Mark Golden on Paint

Entries Comments

Have gas prices changed your art making?

15 August, 2006 (16:37) | Community

I know we’ve all taken it on the chin over these past two years with increases in gas prices affecting everyone and almost every purchase.

In some cases fuel cost increases were very direct, but also considering the lack of supply, we were also facing shortages of materials. I know this had hit many of the business sectors. Anyone trying to pour a concrete floor or get steel roofing faced many of these same issues of shortages as we did in getting raw materials for making paint. It certainly brought home the level of globalization of resources even here in rural upstate New York.

In Central New York we’ve been preparing for winter since the beginning of the month. For those that heat their homes with wood, they’ve been chopping and stacking. For those heating with fuel oil or kerosene, they’ve been negotiating with the area oil companies for the best deal or the best cap on fuel prices for the upcoming season.

The cost of heating fuel, as well as gas prices has been a hot topic in our cafeteria. In the end folks are making hard choices on the luxury items, such as a family vacation.

So while in the cafeteria this question arose. Given the additional costs of everything from traveling to heating prices and shipping, to the costs of most of the things we buy, have the fuel prices affected your art?

So I shared that I’d post this to our customers and ask: Are you painting less? Painting smaller? Using student grade or house paint? Are you buying materials local or spending more time purchasing off the internet? What changes, if any, have you had to make?

I would love to hear from you! Regards Mark




Comment from Matt Ramada
Time: August 16, 2006, 6:19 am

Being a student and a dependant (and a driver for only so long) my experience with gas prices is limited, and my painting habits have been mostly unaffected. A while ago I made the resolve to basically spend my earnings on three things: art supplies, my girlfriend, and gasoline (would be an interesting addition to the old saying, now: “there are only three things that are certain in life, death, taxes, and increasing oil prices.”) College tuition is running up for a fourth now too however.

My fear lays entirely elsewhere. I’m really big into science, and science fiction (as opposed to “future fantasy” which I group most socalled sci-fi literature into), and study and reasearch what lays ahead in technology quite a bit. I was a biology major for a year before I dedicated myself to art full time and I have a good friend who follows business trends and something releiving and simultaneously startling was revealed to me over time. It would appear, we’re eventually going to “run out” of gasoline, in the next decade or next several decades, but seeming in (most of) our lifetimes (way to be optimistic, no?). Crude oil won’t become inexistant, but will be drastically more expensive to mine than is profitable. From everything I’ve learned (people I’ve talked to who follow or have family in the business) this will be no “huge” deal as far as every day transportation is going because there’s a great amount of research and even developed technology in the field of hydrogen cell power. All of the technology is owned (for the most part) by our friendly *cough* neighborhood *cough cough* gasoline companies (one of my college friend’s father worked for a company which researches hydrogen cell technology, and I think may own a few patents, and he said they were hounded frequently by oil companies for their research.) So it would seem all is good an well then right? We’ll just keep burning up fuel in our SUVs and 4WD trucks until we run out, then switch over, right?

Here’s my fear, this neglects the entire plastics industry (and if I’m not mistaken, acylics are some sort of subsidary product of plastic) as plastic is a a petroleum based substance. What happens when it’s so expensive to mine oil that we can’t make anything out of plastic any more? When all of those life saving everyday objects are more expensive than precious metals. Now I’m no expert on petroleum to plastic conversions and how much is used and what the yeild is for recycled plastics and how useful all of that is and what not, but it still seems like something we take for granted. Like gasoline is just for making cars (and planes, and tanks, and trains, and boats) go, and that it doesn’t do anything else so we can just “move on”, but what if we lose out somewhere else?

Mark, I know you pride youself on the exquisite quality of product that you deliver to some of the most eager hands in the art world. What if you found yourself unable to make that product, no because no one was buying, or because you weren’t doing your best, but because it was simply impossible to get your raw materials because they didn’t exist! (lets see if html coding works here, I don’t know…) I’m not going to say I have any idea of what it’s like to be running your business, or even if I’m at all near the mark on what is actually required to make acrylics, but that’s the fear I have, that in 20 or 30 years, I won’t be able to buy acrylics, or a drink in a plastic bottle, or a car made out of the safest and most advanced materials or whatever, or a phone, or a plastic wristwatch.

And this may be a stupid and pointless fear, and this post may have been long and uncalled for, and totally irrelevant, but I worry, probably needlessly, but someone’s got to, don’t they?

-Matt Ramda

P.S. In order not to sound like a total lunatic/idiot, I usually do a limited bit of research whenever I post stuff like this on internet forums. Wikipedia (in all it’s “anyone may write here” additude, a somewhat endless source of info, with variable truth-ness) claims that plastics use up only 4% of global fossil-fuel usage. Though this may not seem like much now, I still maintain that 4% of zero is still zero.

Comment from Mark Golden
Time: August 18, 2006, 10:00 am

Matt, Your concerns have hit very close to our own as a company that has prided itself on its responsibility to our greater global community.

I am reminded of a story that was shared by Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder during a conference in Washington. This is an incredible clothing and gear company for outdoor climbers and hikers. It is also a company with substantial environmental credentials. Chouinard shared that the most important fabric that they were producing was a polyester fiber material that had incredible protective qualities necessary for folks braving severe environments. If he could have made a equivalent material from natural resources he would have absolutely have done it. But he felt the need for warmth and safety was paramount in the decision to continue to use this material that of course used a fossil-fuel in its production.

I believe we must continue to look at our own processes continually. To constantly update our materials and processes to be able to make them more and more environmentally sustainable. To also look at our suppliers and to work with those that also use more environmentally responsible practices. But like Chouinard, we strongly believe that we do also have a responsibility to the quality and the longevity of our materials for the benefit of artists. No the acrylics are not saving lives, but I think they will prove out to be saving our art, and I’d like to think that many of us also think this is important.

We will continue to look at other renewable resources in making our materials. A good deal of work is continuing on looking at plant materials in the production of coatings. But even with that possibility, one has to be sure that the level of agriculture that is required to make this viable, doesn’t put an even greater strain our environment.

I look forward to sharing updates as we continue on this journey. Thanks for the comments! Mark

Comment from Matt Ramada
Time: August 18, 2006, 2:33 pm

I entirely agree with the statement about using a limited resource to produce a product that has the longest lifetime and highest quality. There are needs of the public which demand that we consume what is available, and as a whole we will continue to discover new resources and new ways to use what is available.

My concern address a sort of parallel issue running in the opposite direction of knowing that we can make better use of resources, but failing to do so because it’s more “profitable” and is better for a business (I use “quotes” to point out, as a friend of mine once stated: it is important for every individual to be an environmentalist, for failing to do so is to reject the idea of maintaining a home… no matter how much profit we make, it is useless if we have no planet.) I believe that you get what you pay for and it is often important to make the conscious decision to have less, so in the end it will amount to more for everyone (I recently read in the news paper about how it is possible to “for a premium price” buy custom labled M&Ms… to which I think, “don’t we have enough? is it really that necessary to spend more money for a personalized logo when there are worthwhile causes out there that are daily striving for money? is candy that important?” This to me is indicitive of a destructive trend). I pay more for GOLDEN paint because I know what thought and reason and philosophy goes into your product, and I know that it isn’t developed with purely profit margin in mind (the raw amount of information for each pigment and paint blend on your website tells that you have higher things in mind than selling to anyone who will buy.) But to me it makes sense to pay more to invest in technology that will save our environment and resources (as plastic can save lives, but pollution does not do so much), to pay more to companies that have better relations with their labor (such as the Free Trade, as I think it’s called, coffee thing), to buy a more fuel efficient car even if it doesn’t boost my “macho image”, hell to even tip more because I know my waiter is (in most states) making less than minimum wage and it’s a show of human compasion to say “hey, I respect that you have put in the effort to insure that I’m having a little haven of relaxation in an otherwise hectic life,” than it does to buy that 50″ plasma television, to buy those cable channels or the expensive chocolates or the cheaper clothes from the big chain than the local tailored items (though I’m picky with clothes, and I pay more because it’s hard to find one’s that fit, but I grew up in a comunity that heavily supports local business, so that’s the idea), than it does to have all of these little luxiaries that are nothing more than little luxiaries, trinkets to fill a void that we look into to ignore the rampant consumption we harbor for our environment, for each other, and for the sake of bubbling ourselves in a barrier of warm fuzzy comfort accessories. (woah, long sentance)

And I say this from a unique stand point, in a degree, I grew up in an upper middle class family, but I see how many of my friends have money issues far beyond “how much can we save on this vacation?”, I’m a student, 19, I work at a cheese factory! full time over the summer because I don’t want to feel entitled, like everything in life comes easy, because there’s that hidden cost. The cost that you can just have, just have the nice jobs, just have the nice house, the good cars, the TVs in every room, just have the meals out to nice restaurants 3 or 4 days a week, just have all that gasoline: “because prices are going up, but it’s not like I can’t afford”, just have this and that because I’m used to having, but all that having is taking away from something. I could just have student grade paint, or another brand which tells me much less about why and how and what philosophy the operate by.

And I’m afraid that all that having and all that taking, that extends beyond me and everyone I know, but that we’re all so used to what we have, that we won’t give it up for what we need, to make the change, to be conscious of what needs to happen. Given the choice to rather never drive a car or never paint again, I’d drop the car, but it’s because so many people wouldn’t, because it costs more, because it’s not profitable, because the transition is too great, that I’m afraid. I’m afraid of, essentially, losing plastic (and with it, acrylic paint, which I sort of see as my paint, there are other paints, but here is where I connect). And I don’t even know if that made an sense (side affect of factory job: sleep deprived rambling, I appologize greatly Mark if I’ve marred your website with my tangent that only sort of relates to the topic of paint, I hold you, your company and everything you do in the highest regard and mean absolutely no disrespect, but the mere existence of a keyboard through which to voice my discomfort at the world I’m seeing begs such a thing to happen). I would hope, and dream, that people consciously even recognize that there are changes to be made, things that can be sacrificed, and that there’s something deeper to gain (I mean, if it were the Mona Lisa vs. SUVs for a popularity vote, I’d hope that Mona would at least put up a fighting chance, what bothers me is that the safety of the world as a whole right now isn’t.) But my fear is we will continue to have and expect to have until there’s nothing left to be had, and then sit around wondering why that is.

So again, I appologize Mark, I’ve been preaching, or even ranting. I’m a vocal person, I have a lot to say, about a great many things, and you grazed upon one of them. I’m stepping off my soap box and I’m hoping that I haven’t crossed the fuzzy lines of netiquette. Again, I mean no disrespect to you and I’m not pointing fingers at anyone (I imagine especially not the people who visit here) I’m just a rambling man, and rambled I have done.

Appologies for what I am impelled (compelled? I’m not sure which is more appropriate) to do,
-Matt Ramada

Comment from Mark D. Gottsegen
Time: August 21, 2006, 3:00 am

Preacher Matt:

You seem to be a fairly well-rounded, thoughtful young man — you must have great parents! I almost entirely agreed with nearly everything you had to say with this comment.

It’s good to get this sort of thing off your chest, and I guess Mark G doesn’t mind having you do it here — even though it’s slightly off the topic.

It’s also good that, as a student, you have the luxury of time to spend on your philosophical ruminations. I bet you’ll find that once you’re in the full-time work world there’ll be less time for this as you’ll be playing catch-up with work! That is, unless you land a tenured teaching position (unlikely) or tenure-track position (more likely, but still tough).

When you get to the teaching side of school, you will find kindred souls in the talking department. And then, as time passes you will find that many of these poor souls are bloviating academics whose overriding concerns are about issues trivial to the world and art. (I am not speaking from bitter experience, but from my observations.) I have learned to turn off the sound during faculty meetings, unless there is something we have to vote or take action on — which is rare. I hardly ever miss a meeting because that would be rude to do, but I always bring something along to occupy my mind — some drawing paper and a pencil, for instance.

Keep thinking!


Comment from Wood
Time: August 21, 2006, 1:43 pm

I remember the early Monday morning meetings where nearly everyone’s note pads were filled with drawings…though my drawings paled in comparison…

Since I can’t play guitar all day I have a stress ball here that I use for exercises from time to time. He’s a cute little fishy for the time being.

Comment from Wood
Time: August 21, 2006, 1:58 pm

…but I digressed.

To answer the question, I have some things which are fairly set, but if the price-point on an item went out of line with the market of what I’m in, I would have no problem looking for another product that would give me the same results for less. I’m a musician and I’ve used $105 Mullard tubes in an amp and found that $13 Chinese tubes gave me similar results. And I can guarantee the general public can’t tell…so in a case like that I have no problems spending less as long as I like the results and it performs well.

Comment from Mark Golden
Time: August 21, 2006, 9:10 pm

Hey Wood, I think you are right. It is our responsibility to not simply add price without adding value. Otherwise you might as well buy it from China.

Unfortunately, sometimes what you’re buying from China was developed here and they didn’t have to pay for the technology or all the work it took to make it in the first place. I know we all do disservice to the company that made it in the first place. But I guess that’s just business… I get it and I need to get over it…. Regards, Mark

Comment from Mark Golden
Time: August 21, 2006, 9:13 pm

Matt, No need to apologize. I really do appreciate the time and your thoughfulness. I don’t have a better answer for you. But you do have our continual commitment to keep making better and better decisions as we find ways to do what we do in a better, safer and in a way that respects the people we work for and the environment we all share. Regards, Mark

Comment from Mark D. Gottsegen
Time: August 22, 2006, 2:54 am

Mark —

It’s not just business, I don’t think. It’s human nature. Here’s a horrible thought: Perhaps it’s “human nature” to be unethical.

I’m not normally cynical, as you know. Otherwise I would have thrown up my hands and given up on AMIEN long ago. Cynics throw brickbats and duck responsibility.

Education will help to teach humans to shoulder better ethics. It’s harder work without much tangible profit, but it feels better than just making money.


Comment from anon
Time: August 24, 2006, 11:15 am

The prices of gas hasn’t quite adversely affected me yet. I drive a fuel efficient car, and our house runs on electric everything. (North-West). However, it does take a nibble out of my spending cash, about $5-7 difference per fill up. I’m not going to purchase cheaper paints or otherwise compromise my art because the prices of gasoline has soared. Paint doesn’t really cost all that much. It’s the canvases and frames that take a chunk out of my money. I used to only paint on watercolor paper to save space from living in a studio apartment, but the darn frames cost at least $50 for the small pictures! Forget that noise, I just sell without the frames. Then began spending cash on ready-to-hang canvases, one canvas can easily run $50. Sheesh. Luckily, I save money purchasing bulk canvases. I don’t care for making my own canvases, as there’s little difference in the price, and take too much time to make. I just want to rip the plastic off and paint.

Comment from Cobb
Time: August 25, 2006, 7:26 am

Along the line of anon with the canvases.
I would like to have the
The Golden Canvas Line
First, I do not know if you are interested in making canvaes for artists or not. If not consider using a quality artist canvas maker to make the GOLDEN CANVAS brand of canvases.
What would be the GOLDEN CANVAS brand be-
1. a 12oz quality cotton stretched onto a gallery wrap that is GAC 100 coated then gessoed
2 a 12oz quality cotton stretched onto a gallery wrap that is GAC 100 coated then gessoed, then coated with a 50% molding paste mixed with a 50% self-leveling gel – for the use of glazing
3 a 10oz quality cotton stretched onto a half thick gallery wrap that is GAC 100 coated then gessoed, then coated with a 50% molding paste mixed with a 50% self-leveling gel – for the use of pencil drawings, etc

Sizes ?

I think this would help some with the cost of gas (etc) because the shipping of the canvases (except the really big ones) would be cheaper to ship – and if you buy in quantity might get no shipping charges.

I mean the shipping of the wood stretchers, the unprimed canvas, the gallon of GAC 100, the gallon of gesso, the half gallon of each molding paste and self-leveling gel, etc

Besides that I like the name
The Golden Canvas

Comment from Cobb
Time: August 25, 2006, 7:29 am

LOL would be nice to have an edit button
I mis-spelled glazing

Comment from Greg
Time: August 26, 2006, 3:20 am

I dont care how bad the gas prices get. I am not going to use cheap paint on my FINE art!!!!

In all fairness to Golden and the other paint companies, they have to make a profit in order to keep making us paint!!!!!!!! Making paint is not a NON profit venture.

So find someplace to save money stop smoking, cut out your Starbucks, stop buying fast food. Dont cheap out and buy some crap paint!!! because you say you cant afford it. Qaulity comes at a price. What are YOU going to do?? suck it up and get the good stuff or buy the cheap stuff and worry about the quality???

If you want the best paint buy Golden. If you want the cheap stuff go someplace else and good luck to you!!

Comment from Mark Golden
Time: August 28, 2006, 4:20 pm

Got it… I put in a rule into my emails to do a spell check before sending. We should have something like this for the blog. We’ll work on it!!

Comment from Mark Golden
Time: August 28, 2006, 4:28 pm

Thanks Greg, You’re correct, we are not a non-profit. But neither are the artists using our product. We are part of this greater art community and it is clear to me that at times it can be a very fragile interconnected ecology. Our goal is to provide tools for artists so that they can pursue creative opportunities which move their work forward, whether for sale or for personal satisfaction. At some point each of us in this community need to be successful for the entire community to survive. This means we need to be vigilant as a company to make sure we are providing good value for the money. That we are watching our costs, and that we are making a profit that sustains the people working here and the company… To charge more than necessary to sustain this company will reduce the success of our community and eventually the success of our company. We are all connected.
Regards, Mark

Comment from Mark Golden
Time: August 28, 2006, 4:34 pm

Mark, education is critical. I know that when ‘Consumer Reports’ first came out, that it was incredibly valuable for me in understanding not just the ranking of products but to understand the various features of products and how they might work given my needs.

AMIEN is going to be that resource for artists. More than a repository of the comparison of one product to another, but a community where artists will be able to get accurate answers joining both the world of conservation, education and art making together in one place. I’m so grateful that this will be arriving soon.

Warmest regards, Mark

Comment from Mark D. Gottsegen
Time: August 29, 2006, 7:49 am

Wow, Mark.

Thank you!


Comment from Aaron Ortega
Time: September 14, 2006, 6:56 pm

Well, straight up: As an still-starving artist who just got out of school I don’t really sell paintings that often, so, when I do, I stock up…

I spent almost 2,000 dollars in January so I wouldn’t have to worry about it for as long as possible… The only thing I keep buying is canvases and glazing liquid!!! So, when it comes to painting, I don’t compromise… I have been cutting my starbucks and my nights out to almost zero, but just because I’m looking for a new job and I can’t afford to spend money like that…

So gas prices have only changed the fact that now I wait for the movie to get on DVD and rent it instead of going to the movies and spend 5 times more money…

Oh, the idea about Golden Canvases is really good… I personally only use wider edge canvases so I cover the sides with paint and make it look good enough to avoid framing…


Write a comment