Anita Wos is a rowing addict. What is a rowing addict, you may ask? Well, a rowing addict is like a skating addict, just melt the ice until you're surrounded by pristine water and instead of skates, throw in a pair of oars, a sleek boat, and voilà!, you have a rowing addict. Anita began rowing in 2001 at age 44, got hooked, and is currently president of the Killer Bees Rowing Club, in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
In 2000, Anita, who had been creating e-commerce sites for small to medium-sized businesses, decided to start her own e-commerce site after asking herself this one very important question: Why am I working so hard for other people? (Don't we all ask that question at some point in our lives?) One day, in the back of a rowing magazine, she saw an advertisement for Watermark Fine Arts in Maine, which published and sold rowing-related watercolor paintings, posters, cards, and photographic pieces. Being addicted to the activity that the product line was based on and knowing that she could better market the product line, Anita began negotiations with the owner of the company. At around the same time, she met her future spouse through her love of rowing.
Anita was attending a rowing club meeting and asked for a volunteer who could row with her the following day, due to choppy weather conditions. Who stepped forward but Lenny, and the two began rowing together on a regular basis. While chatting in their boat one morning, Anita mentioned that she was trying to start an e-commerce business by purchasing Watermark Fine Arts. It was at that moment that Lenny mentioned that he was an artist. What are the chances of that? As soon as Anita saw Lenny's paintings, she was thoroughly impressed (see right), and knew that "a special thing was happening."
After purchasing Watermark Fine Arts and rebranding it Bright Water Gallery, Anita began The Art of Rowing, and also helped to publish Lenny's rowing paintings into limited edition works. Any trepidations about mixing business with friendship were soon cast aside when they realized that they were meant to be partners in life too. At the end of this post is the happy couple in 2004 rowing to their wedding!
After creating Art of Rowing, Anita wanted to add another seasonal sport to her site. As she explains, "I looked at skiing, but there was a lot of competition in that market. At one point, I also looked at swimming, but I didn't think lots of water and chlorine would be good for artwork." Does Anita have a sense of humor or what!?! She continues, "But then I looked at skating and the market was fairly open. There weren't other people doing quite what we envisioned. A person who is attracted to skating is drawn to the beauty of it. Also, skating involves family and friends, but there is also a big fan component and I really believed that we could make a go of it."
And so, the Art of Skating made its debut early this year and Anita and Lenny are working hard to promote their business and further educate themselves about the skating world. They attended the recent U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in Providence, Rhode Island, where they showcased their products to the public and got great feedback about what people like and were looking for in skating art. Lenny, who by day is a software trainer, also had a chance to take photographs, sit in the stands and sketch, and be inspired to create event paintings.
Anita also adds that her experience with Art of Rowing has definitely helped her to come up with better offerings for the skating market. She says that, "I do quite a bit of searching and 90% of the time I go 'yuck' but when I like a product, I make sure it's great quality, buy it wholesale and resell at a reasonable price." Anita also looks through obscure art websites to find particular styles and artists she likes. Because Anita is also a graphics artist, she finds vintage artwork that the copyright is clear on, cleans up the image, removes advertisement words, and turns it into something new. At right is an illustration done for a French magazine at the turn of the 20th century which Anita made into a poster called Yvette.
Her great (and creative) sense of humor has also made it into some of the offerings. Below is Skating to Noah's Ark, which Lenny illustrated, and is perhaps one of my favorites. The "scripture" on the cartoon reads: "And the animals came in pairs except the hippos, who were ice dancing."
For those of you wondering, Anita has skated as a child, but is not a skating addict. Frankly, I was glad to know that. One addiction is enough I think, and when you're rowing off to your wedding in your beautiful gown, you're pretty much past the recovery stage. So welcome to our skating world Anita and everyone, check out Art of Skating!