Erik DeAndre’ – fine artist and entrepreneur

erik-Artwork-Factory-webSometime ago I read an inspiring article from about Erik DeAndre’ and The Artwork Factory. Impressed by the scale and ambition of his enterprise I was spurred on to learn more about this outstanding company and the fine artist with an incredibly astute business mind behind it.

Q: If you were to sum up your life in two sentences, what would they be?

A: My artistic journey began much like the average artist, searching for a unique voice to express my ideas and creative thoughts. This journey has led me to many wonderful opportunities and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride!

Q: For any visitor to the Art Work Factory website, it is exceeding obvious that not only are you a savvy business man, you are also an exceptional artist – how do you balance a need to create and your business?

A: Fortunately, art is a full-time part of my daily existence. My team and I dedicate a great deal of time towards assessing design trends and developing our collections. The Artwork Factory is a global brand and this involves a lot of coordination between artists, customers and various production bases. As the Creative Director, I’ve also got to put in the hours in the studio… That said, I love every aspect of my job!

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: I’m currently wearing several hats and they all provide their own unique perspectives into ‘The art of business and the business of art’. Depending upon which particular aspect you’re looking at, various adjectives come to mind: Creative, Challenging, Fun, Rewarding, Enlightening… I think that you get the gist of where I’m going with this.

Q: Who and what are your major influences?

A: Personally: Unsurprisingly, the person who’s had the earliest influence on me is my mother… She’s always been my greatest fan and supporter. Growing up in a single parent household, she instilled a sense of faith, perseverance and always encouraged me to reach for things just beyond my grasp. Most importantly, she encouraged me to use every experience as a learning opportunity & that’s basically been my mantra for as long as I can remember.

Professionally: I’ve studied the old masters and works of more contemporary artists than I can recall this early in the morning. The Artwork Factory’s logo is actually a tongue in cheek homage to one of the greatest artists that’s ever lived. I’ve got an insatiable appetite for all things artistic and I try to absorb as much as humanly possible! In today’s technology driven age, there’s so much information available and filtering the good from the bad can be a real challenge. With that, this is also an exciting era… where creative inspiration can be found in numerous arenas. Fashion, music, architecture, world events and every aspect of contemporary design play a role in what interests me artistically.

Q: When you feel stuck, where do you turn for reference and inspiration?

A: I can’t say that I experience ‘artist’s block’ per se, but from time to time, it’s necessary and healthy to step back from a project or idea in order to develop a better feeling for where it’s headed. As I’ve previously stated, there are so many external stimuli today, sometimes we’ve just got to reboot. This approach is extremely helpful in minimising frustration and wasted resources. The fact that we develop the basic concepts for our collections well in advance also helps to minimise creative constipation.

Q: Tell us a little about your artistic trials and tribulations?

A: During the onset of my career, I had a very difficult time understanding why some works resonated with a wide audience, while others didn’t. I think this is a universal question that anyone who’s ever branded himself as a professional artist has faced. For me the eureka moment came when I stopped focussing on trying to please ‘all of the people all of the time’ and just concentrated on ways to effectively communicate my ideas. Once I did that, I found my voice, and creative ease and oddly enough, was able to appeal to a wider audience (ohhh, the irony).

Q: Any tips and tricks about making a name or brand for yourself that you’d like to share?

A: The information age has significantly transformed the art market and empowered artists like never before! Standing out from the crowd can be daunting… In today’s social media extravaganza, there are lots of PR and media specialists who can help to develop your brand. Regardless of how you get your name out there, as an artist, your oeuvre remains your loudest and strongest voice and that should always be your primary focus! An important part of what The Artwork Factory does involves exposing artists to a worldwide audience and allowing artists to generate income from their work.

Q: Where can people view your art?

A: Before we launched The Artwork Factory in 2012, I was one of the most widely published artists on the retail market for over 10 years consecutively. As the Creative Director of The Artwork Factory, our brand and products can be found with collectors and major Retailers worldwide. Along with our strong retail presence, we also participate in multiple International trade fairs and art exhibitions.

Q: Creating a company like The Artwork Factory must involve an incredible amount of energy and commitment. What inspired you to go down this path?

A: Most people have probably heard the old saying ‘Be the change that you want to see’… Well for me, it was exactly that! After more than two decades as an Art Director, Product Manager and Creative Head of some of the largest wholesale art companies in Europe, I wanted to dispel the idea that owning and enjoying great art is a privilege reserved exclusively for the wealthy. As an artist, it was also important to address and understand the language of artists. From a business perspective, we had to ensure that what we wanted to achieve was not only possible, but also profitable…

Q: Do you find it difficult making time to be creative or are you spurred on by seeing the works of the other artists involved in The Artwork Factory?

A: It may come as a surprise but I don’t necessarily consider the two to be mutually exclusive… The great thing about my job is that it involves many creative aspects and I view the entire process as being a whole. Whether I’ve created the images myself or not, seeing the tremendous reception that our products have received and the professional growth of our artists and brand is extremely rewarding.

Q: How do you juggle your artistic and your business personas?

A: Being an artist transcends simply ‘What you do’ for a living… It’s an intricate part of how you see the world. Many of the the skill sets required to be an artist are not dissimilar to qualities necessary to run a business. Creative problem solving, abstract thinking, and analytical observation immediately come to mind. That said, some artists may not have the head or stomach for certain aspects of running a business and that’s okay too. I guess I’m fortunate in having developed equal parts pragmatism and creativity.

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Q: Tell me about The Art Work Factory – what do you produce?

A: The Artwork Factory’s philosophy is ‘Art for Everyone’… Our approach has been to make the connection between great art and affordable consumer products our primary focus. With this, our product assortment consists of decorative consumer goods that fit just about every budget and a multitude of contemporary decor styles. From the onset, our objective has been to present exciting and unique products that differentiates us from traditional art publishers and wholesalers. Through exclusive images, products, manufacturing and distribution partnerships, we’ve been quite successful in achieving this. The really exciting part is that we’re constantly exploring dynamic new products and ways of presenting fresh art to our customers that continue to keep interest and energy levels extremely high!

Q: Who are your target audience?

A: We’ve broken this down into three main markets: The individual collector, who can purchase directly from our e-gallery; decorating and design professionals, who receive our professional discounts and then there are our Big Box retail partners… If we’ve missed anyone, it’s not due to a lack of effort!

Q: What are they looking for in an artwork?

A: Purchasing art is a very personal and individual experience. The reasons why people buy our art varies… Product versatility and affordable price points allow for an extremely wide spectrum of potential customers to be actively engaged in the acquisition process. Whether it’s because a particular piece resonates on an emotional level or because the colours and themes match with their decor, we’ve priced our products to be within reach.

Q: What kind of distribution channels do you use?

A: We have a fantastic e-shop, which enables customers to view our products in various interactive interiors. Our worldwide army of top decorating professionals is quite extensive and this is something that we’re particularly proud of because this is not an easy crowd to impress. Our partnership with major Big Box retailers has also been instrumental in enabling us to achieve our goal of reaching the widest possible consumer audience. We’re humbled and honoured that all of our partners have made us a top destination for art products.

Q: What kind of promotion techniques do you find effective?

A: We’ve found that a combination of promotional techniques have had the greatest levels of success. Whether through focused email campaigns, ads, or promotional sales… Content and service are ultimately king! By offering consumers great products and services, that’s what’s consistently generated the greatest positive responses and word of mouth is still a business’ greatest asset!

Q: What are the main advantages for artists who become involved in The Artwork Factory?

A: We do all of the heavy lifting in regards to getting the artist’s work featured to the widest possible audience. We have an excellent established network set-up that bridges the distance between the artist’s atelier to the global market. Once we’ve selected images to include into our product assortments, the effects are immediate and this frees the artist to concentrate on being creative.

Q: What are the pros and cons for artists when making their work commercially available?

A: If you’re serious about making art a career then one of your primary concerns immediately involves generating sales and revenue to pay for incidentals like food, clothes, shelter and art supplies. The very nature of being a professional (in anything), means that you’ve got to earn income from your work. Sorry to throw shade on many a bohemian dream but that’s just the cold hard reality! This fact is probably the biggest con. Artists who are able to come to terms with this, discover that’s when interesting things start to happen and a vast world of possibilities open up. The biggest pro… Ultimately it comes down to what each artist actually hopes to achieve with their work. Stepping outside of the creative comfort zone and being able to market, not only your work but also your persona isn’t for everyone and that’s where we come in.

Q: Are you looking for artists to distribute?

A: Definitely… Not only are we looking for new artists but often times, we create totally new lines of goods that have been inspired from these new partnerships.

Q: How can artists apply?

A: Artists can submit works for reviewing here

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