Paint a Glass Art Cupcake in #ShopShowcase with iartsupplies in Dundee, Scotland.
How did you get started?
The business started back in 2003, after a year out I took to go to Granada in Spain to see where a future in art would take me. It was there I first came across the Amsterdam brand. When I came back, I needed to do something to earn a living, and other than allot of paintings, and the knowledge of this new brand was all I had. I had other jobs before selling things, and had often done "mini" enterprising things to get by and it seemed to make sense to try and do something with what I had "gleaned" from my trip. Things looked positive too, as no one really seemed to be focussed on selling the Amsterdam brand in the UK, or any other brands made by Royal Talens.
With a bit more research. planning and thought to the future, I organised a trip to Royal Talens in Apeldoorn, Holland to try and convince them of my ideas to sell their products in the UK. Eventually we got things started with them, after some financial help from my parents as well as the Princes Trust there was an opportunity to have a commercial space in Pittenweem, Fife.
This seemed ideal as each year they have an Arts Festival, which attracts many artists. So the shop opened in June 2003, with the shop literally split down the middle with the gallery at the front and art materials at the back. At that point, we were looking at various ways to sell, and I was also exhibiting my work in the gallery. We had the shop there for about 5 years, but even after that length of time things weren't working out financially for the shop. But if the the shop wasn't there I wouldnt have met my wife, and be blessed with the wonderful family I now have!
We closed the shop, cut our overheads and refocused and focused on our online business and supplying schools and other businesses. After 5 years of working out of our garage, we had grown enough to need more space, and that's how we ended up in Dundee. It seemed to make sense to try and find a location where sales though the door would cover the basic overheads. The other bug advantage for us was that it would force us to extend our product range on our website.
Where are you located?
At the moment, we are in Dundee, Scotland. A space came up on Perth Road, just 300 or 400 meters up the road from the Duncan of Jordanstone Art College. We only have a smallish frontage so we are easy to miss, but we are just opposite Kwik Fit. We are fortunate though as there is free parking right outside the shop. Its a great city to be in and we are really enjoying it.
Which products do you specialise in?
We differentiate ourselves in the market by focusing on the brands made by Royal Talens. We have almost all of their products listed on our website, although it is hard to keep up sometimes as they are always releasing new brands and products. Some of the brands you may be familiar with, like Rembrandt Pastels, Ecoline, Van Gogh Oil, Amsterdam Acrylic, or the newer Cobra watermixable solvent free oil paint.
Talens focus on making paints for the fine art market, so we have a great range of paints of differing qualities. As well as that they have a craft range that they have recently re-branded and called Amsterdam Deco, (I think its a better name than the old one – Decorfin) it has an exciting range of patina, multi purpose glass paints, porcelain paints and acrylic based universal paint. They complete their range with brushes, easels, paper pads and blocks as well as stretched canvases and a few other bits and pieces like gels, mediums, varnishes as well as inks.
Do you have a particular favorite product that you sell?
I always get excited when people buy Cobra, as I think its a great paint for the future. Its exciting to see people try it and invest in their future. Its not identical to painting with oil, as its a little more sticky but it is however still a genuine oil paint. There are so many benefits to it, like its lack of smell and the fact that you can just clean up with soap and water. So if you are like me and like painting “en plein air” its great. Its so versatile too, as you can use it like watercolour if you really thin it down. I like to make up watered down jars of colour that I can just throw at the canvas.
So yeah, it would definitely be Cobra, as it reminds me of how much fun you can have when your painting. Especially if its blues and rose colours!
What's on the stereo?
I am working at home today and have just been listening to UCB Christian radio. Christian music is really talking some leaps forward in the last few years and there are some really catchy songs out there. But the signal has just dropped out, so I will probably go back to Classic FM or Absolute 80's. I love 80s music & cant get enough of it (well mostly)!
Where else should we visit in your area?
Well on our street there are two great gift shops just next to us, a music shop and 2 coffee bars, so we are spoilt for choice there. But if you are looking for somewhere to spend a few hours, there is Sensations, the Dundee Science Centre, and close to that there is Discovery Point, the home of the RSS Discovery that Captain Scott took to the Antarctic. At the moment just next to the Discovery they are building the Victoria & Albert Museum of Design which should be finished in 2017. If you want a nice view, then Dundee Law is blinding.
Do you host any workshops, classes or special events?
Not at the moment, but we are looking at starting some master-classes, which will be aimed at giving artists the opportunity to brush up on their skills learning what you can do with all the various auxiliaries that are increasingly available in the marketplace. So yeah that will be something to keep an eye out for!
Is there anything else you'd like us to know?
Its probably worth noting that both my wife and I are both Christians, and take the values of service, truth, honesty, hope and integrity into our business. In so many ways the business would not be where it is now if we did not have our faith and I think that its important for people to know about who we are, our values and our attitude to life. It certainly can be a challenge at times in business to do the right thing and very stressful, and I am thankful that I do not have to rely on myself or worry about what the future holds.
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