by Carolyn Edlund
Erik DeAndre’ Robinson, an artist originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been creating since an early age. After art school, he traveled to Europe to take advantage of an atelier internship which gave him a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how art translates into commercial form.
Now living in the Czech Republic, Robinson worked for years as an Art Director and a Product Manager, but considers himself first and foremost a fine artist. He combined the skills gained from his creative and corporate background to develop The Artwork Factory, a business that brings fine art to the public in formats as diverse as furniture, area rugs and wall décor printed on a variety of substrates.
“Art is not something that’s reserved exclusively for the top one percent. It shouldn’t be intimidating,” he says, “Everyone connects to art in some way. It inspires joy and happiness. I believe art should be available to the consumer to put into their homes and offices, and to enjoy on a day-to-day basis.”
Back in the 90’s, Robinson worked for a small company producing hand painted and embellished frames in Germany. Although the setup was very small, their products proved to be incredibly popular. It sparked an idea for a business that would bring art to the marketplace on decorative and functional products that consumers would understand, connect with and use. The Artwork Factory is the result of this original idea and hard work putting business systems and relationships in place with manufacturers, distributors – and artists.
The Artwork Factory looks to support artists, give them exposure, and even mentor them. They work with artists through licensing contracts which allows the artist to focus on creative aspects, but have a unique arrangement to allow the artist greater income through a percentage of sales. Robinson says, “This does more than sustain the artist. It helps them thrive.”
The Artwork Factory sells through three channels: retail to the public through online sales, wholesale to large retailers and smaller independent stores, and to the trade, working mostly with interior designers. They do not maintain a brick and mortar presence, but have a global reach that allows them to satisfy customers around the world.
Their business model partners with a variety of manufacturers and distributors to reach multiple markets. Starting with his own dynamic contemporary artwork as the premier collection, Robinson is looking to diversify further with additional product categories and styles, from traditional to modern, and says that sometimes images themselves can inspire products. The Artwork Factory does accept submissions from artists.
“Our line offers vibrancy, color, and universal themes that transcend language and culture,” he says, “That creates a resonance with people all over the world.”