An island businesswoman discovers key to finding local art

Posted in Feature, Visual Art

Whidbey Life Magazine editor

Island interior decorator Lisbeth Cort said it would be hard to find local art for her business without a directory.

Linnane Armstrong specializes in linocut and woodcut relief prints such as this “Madrona Triptych,” which Lisbeth Cort used to decorate a client’s home. (Photos courtesy of Lisbeth Cort)

The Coupeville resident is owner of Whidbey Island Style, a company that specializes in decorating, redesign and color consulting, and one that prefers to use the work of local artists in clients’ homes.

Cort said the artists’ directory on Whidbey Life Magazine (which she began using when it was known as Whidbey Art Source) was a lifesaver for her, because without it there would be no functional way to find art on Whidbey, short of hitting all the galleries and waiting for the studio art tours in summer and fall, which is not so useful when one needs to find local art on a deadline. The directory made the task much more efficient.

“The directory has been a godsend,” Cort said.

Cort has been a resident of the island for 10 years and considers herself fairly tuned into the art world. She is an amateur watercolorist and a member of the Whidbey Island Sketchers, and shares an interest in visual art with her circle of friends. She officially began Whidbey Island Style in 2012 after a successful 30-year career in nonprofits, particularly historic preservation. But even as a tuned-in art lover, when she needed to find art on a job-to-job basis, she said she would have been stuck without the directory.

“It’s just astonishing how many artists don’t have websites; I mean really astonishing,” Cort said.

Kris Wiltse’s “Headlands” block print was another of the decorator’s finds for her clients.

Cort said, since she began the business, she has depended on the directory to introduce her to a wide range of work, with samples and contact information for artists whose work may not be in local galleries at the time she’s working on a specific project, or if they are in a gallery, she knows where to go to see their work.

Also, Cort said she is adamant about buying local for her business and supporting the island community of people who create beautiful things.

“I look first to local businesses to tap into the products and skills of local artists, craftspeople, retailers and contractors for art, accessories, furnishings and services for each  project,” she said.  “Yes, I do have access to the Seattle Design Center and other “trade only” sources, but I’m committed to buying local whenever possible.  It supports our community and brings local flavor to each project.”

Cort said that for the client who may be looking for specific work such as oil paintings or sculpture, for example, she can refer to the directory for specific media and give clients a sense of the variety of styles of art that are available to them in their own backyard. If the client likes something they see in the directory, then she can call the artist and arrange to go see the work at the studio, which she said is a huge help.

In her two largest projects to date, the works of 10 different local artists were used, a coup of sorts for which she is proud. Some of those artists were new to her and she said she probably would not have discovered them without the WLM directory.

Lisbeth Cort of Whidbey Island Style decorated this Camano Island living room using the work of local artists, including the Kris Wiltse blockprint above the mantel. The pillows are from a Camano Island artist’s company, “Crabby Chris.”

“A key part of my job is to stay informed about the work of local artists so that I have ideas to present to clients as part of my design plans,” Cort said. She keeps her eye out for new members on the directory and for those who post new works.

“It’s a way to educate myself about the full range of visual artists that are on the island; a way to get introduced to artists whose work is fantastic and whose work I will keep in mind to use in the future,” she said.

Visit Whidbey Island Style, email Cort at or call 360-969-5543 for more info.

Artists of all stripes looking for a new way to get their work seen by the island community and beyond, might consider becoming a member of Whidbey Life Magazine. Basic membership is free.

Check out Linnane Armstrong and Kris Wiltse in the Whidbey Life Magazine directory.

(At top: Lisbeth Cort, owner of Whidbey Island Style)


Patricia Duff is an award-winning journalist whose most recent kudos include several wins in the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association 2011 competition.

If you like what you see in this magazine and want to help support the artistic community on Whidbey Island, consider buying an ad, making a donation or becoming a sponsor.


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