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Art Central isn’t your everyday arts and crafts store. Selling professional-grade materials, Art Central is a match made in heaven for any local artist, art student or simply someone who wants to dabble in the arts a bit more.
Art Central covers professional art and design needs. They sell a variety of products, including oils, acrylics, encaustics, pencils, pastels and drafting supplies.
It’s not all professional, either. The supplies range from non-toxic paints for children to specialty items such as encaustics — hot wax with infused pigment.
Owner Etty Pacifico opened Art Central in February 2011. Her vision was to supply the community with a wide range of art products.
However, Art Central doesn’t just distribute quality paints, brushes and canvas; it also shares expertise.
“I think that people need a local place, not just to buy their supplies but to be able to be more informed,” Pacifico said. “We try to give people the opportunity to try brushes, for example, if they are not familiar with the type of brush.”
To ensure costumers get the most accurate advice, all employees have to go through a few hoops before they are set loose on the floor.
“Etty tests you,” said art and design sophomore Shauna Jellison, an Art Central employee. “You have to do a couple test trials and certain tests. She makes you be an employee for a day or two. Once she assesses what you know about art, she judges whether she wants to hire you or not.”
Employees aren’t simply cashiers; they use their own knowledge to answer customer questions. Sometimes they even produce samples or trials for customers to show them how the product will look on paper or canvas.
Art and design senior Eimi Tagore-Erwin, who has been an employee for one year, said she wanted to work at Art Central to get a behind-the-scenes look at the products she was using. One of her favorite parts of the job is guiding a customer to the right product.
“It is discouraging when you go home and you can’t do the project because what you bought isn’t right,” Tagore-Erwin said. “Since everyone that works there is an artist or art student, we all know that struggle.”
Employees are well versed in the different supplies, with each member of the team specializing in a specific area, such as acrylics and oils.
“I wouldn’t have used half of the materials I do now if I hadn’t started working there,” Jellison said. “I just stuck to what I knew. Then I found new materials that did really unique things that I never would have imagined doing.”
As an added bonus, students from Cal Poly or Cuesta College receive a 15 percent discount off all supplies. Community members taking classes from local artists that have a list of supplies can also receive that same discount.
Beyond selling supplies, Art Central displays and sells the resulting works in a gallery, which is open for submissions from the community and local artists.
Three walls of the gallery are displays by three permanent artists who switch out their work periodically. The back wall features art centered around a monthly theme. Everyone is encouraged to submit their works, from seasoned artists to beginners.
Many of the artists whose work is featured have never displayed their work before. The Art Central staff guides them through all the steps of showing their work in a gallery.
“We help them to price their work, show them how the whole process works,” Pacifico said. “Then they can go on and develop confidence in their work as artists.”
November and December’s show is titled “Little Treasures,” which will feature works priced under $100.
Art Central also serves as a venue for local art teachers to teach workshops and classes. Most classes are focused on two-dimensional artwork, such as drawing or painting.
All the supplies used in Art Central’s classes can be found at the store. Sometimes ideas for classes are born out of customers wanting to learn how to use a certain product without making the investment for the product quite yet.
Art Central is located at 1329 Monterey St.
ThingLink by Maggie Kaiserman