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Monday, April 1, 2013

Artists, Do You Prefer Blick or Utrecht (Or Neither)?

Posted by on Mon, Apr 1, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Because Blick just acquired Utrecht. The press release is on the jump.

April 1, 2013 – For Immediate Release

Blick Art Materials Acquires Utrecht Art Supplies from Topspin Partners LBO

Blick Art Materials, a multi-channel retailer with 39 locations, has purchased the stock of Utrecht Art Supplies, a 45-store multi-channel retailer. Both businesses are leading participants in the art supply industry.

Robert Buchsbaum, Chief Executive Officer of Blick Art Materials and leader of the newly-combined enterprise, spoke of the transaction, “The acquisition of Utrecht gives us a tremendous, well-established brand and greater geographic reach for our brick and mortar channel. We are very excited to welcome Utrecht employees and customers to the Blick team.”

Topspin Partners LBO Managing Director Steve Lebowitz was equally pleased with the transaction, stating, “We are glad to have achieved a successful exit for our investors and are proud of the business that Utrecht’s employees have helped to build. We are confident that Utrecht will be in good hands as part of the Blick family.”

Consensus Advisors acted as financial advisor to Utrecht.

About Blick Art Materials:

Founded in Galesburg, IL, in 1911, Blick Art Materials ( is one of the largest and oldest providers of art supplies in the United States, with 39 retail stores nationwide. Its products cater to the full spectrum of artists — from the youngest child ready to scribble with his or her first crayon to well-known, gallery-represented professionals. The company’s extensive selection, competitive prices and superior customer service make Blick the best choice for art educators, students, artists, architects, designers, hobbyists or anyone requiring quality art materials for work or pleasure. A long-time advocate of art education in the U.S., Blick also provides support of scholastic, collegiate and professional art shows, both financially and through a variety of materials that emphasize the benefits of art education. Blick also supports the communities in which it does business by sponsoring in-store events, local schools, art leagues and community groups across the country.

Utrecht Art Supplies was founded to give creative professionals the tools, materials and knowledge they need to make the next generation of great art. Their team of working professional artists has the practical knowledge and experience using a wide range of art materials and processes. Launched in 1949 as a canvas importer, today Utrecht Art Supplies serves an international customer base as a manufacturer and retailer. The company currently operates 45 retail locations, publishes an annual ‘big-book’ catalog (The Resource Guide) and maintains a web store (, which features the industry’s first brand-neutral technical helpline, “Ask the Experts.”

Utrecht exclusively produces its own American-made lines of artists’ colors. The signature brand is made at the company’s Brooklyn, NY workshop by a team of skilled craftsmen, chemists and artists. Utrecht products have been classroom and studio staples for decades, routinely used and recommended by professional artists and educators. For more information about Utrecht Art Supplies and Utrecht Manufacturing Corporation, visit

Topspin Partners LBO is a Long Island, NY-based private equity fund that makes control investments in profitable and established lower middle-market businesses. The firm often invests in sectors such as consumer products, business services, food/beverage, retail, media and security. The team at Topspin LBO has considerable operational expertise and has partnered with management teams in building businesses of varying stages and sizes, both at Topspin and at prior firms. Additional information on Topspin LBO can be found at


Comments (19) RSS

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Kenneth 1
Artist & Craftsman Supply in the UD:…

Always wins.
Posted by Kenneth on April 1, 2013 at 4:09 PM · Report this
deadrose 2
Daniel Smith
Posted by deadrose on April 1, 2013 at 4:13 PM · Report this
A&C and DS.
Posted by wseacat on April 1, 2013 at 4:36 PM · Report this
any bets on what kind of development will go into the Utrecht space on Pike? Does Utrecht/Blick own that building?
Posted by genevieve on April 1, 2013 at 4:49 PM · Report this
deerwhistle 5
Yes to A&C. They are the best.
Posted by deerwhistle on April 1, 2013 at 6:07 PM · Report this
gunmmoontree 6
Thanks for asking! I heart (Dick) Blick! Lower cost supplies & nicer staff! Although I loved the store, Utrecht always had aloof, too-cool, hipster fucks working there whenever I went in.
Posted by gunmmoontree on April 1, 2013 at 6:16 PM · Report this
potatoesobrien 7
A&S beats both of them. But for price and convenience, I usually go to Blick.
Posted by potatoesobrien on April 1, 2013 at 7:59 PM · Report this
potatoesobrien 8
A&C, rather.
Posted by potatoesobrien on April 1, 2013 at 8:00 PM · Report this
sirkowski 9
Office Depot.
Posted by sirkowski on April 2, 2013 at 10:55 AM · Report this
artist & craftsman has cuter boys and leaves me without having to worry how i'm gonna pay rent.
Posted by whiskeypony on April 2, 2013 at 12:03 PM · Report this
Blick. Utrecht waa more of a 'we hav a lot of paint because we that's all art is' store. I can get all kinds of stuff at blick.
Posted by LORD ZOD on April 2, 2013 at 3:22 PM · Report this
Incredible 12
I'm very sad to see Utrecht sold off to their competitor. It means prices will be higher and quality will go down. Utrecht paints and their other branded art supplies are manufactured to very high standards. The value is much better than with any other paint company. Blick's profits (and growth) come from selling high-volume, high margin craft supplies. There is nothing wrong with craft supplies and appealing to a more general demographic, but Utrecht occupied its fine art niche nicely. I don't imagine that will continue.

As for whether Utrecht was 'snobby,' artists work at both places. Art supply customer service skills will always be all over the map. People who feel intimidated by their own lack of curiosity find 'snobs' everywhere they go.
Posted by Incredible on April 4, 2013 at 11:47 AM · Report this
My answer depends upon what I am looking for. I've been using Utrecht acrylic paints since I was a student. I do use Golden mediums now, but my preference for Utrect paints has not wavered (hopefully Blick is smart enough to not mess with that). Still, for just about everythinelse here in Chicago, I go to Blick unless it's a harder to find item.

Posted by TomW on April 4, 2013 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Neither. Artist & Craftsman all da way to da top.
Posted by Torquemada on April 7, 2013 at 9:33 AM · Report this
I agree with "Incredible". My experience at Blick is mostly not good. Their material is lower quality than Utrecht (frames, chipboard, linoleum, in my experience). Utrecht staff was more knowledgeable in the fine arts area, in my opinion. I can tell Blick is just trying to make a buck and have no real vision or heart in the art arena. So, yeah, maybe more crafty, and nothing wrong w/ that, but didn't have to take down Utrecht, who was better in the fine arts side.

I had a serious pet peeve w/ Blick: their computers are set up to randomly "forget" your reseller's license (instead of saving it as ANY OTHER place I know). They asked me to bring my reseller's license every time! I don't walk around w/ important documents. Staff reported they had unsuccessfully complained w/ upper management. Obviously, if other stores can save your info, they can too, right? I still don't understand what the get w/ this type of attitude.

I heard from artist friends who were boycotting Blick because it could have opened in Ballard, where so many artists are, but didn't -- maybe just to tak Utrecht down? That's really sad, if it's the case.

I guess now I will be going to Daniel Smith or A&C. Boycotting Blick won't be difficult.
Posted by whois on May 3, 2013 at 8:56 PM · Report this
I was told not to order from DICK BLICK, Ever Again! Hear is my story! I should of returned damaged items instead of calling them where they told me to keep the product and sent me a replacement, which also came damaged and did complain again about 13 NuPastel Sticks being broken! 8, 16" X 20" Ampersand Sandboards came damaged! I should of sent them back called the C.S. dept. I was told to keep them and they sent men replacements! But when they shipped the boards Dick Blicks Shipping Did not protect the corners of the boards! They claimed I returned too many items! I didn't they told me to keep the damaged products!
Posted by H.J.M. on May 15, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
I work for Blick Art Materials and now Utrecht Art Supplies and I want to say you wont find a group of people trying harder to satisfy their customers. I realize you can not make everyone happy but Dick Blick (the founder of Blick Art Materials) would be proud of the way we always give 100%. I want to comment about our supplies. We carry everything from supplies for the aspiring little scribbling artist to professional art supplies made at superior quality for the established artist. Yes, we have craft supplies too. Please don't shrug off the crafty people because they are really creative too. I am just one little operator at Blick and Utrecht that gives 100%. Some of the comments do not correctly represent me or my coworkers. We are good people that work extremely hard and will do what it takes, to make it right, if a valued customer is not satisfied. If you want to miss out on that kind of service, that is absolutely your choice. Either way just enjoy creating beautiful things! :)
Posted by usaart on July 12, 2013 at 7:33 PM · Report this
Have loved Utrecht, it's products and it's service for decades. Am very, very sad to see this transition. I hope Blick will retain Utrecht paints, etc, as is, and especially with no major changes to product formulations & artist friendly prices. Even tho both Blick & Utrecht sell art supplies, they each served different facets. I hate to see the end of an era. Let's hope another great art supply house hasn't just bit the dust.
Posted by sagebrush on December 10, 2013 at 9:03 AM · Report this
I always shop Jerry's Artarama. Seems they are artist friendly, help artists, have the lowest prices and offer so much more. I always prefer, keep getting great discounts and quick shipping.
Posted by Sarah Gren on May 30, 2014 at 9:53 PM · Report this

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