Vendor Voices

Daniel Smith – Interview with Scott Stevenson

Scott Stevenson travels the country doing education for Daniel Smith. Check out the interview to learn more about his experience and the value he provides.

Share the highlights of your presentation that you offer to retailers – which details about the Daniel Smith company/products do you feature and why? 

History – I love the story of Daniel Smith. I’m drawn to stories that talk about humble beginnings and have these ascensions that are based on what their artists or customers desire. So for me, a key element of my presentations is understanding who Dan Smith is and his wonderful line of artist materials which is continued today by John Cogley who is Dan’s successor. They both have an affinity for history and how minerals played a part in how ancient civilizations expressed themselves through color. This was the inspiration behind the Prima-tek line of colors. Dan and John wanted to give artists a connection to the past with some of these unique and beautiful colors. 

Setting: My goal in every presentation or demo is to have a conversation where artists can feel comfortable asking questions and increase their knowledge of Daniel Smith watercolor or gouache. If I’ve done my job well attendees walk away feeling more informed and maybe a bit more daring to try new colors. 

How We Make Paint- Artists are fascinated by the paint-making process. It lifts the vail a bit and shows the complexity and hand-craftsmanship that goes into making small batches of paint. I also highlight how we take these large pieces of mineral and make them so small but don’t lose what makes it unique and beautiful.  

Testing-Daniel Smith tests every single batch patch they make for lightfastness and consistency. I provide the science behind why certain pigments are more resistant to light than others. I also discuss how we maintain our consistency from batch to batch. 

Watercolor Terminology- I discuss topics in watercolor like granulation. We discuss how different types of paper can accentuate or minimize how granulation is expressed. I talk about why granulation occurs and the practical uses of it. We chat about popular pigments like Quinacridone and why they are unique. 

Color Chart – Understanding our color chart unlocks all the critical information artists need to get the most out of their palettes. It ranges from how lightfastness affects color choice to transparency and how it’s a predictor to how colors will react with others. 

Hands-on Experience – Nothing can take the place of putting paint to paper. Artists have all different ways of evaluating color and if it works for their palette. So, the opportunity to try some of our colors speaks more loudly than anything I can communicate.

What is the key value(s) for retailers/organizations who host your presentation? 

I’m a firm believer that a more educated consumer leads to increased sales. Having educational events in store or virtual drives sales. Besides educational events having a knowledgeable staff is key in converting the sales opportunity from the enthusiasm generated from the event. Through having events it’s also an opportunity to have staff listen in so they can better understand how Daniel Smith is different from other lines of watercolor or gouache.

For organizations like watercolor societies or art clubs, we’re talking about the grassroots of our industry. Having educational opportunities elevates the value of the organization and helps artists grow in their knowledge of their craft. 

What is the key value(s) for the artists who attend?

I provide the method to the madness by giving them the “why” behind art materials. Artists have a natural curiosity to want to know how art materials are made. My desire is to make the complex chemistry and paint-making techniques understandable to all levels of artists. I also want artists to know all the tools that are available to them through our color chart and our website Probably the most fun for all my attendees is to actually swatch some of our more unique colors like Moonglow, Serpentine and Sleeping Beauty Turquoise. I provide everything they need for the experience. I provide the paint, brushes and paper so everything is there to have a great time as we evaluate different colors, what makes them unique and useful.

What are some of the most common questions artists ask you? What are they most curious about?

Artists love to ask questions about where their products come from and how they are made. Whether it be what’s a binder to how pigment is made. They are ravenous in their desire for more information and how it can impact their work

Most popular questions…

  • What is Gum Arabic and where does it come from?
  • Where do colors get their names?
  • What is Quinacridone and why does it come in so many colors
  • What is granulation and why is it useful?
  • Why do colors get discontinued?

What Daniel Smith trivia/specifics is usually the most surprising for artists, and/or what suddenly “connects the dots” for them?

Probably how much of a hands-on process it is to make our line of Prima-tek or mineral based colors. I also would say how thorough the Daniel Smith testing procedure is and how that relates directly to quality. 

As a manufacturer’s representative, what do you personally value or appreciate the most about spending time educating and talking with artists?

I love spending time with artists and inspiring them with color. It really makes my day when I can have an artist say “I never would have considered that color unless you showed me. Also because I am a manufacturer’s representative, I love to help artists problem solve. My background is more than just paint. It’s in brushes, pencils, markers, paper and more so I have a pretty broad understanding of materials and how they are used. 

What has been your favorite or most meaningful feedback from someone who has attended your presentation – something that made your efforts totally worthwhile?

The most rewarding comments I get are from attendees who say they wish they had me as a science teacher in high school or college growing up. I work very hard to make sure my presentations fit a variety of experience levels by making the technical aspects relatable. 

I would also say it’s hearing how they feel encouraged to try something new to renew their creative journey. 

I also appreciate comments where they feel so much more empowered because of the quality of information that Daniel Smith provided.

I really appreciate John Cogley(owner and CEO) and Katherine Taylor(President of Sales) for the last 8 years for providing me a wonderful platform to work with retailers, distributors, and art groups all over North America. 

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