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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 116 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: A little question about artist's supplies  (Read 2249 times)
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« on: May 12, 2008, 02:25:26 PM »

I'm making that zombie game, and one component I'm thinking of is a suitably sized (4"x6" or so) canvas panel like this. (I'm using them in making cheap game boards - I'm willing to discuss the procedure and reasoning if somebody's interested, but that's not my topic.) Thing is, I can't find a distributor for anything like this in the Internet. This is weird, because I'm pretty sure that there has to be a step between an art supply store selling these one by one and the Chinese manufacturers who sell them by 10 000 piece lots. I'd need to get about 1000 panels, so I would much rather get some kind of bulk discount for it.

So if anybody has experience in the field or just a corporate directory if a large American city, I'd appreciate any suggestions - I imagine that if my speculated art supply bulk seller isn't in the internet, then he has to be one of those old-fashioned companies that don't have a significant web presence. Finding one of those without local experience or an old-fashioned phone book seems next to impossible.

Also: my supplier needs to be in the US, as that's where we're making the game.
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Will
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2008, 11:56:19 AM »

I think the problem here is that the market for these is pretty much the art stores and the artists themselves. The individual artist is unlikely to order in large quantity at once and the art stores are going to be ordering from distributors that want to deal with stores rather than individuals.

I would try one of two things.

1) Ask around at art stores, say you need to contact a distributor and ask who they use. Some people will be defensive about this but not everybody. When you have a distributor or two give them a call. They will prefer to deal with accounts but if you are doing a large single order few of them will be likely to say no.

2) See if a store is willing to place an extra large order and discount it to you. If the store is going to make a tiny profit on a very large order that's still money they wouldn't have. Just make it worth their effort and you may be able to get pretty close to a small stores cost.

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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2008, 02:00:47 PM »

That would seem to make sense, Will. My problem has mostly been that the distributors of this stuff seem to be very, very well hidden from the internets. I guess that asking the stores for their suppliers is an idea, here, even if they're unlikely to respond. And it'd seem reasonable to ask for a discount if we end up buying from an art supply store.

A part of the problem is finding art supply stores, however. They seem to likewise hide under rocks. A shop in Chicago would be ideal for our purposes, now that I think of it: they'd have little trouble holding the stuff for us until an agreed-upon date, at which point we could just get the panels from the store instead of having to store them for weeks someplace else.

Still, that leaves the problem of verifying product quality; we'd need to have the store send us samples beforehand. Tricky business, this...
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Will
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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2008, 03:13:50 PM »

In the case of dealing with a shop your best bet is to actually go to the location to talk to the owners/managers. Art supply is a kind of old fashioned business and you will get a lot of mileage out of meeting face to face. You can also see what it is they carry and decide if the people they are ordering from are good enough for your needs. There will likely be shifts from one batch to another, but any decent supplier is going to want some consistency in the products they offer so if the store carries a good one then you can be reasonably sure that supplier will send ones of comparable quality.

The key to getting a good price here is to keep the stores costs and effort down. They are VERY unlikely to want to store 1000 canvasses for very long if they aren't making a good profit on them, the average art supply store is packed to the gills as is and they would likely have to sacrifice their bathrooms and employee break area to accommodate that :)

They will be most receptive if you highlight right up front how easy it is going to be on them. Agree to be there with a van to take stock on hand on delivery day (or very soon afterwards). The markup on a product is in part the cost of the stores effort and rent, lowering their markup should equal lowering their costs or a smart store owner won't see the value in it.

I have had very good luck approaching stores like this when I needed unusual items in bulk, emphasize the quick and easy money to be made by them and they won't worry about the unusually low margins.

One note is that this is a little harder with corporate chains, Blick, Utrecht, Perl, and the like will have central buyers, corporate pricing policies, and little to no authority in making deals. The supremacy of the SKU and Planogram is difficult to shake unless you have a very sympathetic store manager. You will be much better off with smaller shops, though you may have to pay more up front for them to even be able to place a large order like this.
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2008, 03:18:23 PM »

Ah, yes. Now, the core of my conundrum is that I'm here in beautiful Finland, which rather curtails my opportunities in negotiating face-to-face with American art suppliers. Part of my problem is that I need to have those panels at hand during one particular day in August in Chicago, to compile them into my most amazing game boards. I agree that your approach seems well thought out otherwise, though.
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Seth M. Drebitko
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2008, 02:52:47 AM »

  I would say that your best bet would be to contact an art school. They are probably not purchasing form individual stores because of the amount of product they will need, and are most likely not selling the product so I doubt they would mind providing the information on the distributors they work with.

Seth
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Will
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2008, 08:11:29 AM »

Ooh, I hadn't thought of that.

Also they may be able to tack an order onto one of theirs and may even have some storage space they wouldn't mind you using for a few bucks. Schools are usually pretty open to a little budget padding :)
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Seth M. Drebitko
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« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2008, 03:13:09 PM »

I was thinking at work if you do end up going through some art schools it might be worth looking into if art schools would sell your game as a form of abstract art.
Seth
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