International Art Materials Association

   eNEWS:  February 28, 2018 

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We Have Significant Common Ground

By Jeremy Franklin, NAMTA’s Incoming President

I recently attended the Creativeworld show in Frankfurt Germany, and as I was leaving on the train headed to the airport, passed a billboard that read “The world of business has limited common ground”.  As I was reflecting on the show, I couldn’t help but think how much I disagreed with that statement.

With respect to our industry, and the NAMTA membership, I believe we have significant common ground.  The art materials market, like many others, is undergoing a change leaving many members questioning the future of retail in the age of e-commerce.  And the most important common ground topic of today is the continued effect of online retailing on both the traditional brick and mortar sales channel, as well as the vendor – retailer – consumer relationship. As e-commerce continues to grow and challenge market segments, it will take forward thinking vendors and retailers (both traditional and online) to find creative ways to partner to succeed.

The NAMTA trade show can be more than an opportunity to see new products and programs and visit with business partners and friends.  It can be a conduit for exploring this commonality and a catalyst for the exchange of ideas and opportunities.  A vehicle for working together to adapt and navigate the changing landscape of the new marketplace.

My goal in this article is to get you thinking about these challenges and then to bring those insights and ideas to the Dallas show to share and discuss with your fellow NAMTA members.

The 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Study estimates the U.S. Art & Craft Industry at $36 billion dollars, with a majority of the spend (91.3%) at physical stores. Of the top 5 art & craft categories, “Painting & Drawing” is ranked number two in terms of percentage spent at 16.3%.

NAMTA’s 2018 Artist and Art Materials study indicates over 58% of art materials spending in the US is done at a local or online art supply stores.  What does all this mean?  There are plenty of customers looking to purchase art materials, and opportunities exist for capturing these sales across multiple channels.

  • E-commerce will continue to disrupt the market, and brick and mortar retailers must find new ways to respond and leverage assets that e-commerce players don’t have.  The more e-commerce pushes algorithms and artificial intelligence, the more space there is for individualized service and personal connection with your customers.  Figure out what makes your store special and use those weapons to compete.  Ask your fellow NAMTA member retailers for examples of how they may be accomplishing this goal.
  • Can e-commerce help you sell more product via third party marketplace transactions?  Marketplaces have strong appeal — and retailers must closely evaluate participation. Per a recent UPS study conducted by ChannelAdvisor, marketplaces are a retail force with 90% of U.S. independent online retailers selling through them. ChannelAdvisor estimates that marketplace sales account for approximately 25% of total online retail sales, and 85% of online shoppers in their study had made a purchase from one or more in the past year, led by Amazon (70%) and eBay (53%). Would you be interested if NAMTA sponsored a workshop on understanding third party reselling?  Ask your vendors how they may be supporting this channel?
  • If you are an online seller, how can you work with vendors and reps to ensure your content is up-to-date and accurate (from the newest product images to correct product specifications)?  New studies indicate e-commerce websites have surpassed search engines as the primary vehicle for consumer research and purchasing decisions.
  • How can your store become a fresh, local destination for artists?  How can you work with your vendors and reps to ensure you have the most up-to-date assortments & merchandising?  Are you maximizing your retail and feature space via power panels and endcaps that are refreshed and updated regularly?  There must be reasons to visit and then a desire to return to ensure your store’s viability.
  • How can you leverage the expertise of your vendors and reps to work with your staff to resurrect the ‘art of selling’ to your customer?  It is difficult to get customers interested in and understanding the technical side of art materials.  A well trained and educated staff is essential to a personal connection with your customers.  Use your customers’ time in the store for engagement, and an opportunity to figure out what you or a vendor can do better or why a shopper did or did not buy a product.  Then share this information with your staff and vendors so they can improve accordingly.
  • How can you use technology to improve efficiencies?  From inventory to checkout, can an investment in a new and modern POS system assist by providing data that is essential for you to use in future purchasing decisions?  Do you offer quick checkout tapping into mobile technology?  Would you be interested if NAMTA were able to add technology vendors to the trade show floor?
  • Many vendors have initiated Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policies to address discounting.  For those vendors who have initiated MAP pricing, ensure you have a complete understanding of their policy, its requirements, and objectives.
  • How are you communicating with your customers outside of the store?  Are you taking advantage of social media and/or opportunities for engagement with local artists, art societies, and schools?  Do you carry the merchandise they want and need?  Do you have classroom space – if yes are you working with local artists and vendors to create a robust class schedule to bring customers into your store?

Facilitating these conversations can help us all take an honest look at how we work together to define our role and position in the new marketplace. Most importantly, it will help NAMTA understand opportunities for making our trade show better, and ensure we are providing maximum benefit and value to our membership.

In addition to the above, at the upcoming trade show NAMTA will be releasing the third version of our Artists and Art Materials Study.   I encourage all NAMTA members to download the survey after the convention.  It’s a free download for members.  Use its insights and key findings to also help understand how our vendors and retailers can better serve the artist community.

NAMTA will also be hosting an open forum discussion on the survey at the trade show at 10 a.m. Monday in the convention center.  Be sure to attend!

Safe travels and see y’all in Dallas.

Jeremy Franklin is the President of A Franklin & Associates LLC, a manufacturers’ representative organization based in Texas.  Jeremy has been in the Art Materials Industry as a sales representative since 1998, and is the incoming President of NAMTA.

Art Materials World 2018

March 4-6 in Dallas Texas


Here's a checklist to help you get ready.

  You registered and know that you pick up your badge(s) at the NAMTA Registration Desk in Dallas. If you did not register your badges, you know that members can get their badges made in Dallas - and you can also renew your 2018 membership in Dallas.

  You checked out the website for the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center

  You looked at the Show Schedule and Floorplan

  You downloaded the NAMTA Mobile App and plan to go to the NAMTA Booth and show Leah you downloaded it so you can pick up your NAMTA pin

  You know that the Welcome Reception on Saturday, March 3 is free for Art Materials World Attendees, and no pre-registration is required

  You know about the Cornhole Tournament

  If you haven't already bought your tickets, you know that you can purchase Social Events tickets at the NAMTA Registration Desk in Dallas

  You made your appointments with exhibitors and customers

  You're keeping an eye on the Dallas weather so you can pack accordingly

  You made your necessary dinner reservations

See you in Dallas!  Contact Karen with questions.


Gary Cole, Owner/President

Ruby Red Paints
A 2018 Art Materials World Exhibitor


How did you become a part of the art materials industry?
I have been active in the art/craft industry for twenty five years. For about 20 years I was an importer for an E.U. brand and for the last five years I have providing my own American made line of over 6000 products targeted for the face paint, glitter tattoo, stencil and craft stamp market. We manufacture all of our products right here in Texas (just north of Dallas). I branched out on my own as I wanted to offer the safest and easiest to use brand. Our products are vegan, paraben free, FDA/cosmetic compliant and easy-on, easy-off. We offer over 100 colors and even private label.

What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of the job is offering a valued, safe product that simply puts smiles on kids faces. Whether you are a parent that cares about what goes on their child, a cruise ship, an amusement park, early learning center or just the crazy guy that wants to be painted up to go to the football game, we are the one to put that smile on your face. The painted face will always be the one that hits Facebook or other social media. Our products dry to the touch in a minute, are bright and vivid and will wash off with a drop of baby shampoo and water.

Do you create art?
I have been an artist all my life in a wide variety of medias from water color to wood carving to face painting. I have trained face painters in the thousands on multiple continents and I also still train at zoos, amusement parts and the like all over North America. Some of the notable locations are the Phoenix Zoo, Sea World, The Shedd Aquarium, the Polynesian Cultural Center (Hawaii) and more. I also happen to be in the Guinness Book of records as the fastest face painter in the world. In fine arts, I have won awards in pen & ink, wood carving and water color.

What INDUSTRY person has taught or influenced you most?
Before working in the art/craft industry I worked 15 years in the cosmetic industry. I grew up poor and went to work for Mary Kay Cosmetics out of high school. While there I took advantage of their college tuition program, got educated and got promoted five times. I started out in the factory and ended up as a buyer of over $70 million dollars in goods per year. The promote from within policy provided an opportunity with the American dream. My cosmetic roots, helped me develop my safe and easy-to-use brand.

What NON-INDUSTRY person has taught or influenced you the most?
I worked for a successful entrepreneur in my 30s that owned a number of companies. This opportunity thrust me into company management, international sourcing and quality control management. I traveled often to Europe and Asia qualifying factories for fortune 500 companies. That man was Michael Ghafouri. It was his trust in me, that gave me so many learning and growth opportunities.

Do you have something special to say about the history of your company?
In just five years, we launched a whole new brand of products in four sectors (face paints, glitter tattoos, stencils and craft stamps). The products are so well received that the top four cruise lines now use our products because in a contained environment safety is so important.

Do you have any advice that you would give a new person coming into the art materials industry?
Find a niche where you can have a positive impact in the world. Don't be afraid and plow ahead. The American dream still abounds and if you have a better mouse trap, people will buy it. I tell you it is not for the faint of heart but if you have the desire, you can make it happen.

Where on the planet have you been that you were the most impressed with the visual art?
I have been to museums all over the world and one of my favorite places is Paris, France. It is the Mecca of classical art with so many great museums to visit. It is my favorite international city and I have been there many times. 

Is there something else that you think the membership would be interested in knowing about you and/or your company?
We are proud of the fact that we can offer a premium line of products at competitive prices.

I have had a lifetime of serving others in my local community. As a father of six children, my family is my greatest asset. I continue to play with art and like many artists, my media choice of the year is constantly changing. Lately, while I still enjoy face painting, I do everything from paint murals to knit. Yep, even as a guy, I am an accomplished knitter. For me, my art in its many forms is a great way to chill at the end of a hard day. Other than face painting, my current love is painting with acrylics.


. . .  can take a look at this form and answer the questions to be a Spotlighted Member in an upcoming issue of eNEWS.  This is a great way to let your colleagues know a little about you and your company and products.


By the Numbers

Three Reasons Why Your Creative Work Needs An Audience

Synthesis - Good creative work is about making connections, not just making points.

Collaboration - Without the involvement of others, your work will likely suffer and probably won’t spread very far.

Empathy - Marketing is about building community, and all artistic output does demand an audience. But it takes the right person to serve that audience well–and to do that, you need to take the time to understand it.

Information from

Notable Quote

"It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character."

- Camille Pissarro1830 - 1903
Danish-French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas, Camille Pissarro's importance resides in his contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Pissarro studied from great forerunners, including Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. He later studied and worked alongside Georges Seurat and Paul Signac when he took on the Neo-Impressionist style.

Art Advocacy

Visit for news, resources, and facts about Advocating for the Arts.

Art In US News on

The arts and culture sector is often looked at through a very narrow lens. Theatre productions, museum exhibitions and symphony orchestras typically comprise the average person’s concept of the arts. What’s more, the arts are often viewed as isolated instead of being seen as part of a larger economic ecosystem.

But key decision-makers and leaders understand that the arts can be an important part of a city’s economic development and growth strategy — and this growth often comes without huge price tags or tax concessions. Read entire article.

"The arts and culture are intertwined with the infrastructure of a city. Areas that are well-lit and have public art or murals attract pedestrians, bicyclists and even auto traffic, which leads to safer and more vibrant communities." -

See all the FACTS

Coming Soon . . .


Member News

Bob Ross Incorporated is taking over distribution of the entire Bob Ross Product Line in the United States and Canada. "We are happy to announce this and know our loyal Bob Ross suppliers will be pleased as well," says BRI President Joan Kowalski (pictured). "We are already processing purchase orders and bringing the service level back to where it should be."  For more information about this transition, contact Sarah at 703.803.7200 or send an email to - happy painting!


Art Materials Retailer Magazine Spring 2018 issue is now available.

Celebrating 105 years in business, Tombow was founded in Tokyo and incorporating trends into product design they carved out a niche in the Japanese domestic pencil market, and kept growing and thriving through wartime struggles, economic downturns, and the growing pains that come with expanding globally. Ownership remains within the founding family. Read the entire press release.

Contact Update

Please update your records for Partners in Art's email to Partners in Art is a full service art complex offering art classes in drawing and painting, art supplies, custom framing and gallery services, located in Tonawanda, NY.

NEW Products

The following product is on the New Products Page - see all the New Products

Legion Paper
A 2018 Art Materials World Exhibitor

Stonehenge Aqua Coldpress
Heavy Blocks

Welcome New Members

If it's art it's us - Visible Difference - a large brick and mortar art supply retailer Flagstaff, Arizona. In addition to the quality 12,000+ items in stock, we offer custom framing and supplies, as well as painting classes in oil, acrylic, watercolor, FUNdamental and figurative drawing classes, and we are growing!

A manufacturer of markers, Carmel Group produces a complete line of marking products for a wide variety of surfaces across multiple industries and consumer applications.
A 2018 Art Materials World Exhibitor

Let's Make Art, located in Hamilton, Missouri, builds cool shopping experiences for artists. We will make it easy for you. We will inspire you. We will paint with you as we try new things.


NAMTA regularly searches the web for articles and stories that may be of interest to members.


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Questions, email Karen or call 704.892.6244