PRINTMAKING IN PARADISE
I am constantly amazed at the places where printmaking thrives. When I look at the places where we sell printmaking supplies, I find distributors in something like 22 countries, and individual customers in many more. We used to tell people, who asked if we sold outside of the U.S., that we didn't sell behind the Iron Curtain, on mainland China, and in Northern Africa. Well, times have changed. The Iron Curtain is non-existant, and we have several customers in those areas, including, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and the Czech Republic. We're talking to China about the possibilities there, and inquiries from Africa are not at all unusual.
A little closer to home, Susan and I had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago to travel to Hawai'i to visit customers there. The number of active customers was quite surprising. We called on schools, workshops and individuals on three islands (truth be told, one ended up being just that - a call. Last minute airfares precluded a visit to a good friend on the Big Island of Hawai'i, so I telephoned instead.)
Honolulu afforded the opportunity to meet with several people from the Honolulu Printmakers and the University of Hawai'i. It also allowed for a few hours on Waikiki Beach, Hanamua Bay and Pearl Harbor.
A short hop to Maui and a couple of phone calls put us together with several other printmakers in a truly beautiful setting in Makawao. It reinforced my contention that in the printmaking world, it's not six degress of separation but more like two degrees!
As a supplier, that's a mixed bag. You know a larger percentage of the customer base, which is great, but if you don't live up to expectations, word gets around pretty fast. I've rarely met a printmaker that didn't know many of the same people that I do. There's a great sense of community in that.
Sales calls in Hawai'i in December - life just doesn't get too much better than that for a poor Midwestern boy. Oh yeah, I did have a number of my in-laws along with us, but we actually like each other, so it was a great time.....really it was!