If ever there were a person with enough gumption to create the Central Coast’s very own version of Etsy, it would be local busybody Robin Smith.
Imagine a boutique where you could find handcrafted works of art from San Luis Obispo County that would be open 24/7—and you never even had to leave the couch. This is what Smith has dreamed up for her new online store ARTshop Central Coast.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF DENISE BRAUN
- INTUITIVE: Denise Braun is a mixed media artist who designed a creative guidance system called ARTuition that helps people to understand their moods. She said she paints to reflect happiness and healing in her work, which she sells at artshopcc.com
When you first arrive at the site, you’re immediately greeted with an array of artwork from local artists. Everything from baby clothes to sculptures to jewelry to home décor—the whole gamut, really. The virtual shop’s comprised of mini boutiques, each featuring a description of the artist and photos of the crafts for sale.
Smith extends a helping hand to artists who either have no marketing skills, no computer skills, or neither. For any artist willing to join the site, Smith’s willing to meet the artist in person, free of charge, to set up their online shop. She stresses the importance of having quality photos for the site. She’s even created a how-to tutorial on the website for those who need help getting a web-worthy pic.
Janelle Younger, an ARTshop featured artist, uses an artistic technique called bricolage to craft structures and wall hangings out of secondhand materials. Younger has used silverware, bent wire, bicycle sprockets, and spatulas for her creations, giving each piece a rejuvenated junkyard look.
“With ARTshop, Robin has made it really simple for me to put my art up on a website and get it out in the open,” Younger said. “Before, it was just hanging on the wall in the dark, waiting for my next art show. Now it’s visible all the time.”
The cost to join is $50 a year, with funding going back into marketing the site. Smith said she wants to help put money back into the community while simultaneously deterring people from turning to big-box stores.
“The idea isn’t to replace boutiques,” Smith said. “It’s to make it easier for those who don’t like to shop.”
Smith said she certainly had males in mind when building the site. She believes that introducing a stress-free way to buy home décor or a gift for a wife or girlfriend will be the key for drawing men in. One of Smith’s original inspirations for creating ARTshop was her own husband.
“My husband loves art,” Smith said. “But he will shop at a box store because it’s easier than going to art shows or searching through boutiques.”
- PHOTO COURTESY OF IRINA MALKMUS
- SHINE ON : Irina Malkmus uses old-world techniques like chasing and repoussé to craft embossed pewter works of art.
A self-motivated woman with a get-up-and-go attitude, Smith has been at the forefront of numerous successful projects.
“I wear a lot of hats,” she said. “Videographer, researcher, writer, editor, graphic artist.”
Her most notable endeavor may be her award-winning organization Health and Harmony Media. And as if she wasn’t already too busy, she also teaches film and video at Allan Hancock College.
“Every artist reaches a chapter in their lives where they need to shake it up,” Smith said. “I thought about going back to my roots as a painter.”
After ultimately deciding that painting professionally wouldn’t be the most practical move, she decided to help others further their own careers as artists. A dose of marketing and web power can do wonders.
“Artists have a tendency to be bad at marketing,” Smith said.
But as a video producer, Smith knows how to tell a good story—and tell it well.
“All of the artists have a story to tell, and I am a storyteller,” Smith said.
- SHOP LOCAL: Pick up diverse locally made jewelry, sculpture, paintings, baby clothes, furniture, and more at ARTshop Central Coast, SLO’s version of Etsy. Art awaits at artshopcc.com.
Smith aims to expand the site to 200 artists with a budget that’s just enough to keep the site going and for advertisements to draw people to the artists.
“I’m in it for the long haul,” she said. “I just want to promote the artists.”
New Times intern Kat Schuster doesn’t have to use Google anymore to look for art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.