With the economy is still choking along in fits and starts, many working, high-producing artists have changed their relationship to the public.

With the economy is still choking along in fits and starts, many working, high-producing artists have changed their relationship to the public.

While they may still sell wholesale to galleries and museum gift shops, working the arts festival circuit and talking directly to the people who buy their wares is a more common practice.

Leaner times have also created a climate where more artists tour festivals within their own regions, giving attendees a chance to find out more about the high-quality work that's being produced in their own backyard.

These three artists sell to retailers and galleries all over the country, but produce everything here in Central Ohio.

Dylan and Amy Engler

Glass art


When Dylan and Amy Engler started working together in 2003, they came into the process by blending their knowledge from two different schools. Amy, an interior design student, would draw up the ideas, while Dylan, a glass artist, would do the hands-on work. Their first project was a line of servingware.

These days, they are both involved in all aspects of the work - from early design sketches to production, and their clever designs have gotten plenty of notice.

In the past year, their splash bowls - small bowls that look like a droplet of water hitting the surface of a pool - have been featured on a gift show on HGTV and in a gift guide in Elle magazine.

Other objects, like spider-web style bowls, antler-shaped bottle stoppers and bowls that look like crinkled-up paper, are available at affordable price points.

"The idea that form follows function is very important to us," says Amy Engler. "And we're also inspired by patterns in nature. That's why you see the splash bowls. And the web bowls are also great for fruit - the holes allow air to circulate and keep the fruit fresh longer. So it's useful. It's not just decorative."

Deborah Close Designs


Jewelry designer Deborah Close likes to look at the earthy patterns in opaque stones like jasper to try and find their story. In the metalsmithing workshop of her North Side Columbus home, they become resting places for silver lizards or the protected treasure of a birdhouse.

For the first 24 of her 28 years as a jewelry designer, Close sold all of her work to stores and galleries wholesale. As the economy tightened, she shifted her focus to regional arts festivals. She now makes her way to up to 25 of them each year - as many as she can drive to within five or six hours.

"What I discovered was how much fun it is to sell to the public directly," she says. "I get to see women come up and try my jewelry on. It's so much more fun."

Brian Becher

Glass artist


A native of Dublin, Ohio, Brian Becher set out to become an environmental scientist when he was a student at the University of Oregon. Then he tried working with glass, found that he loved it and discovered there were few better places to pursue it than his hometown.

"After looking into it, I found that Columbus was a really fantastic place to study glass," he says.

He started showing his sculptural vessels, platters and bowls in galleries before graduating from Ohio State University in 2003. He continues to show around the country, supplementing his income with arts festivals and craft shows, keeping the standards of his work the same for every venue.

"I consider all of the work gallery-quality," he says.

Using some modifications to Venetian techniques, Becher's glass art has intricate and vibrant woven and lattice patterns.

"The patterns are drawn from looks in fabrics," he says. "They have a textural look even though they are completely smooth objects."