Online Community for Vertical Aficionados

The ability to communicate with vertical specialists in far-flung places and to stream video of them in action has inspired the creation of a subscription-based online training service.

Vertical Artisans, launched in January 2008 at, presents training videos and articles by experts. The site aims to offer a broader perspective than can be found at schools or training centers that, besides being bound by the limits of time and space, are often devoted to one manufacturer’s product line or one artisan’s techniques.

Annual subscribers can access the videos at their convenience and review them as often as they like. Vertical Artisans founder Nathan Giffin believes it is unrealistic to expect a contractor to retain what he or she learns in a one-time course, and trial and error on the job hurts the industry. “Instead, let’s give them a year to absorb what we teach online,” he says. “They can make sample boards, make mistakes, understand there is a learning curve.”

The ability to instantly update Web content gives the site an advantage over training DVDs, which are quickly outdated. Online interaction also helps practitioners, some of whom work in Australia, Canada, Spain, South America and China, build productive relationships. Concrete contractors who see new opportunities in vertical decorative work rub virtual shoulders with plasterers, painters and faux finishers who are also looking to expand their offerings.

Subscribers with all levels of expertise can use the site for everything from getting a few tips to learning new methods. Giffin believes that while basic training is abundant, Vertical Artisans meets the need for more training in advanced techniques. The site also offers business and sales advice.

More is on the way. Future plans for the company include hands-on training seminars for subscribers where they can put what they’ve learned online into practice under the guidance of an experienced artisan.

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