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Gift Giving Gets Better with Fine Art
by: Shannon Southway
Art and fine crafts provide a unique solution to anyone’s gift shopping needs. It offers personalized originality and is surprisingly affordable. Fine paintings and sculpture come in a wide variety of styles and can meet the tastes of just about anyone you know. Handmade crafts suit traditional and country décor but can also be found with a contemporary flair. Fortunately, seasonal art fairs and online galleries have made art less intimidating and more easily available. Here are a few more gift ideas from the art world and where to find them.

Original Jewelry
Many think of jewelry as a romantic gift. Not true. If you know an animal and pet lover, Sigi Jewelry Design in San Fransisco, CA hand-creates mini-sculptures of a wide variety of animals, including dogs, cats and a Sigi Design favorite, Happy Hippo. Buyers can choose a piece from the catalog or have one tailor-made in the image of a beloved pet.

If you are looking for something unique, but you’re on a budget, look no further than the Kitty Deluxe of St. Clair Shores, MI beaded collection. Kitty Deluxe offers affordable necklaces and earrings suitable for any age including her versatile Poppy Pendant necklace. The young and trendy style is a perfect thank you for the teenage babysitter.

Photography
Any home or office can be jazzed up with fine photography. Whether black and white, traditional color or digitally enhanced photography the result is a dramatic addition to any room. For those who love travel you might choose from the collections of Steve Bart of New York or Jim Caldwell of Montana where you will find a wide variety of extraordinary landscapes and seascapes. If that special person enjoys outdoors and gardening, Larry Friedman of Wyoming has an incredible collection of floral and nature photographs while Barry Gray of Colorado will appeal to those who prefer a Southwestern look. Fine photography is a classy way to say congratulations on a promotion and dress up that new corner office.

Now you know what to buy, but where?
Art fairs are one way to shop for art and fine crafts. They expose buyers to a variety of items and provide an opportunity to see and feel the product while meeting the artist. For the indecisive shopper, however, there may only be a few days before the fair ends and the artist moves on. Buyers can usually still arrange for payment and shipping if the piece is still available later. Midwesterners can enjoy the Ann Arbor Street Fair in Ann Arbor, MI, or, for an art fair near you, check the listings at http://www.artfaircalendars.org/index.html.

The Internet is another way to shop for art and fine crafts. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, total e-commerce sales for the first quarter were estimated at $19.8 billion, an increase of 23.8% from the first quarter of 2004. (http://www.census.gov/mrts/www/data/html/05Q1.html) The growth is due, in part, to an increasingly Internet savvy audience who enjoy the ever-increasing choice of product available and prefer the convenience of “no-lines” and secure credit card processing. Especially convenient when purchasing gifts is the online shipping which allows the gift to go straight to the recipient without a time-consuming trip to the post office.

For more art and fine craft ideas online including fine acrylic lighthouse paintings by Florida artist Frederic Kohli and the other artists mentioned here, visit Artists’ Heaven (http://www.artistsheaven.com) or try Froogle (http://www.froogle.com), Google’s shopping network.


About the author:
Shannon Southway is the Director of Strategic Relations & Quality Assurance for E-Integration, Inc., a provider of Information Technology services and solutions. E-Integration owns and operates Artists' Heaven, an art & fine craft emarketplace. More info: shannon@e-integration.net or http://www.e-integration.net


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