Plaza Artist Materials, Hands on Creativity, Encaustics
Plaza Artist Materials, Hands on Creativity event brought together Philly art experts with high quality art materials for a weekend of fun, education and creativity in the well stocked art supply store on Chestnut Street. As I moved from table to table chatting with presenters I learned about encaustics, oil paints, acrylics, colored pencils, fabric dye and more. Store manager Suzanne Knodle introduced me to the Plaza Artist Materials President/owner Eric Zelenko and we talked about the business of selling art supplies.
“We have thirteen stores in six states. It’s an interesting story how we came to Philadelphia. People really don’t know that much about us, so, what we want to be able to do is let people know that there are additional options for people who are creating art. The Hands on Creativity event is typical of the things we want to do, so that people can come in and play with the stuff. Because artists like to explore and experiment.”
Plaza Artist Materials, Hands on Creativity, Faber Color Pencils
The market for art supplies in Philly has changed a lot. Pearl disappeared, I used to spend at least $100. every time I went in there, I don’t know how they decided to close. Utrecht is gone and there’s no parking near Blick’s.
“You know, the way I look at it, our job is to do the best we can do. And take as much feedback from customers as we can and if that means adding product or helping them understand how to use it, that’s what we’ll do. Every person we have working here is an artist.”
Your store is in a great location, the neighborhood in West Philly is becoming the arts destination that it deserves to be.
“It’s really interesting because, as you can see, Drexel and Penn are in a massive building zone and there are all these neighborhoods around where a lot of students live. The hope is, and the schools are committed, too, to bringing people back into the city so that this doesn’t turn into sort of a ghost town. And so these neighborhoods are becoming populated with great people. Philly is a great city, it’s a funny place, I’m from New York originally and I live in D.C. now, but Philly is a city that people really love and can live in, it’s really vibrant. Not like other cities that don’t really know what they want to be. To me, Philly is very vibrant and people really live in their neighborhoods.”
Plaza Artist Materials, Hands on Creativity, Liquitex acrylics
“My hope, with all the commitments that the schools are making, that this becomes a place that people want to wander around. There are lots of people on the street. I see people walking their dogs, so they must live close by.”
Just a few years ago this was not a neighborhood I would wander around in.
“I know, I remember when I was in college, I had some friends here, and people would say this was a terrible neighborhood. And look at it now, right?”
What are your future plans for this location?
“We’ve been here just a little over a year, we just passed the year mark. I think we’re settling in and I think it’s about making as many connections to the artist community as we can, introducing ourselves and supporting the artists in a variety of ways. People who create art, one of the things that has always struck me, is that if you look at great artists, people want to connect with each other.
I’m sure they’re competitive in some ways but the people who create art seem to need to commune. Hopefully, what we can do is be a place where people come together to do that. By the way, we have all these bare walls and we want to invite people to exhibit their work. We’ve done some things with Drexel, but that’s something we will be doing more of.” – Plaza Artist Materials President/owner Eric Zelenko
Plaza Artist Materials, Hands on Creativity
Thanks Plaza Artist Materials for all the great swag! I took home oils and solvents from Gamblin, acrylics from Liquitex, Canson pastel paper, Rembrandt pastel sampler, 1980 oils and loads of informative materials. The presenters really took time to educate me on the benefits of the products they demonstrated and possible hazards to avoid. I did not know that you should never clean your brushes with turpentine if you’re using cadmium paint because it can cause the toxins to seep into your skin.
Next time you are shopping at Plaza Artist Materials say, ‘Hi’, to store manager Suzanne for me.
Plaza Artist Materials is located at 3200 Chestnut Street, Retail E, Philadelphia, PA 19104, on the Drexel University Campus on the south side of Chestnut Street between 32nd and 33rd Streets.
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