Meet Ron Harmon, who works at Daniel Smith, a Seattle-based manufacturer of watercolors and oils for artists.
What do you do? I am the chief chemist for Daniel Smith Inc. I’m responsible for research and development (R&D) of artist paints, as well as overall quality control of all Daniel Smith paints and products. I consistently test new and exciting pigments from all over the world for their adaptability to artist materials.
How did you get started in that field? After receiving my bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Whittier College, I began my first career role as a quality control chemist for a major aerospace coating company. Shortly after, I was promoted to R&D, working on various coatings for the military in the same company.
I wanted to work closer with people who could use what I made to create beauty, and six years after my first career role, found myself moving to Seattle to work for Daniel Smith to create artist paints and materials. I’ve been here for 30 years.
What’s a typical day like? I start by carpooling to work with my daughter who is a technician in our manufacturing department. Upon arriving I review my R&D projects, check in with the two quality control chemists who report to me to see their progress and learn their findings. I work throughout the day with the manufacturing manager. I’ll order pigments, create batch tickets for job production, work with safety data sheets and meet with the owner to discuss the status of all projects. I also work with manufacturing personnel to assure all paints meet our highest standard of excellence.
What’s the best part of the job? Working with new pigments or minerals that will create a fabulous watercolor or oil color. The owner allows me to have the time to create, evaluate, and test many different paints. Once a color is approved, I work with the best batch makers in the industry to make the color that artists will love to use.
What surprises people about what you do? When I tell people what I do, most people want to know if I have painted with these products. Many are surprised that I have done some oil color paintings. The beauty about our product is that anyone can put beautiful color to paper. We may not all have the ability to draw, but we all have the ability to create beauty.