Interview with Aaron Kilby at Artisan Colour
Official Print Partner of Phoenix Design Week 2019
Recently, we had a chance to catch up with Aaron Kilby and hear how Artisan Colour is pivoting their focus during these times. Always ready with a smile and can-do attitude, Aaron is a seasoned agency pro here in the valley, who has worked on national and international marketing teams to help develop and execute large multi-touch marketing campaigns, sales collateral, direct mail programs, retail in-store marketing, creative and much more. Along the way, he co-founded two agencies and now serves as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Artisan Colour where he loves pushing the boundaries of design in order to exceed client expectations.
Can you tell me about yourself and how you got to be where you are with Artisan Colour?
Hi Jules, I will tell you, it’s quite a coincidence: I was actually a client of Artisan for over three years before I came on board as part of the team. I always said that I would love to work for a company like this, and look at me now, ha! I have been here going on eight years now, and have loved every minute of it. We have grown so much since then, and have added many services.
First off, allow us to say thank you again to Artisan Colour for stepping up as our Official Print Partner for Phoenix Design Week 2019. The creativity and collaboration your team brought to the table was instrumental in winning a Gold Addy for Integrated Campaigns this year.
Of course! It was great fun. Producing great work for such a significant design-focused event was a chance to show off our capabilities, so it was an awesome experience for us at Artisan as well.
The last time we got to see you was when Artisan hosted a tremendous CMYFriday Closing Party for Phoenix Design Week. The world has certainly changed since then! Can you tell me what the atmosphere is like now, and some of the things you have had to do at Artisan to deal with the pandemic situation?
Sure thing! As our state entered the shutdown, we came up with a plan to deal with the news. Thankfully we were all able to keep working, scheduling half of the staff to work from home one week, alternating with the other half for eight weeks. We also had to set up our own internal distancing program to stay safe while in production. We shut our doors to any walk-ins and to tours of our plant and started to offer our clients contactless delivery.
“We are very thankful that we were able to start making these [face shields] to help protect our local community.”
I’ve seen the Fox News interview showing your work making face shields. How did that you get this going?
We first floated the suggestion of producing cloth face masks. After careful evaluation, we discovered that the equipment and experience in-house was better suited to manufacturing face shields. We found a template to make these and a source for PETG, a clear PVC-type material that worked perfectly for this.
Do you think this work has created new partnerships with Banner Health and others, for example that will possibly result in new work for Artisan?
Great question. We have had a couple of local news outlets cover our story on the production and donation of the COVID-19 personal protective face masks. Between the coverage and donations to the healthcare facilities, it has definitely opened the doors to new contacts and work. We are very thankful that we were able to start making these to help protect our local community.
In one of your recent email blasts, we see that you’re now offering safety information signage to the community. Tell us how that’s going.
Yes, we wanted to let our network know that we can produce necessary social distancing signage for them quickly, and we’re trying to make it as easy as possible for them to order. All of the businesses getting ready to reopen just have so much to do—we really want to make this one an easy thing they can cross off their list. Everyone wants themselves, their colleagues and their clients to be as safe as possible.
“All of the businesses getting ready to reopen just have so much to do — we really want to make [safety signage] an easy thing they can cross off their list.”
And because Artisan wants to be a good neighbor to our community here in Phoenix, I will give a 10% discount on safety signage items to any customer who mentions this AIGA Arizona blog.
What’s the coolest thing that is going on lately at Artisan, or something you are excited about?
We just got a machine for full-color, dye-sublimation printing on metal—dedicated just for metal—which brings incredible depth and brilliance to high definition photographic prints (not to mention their durability and archival quality). That means if you want the absolute best quality in photographic printing—which is heat transfer on white aluminum—you got it right here. This really sets us apart from everyone else in town, because we can do a 4’x8’ sheet of aluminum, and that is larger than anything in the valley. I think there is only one other company that can do this, and they are in California. This will be good news for all the corporate building projects in development right now. Pandemic or no, Phoenix is still undergoing an expansion. We are now four years in a row the fastest-growing city in the nation.
“I think there is only one other company that can do this, and they are in California. This will be good news for all the corporate building projects in development right now.”
What else is new at Artisan?
While everything slowed down over the past two months, we have created a new retail print ordering website for anyone to upload their own artwork or use our created templates to be able to order from home. Items like business cards, brochures, banners, etc., along with posters designs for social distancing by the CDC. You can check it out here.
We are also constantly adding capabilities and continue to expand our finishing techniques for both large and small format printing. Our small-format printing business has grown 20% just because we have invested in numerous machines and developed expertise—so we can be a one-stop shop instead of contracting out bits of the job that add unnecessary time and money to the project.
What are your three favorite things about working at Artisan, or what Artisan is doing, or looking forward to?
Being able to offer our clients the best in service & quality, being creative with the materials we offer and working to grow our business with a very fun team. We like the phrase, Work Hard Play Hard!