How Did You Start Your Business as an Artist?

Yesterday I was asked the question “How did you start your company?” Rather than reply to just 1 person, I thought I would share the story with you too! 

Somehow I have managed to create a business where I get to be myself every day, share my wild technicolor ideas, and have total freedom to be myself…but I didn’t set out to do this. 

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I was a 19-year-old college student, a little (okay very) sleep deprived from architecture school, wanting to create at night to relax. I’ve always loved to paint and make crafts, but never considered myself an artist at the time. 

In high school I had started long boarding and thought it would be fun to wood burn + paint my own skateboards. I became obsessed and eventually my tiny apartment bedroom was so full of skateboards I was like “Okay I’ve gotta start selling these so I have room to paint more.” Funny to think I wasn’t even focused on the business, I just wanted to be able to paint, paint often, and share my work with others.

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One Etsy shop later, I was going to school from 10am to 6pm, coming home to eat dinner and paint until 8pm, heading back to my campus’ architecture studio to work on class projects until 1am, and then coming home to paint some more. 

During my 4th year of my 5-year degree, I studied abroad in Copenhagen. Traveling overseas, I decided not to take my paints, which resulted in my barely painting the first semester of school. You guys may know this part of the story already, but the short version is that my friend Elsa asked me to take a watercolor painting class with her taught by one of our architecture professors. I think it took all of 1 week for me to be hooked on the medium. I found myself grabbing my bike after I finished at my internship, riding to old churches I had never been before, and sitting in the grass painting for hours without even realizing how much time had passed. 

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Coming to the end of the semester in May of 2014, I found myself with no summer job to return to at home in Arizona, and a desire to merge my passion of painting and another new interest, business. I had started watching business advice videos on YouTube in all of my spare time, and it really interested me. To this day, running a business feels like a really fun game to me where I get to try out new strategies, see how they work, and have a ton of fun sharing each part of the journey with you.

This desire to merge my passions turned into a Kickstarter campaign for my custom skateboard painting business, called "Studio Skate" at the time. Thanks to many supportive friends, family, and fans, a month later I had $1200 in my bank account, a list of custom skateboard orders to complete, and total fire to pursue this business. 

As I’m sure you realize, my career + art style look a whole lot different than custom skateboards today. I owe that to my spring break in March of 2015, when I hung out in my parents backyard in Scottsdale, admired all of the cacti, and created my signature “Technicolor Botanical” collection. A collection of 9 originals where everything…clicked. This collection helped me unite my hometown, the landscape I had learned to fall in love with, and my childhood obsession with rainbows. 

This is the cliff-notes version of my story, but what’s important to note, is everything that happened in the “in-between” spaces. Staying up until 2 AM painting new ideas, filming videos in my bedroom between classes, constantly consuming any business information I could learn, and always being open to the process. That’s where the magic really happens. The commitment, the excitement, and the persistence. 

I never really knew what I was chasing after, but I somehow created a space where I can share my creativity with the world + be the best version of myself. But trust me, I don’t take all of the credit.

Thank you for being here, following along, sharing encouragement, and enjoying what I create. Each positive comment, DM, email, like, and compliment keeps that fire going that I first came across in my college bedroom at 19 years old.