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with a pay cheque
Customers feed their creative needs at Senior Art Supplies, Malvern.
Melbourne and its surroundings
lend themselves to the pursuit
of art. Just look through
today's A2 and count the galleries.
On top of that, every suburb has its
art society. Go along to one of their
exhibitions and be prepared to be
astonished, there is real talent out
there. Among the prizes you are likely
to spot a voucher for Senior Art
With three outlets, in Degraves
Street, Melbourne (next to the CAE),
and in Frankston and Malvern, the
Senior name continues a family
tradition that goes back long before
the founding of the current firm in
The Malvern shop moved to new
premises quite recently. ''We took a lot
of time preparing the setup of it,'' says
manager Luke Senior.
''It's like no other art shop you'll ever
see, we've created all our own stands.
We are growing quite steadily and we
feel its because people are stuck in
front of computers all day, every day ---
they want to do something creative.''
There is no shortage of customers, Mr
Senior says. ''We have professional
artists, hobbyists and a lot of older
people as well. Many people say to us
they've finally got rid of the kids and
want to take up something they've
dreamed of all their lives.''
If you want to work in an art supplies
shop, you need to know about art. The
staff at Senior's are mostly artists
''They want to paint,'' Mr Senior says,
''that's their primary objective but they
need the money so they work in an art
''We often know them already as
customers. I'll take the resume of
someone who has worked at another
store, keep it on file and contact them
if we need someone.''
It can take a while for new staff to
get up to speed, Mr Senior says. ''We
import a lot of products, we try to
source unique products from around
the world to make us different from all
the other shops. That's why we employ
artists, they specialise in different fields.
One of my staff members is an oil
painter, another is an acrylic artist. The
standing joke is that we are never
asked a question that one of us doesn't
know the answer to, we are so involved
with different mediums. If you haven't
the right people knowing the answers,
you're flying blind.''
Mr Senior, himself an artist, has built
up an extensive knowledge of art
''We just picked up a new
watercolour that comes from the US. It
is heavily promoted there through
magazines, so we brought it to
Australia. We can't believe the
acceptance of it and the number of
people who already know about it, and
have been purchasing it from the US.
''It's a word-of-mouth thing, I follow
trends on the Internet and I go to an art
fair in Frankfurt every year. There's one
paper company that's been around
since 1554 and an oil paint
manufacturer since 1664. We try and
distribute the products to other art
shops as well.
''It's hard to make money out of art,
but a lot of people paint just because
they want to.''
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