Spotlight On Pearl Publishing – Brief Article
PORTLAND, Ore.–In just four short years, Pearl Publishing, the company founded by Victoria Hartwig and Nate Dickison, has experienced phenomenal growth.
The company got its start in 1998 when Dickison, a successful entrepreneur, wanted to get into the business after attending Artexpo New York. So he partnered with Hartwig, visited with John Doe at Harvest Productions in Anaheim Hills, Calif., for advice on running a successful giclee printing facility and started Pearl Publishing. Initially, the company acted as a giclee printmaker serving the local community.
But it didn’t stay small for long.
Today, Pearl Publishing serves hundreds of self-published artists and provides printing services for other publishers. The company also acts as a fine art publisher for two artists and has moved to a new location that houses a retail art gallery and a full-service custom framing facility. And the company’s market has spread beyond Bend, reaching clients in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, Idaho and California.
“Before we started, there was nothing like us in the city of Portland–no offering of a specialty-type, fine-art reproduction facility for giclee printing at all,” said Hartwig. “But Nate did some research, and I spent some time at Harvest honing my Photoshop, Mac and color management skills. About three months into the start of the company, we got a few artists that came in and kept the presses running. We then picked up a couple of publishers and about 100 local artists and we were on the way.”
Hartwig continued, “Our next step was to do some expanding. So we decided to move into a new, 5,000-square-foot facility and add some new pieces of equipment. Then we added the custom frame shop, a full 2000-square foot gallery and room for serious publishing and marketing. We are 12 people strong today.”
The company prints the work of several hundred artists and publishers, but it also puts its marketing dollars and expertise behind the work of Oregon artists Don Dahlke and Mike Smith and acts as a fine art publisher for both. In fact, the company presented a series of limited-edition prints from both of the artists at DECOR expo last month and plans to bring their work to Artexpo New York in March.
Dahlke was born in a small Oregon town and pursued his art career against the advice of his parents. But his reputation as an artist and his growing list of successful exhibitions prove otherwise. He’s shown his work in St. Kitts since the mid-’80s, and his paintings of island and Mexican doorways currently sell in galleries throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean.
Smith is a native of Portland and is a self-taught artist who said he has abandoned “all schools of painting” in favor of his own style. He has had more than 50 solo shows. “My work is simply about the people and places and animals I love … images unlike the written word, do not dictate to you,” he said. “We are visual beings, and each image is a dialog.”
“He’s an artist who’s been around for 30 years and has sold every he’s every painted,” boasted Dickison.
“The relationship between the company and the two artists is very strong” added Hartwig. “And they are both really involved in the production of their work. Both have had huge success selling their original artwork–they are very talented.”
According to Hartwig and Dickison, the company plans to expand by adding a couple of artists a year and following the same formula that has brought them success with Smith and Dahlke. “One, the art has to be great–it already has to be selling in original form with enough collectors demanding it,” explained Dickison. “And it has to be selling in enough galleries so that it’s almost in a shortage. It has to fit our theme and our printing method, and, since we’re working so closely together, we really have to like the artist. I also don’t think we want to be one of those big publishers with more than 100 artists. I think four to six will be manageable so we can really do a good job for them and make the art look beautiful for them and we don’t get too scattered where we compromise or cut corners.”
Indeed, when it comes down to basics for the folks at Pearl Publishing, maintaining their reputation for quality is the company’s main objective–and they have no plans of changing it.
“Relationships are huge in this industry, as is timeliness, quality and caring,” said Hartwig. “Being involved in everything really makes a difference, and we plan to continue to make a difference and do things right every time.”
FACTS & FIGURES
* Pearl Publishing got its start as
a small printer for self-published
artists nearly four years
ago in Bend, Ore.
* Today, the company has
expanded to serve artists and
publishers, and the new facility
houses a gallery, a full-service
custom frame shop and more.
* The company also publishes
the work of Don Dahlke and
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