Company History

Artworks is owned and operated by Michelle Quinn. Its customers include two art houses, several screen printers and industrial accounts, a restaurant designer, local sports teams, and an author, along with eBay sales of posters, toilet skins, illustrations, t-shirts, and medicine bottles. There is a line of Christmas Stockings that are sold during the holidays that add an end of the year boost to sales, along with sales of personalized gifts and calendars on the retail level.

A Long Climb With Many Peaks & Valleys

Artworks was started in 1992, when a divorce and job loss found its sole owner, Michelle Quinn (who was a Wilson at that time), with no income,  two small children, no childcare, no child support and no assistance of any kind.

Suddenly, it was critical to find a way to work without the expense of childcare, since it was impossible to support the expense, while looking for work, and the kids needed transportation to and from school as well as after school supervision.

In the first days, leading into months, Michelle went to the unemployment office daily, and put flyers on cars advertising resumes.  She also cleaned houses. At last, there was a small income to buy groceries and pay some of the household bills.

During the following year, she placed an ad in the local yellow pages for graphic design.  At that time, the ad was one of only 3 ads in the book. Since she had worked at an advertising agency for almost 15 years, she knew the basics of operating an agency, obtaining the permits, building marketing pieces, and preparing jobs for printing.

This lead to the acquisition of some regular accounts that included piecework for Advo, PennySaver, L.A. Times Marketing, and 3 independent coupon mailing publishers, along with an assortment of printers and screen printers. In addition to the niche she developed, she also acquired several large restaurants and industrial accounts that purchased printing, menus and advertising materials on a regular basis.

1994 Setback Puts Artworks On Hold

However, 1994 was a very bad year. Michelle was hit from behind in a car accident that left her with lower back pain, very painful headaches and no medical insurance. In addition, her computer failed and her car required repairs that made it impossible to continue with the business full time. Combined with the painful decision to short sell her home and rent a condo, she was unable to borrow money to make the car repairs or pay for the move.  She found employment bartending, although she had no experience, and rode the bus through the summer. During this time, the kids were sent to live with relatives, and she worked on art and print jobs during the day, cleaned houses on the weekends, and tended bar at night.  Once summer was over, she provided total support for the kids and household expenses, and was able to remain home with them during the daytime hours, which was very important to her.

After several bartending gigs, she met Mr. Zendejas, who called her from her yellow page ad looking for someone to create his restaurant menu. This lead to full time employment bartending, and she was promoted several times, ending in upper management.  In the final years of employment, she was director of operations over 3 restaurants and 200 employees, while supervising and coordinating the opening and remodeling of his other units, including mass hires of over 300 people and 20 managers.

ArtWorks Remains on the Back Burner

During this time, Artworks was placed on the back burner, as there was no time to market, much less fill the orders from customers, and the income from employment was more than what was needed to support the kids.

Following employment with Zendejas, Michelle worked for a commercial property developer, where she opened a Taco Bell, a Shell Mini Mart, and performed numerous duties in assisting commercial tenants with permits.  She was eventually promoted to Commercial Property Manager.  During that employment period, she also opened the San Bernardino Zendejas, remodeled, opened and managed a steak house and a small bar--all in San Bernardino.  In 1999, she had five businesses on register as manager with San Bernardino City Hall, and 3 Liquor/Manager permits with ABC.  These businesses were in various states of operation, all at the same time.

The Tide Changes

Then in 2001, she met Hugh Quinn, and he had a profound effect on her life.  She did not want to work the long hours, and preferred to remain home in the evening to be with him. During this time, there were a handfull of customers who continued to buy artwork from her, and it was enough to satisfy the yearning to be creative.

As an independent contractor, she opened several more businesses for other people in the following years, including several bars and night clubs, and two fully-staffed 10,000 square foot restaurants, including another one for Zendejas. 

In January of 2008, she opened and operated a Vinyl/T shirt cart at Victoria Gardens (an outdoor mall in Rancho Cucamonga, Ca).  Through this business, a steady flow of artwork orders crossed her desk, and it was necessary to let go of her unskilled workers in order to hire 2 artists. Both proved to be very talented, very good, and very loyal employees--Zack and Jose the Pirate (the pirate part is a long story). Both of whom have gone on to very fine careers in the arts.

The 2008 Crash Of The Economy

When the stock market crashed in the fall of that year, there was an immediate impact at the mall as it had no foot traffic.  It became impossible to support the expense of remaining open. This had a negative impact on personal finances due to the loss, which only hard work would resolve.

So once again, she found herself with no income and many bills left from the business. She sent numerous resumes that year and the year following, and placed an ad in the yellow pages once again. She finally realized that it was time to re-invent ArtWorks.

Since then, and in spite of the economy, revenues have increased every year, and income is stabilizing through sales on eBay of posters, shirts, artwork, and banners along with business from yellow page and Google advertising. In addition, some accounts from the old days of 1994 Ontario began to provide her with work filling art orders, while new local customers came back with print reorders, and word of mouth referral work also came in. 

Hugh's Role In The Growth Of ArtWorks

From 2001, Hugh was very supportive, and learned the business quickly. Although he was employed with Penske Honda full time, he helped with filling orders in the evenings; sign making, installations, shirt pressing, and occasional order deliveries.  His skill and talent with mechanical and technical tasks, his work ethic, and his wonderful personality made it possible to grow Artworks to a respectable level in the San Bernardino business community.  September 11, 2013, He was diagnosed with nueroendocrine cancer and he later passed away February 6, 2014.

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