Arts Guide Celebrates 20 Years

In late 1999, I left a full time job to open my own design business. Initially, I sat in my home office, making calls, networking, and searching for clients. By early January of  2000, I realized that finding clients was not as easy as I expected in the dead of winter in Maine. DUH!

I had several years of experience as the graphic designer, and editor of a seasonal weekly arts paper called “PREVIEW!” – as well as a proven track record with its advertisers. 
I mocked up the first Arts Guide, making a four page full color media kit to show advertisers, and began calling my contacts from Preview
With each call I made, and each enthusiastic  “Yes” I heard, my confidence in this new venture grew stronger. That first Arts Guide was 16 pages, printed and distributed Free in the summer of 2000 – and a huge success! 
Many of those contacts still advertise in these pages today, and I am grateful to each and every one for their faith in me. 
During the ensuing 20 years, I have had the privilege to interview many artists, gallery owners, chefs, and straight up characters.  

The late Judith Leighton was featured in these pages – an amazing artist and gallerist who reinvented herself at age 50 by opening her first gallery in Castine.  
“I was so inexperienced then,” she told me. “I stuck handwritten white address labels on the wall under the paintings! Such an amateur!” 

Bunzy Sherman the Potter, was not only a Deer Isle icon, but one of my dearest friends. She loved being featured in Arts Guide, and sent many copies of that issue around the country to friends and family. I could count on her to give me good advice – always honest. Always.

Another dear friend, the late metalsmith J Fred Woell, was featured in 2015. Fred was humble beyond words, in spite of being a nationally recognized trailblazer in the metals world – turning found objects into highly coveted jewelry. He was a mentor to me (and many jewelers), teaching me how to work in PMC (Precious Metal Clay), and giving guidance in all things metals. 

An interview session with Mark Bell and Bill Irvine two years ago was one of the most fun I have ever had. Their feature was another great addition to the pages of Arts Guide.

Each year, I try to fill these pages with information for visitors to the area that will help them have a great experience, perhaps learn something new, or discover a new artist, gallery, restaurant, or a special place to explore that they hadn’t heard of before. 
Many of those visitors over the years have told my advertisers they saw their ad in Arts Guide. Blue Hill potter, Mark Bell, says people often arrive at his studio with a copy of Arts Guide folded open to the page with his ad on it – and he's made many a sale because of it.
Advertisers and readers alike have told me over the past two decades –TWO!!–how much they appreciate the editorial on each town, the stories that have been told, and friendly descriptions of towns, places, and people.  
That feedback means so much to me.  At those times when I start to feel like maybe this year is the time to quit, I remember all of you who rely on the information contained herein, how much you value it, and I realize that I can – and will – continue.  

I have also had some memorable office assistants. I started out with two cats – brother and sister, Hoyt and KK. Hoyt always made sure I had a daily offering of a mouse by my office chair during the final stretch of prepping this for print, and KK… well, she just basked in the sun.

Later, Max Poodle came into my life.  For seven years, he made sure I took breaks and got outside.  I still miss him after almost two years.

My latest assistant is Fern – a black and white parti Poodle who keeps me on my toes, encourages fresh air, and has filled my heart and my life for a year and a half.

What started out as a little experiment in arts publishing has swelled from 16 pages to as many as 64 pages. Like the ocean, it has tides. Some years there is a bit of a lull, and the page count goes down accordingly. Others, there is a surge, and the page count increases.  Most years though? It levels off and there is smooth sailing all the way. 

Thanks to each and every person who has followed me on this course over the past 20 years: The advertisers who put their faith in this venture, the readers who enjoy every story, and the people who work so hard all year to make this little section of Maine one of the best places to live, work, and play.  I couldn’t do this without all of you!       –Maureen Farr