June 17, 2012 in Inspiration
After two centuries at the top of the art game, if you’re an artist of any kind, it’s likely that you’ve had the absolute joy of working with one of their materials at one time or another. We caught up with Bjorn Schalburg, to talk all things Daler-Rowney…
Could you give us a brief outline of the history and background of Daler-Rowney?
Daler-Rowney has been at the forefront of the art scene in one form or another for over two centuries. Key milestones and achievements include exhibiting at the Great Exhibition of London in 1851, collaborating with Turner as official lithographers, and setting the pace for pop art through the creation of acrylic colours with Cryla in Europe.
How has Daler-Rowney evolved since it was first established in 1783?
Daler-Rowney has always been driven by the market to evolve and reinvent itself in front of the ever-changing artscape. Since 1783, what began as a provider of wig powder has become a global reference in the fine-art arena, providing quality solutions for artists of all levels of expertise and accompanying their needs from the core materials that are drawing materials, colours, brushes, and surfaces across accessories and framing materials.
Have changes in art trends and art movements affected your products in any way? Do art materials have to change with the movements?
We are fortunate to be in a market where the creativity and passion of the artists using our products naturally leads to developments within the product ranges we offer. We are of course in constant exchange with artists worldwide, who offer us suggestions, feedback, and constructive criticism to ensure that we remain at the top of our game. When a clear gap in the market is identified, we get together to discuss, define, and pave the way for breakthroughs that we feel will further enhance and catalyse the creative forces observed in the market.
How much does Daler-Rowney value traditional materials – I noticed you have an egg tempera product for example.
I would gladly give you a tour of headquarters in Bracknell at some point where we still produce all of our colours. I am confident that you will be amazed by how much tradition and craftsmanship continues to filter through every drop of colour that we manufacture!
What makes your art materials so popular? How are they unique to other brands in the arts materials world?
One of the keys stems from our desire to provide the best quality art materials across four market segments (entry, amateur, fine-art student, artists’), always at the best possible price. Because we began our journey at the very top end of the spectrum in terms of quality, it has been relatively straightforward to develop quality products with slightly lower specifications to provide artists with materials suited to their needs that are cost-effective as well pleasurable to use. As a result, we have a very strong position within the student market with brands like System3, Georgian, and Graduate. All products developed by Daler-Rowney are crafted by the same experts overlooking the very finest products that we manufacture. 200+ years of experience becomes invaluable for all of these reasons.
Are there any well-known artists in the past and present that swear by Daler-Rowney products?
Because of the presence and size of Daler-Rowney in the market, it is reasonable to assume that almost all artists, certainly in the UK, use some of our art materials. Out of respect for the many artists who shy away from being commercially linked to any one brand, we will opt not to drop any names!
Who are Daler-Rowney’s favourite contemporary artists and why? (For example, Do you follow artists that have a technical skill using texture and colour through oil paints?)
We have recently chosen to work with Hashim Akib on our System3 Original and Heavy Body campaign. What counts for us is raw talent, and what artists can do to inspire future generations. Hash is young-spirited, talented, creative, and personifies what we appreciate the most in artists.
How important do you think art and creativity is in todays society? Do you believe that everyone should be creative, not just artists?
The wider population has never had so many opportunities to be creative as today. Creativity can be observed everywhere, and is transcending all traditional channels and mediums that we have defined art until today. Creativity is vital – art is therapeutic and makes people feel good, adding meaning to their lives. To answer the second question, we believe that everybody is an artist. It is part of the normal constitution of the human being, and dates back to the caveman.
How popular are your products amongst University students and graduates?
On top of being available in all college art stores, our products feature on all almost all lists given to students by art teachers. We have also recently developed many new ranges within our “Graduate” brand which are proving extremely popular in this segment of the market. Students are key in the world of art, and as a result are one of our key focuses and inspirations when developing new materials.
Do artists progress through your product ranges as their technical ability or career progresses?
Because of the launch of our “Simply” range of entry level products five years ago, artists are now able to progress across four different ranges. We encourage this evolution, as overspending on art materials is an obstacle to progression, and we are obviously here to remove obstacles and not create them. The quality of these products also ensures that from the very beginning, artists get good results, which is also fundamental if we want budding artists to continue indulging, experimenting, and progressing artistically.
How would an artist be able to use the Daler-Rowney website as a tool for marketing and developing as a professional artist?
Our website is constantly evolving, and we have a gallery section and forum that we encourage artists to post on. Beyond the exposure, it is obviously also a good place to learn about our products and what we offer across the different ranges as tools for creativity. We also have Facebook and Twitter pages to keep artists up to date with our latest product developments, competitions, and events, which can also serve as platforms for future recognition.
How have changes in marketing affected the art world? Do you think that it has become easier for artists to promote themselves over recent years due to the internet and social media?
The internet and social media are perfect channels for artists to share their work and network, but many of their challenges remain the same – balancing their time across creation and promotion, standing out against other artists, letting loose originality when mainstream is what is selling the most, etc. Creativity in communication is almost as vital as on the canvas itself today!
Are there any other types of marketing that you think would best suit artists?
Live events and “battles” are obviously trending in parallel fields. Something is definitely going to pop up in a very big way in our field at some point in the near future. The only question is where!
Do you think you will ever go back to selling perfume and wig powder?
Every colour manufactured by Daler-Rowney has a specific fragrance to it. It might not be considered as perfume by all, but we know that many artists link it with the creative experience in an almost Pavlovian way. Believe it or not, we actually work on the fragrance of all of our colours in one way or another! As for placing colour in wigs, it is probably one of the lesser extravagances we have witnessed over the ages! Art makes the world brighter, and we have a world of artists to thank for making it more colourful in many a place – the sky is the limit!