While 2020 has been an unexpectedly difficult year, it has also been the best year for this business I get to tend, and I cannot thank you enough for making that happen. I remind myself often that every last bit of this is a gift, and I do not take it for granted. Your support (including but not limited to kind words, follows, shares, and purchases) means more than I can express… but that won't stop me from trying!
There is a home video somewhere of me as a painfully shy Kindergartener with a bright blonde (the kind we pay the big bucks for these days) helmet haircut, squinting in the playground sunlight while one of the class moms asked me “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I was only 4 or 5 years old, my late August birthday ensured I always the youngest in my class.
“An artist,” I replied, with tears streaming down my face (not from emotions, I just had a problem where in bright light my eyes watered relentlessly. It's still a struggle at times)…
Fast forward to 2010 when as high school graduates we were re-interviewed and shared our plans for the next four years. How they kept track of this twelve year long project in an enormous public school system is beyond me, but sure enough, I was heading off to Georgia College to major in Studio Art. I figured at some point I would add another minor or something else to bolster a major that most people were more than happy to remind me would prove useless in "The Real World.” Due to a healthy dose of stubbornness and a preoccupation with the art classes I found myself deeply caring about, that extra minor never happened.
Social media was becoming more prevalent and little by little I started seeing artists who were actually doing it - making art and selling it, and apparently thriving. Or at least not living in utter squalor the way, according to most people, artists supposedly were destined to live once they were dropkicked into The Real World. Seeing those artists share their work and their businesses was the first time I realized this was a viable career in and of itself. I asked to hang my paintings in a local coffee shop right after graduation so I had a project to keep working toward as soon as my senior capstone exhibit was turned in. One particular professor instilled in me a deep work ethic around painting I wan't about to let slip away. So I put things on the calendar to ensure I kept painting.
After graduating college, I spent a few months filling in for my high school art teacher while she was on maternity leave and got paid $100 a day before taxes, which, at the time, was an embarrassment of riches. I applied to grad school, thinking I would get my MFA and eventually become a college art professor, but I didn't get in. You know those things you tell yourself you really want but then when you don't get it there's a strange sense of relief? It was that kind of thing. So I painted in a corner of my Atlanta apartment. I babysat a lot, and I painted a lot. I painted for the people I babysat for, and painted whatever people asked me to. And somehow, little by little by so very little, it snowballed. Not the kind of snowball that rips down mountains rapidly growing as it rolls, but more like the kind you cobble together in your Georgia front yard on the only snow day of the year and it's kind of crumbly at first but you keep rolling that little snowball around and packing it down and sure it's a little lopsided but my goodness would you look at that it's actually turning into a ball of snow, kind of snowball.
With the foundation of all kinds of privilege I never want to ignore (scholarships and an in-state college education I didn't have to fund myself, being from a white middle-upper class neighborhood, having a loving encouraging family, parents who taught me healthy financial habits from an early age, friends and friends-of-friends who would become future clients, and no dependents to provide for, to name a few of those privileges), I kept painting. I joined a couple galleries, took on extra commissions, started selling online, made a thousand mistakes, had ten failures for every one success, learned a lot, and by the grace of God, that tiny lopsided yard-snowball turned into something more substantial and beautiful (and also more challenging) than I ever could have imagined.
I still make thousands of mistakes, fail more often than I succeed (if you do too, I think that's just normal), and am learning every single day how to run a business. Things like financial sustainability are important, and I want to be here for the long haul, but more importantly I want to have an art business that serves every person who chooses to pull up a seat to this table, and for them to feel at home. More than anything, that's the goal - for you who are reading this especially lengthy blog post, follow me on Instagram, signed up for Studio School, or have bought a painting - to be invited into a place of Adventure and Rest, and be reminded of what is Good, Beautiful, and True.
You really are wonderful. You are creative, kind, supportive, gracious, and you are the reason I have a job. You are the reason I am able to in turn support other people who are also running businesses, raising their families, running organizations that empower people who are marginalized, bringing about change, and doing real good in our world. And I'm committed to supporting those people, by the way. And by all means, feel free to hold me to that.
So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I literally could not do this without you. You are my hero. Thank you for six whole years in business! And while I have you here - if there’s anything you want to see more of in the year(s) ahead, don’t hesitate to get in touch and let me know.
Happy New Year,