While COVID-19, acrylic art prints, and animal rescue seem to have nothing in common, they are actually a great example of how the infamous Butterfly effect works; how a small change can affect so many different aspects of daily life.
Acrylic for Safety Is Not the Same as Acrylic for Fine Art
Let’s start with the COVID-19 part quickly. We’ve all been flooded with information on this subject, so we’ll keep it brief and to the point. By now, you’ve seen the nationwide implementation of clear acrylic or “Plexiglass” barriers. Be it at the grocery store, gas stations, department stores, doctors’ offices… the list goes on.
With such an immense national demand for ¼” acrylic in particular (as it can stand on its own relatively easily – see photos), you can imagine the supply chain disruption!
Acrylic comes in many levels of quality, but as stocks are depleted, more and more of the higher-end product lines are being used for barriers instead of the intended use: print display and graphic media. Many print and fabrication shops across the county had to get creative with sourcing, looking into different suppliers, brands, thicknesses, etc.
ArtisanHD also faced the same problem, and as manufacturers tried hard to keep up with demand, some of the product out there may not have been 100% perfect. That’s okay for a sneeze guard, but not when it comes to fine art photography. Perfect is what we aim for – always.
So when a recent acrylic art prints batch didn’t perform quite as well as what we were expecting, we were faced with a dilemma: What do we do with 10 prints that were 98% perfect, but developed a slight bow?
Simply disposing of them seemed incredibly wasteful. And we couldn’t sell them. Surely there had to be a way to make lemonade out of these few “lemons.” This is where some out-of-the-box thinking came into play.
COVID-19 Effect on Animal Shelters
About five months ago, when COVID-19 was still rising hard, our own Mike Goldner, Director of eCommerce & Custom Sales, noticed a shift in his morning commute – the volunteer dog walkers, always out and about in the morning on his way to work, had disappeared.
His wife noticed, too. Thinking the pandemic impacted the volunteer pool, she called Foothills Animal Rescue to see if she could volunteer. She went straight to voicemail, which sadly informed her that they were closed, all adoptions we put on hold, as was the volunteer walking program. They had no means to safely train new staff, or to figure out how to socially distance in a shelter that requires shoulder-to-shoulder teamwork.
Saddened by this, and learning that the problem was systemic throughput the rescue community, the Goldner’s decided to keep checking back in and see when they could volunteer for this great organization right in their backyard.
A Helping Hand
Fast forward a few months and Mike started seeing a few dog-walking volunteers on his way to work again. Right around the same time that we were dealing with this acrylic supply/quality issue. The lightbulb went off!
Most shelters were still closed or operating by appointment only. All of the popular weekend adopting events, fundraising functions, etc., had been canceled. Social media was filled with reports of struggling shelters, abandoned pets, and a spike in surrenders. It was painfully apparent: These organizations needed help!
But how? Volunteering was still tricky, so maybe we could see if they had a use for some of these prints for a silent online auction, or another type of virtual fundraising activity. Armed only with the desire to help, Mike reached out to Melissa Gable, Chief Engagement Officer for Foothills Animal Rescue in Scottsdale, AZ.
Acrylic Art Prints to the Rescue!
The email inquiry was met with great enthusiasm and we quickly learned that part of their fundraising channel was the Pet Boutique that helps with operational costs.
This is where it all started to make sense.
Not only could they display these gorgeous prints in their office, to brighten up the place for employees, volunteers, and customers, but they could also put a price tag on these prints to help them raise money for their very worthy cause!
The material value, from our perspective, was right around $5,000.00. But the best part of fundraising is that these prints could potentially raise more than twice that, on resale or “auction level” pricing.
With this impact in mind, we arranged to deliver all 10 of these beautiful, archival ¼” acrylic art prints, complete with museum-back framing for a clean and easy wall display.
A Wagging Welcome
As we arrived, Melissa greeted us with excitement and gave us a tour of the facility. It was simply heartwarming to see how well these pets were being cared for! She informed us that they used this strange “downtime” to make upgrades to their playground by installing a new mister system and refreshing the exterior areas so the animals would have maximum comfort in our blistering 110+-degree Arizona summers.
Inside the air-conditioned and immaculately clean shelter, we found an amazing array of pets. Some ready for adoption, others in medical care or just getting socialized for adoption. The kittens, cats, puppies, and older dogs were all well-housed, cared for, and played with as much as possible. They even have a special separate room for cats with Feline Leukemia (interesting fact: cats can live a long a quasi-normal life with this illness, they just can’t be around other cats).
Getting to hold a little Dachshund/Chihuahua mix puppy was certainly a highlight of Mike’s day!
After the tour, we started unloading and staging the acrylic art prints. Melissa and her staff were thoroughly impressed and had no doubt that these products will make an amazing addition to their boutique, providing a great fundraising opportunity. Especially since Melissa had to cancel two of the biggest events for 2020 already.
Changing Challenges to Opportunities
This alignment of opportunity seemed meant to be. As we all struggle to adapt, seek a new normal, and try to make the best of the cards we are dealt with, please don’t forget that during this time of crisis, hardship, and uncertainty, our four-legged companions are suffering, too! But they suffer in silence. It’s up to us – the whole of humanity – to step up and give them a voice, a chance, some hope for a better life, and their forever homes.
We truly hope that this initial “challenge” for us now has a meaningful, positive impact on a neighbor, a member of our local business community, and a champion of a great cause!
Problem-solving and thinking outside the box are part of the culture here at ArtisanHD and Artisan Colour! We hope to extend this level of energy and commitment to you and your friends, should you need top-tier printing from a team that really cares.