ArtWorks Passes First Year
The ArtWorks Store, which showcases and sells original items crafted by NMU students, faculty and alumni, recently celebrated its first anniversary. It has recorded about $2,000 in sales since its inception. ArtWorks is located near the DeVos Art Museum. It is a cubical display case that holds a variety of pieces, from ceramics to framed paintings to jewelry. Officials have started advertising the store's existence and purpose in the hope of generating additional interest beyond the campus community and museum visitors who happen to pass by it.
“It’s kind of like you have a hidden store," said Michael Cinelli (Art and Design). "Lots of the visitors to the gallery visited the store last Christmas, so we’re hoping to have more sales this holiday season.”
ArtWorks is managed by Andrea Wrubel (Art and Design). She obtains art work, maintains the display case and conducts sales. Student work is selected based on faculty recommendations. Pieces range from $8 to $200. The artist sets the price and receives 70 percent of each sale. The remaining 30 percent goes to the Art Students League.
Dale Wedig (Art and Design) keeps ArtWorks stocked with a steady supply of unique pins. He has sold about 30 since the store opened last year and plans to continue making them. Wedig designs his pins to be funny and have local appeal, so a pin shaped as a horned skull or an anvil-crushed head is likely to appear in the store. He has been designing pins for 24 years and has done both local and national work for hunters and organizations.
“I started doing them as a joke and I realized there was community interest, so I do it for fun. The ArtWorks gallery itself is a great venue,” Wedig said.
He added that the store is an excellent opportunity to teach students how to make a product for sale and maintain inventory for future sales. This fits with Cinelli’s goal of making art and design students comfortable with being entrepreneurs.
“That’s been my mission for a number of years—that the arts do create economic development. Students can showcase their work and see it generate revenue,” Cinelli said.
Cinelli was inspired to bring the ArtWorks Store to NMU after seeing the Rhode Island School of Design’s online store. He called to find out how their store worked and generated ideas for setting up a similar store for Northern.
The original goal was to establish a “bricks and mortar store” in downtown Marquette. But it was decided, for simplicity, to incorporate ArtWorks into the plans being developed for the art and design addition. Its allotted space was devoted to other uses, so ArtWorks came together as the display case instead. The physical layout changed, but the mission remained the same.
“This is a way of having current students see that they can sell their work. It’s a whole package showcasing what we’re doing,” Cinelli said.
Cinelli is exploring the possibility of expanding into an online store and has not discarded the idea of a downtown presence. The store’s potential growth will depend on inventory and future sales.