Posts Tagged ‘Retailers’

Who’s Who: Preston Arts Center

Thursday, 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 they opened their doors in 1978. 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!

A Closer Look: Kensington Art & Calligraphy

Friday, 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.

A Letter From Opus Art Supplies

Monday, 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.

Ben Franklin Bonney Lake & Montana Cans

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

Ben Franklin Crafts & Frame Shop Bonney Lake, Washington, collaborated with Montana Artist Devin Finley to transform the formerly drab graffiti walls of the local Skate Park in town into an outdoor gallery of street art!

In collaboration with the community of Tehaleh and Montana Artist Devin Finley, Ben Franklin Bonney Lake’s goal was to get more people aware of the Montana spray paint in the community while improving a community space with art. Staff member Colleen coordinated the event with the community director of a local skate park.

Over 50 people attended the event, which featured live painting by Devin, music, snacks and of course the built-in entertainment of the skate park itself. Before painting, Devin explained his plan to onlookers and sat with young artists to each them techniques and strategies for creating their own artwork. The event was a success, engaging community, sparking curiosity about Montana Cans and drawing people into the store.

LenzArts’ 50th Anniversary, a.k.a. “Lenz Arts Week” As Pronounced By Santa Cruz Mayor

Monday, September 17th, 2018

On the left, community members playing with POSCA and painting rocks primed with Montana spray paint; On the right, Lulu, the youngest Lenz!

Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

LenzArts went all out for their 50th Anniversary August 4th. Their family business has survived and thrived despite fire, flood and earthquake. Over the decades they have become embedded in the community. Three generations of the Lenz family participated in the event, which included a Vendor’s Fair and a storewide sale. They set up twelve interactive stations of different make and takes as well as demos with reps and artists. People enjoyed free face painting, raffles, a homemade fishing booth and a Wheel of Fortune. They also invited Santa Cruz Art League rep to talk to community members; the current generation’s great-grandmother, Leonora Naylor Penniman, was one of the founders of the league in 1919. Her artwork and bio were on display to honor the artistic roots of LenzArts and inspire curiosity about the league.

Diane Bokulich, a member of the Lenz family, sees the event as more than an anniversary event; it was an homage to community and creativity.

“We wanted to thank the community for their support, give back to them and celebrate art. People were thrilled to be immersed in art for a day. You could feel the joy of creativity and the fun of being together connecting to the world of art in an interactive, hands on setting, experimenting with art supplies and talking with artist and reps, gleaning their expertise. It was exciting–we had all ages there! I heard parents and grandparents say how great it was to have their kids “unplugged”. In our family tradition of gathering for fellowship and food, we BBQ’d ourselves, giving out hundreds of hot dogs while my teenage daughter made hundreds of snow cones made to order. Nine of the grandkids were there serving, ages 8 to 23; all of my siblings were there, even from out of town. We had three generations of family there helping all day.”

Matthew Lenz, Cynthia Lenz, Andy Lenz Sr., Mayor David Terrazas, and Andrew Lenz Jr.

We congratulate LenzArts on bringing their community together through creativity, incorporating something for everyone and on decades of success in the art supply industry!

New Location, New Name: South City Art Supply, Now St. Louis Art Supply

Monday, August 27th, 2018
Catherine Monahon, MacPherson’s Copywriter

South City Art Supply, now St. Louis Art Supply, is moving to a larger location in Central West End at 4532 Olive St. in St. Louis, Missouri. They have expanded their inventory by about 40%, with additions in nearly every department.

“Our focus areas are painting, drawing, reading (we sell books, too), and writing, so most of our additions are in those areas,” owner Carson Monetti explains. “Some highlights of the expansion include Masterpiece canvases and stretchers, POSCA markers, Cobra water-soluble oils, Golden High Flow, Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens, LAMY pens and pencils, and quite a few new notebook and planner lines.”

St. Louis Art Supply will also open a sister store at the same location – Cornflower Coffee & Tea which will “share the same space, so [customers] can watercolor over breakfast or take a latté into the book department!” Follow the progress of their move on their well-curated Instagram.

Lasting Impact: Make It A 2-Day Event – Community Engagement at Dots ‘N Doodles

Monday, August 27th, 2018
Catherine Monahon, MacPherson’s Copywriter

(From left to right) Tim Masuelli, Owner of Dots N Doodles, Dennis Metcalf, Key Account Manger at Royal Talens, Tiffany Mang, Loving Vincent Artist, Scott Leahing, Owner of Dots N Doodles and Charlene Mosely, Loving Vincent Artist

Dots ‘N Doodles Art Supply in Astoria, Oregon recently hosted a two part event honoring the work of Vincent Van Gogh and encouraging modern day oil painters! Staff kicked off the event by showing the movie Loving Vincent on Friday night, with a workshop led by artists Charlene Mosely and Tiffanie Mang, who worked on the set of the movie. The event sold out, and there was so much interest that they added an additional workshop later in the weekend. With an Art Alternatives canvas roll, Rembrandt oil paints and effusive enthusiasm, artists created a large scale painting in the iconic style of Van Gogh. Dennis Metcalf, sales representative for Royal Talens was integral in the planning process and was able to attend, adding his expertise to the mix. Customers left with a deeper understanding of Royal Talens line of products and the inspiration to embark on their own colorful journeys. The event was also supported by Art Alternatives and Princeton Brushes.

Jerry’s Artarama of Hartford, CT Turns 25

Monday, August 27th, 2018
Catherine Monahon, MacPherson’s Copywriter

Jerry’s Artarama of Hartford, CT celebrates its 25th anniversary! Owners Jeff and Susan Shoham were featured in the Hartford Courant in an article that details their incredible journey, from building their business from the ground up to becoming a community staple as the go-to art supply store for creative endeavors in Elmwood. They celebrated the big 25 with a 25% off sale over the weekend, door prizes and of course, cake.

Left to right: Chet Terry, General Manager, AJ Shoham , Store Manager, Jeffrey Shoham, Owner

When thinking back on the the years of hard work that brought the business to where it is today, Jeff reflected on the rewarding moments that make everything worth it.

“Talking with customers. My time is limited, but I love being on the floor, still. Especially the students… to see them come in as freshmen, you see them develop over the years.”

When we take a moment to celebrate anniversaries, it’s not only a chance to reflect on our accomplishments and progress… it is a way to connect with community and strengthen relationships with customers.

One woman at Jerry’s Artarama’s 25th celebration came up to shake Jeff’s hand: she had been at the store the day it opened and had watched the store evolve and change… for all 25 years. We are looking forward to celebrating more anniversaries with our retailers!

Concrete Jungle Sparks Imagination: New Forstall Art Mural

Monday, August 27th, 2018
Catherine Monahon, MacPherson’s Copywriter

Murals are a wonderful way to support local artists, draw attention to your store and jostle people out of their everyday routine. A drab concrete wall becomes a photo opportunity, an invitation to reflect, or a celebration of your town or city’s personality. Phillip Forstall, owner of Forstall Art Center in Birmingham, Alabama, recently installed a mural in collaboration with Shane B., a local muralist and tattoo artist. The jungle scene is vibrant and full of life. We wanted to learn more about how the mural came to be and its effect on the community and gave Phillip a call to learn more.

Who created this mural? Why this design?

The mural was designed by Shane, a local artist. He’s a longtime friend and customer. My wife Annette and child Andy asked him to create an interactive mural. They wanted a mural with a path so people could take fun photos. Annette and Andy created the design, so it was really an inhouse project. Shane did all the painting. Many of his friends stopped by with food and company.

What do you like best about it?

It’s hard to choose! I love that people interact with the mural and don’t realize that there’s a wild kitty lurking above them. I love that people stop all the time to get their picture taken. Finally, I love that we have some color brightening our space. All the blank walls downtown can get monotonous.

Have you gotten any feedback from the community / new or repeat customers?

Yes! They love it! They want more! People tag us on Instagram a lot. We can’t wait to commission more murals.

R&F Handmade Paints Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

In 1988, Richard Frumess, founder of R&F, started the business in the basement studio he rented in Brooklyn, NY.  His interest in encaustic painting as an artist, and the lack of a significant source for quality encaustic supplies, led him on a path that eventually developed into what is now R&F Handmade Paints.

For R&F’s first 2 years, Richard focused on being an encaustic paint manufacturer.  In 1990 artist and Williamsburg Paint manufacturer Carl Plansky, a close friend of Richard’s, suggested R&F start making an oil stick.  Carl felt that the natural synergy between wax/resin materials used in encaustic and the wax/oil materials needed for the oil sticks seemed like the natural step to take.

In 1990, R&F Pigment Sticks® were born.

R&F Handmade Paints takes pride in manufacturing these 2 distinctive yet similarly milled products.  Artists’ interest in both Encaustic Paint and Pigment Sticks® has grown steadily over the years….30 to be exact. Under the leadership of Darin Seim, R&F’s President and a truly dedicated staff, R&F is confident that the trend will continue for many years to come.