This story is about the life and times of a small start up company in America. "Whatever happened to 'Made in America and being proud of it?" asked Austin David. "My company was created specifically with the goal of bringing back the manufacturing of artistic supplies in North America."
"We are artists, and our goal is to provide our fellow artists with quality products at affordable prices for all their artistic needs," David said. "We want to enable, educate, support and nurture our fellow artists and the community around us."
Austin David is the creator and manufacturer of his own line of spray paints, especially created for artists. He sells the paints he has made through his retail store/ art gallery. He started his own business to manufacture the paint, called "Artissin."
"The name and logo of my company comes from this: In the past, if you were not sanctioned by the church, art was seen as a sin," he said. "Now street art is still seen as illegal and a sin."
Austin David is a great soul, an artist who spends his time helping other people make the most of their lives, especially the young people he guides and mentors. He opened his gallery space to a group of young people, who can come and hang out in a positive environment called, "Anime on Central". This is an anime-themed lounge in downtown St. Pete, founded to promote Japanese art and culture, to expose people to what the group loves, and to give people with common interests a place to gather, to support local artists and their talents. An amazing anime mural was painted in the lounge by artist Allen Hampton.
"We wanted this building to be a place where we could actually enjoy being here, not just a regular store," David said. "Justin is my friend, and he takes care of Anime On Central," said David. "It's sort of a club, or loose group of people, who come here to hang out, watch anime, play cards or games. Some go to St. Petersburg College, and some have special needs, like Autism or Aspergers. We have a lounge area where they can meet and relax. We give people with special needs a place to socialize and do something positive. They meet up on Sundays. All of this is volunteer. I try to treat all people exactly the same. My mother taught me to treat all people the same."
"If you teach people the right and wrong of things, they can make a better decision on how to act," David said. "You have to teach them why it's right and wrong."
The store and gallery has been open for business about seven months, and is located here:
Artissin, 727-204-9004, Web site, Artissin Incs Facebook, Artissin Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anime on Central, Facebook, 727-422-5662
2313 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida 33713
The recent gallery opening, "Artistry in Motion - an Urban Arts Expo" was a wonderful event held at Artissin, that included visual artists and break dancers, attended by around 200 people. "One of the reasons we set up the gallery as we did, was so that we could have events like this here," said David. There are pictures in the slide show with this article of some of the art that is displayed in the gallery from this event. Read this article for more on the opening and closing reception.
Austin David wrote, “In the 1970's, a few artists in NYC created a new form of art using spray paints, which they named Graffiti. Since then it has evolved into a main stream art form now known as aerosol art. Aerosol art is immensely popular, loved and recognized throughout the entire world. It is because of this reason that "Art Is Sin" aka "ARTISSIN" was created.”
"I started the company two years ago," said David. "I'm from New York. My mom was sick with breast cancer, so I came to the Tampa Bay area to be closer to her."
His company, Artissin, “is a very small North American company based in the United States that is owned by actual artists,” he said. “We manufacture spray paints for artists. Since we ourselves are artists; we know exactly what types of products other artists are looking for. All of the products designed and manufactured by Artissin are 100% made right here in North America. There is absolutely no exception to this rule; it is something we believe in and stand firmly behind.”
"Paints have been coming from foreign countries, including Germany, Spain and China. American-made paints do not cater to the artists, but America created the aerosol art form," David said. "I started manufacturing paint myself."
"The first batch of cans, I took to a filler in Chicago. They also made the second batch. I made 40,000 cans. I have about 5,000 cans left. I retail it here in the store for $3 a can."
"Our biggest goal is to pay the rent," said David. "We basically support the business with the sales of the spray paint. I am also a retailer for other Montana brands of paint. We sell them for less than other retailers. We don't make that much money on it, but we can sell it cheaper than other stores because we cut out the middle man."
"It's a shame that so many people in the country have no jobs," he said. "How many customer service jobs can we really fill? It is going to be people that create, that can manufacture things, that will help this country. I have saved my own money and invested my own money, and I had the idea. This is my own paint. I made ten colors. I've already improved the formula."
"Spray paint for artists is a hundred-million-dollar-a-year business. The average mural takes 8 cans of spray paint," David said. "I had difficulty getting any interest in making my product in America. I was turned down by a lot of manufacturers because of a prejudice against graffiti-style art. I called up factories in China, and they were ready to jump in and make my product right away. But I have a firm belief that products should be made in America for Americans. I kept looking until I found a company that I could work with to make my products here."
David has been approached by a larger company, but was not able to come to an agreement on a deal to take his company to the next level. He has strong convictions about his ideas, but he says, "I am open to honest partnerships to help further my business goals. My personal goal is to be happy, be solvent and to help other people."
Austin David's gallery is in the building of Abraham Reid and his lovely wife Sarah Reid, owners of Abraham's Furniture Galore. David's gallery, located on Central Avenue, is in the area known as the Grand Central District. It is also bordering on the part of the city known as the Warehouse District. The Grand Central District includes the 1600 to 3100 blocks of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, as well as First Avenues North and South. It is a Nationally and State Designated Main Street Community located just west of Downtown St. Petersburg between 16th and 31st Streets. As more artists are moving into Reid's building, the block is becoming quite a happening place for the arts. Three artists have moved into the building in the past year, and there is still one large space open for rent in Reid's building (1,700 square feet), with a high ceiling and walls, a perfect space for another artist to have a nice gallery.
For more about the area, check out the groups who have made a Facebook page for the Warehouse Arts District, known as "where art is made," and the web site for the Grand Central District. On the Second Saturday of each month, there is a Gallery Walk, and now a Trolley Tour, of these areas, in which you can visit the studios and galleries of the city's working artists. This expands the growing art area from the industrious downtown small studio and gallery destination on the 600 Block of Central Avenue.
Abraham Reid, the building owner, is supportive of artists, and is a true artist himself with furniture. He custom builds and upholsters furniture. His artistic skills and talents developed during the years he was growing up in Jamaica, in the West Indies, and freelancing with various companies in Kingston, Jamaica and Montego Bay, and the Grand Cayman Islands. He has been working in the building on Central for 20 years now. He rented it for seven years prior to 2001, then bought the building. He rents out the spaces in it he doesn't use for himself. He has a network of family and friends in the area who help out and visit the business. Phoenix Parker, an assistant for many years, helps out with the upholstery and other work around the store.
Warehouse Arts District - "Where art is made," -Facebook page “Our vision is to create a community that will attract artists from all over the country to live and work here.” email@example.com, (727) 512-6727