Art City Co. Interview
by Matthew J
Who is Art City Co.? When did it start? Who is affiliated with it? How did the company come to fruition?
ART CITY CO. (ACC): Art City Co. is an independently run art supply company, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We sell graffiti-supplies to the public.
ArtCityCo. began as a fun side business and to get the best art supplies to the Atlantic Canada area. I’ve always been involved in art in one way or another so when I decided to do a side business I wanted to do something that I was into. I also do web design and wanted to build an online store. So artcityco.com was my first!
Aside from Revolution Records – a music store/ graffiti supply shop which was in operation ten year ago – I can’t think of too many shops that offer solid graffiti supplies. With the particular market being as small as it is here, how difficult is it to operate a graffiti supply shop in HFX? Do you look at the more traditional art supply shops like DeSerras or the one at NSCAD as competition for you?
Revolution Records: I remember the first time I walked in there! Well I don’t know much about their business so I don’t want to speak out of turn, but a record store/graffiti store (which they were) was facing two niche markets. I think our lower population makes each niche a little too small. I’d like to add that I also have no idea why they closed and am just speculating. I’m assuming the “Internet” and ”Napster” age must have a negative effect on the record stores and graffiti industry, also. Technology I don’t find it hard to run Art City Co., but to be honest, what I’m doing is very different from Revolution Records. I’ve adapted my model to fit with the current times. I mean no one who worked at Revolution had the option of being interviewed over an iPhone, and I can control my full store right from that same phone. I would say technology is what differentiates us from them.
As for Deserres and NSCAD: well yeah they are competition, but aren’t focusing on graffiti. I specialize in graffiti – that is my niche. Right now, I’d like to take Art City Co. to that [bigger] level someday. I just started with my key artistic interests.
Halifax is an art-friendly city, yet graffiti doesn’t seem to be as widespread as it used to be a few years ago. Has the recent surge of gentrification and other forms of “urban renewal” the cause, or are few writers getting up in Halifax? Everybody seems to have an opinion, so what are your thoughts on the matter?
Any answer I have to this question is totally speculation. The decline of the graffiti scene around the Halifax could be caused by a dozen different reasons. The main thing is that is still exists. There’s never been a shortage of painters in Halifax. I could literally drone on for hours on this subject! But like I said before, it would just be speculation.
In your opinion, what role does ACC play in Halifax graffiti? There aren’t too many shops around, and you’re one of the few suppliers in this city. Do you feel ACC gets the credit/recognition it deserves?
Well I’m not sure we play a huge “role” Halifax graffiti. The Graffiti was here before Art City Co (ACC) and will be here forever. Honestly there are dozens of stores in Halifax that have been supplying supplies long before ACC. You have places like: Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart, Michaels, DeSerres, Kent, Home Depot, and Rona. All of these places cater to graffiti artists whether they realize it or not. A graffiti artist will find a way to get supplies. In my opinion, graffiti is the act of marking something illegally, rather than urban art in general. I’m an artist who happens to sells art supplies for other artists to use. What they do with those supplies is none of my business.
As far as credit and recognition, I’m not looking for any really. I’m just here to offer quality art supplies!
I’m fascinated with the aspect of independent hustle, and independent business, as a whole; being able to stay above water is not easy. How do you stay focused in spite of Halifax’s small marketplace? I’m sure it’s not as thriving as Montreal or Toronto, yet you stay inline. Where does your mental-drive come from?
Well I’ve always enjoyed operating a business. When I was ten years old, I was the kid who had a lawn mowing business. I guess the whole business-mindset just comes natural to me. I’ve always preferred to work harder at my own hustle than for someone else. I’d much rather be my own boss than work for another person.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about starting up their own business?
My business advice would be to have a concrete business plan, listen more than you speak, work hard at what you do, and always stay humble.