Meridian Industrial


2/1/2024 |


When he was 6 years-old, Bill Muller’s parents gave him a toy printing press and he was never the same.

“I would print greeting cards and the family newsletter,” he said.

Although that press was a toy, it was a creative outlet for Muller who loved taking paper and ink and making something that could spread joy or important information. As an adult, Muller was a paste up artist at the Valley Advocate and began dabbling in graphic design, which led him to open Guild Art Supply in 1984. Located in Northampton then, Guild was the place for anyone serious about art to get their supplies. Now in Easthampton, it still is.

While Muller has a passion for all things art, he also never lost his love of the press — the letter press, in particular — and he opened Big Wheel Press in 2005. Along the way he also acquired Pierce’s Frame Shop, a Northampton staple since 1894.

Today, Muller operates all three business at 1 Cottage St. in Easthampton and said it was Covid that made him bring all three businesses together in Easthampton. And while initially business was a struggle in the early pandemic, it began booming as people turned to creative outlets to deal with the stress.

And he said the local art scene began to thrive and so did business.

“There were a lot of murals painted in the Valley during that time and we have the biggest selection of mural/graffiti paint in the northeast,” Muller said.

Guild Art Supply also has something that only 24 other stores nationwide have — full sets of the new Pantone markers from Royal Talens.

“There are 60 Pantone colors,” Muller said.

Pantone is a universal color system that has assigned numbers to each color so graphic designers and printers can create the intended color perfectly.

Muller said the markers are a dual-brush, non-alcohol marker that gives a beautiful line. In addition to high-end supplies such as markers, paint brushes, fountain pens and more, Guild also has items for someone just starting out or those interested in crafting rather than fine art.

And once you’ve created your masterpiece, there are numerous framing options on-site through Pierce’s Frame Shop.

But the best kept secret when it comes to art in the region could be Big Wheel Press, which is arguably Muller’s baby.

“We use old-fashioned letter presses the old-fashioned way,” he said.

Muller channeled his inner 6-year-old when he began creating greeting cards, which most people don’t know are sold nationally.

“We have a line of over 600 greeting cards we sell across the country,” said Muller, adding that his redesigned Winne the Pooh line is very popular. Muller also enjoys taking old presses and giving them new life.

“We rescue presses,” he said. “We restore them and put them to use again.”

Fixing and using the presses is also good for the environment, something important to Muller who noted that he tries to have an extremely small carbon footprint and said they use at most five gallons of solvent a year in the presses.

Muller said Big Wheel Press attends an annual card show where he holds his own with the big card companies such as Hallmark and American Greetings. Big Wheel Press also does a lot of work for area colleges, including gifts for major donors, letters and informational packets.

He has also done work for major clients, such as Spotify.

Making the move to Easthampton and bringing the three businesses under one roof was a move Muller would make again and again.

“Easthampton is really good,” he said. “The Oxbow Gallery also moved here and there are many artists. And we are located right on the waterfall — it’s beautiful.”

And being in the middle of the regional arts hub is right where Muller wants to be.

“I’ve been part of the arts scene here for 40 years and right now, the arts are doing so well,” he said. “In Easthampton, rents are lower and people are opening up studios and doing great work. There are little galleries opening up around the Valley … there’s a lot of positive energy.”


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