Charles Hill has been an artist for 45 years, but he recently has found a new way to share his work.
Hill has Studio 107, located at 105 E Church St. in Martinsville, where he has sold prints of his realism paintings, tote bags and home décor featuring his artwork and additional items through online retailer Fine Art America.
That’s where he saw artists using the platform to create face masks, and he said he got to work quickly in turning his paintings into a wearable accessory.
“They have my art on it,” Hill said. “It’s a new feature, so I haven’t enabled all of them, but I have about 128 images, and you order it directly through the manufacturer.”
This opportunity has risen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when many governors have mandated a mask-wearing policy in their state.
In Virginia, wearing a mask has been recommended since the beginning of the outbreak began in March, but on May 29 Gov. Ralph Northam officially required face coverings to be worn by those spending time in indoor public settings, including both employees and customers.
Hill uses print-on-demand marketing. Consumers can order a mask from Hill’s profile on Fine Art America, and the company creates the covering and ships it directly to the customer – or to another address, if the client ordered the mask as a gift.
The idea is so new that Hill said he hasn’t sold any masks yet, but he said he looks forward to his unique designs being displayed in a different and innovative way. Hill also has offered to turn other individuals’ paintings, drawings or photographs into face masks.
“If somebody wants their own image, they can email me their own image, and I can have it made,” he said.
To purchase or request a face mask designed by Hill, contact the artist through email at email@example.com, visit his website at www.charleshillart.com or go to his online store profile at www.fineartamerica.com/profiles/3-charles-hill.
But if you need a mask more quickly, there are options available.
Walmart, located at 976 Commonwealth Blvd. in Martinsville, sells the cloth coverings and requires any customer entering the store to be wearing a face covering.
“We have a wide variety and selection of face masks,” said Kristy Radcliff, front end coach at Walmart. “We have all kinds, from plain to fancy.”
Radcliff noted that face mask purchases at the local store seem to have leveled off at the moment, but she said she wouldn’t be surprised if they spiked again soon.
“Honestly, it’s hit or miss. Some days we’ll go from them flying off the shelves to a couple of days that nobody touches anything,” Radcliff said. “I think a lot of it’s about people just knowing that we have them. Because, you know, a lot of customers come in, and they’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, I didn’t know you had face masks.’ When we have them, we sell out once word gets out.”
Even though face masks are technically an accessory, customers won’t find them among the necklaces, bracelets and earrings. The store has them as a health item in the pharmacy section. Other local retailers are also selling face masks, but consumers may want to call ahead to check each store’s stock before heading out to buy.
CVS, located at 2725 Greensboro Road in Martinsville, had a handful of cloth face masks available on Wednesday at a cost of $3.99 each.
Walgreens, located at 103 Commonwealth Blvd. W in Martinsville, had plenty of masks in stock on Wednesday. The wide variety of facial coverings included washable, reusable cloth masks, single-use throwaway masks and multipacks of both styles.
Speaking of styles, a group of four crafters and artists in nearby Danville are selling just about any style of mask a person could dream up.
Main Street Art Collective, located at 326 Main St. Unit 100 in Danville, is a gallery that features handcrafted decor, jewelry, fine art, Danville-themed items and, as of March, owner Cheryl Sutherland said she jumped at the option to offer face coverings as soon as people started requesting them. At the crafter’s market there are school-themed masks for teachers to sports-themed coverings for fans.
“A lot of people dislike wearing them, so if they can wear something that’s fun or comfy, you know, different styles fit different people,” Sutherland said.
In addition to having an assortment of designs, the cloth masks at the store also come in different shapes and sizes. For $10 each, there are masks for adults, masks for children, pleated masks and masks with a crest in the center.
Because the shop began offering masks near the start of the pandemic’s reign in Virginia, Sutherland said her store has averaged approximately 125 mask sales each month.
As of Wednesday, Sutherland also started stocking a new mask-related item, a $3 lanyard that holds a mask in place around the neck when it’s not in use. That can be convenient for eating out, time spent driving to and from locations that require masks and other situations where having one handy could prove helpful.
Crafters also make and sell ear savers for those who experience irritation when wearing a mask.