There’s more than one way to maximize social media and AW Artworks in Sun Prairie, Wis., is maximizing as much social media as possible to make the virtual into reality. The last time we left AW Artworks, owner Andy Wredberg has just finished remodeling the studio space, converting it into a gallery and production area.
AW Artworks is an open concept, not only in the way the studio is set up to include clients in the entire process while showcasing the possibilities of print all over the walls, but in its approach to the local market in Sun Prairie.
“The nice thing about us having a storefront here in Sun Prairie is that there all kinds of places you can get something printed online, but it may not turn out the way you want and then you have the hassle of dealing with different people at the company over email or the phone,” says Wredberg. “If you come here, it’s just me. I’m the guy who takes your email, gets the file ready, prints it, cuts the frame and assembles everything. From start to finish, I’m hands-on in the process. We’re trying to bridge that gap between a fine art gallery and the big box copy-and-print place. We can do signs, banners and other commercial prints, yet I have a background in graphic design and I’ve worked extensively in color management, so we can also offer color-critical work as well. You’re getting the quality you want, and you can talk to someone face to face.”
Therein lies the great paradox of the Internet and the latest social media craze. It’s super-simple to order products online or share each and everything about your life with your “friends” (“The dog is staring at me… I’m sitting in the waiting room… I just ate at Taco Bell…” Like!), but it often lacks real personal connection.
AW Artworks set out to make the impersonal more personal, offering Instagram prints on LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas and Sunset Photo eSatin Paper, promoting the prints on the company Facebook page and on its street-facing window. The promotion has worked, so much so that the local NBC affiliate sent a camera crew over to find out more.
“We showed them the whole process and they thought it was amazing to see it from start to finish. They were here for awhile, which gave us an opportunity to talk about all the things we do here beyond the Instagram prints,” says Wredberg.
The purpose of leveraging social media was not to make more “friends,” but to bridge the gap, as Wredberg puts it, and bring people into the studio to pick up something tangible they can hang on their wall.
“It’s not really an original idea, but if you Google ‘Instagram on canvas’ you come up with just a few sites as opposed to ‘photos on canvas,’ which brings up a lot more results. I think Instagram’s up to 38 million users now and Facebook bought them for a billion dollars. It’s further integration that we can capitalize on, garner more attention and bring people in who wouldn’t necessarily stop in otherwise,” says Wredberg.
Though the Instagram program is only a week or so old, Wredberg says they’ve already sold a few dozen prints, not to mention the extra television exposure. Though the studio has been fully remodeled, the bank building constructed in 1899 where AW Artworks resides was just recently restored, which helps the studio’s visibility.
Another personal touch AW Artworks recently added was a gallery of images from Wredberg’s mission trip to South Africa. Printed on Sunset Photo eSatin Paper, the images are a conversation piece as well as a way to support Cape Town Missions International, which works with churches and schools in South Africa and provides shoes for people who don’t have them.
“When I came back from the trip it was time to switch out some things in the gallery and I thought it would be a good way to give people a glimpse of everything we did while we were there. People are interested in the photos and it gives us a chance to talk about the trip and what these people are going through and need,” adds Wredberg.