Originally posted June 6, 2003
From an post in the Cafe forum:
In 1998, my wife and I popped into a local coffee shop for a quick cup of Joe. It was December (3 years ago this month!), so the night air was a bit cool. We walked out of the coffee shop, and were strolling around the storefronts there. My wife popped into some "home store" - you know, where they sell all the candles, pot pourri, etc. Right next door to this place was a big Pearl Paint store. I told her that I'd pop in there for a bit and look around while she was in the other store. An hour later, I walked out with over $1,000 worth of easels, paints, brushes, and other junk. I had never painted a day in my life, but it looked like it would be a refreshing break from "my other life" - playing the corporate game.
I went home, excited, and created my first oil painting, which I affectionately named "Toothpaste Mountain" - because thats what it looked like. A mountain with big gobs of toothpaste rolling down the sides of it. lol. However, I was determined to learn all that I could. The few books that I bought were somewhat helpful, but I wanted (needed) more. So, I went online. I must have spent a week looking for some good lessons, but I couldn't find anything really. So, I decided to start a site where people could come and share information, tips, lessons, and their art. After all, I had worked on web ventures for some of biggest companies in the world (Chase Manhattan, Disney, etc.) If I could do it for them, I could do it for me - lol. The site was never really intended for "professionals", because after all, they didn't need help! (at least in my mind, at the time).
When I started the site, there were no message boards, no chat, no articles, no reference image library, no project system, no publishing system, no news database, no anything! I went out and found a few others who were interested in collaborating, and we started publishing a few home-made articles (looking back, they were horrible, but thats all we really had). I even tried getting a few sponsors, but no one took us seriously (and I couldn't really blame them).
The site ran for a month or so, then Llis joined, along with Carly (CHClements), Carol (oleCC), and a few others. Llis was like the 5th or 6th member to join - lol. After the first month or so, I decided that publishing articles would only get us so far, so the message boards were added. Llis is the one I credit with getting us "off the ground and running". She conversed with people, invited them, and really stimulated conversations with new folks. The rest, well, is history I suppose.
Now, 3 years later, we've been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo!'s Internet Life, CNBC, and about 20 other cool places. We get around 700,000 unique visitors a month, and are averaging about 1,100 posts per day.
Unbelievable. But I don't deserve all the credit - seriously. I just listened when I could, and tried to add the things that people were looking for. Chat. Project tool. Reference images. etc.