Artisans Revolution in Tile (ART), the Premiere Tile Artisans Training event, was held in Milwaukee on June 19-23. Sponsored by the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) and Laticrete International, the program also had support from Tile Tools, ARTO, Gemini Saw Co., Inland Craft, Floor & Decor, EMI Mesh Mount Paper and Tape, as well as loans of equipment from other industry members.  

The ART program was geared to provide experienced installers with information and hands-on training to design, produce and install their own hand-cut custom art features, according to industry standards. In addition to developing the skills needed to offer hand-cut artisan features to clients, the program equipped participants with a transference of skills and methods that elevate all tile installations.  

Fifteen participants from around the country filled the class in less than eight hours when it was announced earlier in the year on Facebook, and attended to expand their skills, create art and learn high-level mosaic skills. 

Chris Stover, Stover Tile & Design, Morro Bay, Calif., said he came to the training to “pick up all the little tips and tricks I don’t know, to make connections and to learn more about marketing side of the business.” 

Aryk Snowberger, Snowbee Custom Tile, Canton, Ohio, said he was motivated to attend by the teachers and people involved in putting it together.

The training was developed by Jane and Lee Callewaert of Dragonfly, along with Joshua Nordstrom of Tierra Tile, who flew in from Homer, Alaska to be a primary instructor along with Lee. Also essential to the program were Assistant Trainers Maria Meyer, Dragonfly Artisan Tile Apprentice and Seth Ready of Ready Set Tile & Mosaic in Broomfield, Colo., along with Jeff Kimmerling of Laticrete. 

The intensive, four-day covered a wide variety of topics, including:  

  • Working with clients
  • Marketing
  • Building a portfolio
  • Pricing  
  • Various techniques for creating designs
  • Templating
  • Labeling  
  • Material selection
  • Fabrication
  • Working with tools including the wet saw, the ring saw and shapers
  • Pre-mounting techniques  

Each artisan was tasked with creating their own 107-piece koi mosaic, and they also had opportunities to participate in a group project of the ART logo, work on additional personal projects and learn about cutting mosaics into field tile. The attendees were so inspired that they created a mosaic of the Saint Kate logo to repair a sidewalk outside the hotel, and installed it before heading home.  

An evaluation process is underway to assess the impact of the program and plan for future opportunities. Installers interested in elevating their craft with custom art features and artisan techniques are encouraged to join the Tile Trade Artists Guild on Facebook, where announcements will be made about future events and support is always available from current artisan tile setters and instructors. For a view into the event as it unfolded, visit TileLetter on Facebook