Painting a picture of solid growth

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

When Bill Killen IV left Providence for the bright lights and opportunity of New York City after graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in 1993, he was an example of the “brain drain” of local talent Ocean State leaders lament. More

To continue reading this article, please do one of the following.



LABEL HERE

Painting a picture of solid growth

PBN PHOTO/DAVID LEVESQUE
POLISHED PRODUCT: Bill Killen, owner of Killen Studios Inc. in Providence, checks on his formula for nontoxic nail polish. It’s a product that he said “is really taking off.”

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 2/11/13

When Bill Killen IV left Providence for the bright lights and opportunity of New York City after graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in 1993, he was an example of the “brain drain” of local talent Ocean State leaders lament.

But a decade later, Killen returned to Rhode Island to start an acrylic paint-making company, Killen Studios Inc. His return shows that some who leave do come back and that Providence can attract young entrepreneurs as well as college students.

For three years Killen has produced the private-label, RISD-brand paint on sale at his alma mater’s store on North Main Street. He now is looking to grow the paint business, while expanding into nontoxic nail polish and furniture paint.

“I moved to New York City shortly after graduation simply because that’s where all young artists tend to gravitate to get their first work experience,” Killen said. “My decision to move back had a lot to do with wanting to open Killen Studios. There is no way I could afford the manufacturing space [in New York] to start the business.”

Killen Studios rents 1,500-square-feet of manufacturing space in the rehabilitated Butcher Block Mill on Eagle Street, which is run by the Partnership for Creative Industrial Space and serves as a low-cost home for art-related startups. The company mixes the paints, fills containers and refines the formulas for new products in the old mill in the city’s Valley neighborhood.

While inexpensive and art-friendly, urban industrial space is one benefit of Providence that helped draw Killen back from New York, family was another.

Killen’s father, also named Bill and also a RISD graduate, studied textile chemistry and formed his own company helping the fashion-jewelry industry designing resins and paints.

As an aspiring artist in New York, Killen found out how expensive paint can be and called on his father’s industrial chemistry knowledge to develop a recipe that would allow him to make his own student-grade paint. (Student grade being less expensive than artist grade.)

Early versions of the homemade paint were underwhelming, but Killen kept working on it and steadily the product improved until he thought it was at least as good as the student-grade, acrylic paints sold at art-supply stores.

Next Page
No comments on this story | Add your comment
Please log in or register to add your comment
Calendar
PBN Hosted
Events

Only a few seats remain for PBN's Manufacturing Awards Dinner and Ceremony, Thursday, April 24th, at the Bryant University Bello Center. Don't hesitate. Register today!
  • Business Women
    Accomplished. Confident. Wicked Smart. Nominate women you know who deserve speci ...
  • 40 Under Forty
    It's the 10th Anniversary of 40 Under Forty, and PBN is planning a special event ...
  • Healthiest Employers
    Enrollment now open for the 2014 Healthiest Employers Program. Please take a mom ...
Advertisement
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  •  
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  •  
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
  •  
    National
    Local
    Latest News