San Antonio hits big with crafts portal
- By John Monroe
- May 30, 2001
San Antonio's launch this month of an online gallery to promote regional
artists and artisans made a big splash, generating more traffic in its first
week than any storefront could handle.
The Catalog of On-site Artist Services,
in the works for nearly three years, registered more than 500,000 hits its
first week, benefiting from a pre-launch marketing campaign and an Internet-friendly
city culture, said James LeFlore, program manager for the city's Public
Art and Design Enhancement Program.
"The rally around promoting yourself on the Internet has become increasingly
evident in San Antonio over the last couple years," LeFlore said. "People
are really keyed in right now to checking it out."
The online catalog features individuals or groups creating art for the "built"
environment that is, for incorporation into buildings, landscapes or public
spaces. Oscar Alvarado, for example, designs and builds mosaic-laden tables
and chairs made of steel or concrete. Cathy Cunningham specializes in neon,
stained glass and etched glass.
Visitors can peruse the Web site by artist or medium. The site is not designed
to handle online transactions but simply to give architects, engineers,
city planners or private citizens an opportunity to see what kind of work
is available and to put them in contact with the artists, either by mail,
phone or, most likely, e-mail.
"You can accomplish a lot through e-mail, so you don't have to travel and
do studio visits," LeFlore said. For example, beyond the one or two pictures
available on the Web site, many artists can send electronic images to potential
clients. Otherwise, such online business "is difficult to obtain if you
don't have a storefront."
The Web site stems from a neighborhood revitalization initiative in 1998.
A committee, created by City Council, suggested creating a catalog to promote
San Antonio's vibrant craft-making industry. Although a print edition is
available, the city decided to go with an online catalog because it would
be easier to distribute and update.
Prior to the May 14 launch, the city mailed postcards to architects and
engineers, neighborhood associations and city leaders throughout the area,
even generating some local radio and TV coverage despite competing with
a San Antonio Spurs' playoff basketball game.