1) How and when did you start Stoned Art Studio and Gallery?
Stoned Art Studio and Gallery: Officially in 2013, but have delved into Art followed by Photography since I was 10 years old. The was a definite void of there being no standout photographer of the Galena, Illinois, and surrounding Driftless Region of which I decided to fill that void.
2) Do you have an interesting story from when you started?
SA: Probably the funniest piece that keeps coming up is my brand name Stoned Art, which is also the name of my Studio and Gallery. Back when I picked my brand name many people spoke and lectured me about not using such a name. However from an Artist’s viewpoint if the name was not going to be Bold, Daring, First, or Different, I could see no point.
3) What inspires you?
SA: As an Artist, I’m inspired by delivering visual emotion to viewers of my art and photography. The more impactful and powerful the viewer response, the more inspiring.
4) Where did you start?
SA: Started in the Rural Galena area of NW Illinois before moving my Studio and Gallery to Dubuque, Iowa.
5) Do you have a special connection to the area?
SA: I’m a huge advocate of The Driftless Region, and The Mississippi River which runs through the heart of it. We stand on prehistoric soil, surrounded prehistoric geological formations, in the midst of ancient prehistoric energy.
6) What was your first best seller?
SA: Actually my original best sellers were Stoned Candle Oil Lamps, made of stone I harvested and constructed into oil lamps. A very unique, simple understated product, of which when put on a table decorated space, when lit, it then decorated Space and Time with Earth, Wind, and Fire. Three of the four of Earth’s elements.
7) What was your first setback and how did you overcome it?
SA: I built a beautiful Studio and Gallery on a hilltop in the middle of no where of Rural Galena, Illinois and no one came to it. Since moving everything to a Main Street location in Dubuque, Iowa, things are much nicer.
8) Do you have a favorite product to make?
SA: Making my Stoned Candle is fun, and is a breakaway from photography art. Working with stoned makes each piece a unique entity.
9) Do you employ a staff?
SA: I’m an independent artist, and the only independent artist in Dubuque, Iowa with their own Main Street studio and gallery.
10) What is your current best seller?
SA: My photography has come on strong, currently have been hired to work on several extensive Driftless Region photography projects for 2022, also conduct one on one Driftless Region photography workshops.
11) What is the most recent product you've made?
SA: Just completed a large metal print for Eagle Ridge Resort in NW Illinois. Also I am just about complete on a 9 foot wide metal print, which will the first piece of a four piece collection on another project.
12) What is your most recent success?
SA: Creating enough sales for my gallery to survive COVID-19.
13) Are you open all year?
SA: I’m available at Stoned Art Studio and Gallery (1800 Central Avenue, Dubuque, Iowa) all year with viewings available by chance or appointment. Website is www.StonedArtStudio.com.
14) How are you managing COVID-19?
SA: Doing well, creating in Studio, while listening to a lot of motivational art podcasts, along with much Blues and Jazz music.
15) Does your business support any local organizations?
SA: Yes, I’m the founder of All River Road Talent (ARRT) a not for profit organization, which creates and produces The Driftless Region Scenic Art Loop, the Region’s only Exclusive Art and Artisan guide available everyday of the year. We also produce All River Road Talents, monthly ARRT Drive on the first weekend of each month, a separate map and marketing function for participating artists. Our belief and statement is NONE of US are MORE than ALL of US. And More Voices, More Noise.
16) What is the most interesting thing about Stoned Art Studio and Gallery?
SA: My Driftless portfolio collection is very extensive. My Studio and Gallery is very comfortable and laid back. Jazz or Blues music is always playing. People can hang out, have refreshments, can talk Art, talk photography, and talk Driftless Region.
17) How does Stoned Art Studio and Gallery interact with the local area?
SA: Much of my interactions are tourism related, folks from Chicago or traveling up or down the Mississippi River, which has me meeting people from other continents.
18) Do you have any upcoming plans?
SA: 2022 has several very large photography projects in the works, and a possible several weeks long photography workshop safari in India.
19) Do you have any favorite customers?
SA: I have a lot of really cool customer relationships. When they visit or travel, I advise routes, mark their maps, show them the best way to have a good time while out there.
20) Do you have advice for someone starting an art business?
SA: Plan your plan, work plan, market, market, market, then market some more. Style and attitude go a long way. Work from a presence viewpoint verses a buy my stuff, buy my stuff, viewpoint, works much better, and can be a game changer when it’s time to discuss a sale.
21) What would you do if your business won a million dollars?
SA: Probably buy a custom made bus or recreational vehicle - take folks on the road, teaching how to see experience and capture America.
22) How did you get the idea for Stoned Art Studio and Gallery?
SA: It just evolved, knew I needed an art space - gallery, personal relationships are required for selling higher end Art. My gallery really supplies the need.
23) Do you have a business thesis?
SA: Number one, have fun. Two, lead and demonstrate by example, while demonstrating to fellow artists that it is possible to be an Artist, make money, on your terms.
24) What do you attribute your success to?
SA: Having a huge amount of excellent photography content, followed by an ability and discipline to extensively market a social presence leading to many experiences for tourists of Big City to escape their daily grind, has led to many very cool relationships, in a very jaw dropping Driftless Region, and by the way Earth’s fourth largest River also flows through it. There’s a serious romance or energy to all of it. If that makes sense. Also having a full understanding of customer service and the sales process - formula.
25) Is there a reason why you operate where you do?
SA: In my opinion The Driftless Region and Mississippi River - Valley are a very overlooked and underrated region, missed out on a huge hunk of the large tourism volume visiting annually the Region. Dubuque, Iowa provides a city flair, with the ability to get into very unique, scenic, rural beauty, very quickly.
26) Do you operate locally?
SA: Operating locally, do have a national, along with worldwide presence and following.
27) If you weren't doing this what would you be doing?
SA: Sitting on the couch with a television remote. LOL. Not sure what I’d be doing, haven’t looked back.
28) If you could give yourself some advice when you started, what would it be?
SA: Throw caution to the wind and start younger.
29) Do you have any hobbies when you aren't working?
SA: Live sketch with the Dubuque Urban Sketchers.
30) Do you have a favorite place to vacation?
SA: The Road.
31) What strategies to you use to communicate with your team?
SA: Open two way direction communication, anytime any place. All River Road Talent functions with three women and myself, and is a very impressive operation. Good energy needs to flow.
32) Do you have advice for creating a good work environment?
SA: Have an open goal, flow towards it, it will come together, via the energy.
33) Do you host events?
SA: Party events in the Gallery.
34) What keeps you motivated?
SA: It's just a groove, I look at it like surfing sometimes (2020) waves aren’t great, hence a need for a lot of ankle work moves. For opportunities as of now (2022), where projects are flying, it’s like sliding along under a big wave’s curl, your hands on your back hoping you don’t feel the wave… lol.
35) What about photography are you most passionate about?
SA: Curving and molding light and color to visually deliver impactful emotion.
36) Do you have a favorite quote?
SA: “It’s 20%’s percent about the note being played, 80%’s the attitude of the motherf***r playing it” Miles Davis.
37) Do you have a favorite businessperson?
SA: Ray Kroc
38) Who are some of your favorite artists?
SA: Miles Davis, Andy Warhol, Ai Weiwei, Keith Richards, Prince.
39) Do you have a favorite movie?
SA: Casablanca, Animal House.
40) Is Stoned Art Studio and Gallery on social media?
SA: Follow on Facebook = Henry Matthiessen III or Stoned Art. Instagram = stoned_art_studio
41) What do you like most about your business?
SA: Very casual, chance or appointment hours, clientele is pretty much vetted prior to arrival, eliminating the relationship building awkward moments
42) Do you outsource any business functions?
SA: Printing of larger pieces to various color labs depending on medium or size. Can print up to 60”x 144."
43) Do you vend at local events?
SA: I show at various festivals throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall.
44) How soon until you began to get customers?
SA: 6/1/2014 I shared my first daily photo post on Facebook, and continue through until today, it’s a journey, you never get there.
45) What is your goal?
SA: To be a World known artist.
46) How would you make the world a better place?
SA: Require everyone to work in food service or in person sales for six months upon graduating from high school.
47) What is your favorite thing about the world?
SA: How small it’s becoming, because of social media.
48) Have you been to any of your state's State Parks?
SA: All of them, they each create their own moods and visuals.
49) What is your art about?
SA: Making the viewer look out at the World, and realizing how insignificant Man is.
50) What medium do you work with?
SA: Mainly Digital photography, along with charcoal portrait drawing, and watercolor landscape painting.
51) What is your favorite thing about the creative process?
SA: Throwing spaghetti at the wall.
52) Introduce yourself:
SA: Henry Matthiessen III, founder of All River Road Talent (ARRT), also the creator and producer of The Scenic Art Loop, The Driftless Region’s “only” art exclusive guide to artists and artisan businesses.
53) What is your cause about?
SA: Getting our region’s excellent art in front of tourist visitors, via a process of “More Voices, More Noise”
54) How do you fundraise?
SA: Main source of funding is via annual Artist Memberships.
55) What community does your organization serve?
SA: Very large portion of The Tri State Area, NW Illinois, NE Iowa, and SW Wisconsin.
56) Do you have any notable donors to your organization?
SA: Blaum Bros. Distillery, Eagle Ridge Resort, Chestnut Mountain Resort, Fergedaboudit Winery, Galena Cellars Winery, Goldmoor Inn, Massbach Ridge Winery, Woodbine Bend Golf Course.
57) What is your organization's greatest need?
SA: Introductions to the region’s artists, art organizations, tourism departments, free local, regional, state, and national media support.
58) Is your organization accepting volunteers?
SA: Yes, we currently operate with four very smart and talented executive directors, more would be very helpful. Reach out to Our website, www.ScenicArtLoop.com.