The Art of Retirement: Donald Jackson

Vincent Van Gogh once said, “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”

It’s undeniable that Art Work Fine Art Services Founder Donald Jackson is a man of many loves.  His love, commitment and passion for art blessed many of us for years.  If you have been fortunate to chat with Donald about art history or the art world, you likely had an engrossing conversation.

Donald began the company in 1991 out of his basement in Northeast Portland. He grew a team of people that shared his passion for art, our clients and the community. 

You may also know that Donald shares a great love and enthusiasm for nature. After nearly 30 years, Donald has decided to change career mediums.

Nature always looks beautiful on a canvas, but Yellowstone, Yosemite, and many of the great beautiful wonders of America look much better in person.

Donald is stepping down as President of the company and passing the reins to Acacia Phillips, who has stepped into the role through acquiring the company this summer. 

We wanted to recognize Donald’s contribution to the art community not only across the Pacific Northwest but also across the world.

 

The Beginning 

Donald’s art career began a few months after graduating from Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles with a Master of Fine Art in Sculpture. He was hired by Cooke’s Crating as an installer and driver and spent 10 years at the company during the late ‘70s and ‘80s, as the art market began to grow exponentially across the United States. 

He and his wife Leslie moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1990 and started Art Work FAS in 1991 out of their home in Northeast Portland. In the early months of the business, Donald and Leslie transformed their spare bedroom into an office and their basement into a crating shop. About six months into their new venture, Donald arranged for painting delivery from Portland to New York City. The process included a large tractor-trailer rig, which needed to make its way up his narrow residential street to pick up the piece from Donald’s home. The truck stopped in front of the house blocking the entire street, and at that moment, he realized it was time for a much larger space and quickly moved the growing company into its first warehouse.

The first Art Work Fine Art Services facility was located on Northeast Whitaker Way and was approximately 1,500 square feet. A used Chevy van with a 12′ foot box was the sole company vehicle which Donald himself drove to initiate the monthly Portland to Seattle fine art delivery shuttle – a service the company continues to offer to this day!

Soon after establishing the warehouse and shuttle service, HVAC and humidity control were installed in the facility and with that came a major storage client. From there, it was history. The team grew as additional employees were hired, including a full-time crater, and soon after added an additional location in Seattle opened. Many of the clients Donald served while working out of his basement continue to use Art Work Fine Art Services today. 

 

Prioritizing the Customer

When starting the business, Donald felt that every customer was precious. He instilled a high level of customer attentiveness in his team and ensured each client and project was treated equally and met or surpassed expectations.

From day one, Donald empowered his team to take any steps necessary to meet the customer’s expectations and encouraged every team member to treat each customer and their art with the same level of care, whether it was a multi-million dollar painting or a framed poster.  

 

What’s Next

When looking for a successor for the company, Donald was pleased when he found the ideal person in Acacia. Her background in banking, coupled with her passion for the arts, is a unique combination of skills which he believes will propel the company forward successfully. He was relieved to have found someone who will continue instill the same core values he found so important when growing the company initially – treat each project with the same exceptional level of attention and care; always put clients first; work with each piece as if it was your own; and do whatever necessary to to get the job done for the client. Both Donald and Acacia were adamant in that the transition would be smooth and effortless, not only for the employees but for the clients as well and worked together over the summer to do just that. 

Donald is now looking towards the future. He and his wife Leslie are planning their next travel adventures across the United States in their Airstream trailer and hope to further explore the world soon after. Always keeping his passion for the arts alive, Donald has considered getting back into making sculptures, and Leslie is beginning to paint. They are both looking forward to visiting art museums as they reopen.’ and most specifically – entering through the front door instead of the loading dock.

 

For nearly 30 years, Art Work Fine Art Services has served as the trusted logistics partner to some of America’s most highly-regarded museums, galleries, collectors, and artists. We specialize in expert and custom solutions for domestic and international shipping, warehousing, and preservation of artwork. Our team is made up of passionate experts in many mediums, including design, painting, printmaking, carpentry, photography, and sculpture. Art Work FAS offers services in Portland and Seattle, in addition to California’s Bay Area and Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, New York City, and across the Rocky Mountains.

To request an estimate or find out more about the services Art Work Fine Art Services offers, visit artworkfas.com.

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