Featured Retailer: Artisan Art Supplies

From Dennis Metcalf, RTNA Key Account Manager

As Western Key Account Manager for Royal Talens, I have been working with Artisan for close to two decades now. Artisan is a destination, not just another art store. Ron, Paul, Ernie, and Dennis have created an environment where artisans, musicians, and creative people can all feel comfortable coming in to shop, and/or create. I really enjoy Artisan’s Weekly Paint Splash Newsletter to catch up on art classes and events being offered locally in the southwest. Their Art Fusion Weekly Radio Show features local and regional singer songwriters and visual artists, blending both visual and audio mediums together in a creative forum.

Last but not least, is their bi-yearly art expo event held at the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino which features art workshops and classes from many well known artists around the country. Coupled with the workshops, top artist supply manufacturers from around the world show off the latest products and related artistic trends to a full house of great southwestern artist’s, and others from around the country. This is always a great time and allows attending artist’s to pick up cutting edge art supplies at show discounted prices. If you haven’t gone, the next event will take place in the fall of 2020. Couple it together with the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, a tour of the local galleries, great southwestern cuisine- and it’s sure to be memorable trip for all!

From Ron Whitmore, Co-Owner Artisan Art Supplies:

Artisan was founded in 1975 on historic Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico by the original owners from Houston, Jack Young and Bill Banta. Artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, RC Gorman and many others used to frequent the shop to pick up on their needed supplies. The business was in an old adobe and had a dirt parking lot with six parking spaces. Over the years all the current owners, Ernie Cavasos, Dennis Miller, Paul Bell and Ron Whitmore came to work at the store in all capacities from sales clerks, canvas stretchers, computer work and eventually management. Around 20 or so years ago they started buying/inheriting and taking over the business from Bill Banta and eventually Jack Young. All those four currently own Artisan equally and have worked together (without killing each other) for over 30 years.

Artisan moved and expanded from the old adobe and now has a store on the main drag in Santa Fe, Cerrillos Road, and a store near the UNM campus in Albuquerque. The business still offers art classes, free demonstrations, a Burmese python, canvas stretching, giclee printing, yoga class, life drawing and even a live radio program called “Art Fusion” which blends original songwriters with visual artists every week. The business has changed a lot since 1975 but still prides itself on servicing the fine art community of New Mexico.

Artisan has had a long standing relationship with Royal Talens. Royal Talens has been a big supporter of our art educator night in both stores showing all the new products available for art students. The professional artists , especially the New Mexico landscape painters, have coveted Transparent Red Oxide in the Rembrandt Oils to capture the hills where Georgia O’Keefe painted in Abiquiqu. Artisan supplies both a student and professional market as there are over 260 art galleries in Santa Fe and Royal Talens has products to satisfy both.

In 2000, the first Artisan Materials Expo was held in the downtown Convention Center in Santa Fe. The event is a consumer show featuring manufacturers of artist materials showcasing and selling their products as well as short art workshops taught by local and regional artists. The event has happened every other year and eventually outgrew the Convention facility and moved to the Buffalo Thunder Resort 10 minutes north of Santa Fe which has more space for workshops. In 2018 the largest Artisan Materials Expo was held and featured 86 booths of manufacturers of artist materials and 120 art workshops. It was a record show by all accounts.

One of the biggest change to our art supply industry for all of us has been the effect of the internet. Artisan really tries to offer an experience when shopping, whether you want to sit in on the radio show and listen or just watch the 12 foot python climb his stretcher bar exercise gym. We believe people are looking for a reason to shop brick and mortar and your staff needs to be friendly and engaging and your store better be interesting. Artisan is now 43 years old and plans to keep going as long as there are people wanting to make their mark on the art world by walking through a door to get their supplies!

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