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‘Wherever you guys go, we’ll follow’

Art Cansel celebrates 10 years of supporting local artists

Art Cansel provides high-quality art supplies and custom framing for people across Newfoundland and Labrador, and the colourful shop also serves up inspiration, conversation and laughter.

In amongst the crisp white canvases, soft-tipped brushes and tubes of creamy paint in every colour of rainbow, there’s a treasure chest where children who come into the store can pick a prize for being patient during their visit. Art Cansel is also an animal-friendly location where their clients’ pets are always welcome — and can count on getting a treat.

“The shop’s relaxed vibe puts everyone at ease. Our motto is ‘You arrive you a client and leave as a friend,’” says Bev Newhook Campbell, who has successfully run the art supply shop, art gallery and on-site custom framing business for the last 10 years with her sister, Lisa Gullage.

It was a scary venture at first, but the duo had already built strong relationships in the local art community after years of working in galleries — and it paid off.

“We kept hearing ‘Wherever you guys go, we’ll follow.’ It was beyond brilliant,” says Bev. “We came here with nothing and we’ve grown so much.”

To celebrate Art Cansel’s 10th anniversary — coming up in September — Bev says they’re turning a room upstairs into a gallery called The Vault.

Artists will be able to pay just $20 to hang two pieces for 30 days. If they sell, Bev will take care of the transaction for a 20 per cent commission — far lower than the industry standard of 60 per cent. She’s hopeful the new gallery encourages more artists to put their work up for sale and attracts new customers for Art Cansel.

“It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the local arts community for supporting us for the last 10 years,” says Bev. “We have a fantastic customer base, and we’d be nothing without them.”

St. John’s artist Stirling Blackwood says he’s looking forward to hanging pieces in The Vault using their new system. He’s been coming to Bev and Lisa for custom framing for nearly 20 years.

“They have a very good eye. I can drop off a painting and know they’re going to match it perfectly, and it’s going to be the best there is,” says Stirling.

Quality art supplies don’t come cheap, but Bev does her best to keep prices affordable for her customers. Art Cansel has launched their CANSEL GOLD CARD, which — for a $20 annual membership fee — gives clients 10 per cent off all art supply purchases and 30 per cent off custom framing for the full year.

“Times in Newfoundland are hard, and there’s not a whole lot of cash flying around,” says Bev. “But we still hear the ding-dong of our doorbell as customers come in, and we appreciate them so much.”

Art Cansel is always selling tickets on various items to help raise money for the many great local causes throughout the community.

“We’re always doing something for someone, because without our community, we wouldn’t be here,” says Bev.

Bev says Art Cansel isn’t like other art supply stores because they’re all about personalized service and support for the local community — including their full art gallery and custom on-site framing services, there’s a lot more going on inside our doors than just art supplies.

One of their many wonderful clients is Avondale visual artist Rosemary Byrne, whom Bev describes as someone “beyond fabulous” who has supported them from the very beginning.

Rosemary started painting in 2003 after she and her husband retired. She credits Bev and Lisa for supporting her during the early days of her painting.

“Every time I brought in a painting, Bev and Lisa really encouraged me. They’ve brought me to where I am now,” says Rosemary.

She’s now well known for her textured paintings of fishermen, mummers, fairies and sirens, and stops by Art Cansel regularly to buy paints, brushes and canvases for her work.

“You walk in the front door and you’re just in awe of what they have,” says Rosemary. “Bev has everything I need, but if there’s ever something specific they don’t have, she’ll order it in for me.”

Rosemary is preparing to mount an art show in the main area of Art Cansel in early April, and says it will be called Can’t Stop The Colour. She’s known for her creative use of textured paste and sometimes organizes workshops at Art Cansel to teach her methods to other artists.

“I always say they’re the wackiest, friendliest, most genuine people that you’d ever want to deal with,” says Rosemary. “Everyone loves coming in to see Bev, Lisa and the Art Cansel crew. It’s just a fabulous place to go!”

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