For Art’s Sake


Oh, the places you’ll go! If you were to travel back in time to when I was sculpting Styrofoam in a middle school art class and told me that someday I’d have the chance to visit New Orleans on a work trip where I’d meet fascinating people, immerse myself in rich culture and get up close to colorful Mardi Gras floats, I’d say that was a nice dream and get back to my project.

Turns out, dreams can come true.

This year was my first foray into Creativation by Namta, and what an introduction it was! It was a whirlwind of a trip, with two days of educational sessions plus a venture onto the trade show floor. I met up with acquaintances and made new friends. I was even able to explore the surrounding area and experience the lively atmosphere of the Crescent City.

One of the things that impressed me most was that the show was just as vibrant as its host city. The booths were decorated with colorful products, with more than one vendor offering demonstrations and participatory projects. I watched instructors exhibit Bob Ross products to a small painting class. Presenters in Demo Alley called me over to see and interact with the newest items on the market. I marveled at the realistic molds made with Smooth-On products and geeked out about their uses in movies and cosplays. The whole experience was like being a kid in a giant candy store – I wanted to try everything!

The people were just as colorful and twice as friendly. They were welcoming and enthusiastic, not caring a bit that I was a newcomer to the crafts and fine arts industry. Vendors took their time to explain their products and how creative minds – no matter their experience level – could utilize them. It got me thinking how to expand my horizons.

There was plenty of time to forge new connections and learn how art is impacting communities in new and unique ways. Towards the end of my visit, I was directed to a booth hosted by My Very Own Blanket. I had a very poignant conversation with the organization’s founder, Jessica Rudolph about how the group makes and collects hand-made blankets for kids in the foster care system. Rudolph gave me a no-sew fleece blanket to work on as we talked. As someone who has adopted cousins, the organization’s mission hit quite close to home. Within half an hour, the blanket was finished and my heart felt a little bigger. You can read Rudolph’s story later on in this magazine.

The attendees were just as fun as the exhibitors. One morning, as a group of us were bused to the convention center, I heard a conversation between two retailers seated a row behind me (the perks of being a wallflower, so to speak). They were talking about the latest issue of Art Materials Retailer when one suggested that the other should share her story with the magazine. It was through this fortuitous mutual connection I met Amanda Bennett, owner of Blaine’s Art Supplies in Anchorage, AK. Indeed, she did have a wonderful journey to share and I’m delighted to feature her store in this issue.

I made many other connections at Creativation, some of which you will see in these pages, others which will be featured in future issues. In the end, I am proud to highlight the creativity, determination and kindness that can be found in this wonderful industry. I invite you, whether you are a newcomer or veteran, to join me on this amazing journey. Happy reading!


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