HOW DID IT START?
At the age of 24, Michael started a business selling off beat and fine art personal checks under the name Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Exceptional Banknotes. “I thought it would be cool to have personal checks with skulls or vultures on them, or real art from real artists.” This was a small direct response mail order company (www.coolchecks.com today), which built a following of roughly 40,000 loyal customers. It didn’t take long for these customers to begin asking for more interesting and unique products. “We asked ourselves, what else could we make fun? How about a night light with Edvard Munch’s The Scream on it?”
A bit off the beaten path, given that The Scream is hardly the image to sooth one off to sleep, but they were after all selling people personal checks with bugs crawling across them.
Thus started the first hand made prototypes of night lights illuminating beautiful photographic quality art transparencies. “We used medical glass and all top shelf components. The end result of the prototypes was so great and we scrapped the idea of mass production and cheap offset printing and continue to put them together one at a time to this day.”
Night lights were offered as one of many items in the expanded R&G Banknote catalog, and it was clear that they had created something special. “Check customers who owned or worked for retail stores began calling and asking to sell them, and before long R&G ventured into the wholesale business.”
The success of Illuminart has led us to create more inventive image based products which, just like our night lights, are designed to be so much nicer than their ordinary counterparts. We now offer three different night light lines, MagneticArt magnets in seven sizes, MagneticArt Dry Erase Boards, Fine Art Prints under glass, Artist Canvas Bookmarks, and professionally matted Frameable Greeting Cards.
And as we move forward, look for more useful, well designed products, which incorporate our steadily growing archive of art that suits every taste.
In 1996 Sandy, who later became Mike’s wife, left her job as The Dean of Mean at a New Hampshire college, and joined forces with him and within a year Illuminart was born. “Sandy really turned Illuminart into what it is today. She’s the brain behind all the art & marketing. She took what was essentially a gag gift and turned it into something beautiful.”
WHERE ARE OUR PRODUCTS MADE?
Downtown Wilton, New Hampshire. Right around the corner from the Post Office, Town Hall and the Melting Pot Café, across the street from where the ambulance drivers smoke.
WHO MAKES THEM?
Joanne, Marge, Michelle and June. Arwen runs the personal check business with the help of Jake. Andrea does all things graphic and Mike fills in the gaps and puts out fires.
DOES R&G HAVE A MISSION STATEMENT?
Yes. May Heaven make our presence and practices pleasant and helpful to you.