a song like “Love Shack”. She designed the “One Night Stand” band logo which is prominently displayed on two large signs in our Emeryville office!”
-Jim Semitekol, Executive Vice President – Chief Operating Officer

The One Night Stand poster proudly on display in our Emeryville office.

Thank you Jeanine for all your hard work and dedication. The MacPherson’s family endorses JD 2020 all the way!

Colossal Creativity: Bring Art Into Your Store

September 24th, 2018
Catherine Monahon, MacPherson’s Copywriter

Staff member Abby Langley (they/them) creates larger than life sculptures of everyday art supplies for displays at Creative Coldsnow stores in Kansas City, MO and Overland Park, KS. Their recent creations include an XXXXL Posca marker and a gargantuan Gamblin paint tube; they got the idea for the larger than life sculptures at a staff meeting. “We were trying to think of ways to merchandise and advertise the new POSCA markers,” Abby recalled. “I was looking a marker one day and thought to myself, it would be fun to make a giant version.”

Abby is a sculptor, having graduated with a BFA Kansas City Art Institute; their preferred medium is glass, but they also use wood, metal and paint.  While they hadn’t worked with cardboard in years, they were excited to take on the challenge.

With a well thought out design, cardboard, paper and paint, Abby created a Posca marker 6 times the original size.

The sculptures are on display in both store locations, hanging from the ceiling above respective aisles, beckoning customers to find their miniatures in the shelves below. Next on the docket? An Angelus paint jar or a Golden Hi Flow bottle.

A  tube of Gamblin paint 7 times the original size (which now seems miniscule – we want more paint!)

Bringing art into stores has been on their mind since day one. “One of my first days, someone came in and was like, ‘Where is all the art?’ I looked around and realized we didn’t have much… Since I’ve been here I’ve tried to incorporate art into the displays.” Abby is not just contributing to imaginative displays – they are creating conversations. People stop in their tracks and want to know more about what the sculpture is, which product it is, what it can do. “People realize that the people who work here are artists themselves,” Abby explains. “We have knowledge and resources and they can ask us, learn from us, relate to us.”

The staff at Creative Coldsnow contributes collectively to the displays. There are two other artists on Abby’s team, Ron Wickersham and Bobby Haulotte. “Ron painted the arrow that’s paired with the posca marker, and they’ve both done individual projects for other products we carry.”

“Making displays is the part of my job that I enjoy most,” Abby explains. “It’s a way to use my creativity in a functional way. I like using my creative skills in a retail environment and have it make a difference.” And art in stores does make a difference – the POSCA marker in particular has had a positive impact on sales while launching the product.

There are so many ways to incorporate staff-made art into merchandising to generate interest and create conversations. Unconventional displays or community-specific artworks are a great way to strengthen the connection your customers have with your store and your team.

Do you have artistic displays in your store you’d like to share with us? A staff member whose artistry we can celebrate? Email us at artdogblog (@) macphersonart.com and show off your work.

 

A Letter From Opus Art Supplies

September 24th, 2018
David van Berckel, Opus Art Supplies

Opus is an independently-owned local business, supplying the visual arts community with art materials, digital printing, picture frames, art education, community support, and more. Founded in 1974, they have grown from a single location framing company to seven stores throughout BC and a Canada-wide mail order service for online & phone orders.

To our valued vendors,

I have known so many of you for decades while I managed to turn a small framing production workshop in Vancouver into a sizeable and important art supply business over the past 50 years or so. But time continues taking a toll on my body and mind and I have decided to pull back from the day-to-day operations of Opus Art Supplies and concentrate primarily on the unique things in the business that sustain my spirit. I am not going away, but I am stepping down as President to become Opus’ Chairperson. I plan to continue working three days a week and will still travel the world seeking new products, exploring innovative ideas and anything else that I bloody-well want to!

Similarly, but more definitively, Opus’ V.P. Scott Cronshaw has decided to step up the pace of his retirement by planning an exit from the company by December 31st of this year. Scott’s wife retired earlier this year and he is jealously resenting her worldwide travels, so it’s catch-up time for him. I would like to thank him for helping guide Opus’ success for the past 34 years.

Fortunately, Opus’ other long-term V.P., Simon Chow, plans to be with us for many years to come and is very much engaged in helping build the business along with a new, yet familiar, team to lead the operations of both Opus and its ‘sister’ wholesale company, Framers Choice.

The ‘new recruit’ in this whole plan has been an active management consultant with Opus over the past 22 years. Tom James will now be leading the company as the CEO/President. Tom has extensive experience in hands-on CEO-level positions and is a specialist in retail. We have some aggressive, but realistic, goals for Opus over the next 5+ years and I am confident that he is the best person to take Opus up to another level.

Supporting Tom on the retail side are a couple of familiar faces to all of you. Both Brian White (as Director of Sales & Marketing) and Susannah Blundell (as Director of Purchasing & Logistics) have earned their new roles and are responsible for the key day-to-day retail operations of Opus. Together, they have 45+ years of experience with Opus and know the business intimately. Opus has always valued promoting from within, and Susannah and Brian are perfect examples of that principle.

If we do not see you on a visit to Opus before the next Namta event in February, you will get an opportunity to meet Tom James there. Susannah, Brian, Scott and I will also be in San Antonio to introduce Tom to all of you in the industry.

Cheers!

David van Berckel

Please contact David at dvb (@) opusartsupplies.com with any comments or questions.

Sakura of America’s New Koi Creative Art Colors (CAC) Make a Splash!

September 18th, 2018

@SakuraofAmerica’s new Koi® CAC (Creative Art Colors) Watercolors are compact kits packed with unique colors and effects for one of a kind projects. Koi CAC is available in 12 and 24 color kits. Each cake set includes 4 metallics and 8 fluorescents. Learn more by searching the hashtags #SakuraKoi or #SakuraKoiCAC, and click here to find them on OEX.

Luxe Watercolors for Shimmer, Shine & Luminescence

Koi CAC are pocket sized with essential accessories for painting on the go. Create unique washes and blends with the metallic, fluorescent, and pearlescent paints; explore a whole new spectrum of stunning effects by mixing these Creative Art Colors with your traditional watercolor set.

The set of 24 features an additional 12 pearlescent colors exclusive to the set. The vibrant fluorescent hues are perfect for adding a pop of color that glows beautifully under a black light. The metallic and pearlescent shades are ideal for adding shimmer to your lettering, illustrations, comic characters and mixed media paintings. These special effects also work great on black paper.

Inktober For Everyone!

September 18th, 2018
Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

In 2009, illustrator Jake Parker set out to challenge himself for the month of October: create a work of art in pen and ink each day, and share it online. He dubbed it with the catchy name “Inktober” and got to work. Nearly ten years later, tens of thousands of artists are a part of the Inktober community. 31 drawings in 31 days, all under the hashtag “#inktober,” the artwork spans from fantastical to realistic, lettering to abstract. As long as it’s ink, it qualifies. Each day of #Inktober has a corresponding prompt to tackle creative blocks; see the list here for inspiration.

Inktober in Your Store

While Inktober reminds professionals to loosen up and have fun with their craft, it also challenges beginners and enthusiasts to push themselves and improve. It is a great opportunity for you to engage with customers who use pen and ink or those who would like to challenge themselves in new ways. So what supplies are your customers craving?

We’ve compiled a list of supplies you can feature in September to get your community excited for October 1st! In addition to featuring ink related products, you can also host in store competitions, staff artwork or have a gallery showing in November featuring the work of local Inktober artists.

Collaboration

Jake Parker, the founder of Inktober, is professional illustrator who has helped build the Inktober community over the years. If you would like to use the Inktober logo for promotions, please connect with Jake directly. He is open to collaboration; run an idea by him if you’d like to go beyond an endcap or demo and do Inktober events, gallery openings and more. He also offers online classes if your customers are interested. Please contact him and tag him in social media posts with #inktober @jakeparker.

Beyond October…

Monthly challenges have gained popularity in recent years and are a great way to engage with customers or showcase specific products. Check out Dynovember, March of the Robots or Sketch a Day May to learn more about what future months hold!

Come To My Window: Create Innovative, Inviting Budget-Friendly Window Displays

September 18th, 2018
Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

While the upcoming holidays are a great incentive to create expressive, themed window displays, we think any time is a good time to step up your display game. Our Emeryville office is just down the street from a bustling quirky-chic shopping destination in Berkeley, CA. While our designers were hunting for inspiration this summer, they couldn’t help but notice the impact of window displays in this creative retail hub. Nearby stores whose window displays we love include Papercraft, Athropologie, and a local toy/art supply store that specializes in the weird and wacky.

We discovered a handful of resources from the creative geniuses at Anthropologie; click here to learn more about how they design their store experience, from window displays to promotions to discounted items.

Change the experience, change the results

This article outlines seven easy, low-cost tips for displays that catch the eye and draw people in.

Staff skill set

Discover your employees hidden (or not so hidden) talents! This article showcases the portfolio of an artist who worked for Anthropologie as a display coordinator. Check in with your staff and discover who may have a knack for construction, installation or arranging. Maybe someone on your team is into a little-known craft that can add craftsmanship and intrigue to your display, like paper quilling.

A clever window display by Fortnum & Mason in London, 2016.

Get Featured!

We’d love to see your store’s window displays – please email us at artdogblog@macphersonart.com include a photo or two and the names of employees or community members who had a hand in the design or construction.