Ahhhh… Convention: the Proverbial Retreat for the Decorative Artist

My cousin Michael surprised me recently by showing up one evening at this year’s International Decorative Artisans’ League Convention. I was planning on visiting him as part of this same trip, but was tickled pink to see him a day early. Having just come from a convention himself, dressed in a sharp suit, he thought he’d fit right in. Instead, he was surprised by what he saw around him: decorative artists dressed in painted clothes and aprons, or quirky formal attire and hats, experiencing the Colormix 2015 presentation by Sherwin-Williams, learning about next year’s color forecast and the various artists, movements, inventions, discoveries, and work that have inspired them. Some of us had just come from one of many classes in faux finishing, murals, concrete, business, etc (thus the aprons and painted clothing); some were dressed for the Mad Hatter Auction, this year’s fundraiser for the League, and were enjoying the reception, sponsored by Metropolis-Ivas.


This was my 6th Convention in 12 years: Baltimore, Chicago, Charleston, Memphis, Indianapolis… and, this year, Fort Worth. I usually don’t fly to them – I like to drive so I can bring lots of new products and samples home with me – but I was inspired by my fellow artist Bryan King of Artifice, Inc – an incredible muralist – who invited me to assist him in teaching an exterior murals class. When he came down with pneumonia the week before and had to cancel, and one of the other classes I’d signed up for got cancelled as well, it left me wondering… should I still go?


The ultimate answer to my question: Yes.


Yes: Convention is energizing and inspiring!

Yes: I meet new people, and see old friends – and no one understands my “shop talk” as well as another decorative painter, and artists from other parts of the world only add to the experience.

Yes: Learning! New ideas, new products, new samples and methods and possibilities.

And Yes: Fresh perspectives, both on the decorative painting industry and on my little corner of it. An open(ing) mind is a beautiful thing.


To me, the IDAL convention is a kind of retreat for the decorative artist: renewing, re-energizing, re-inspiring. (I can’t say, however, that it’s restful, since every day is packed from morning to evening!)


So when Michael asked me, “Why do you come to this?”, I have to admit that I was speechless for a moment. I asked him if he’d ever been to a convention or conference that he wanted to go to; something that he was interested in just for himself (all the better if it’s related to his daily business, like mine is). His answer? “Well…no…”


I’m proud to say I have!


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