International Art Materials Association

   eNEWS:  August 1, 2018 

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Keeping a Customer is as Simple as That!
by Tom Shay

It was a simple cross country drive. While enjoying some music, the car’s phone system rang with a number we did not recognize. However, when we did answer we immediately recognized the voice.
“Hello. This is Reno and I just wanted to check on the two of you”.
We reported all was fine and we were enjoying the drive. We reminded Reno that when we returned we wanted to take him to dinner. After the call, we discussed how nice it was that Reno would call and check on us. We have known him for twenty years and when not calling him by name we call him, “our mechanic”.
Perhaps you have not considered a mechanic to be an “artist”; not all artists work with the materials sold by businesses within our trade. While we believe Reno makes calls like this out of concern and interest in each of his customers, we know this technique is a great way to get repeat and referral customers.
The automotive trade can put a sticker on the inside of your windshield to remind you of when to change the oil. Some businesses have software that automatically sends emails to customers at pre-determined times or alerts the business when the customer has not spent money after a specific time.
Nothing beats the human interaction of a business to a customer. While Reno does this himself, your business could use someone other than yourself to initiate this “touch” with your customers. Consider having the people who have interaction with your employees spend a part of their day contacting customers and asking about the customer’s latest project and their experiences. There is no interest in the customer coming from an online business; only another email wanting to sell more products to the customer and most frequently with a discounted price.
Using someone who does not interact initially with customers would require this person being sincere and knowledgeable about the customer and their preferences of what they buy from you. Having a person making cold calls without knowing the customer and their interests is a waste of your time and money as well as insulting to the customer.
Perhaps you look at this idea as being an expense your business cannot afford; your employee cost would be out of line. Instead, look at this as something that would replace a part of your advertising budget. Multiple research projects report people place a higher confidence in the recommendation of a friend over any form of advertising and even over that of a spouse or partner.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, was quoted as saying, “We can never replace the experience you will have by walking into a bookstore, interacting with an individual, smelling the book and feeling the paper in your fingers”.
Wise advice from the person who sells more books than anyone in the world.
The human interaction is key to your success.

Tom Shay is a fourth generation small business owner, author, columnist, coach and speaker who has authored several training manuals for retailers that can be found in the Resources section of the NAMTA website – His knowledge of small business marketing, business strategy, staffing, and financial management have provided small business owners with the help necessary to increase their profits plus build their business for the future. You can learn more here -

Shannon Piette

Shannon Piette
is the
Director of Richeson School of Art and Gallery at Jack Richeson & Co., Inc.

How did you become a part of the art materials industry?
I grew up in the Appleton WI area - obtained a BA in Studio Arts and a minor in Business Administration at UW Stevens Point. After graduation I was working for a local florist temporarily when a retired Richeson Employee told me about the company and the Gallery. I started at the company in Customer Care - moving after a year to my dream job to become the Director for the School of Art and Gallery.

What do you do, and what is your favorite part of your job?
Engaging with the artist community is the highlight of my position. Artists come from all walks of life, so the opportunity to work hand in hand with them has been an invaluable part of my professional growth.

Do you create art?
Absolutely! My first love is working with my hands to create art. Starting out as a sculptor working primarily with glass my creative process and materials choices have drastically evolved since coming to work for Jack Richeson & Co. The focus of my work and my ability to communicate my ideas has matured as I have experienced different mediums. I now work primarily 2-dimensionally as a printmaker doing drypoint etching. The intriguing process is reminiscent of sculptural methods that yield a beautiful and raw feeling finish. My subject matter is avian influenced.

What industry person has taught or influenced you most?
Mr. Jack Richeson has been an incredible mentor throughout my career. Learning directly from an individual that has been immersed the industry for a lifetime has been such a positive influence. Seeing someone who is so passionate about the industry and the artists personally, has molded me into an even more driven individual.

What non-industry person has taught or influenced you the most?

As humans we are influenced by those that have touched our lives the most. My mom has been a solid supporter of my career and a huge influence on my work ethic, passion and drive to be successful.

Do you have something special to say about the history of your company?
Amazing! To think Jack has been involved in the industry since he was a teenager. He knows the industry and materials inside out and at almost 86 years old, the fact he still comes to work daily is an inspiration. Our company was started in 1981, literally on the 3rd floor of an old Victorian Appleton home and has grown to employ nine working family members, 63 non-family employees, and be housed in 200,000 square ft. of warehouse and offices. That is crazy! However the most wonderful part is the way the family works together. The survival and growth of the company is a testament to the love and respect they have for each other.

Do you have any advice that you would give a new person coming into the art materials industry?
Never stop learning. This industry is so unique in the respect that it truly is a community. It is constantly changing and evolving nonetheless there is such useful information that can influence you from the old school and the new school.

Where on the planet have you been that you were the most impressed with the visual art?
Jackson Hole, WY - National Museum of Wildlife Art. From the roadside this incredible museum nests unimposing on the side of a mountain, but as you enter the front doors you are blown away by the quality of the artwork it holds. Displaying a historical continuum of wildlife art, the museum also displays contemporary mastery in two and three-dimensional mediums. One can get lost in the sculpture garden. Such a wonderful destination.

Is there something else that you think the membership would be interested in knowing about you and/or your company?
Jack Richeson & Co. has been a huge supporter of the arts and the artists. Annually through Richeson School of Art & Gallery the company sponsors four Richeson 75 International Art Competitions, each awarding over $7,500 in cash and materials awards. These competitions exist to promote artists and showcase their work.

By the Numbers

Christie’s International sold $4 billion of art during the first half of 2018, up 35% from the year-earlier period and representing a new six-month high mark for the London-based auction company.

Christie’s said it auctioned $3.6 billion in art, up 28% from the first half of last year. The house additionally sold $390.3 million of art in privately brokered deals, more than double its year-ago results. Its online-only art sales rose 50% to $37.7 million.

Claude Monet's Nympheas en fleur (Water Lilies in Bloom), pictured, sold for $84.7 million. Read more from Wall Street Journal.

Notable Quote

"Bright colours or dark ones, sparkling clarity or misty atmosphere, landscape, still life, portrait - I haven't met a subject, style or mood yet that can't be portrayed beautifully in pastel."  - Dave Beckett

An award-winning artist, Dave Beckett resides in his heritage log home situated near Orillia, Ontario, Canada.


Tips for Exhibiting

Make the most of your investment in NAMTA membership when you exhibit at Art Materials World:
  • Secure your booth space and read all your exhibitor emails from Brede Exhibition Services and NAMTA. Click here to find out how to sign up for a booth.
  • Promote, promote, promote on Social Media. Do your pre-show marketing; email blasts, direct mail, press release, pick up the phone. Make appointments before you even enter the conference hall.
  • Make sure that your booth design is inviting, product-relevant and eye-catching.
  • Don't just sit behind a table in your booth. Stand up and greet people as they walk by. Consider having demonstrators and demonstrations in your booth.
  • Don't just sit behind a table in your booth. Stand up and greet people as they walk by or come into your booth.
  • Go easy at the networking events so that you are bright and alert in your booth.
  • Focus on the quality of the prospects at the show as much as the quantity.
  • Don’t pack up before the show is over, you never know who will stop by in those last hours.


Do you know an art supply retailer that is not a NAMTA Member?
Let us know so we can be sure they know about Art Materials World 2019.
Send info to
Karen or call 704-892-6244.

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 Art Advocacy

2018 Art Advocacy Grant Program

Yesterday was the last day to submit Grant applications.

Thank you to all the members who posted NAMTA Grant information on Social Media and Websites. Thank you to Colart and Fredrix Artist Canvas for their generous contributions.

If you or your company would like to contribute to the Grant Program, please fill out this form.


Public Art in Liverpool, England

Liverpool Biennial and Tate Liverpool have announced a new joint project with internationally acclaimed artist Ugo Rondinone (known for creating large-scale public sculptures). This will be the artiist's first major work in the UK. The large outdoor sculpture, called Liverpool Mountain, will stand at over 10 metres tall next to Tate Liverpool in Royal Albert Dock Liverpool. His work for Liverpool is part of the artist’s mountain series and will be similar to outdoor sculptures he has created in Miami, Florida (Miami Mountain pictured right) and Las Vegas which are designed to elevate their surroundings. Inspired by naturally occurring Hoodoos (spires or pyramids of rock) and the art of meditative rock balancing, they seem to defy gravity in their teetering formations, poised between the natural, the artificial and the man-made. The work is planned to be unveiled this autumn.

The artwork celebrates Liverpool City Region’s commitment to supporting bold, contemporary art and its status as a world renowned cultural destination and takes forward Liverpool’s outstanding tradition of working with world class artists to create public art for key sites around the City Region, including Sir Peter Blake’s Everybody Razzle Dazzle on the River Mersey (pictured left) and Another Place by Antony Gormley on Crosby Beach. Part of the Liverpool 2018 programme, the project marks the 10th anniversary of Liverpool European Capital of Culture, the 20th anniversary of Liverpool Biennial and the 30th anniversary of Tate Liverpool. 

Long term mentoring has many proven benefits: increased confidence & self esteem, children more likely to attend college and grow up to give back to their communities, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors . . . The organization Free Arts NYC observed that even one-time pairings had positive effects on both corporate volunteers and children.   American for the Arts Blog  
See All the FACTS


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


Be a Mentor, Get a Mentor

The NAMTA Mentor Program is designed to assist NAMTA Retail Members who are in the planning stages of opening an art materials business, or have recently opened their new business and in need of some guidance. Once you have completed the request form, NAMTA will work to pair you with a member who is experienced in the industry and willing to share their knowledge with you. 

“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”  - John Steinbeck, 1955
Interested in being a mentor?  Click here for more info and forms.

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



Things the Best Mentors Never Do
From an article on by Gwen Moran

Good mentoring relationships can yield a variety of benefits for both mentor and protégé. But the art of mentoring can be difficult to master—and missteps can undermine the process for each participant.  Most of the advice about how to be a good mentor is common sense. Some of the issues mentors do have stem from good intentions, but miscommunication or misunderstandings can derail the relationship and its value.

Assume. Don’t jump to the conclusion that your protégé has the same issues or challenges as you/ Don't share stories and jump right in without asking some good questions first.

Meander.  Have goals and objectives and frank conversation upfront about what you both hope to achieve within the relationship. Know the beginning point. Know the end point. Have some idea of how you want to get there, but don’t be so rigid you can’t take detours.

Drop the Ball.  When you offer time, assistance, or contacts, be sure to follow through. Never underestimate the courage it takes to ask someone far more accomplished than you for help. Follow-up is very important, especially until your protégé feels comfortable reaching out for what they need. Don’t let more than a few months go by without some sort of follow-up -  ‘How are you getting on? Did you do it? Did it work out?'”

Dominate the Relationship.  While sharing your own stories and experiences is often useful, make sure it doesn’t cross the line into bragging or imposing your own advice on your protégé.  Rely more on question-asking and facilitating problem solving. A talented protégé may have several mentors. Accept that and don’t get territorial. Don’t expect them to be your ‘Mini Me'. Instead, introduce your protégés to contacts—possibly even other mentors. Mentoring relationships aren’t meant to be exclusive, and having a protégé who is out looking for people who can help them grow is the sign of a go-getter.

Avoid Hard Conversations. As a mentor, it’s your job to have tough conversations sometimes. You may need to point out areas where your protégé isn’t performing as well as possible or mistakes they made. If you feel you can’t give feedback, that’s a problem. Set expectations for feedback up front. if you are in a mentoring relationship where you feel you can’t be honest or where your feedback isn’t well-received, it may be time to rethink the relationship.

Resist Change.  As your protégé gains more experience and grows professionally, the relationship is likely to change into more of a peer relationship. Let it happen. Read the entire article . . .

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