It’s hard to think of a business with a more significant impact on Edmonton’s art community than The Paint Spot. Celebrating their 38th year in business, this fine art supply store nestled in the heart of Old Strathcona has been a trailblazer since the beginning.
While enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at the University of Alberta, founder Sidsel Bradley noticed that necessary materials, like high-quality paints and brushes, were hard need. In addition to top-notch paints and brushes to come by and often had to be shipped from Toronto. Fine art stores may be common these days, but this wasn’t always the case. “There were hobby stores and drafting stores, but there wasn’t a fine art store in the city,” says current owner Kim Fjordbotten.
On top of connecting with customers, Kim’s favourite part of owning the store has always been the strong sense of community. “Edmonton is an art-making community. We are a big city, but we actually have a small-town, roll-up-your-sleeves kind of work ethic,” she says. She loves being able to connect customers with other artists, share potential job commissions with their growing network, and generally promote the vibrant arts scene that fills our city.
And, in her 20 years of owning The Paint Spot, Kim has had a front-row seat to the explosion of this scene. “We used to primarily serve the hobby market with only a handful of professional artists, but now I would say almost all of our customers are people who have art as a full-time career.”
Along with being one of Edmonton’s first fine art stores, The Paint Spot founded the Edmonton Art Walk, one of the largest events of its kind in all of North America. Launched in 1995, this event is a mainstay in Edmonton’s summer festival season. For several days, local artists fill the streets of the Old Strathcona area, painting en plein air and selling their works. They continue to collaborate with the Old Strathcona Business Association to organize neighbourhood murals and host local artists in their on-site gallery.
Whether you are a total newbie or a seasoned pro, The Paint Spot has everything you cold ever need. In addition to top-notch paints and brushes from Canadian manufacturers like Willow Wolfe Brushes and Stoneground Watercolours, they’ve got fountain pens, high-quality paper, reference materials, printmaking supplies, and so much more.
Plus, the staff is always eager to lend a helping hand and offer advice. “Everyone who works here is an artist,” Kim comments. “So we’ve all done everything wrong once! We’re a great resource and are always curious to see what our customers are working on.”
Even if you think art isn’t for you, you are bound to find something in-store to ignite your creative brain. Kim recalls that she has helped every kind of customer imaginable, from a chef seeking the best materials for chocolate painting on his dessert tray to a scientist needing a precise synthetic brush to move brain cell matter onto a microscope slide.
“I’m so interested in what people do with materials. Those are when I have the best days, when you handful of professional artists, but now I would come in with something weird and wonderful and we figure it out together.”
Visit The Paint Spot at 10032–81 Ave. | 780-432-0240 | paintspot.ca