PROfile is a series of interviews with artists and creative souls who have built businesses around their craft and passion. We’ll dig deeper to try and find out everything you could want to know from seasoned pros who have experienced the full gamut of highs and lows that come with running a creative business.
It might be actual decades since my visit to Charleston, but if I close my eyes I can still clearly remember the beauty and charm of the city. Not only is it one of the prettiest places I've ever visited, but with such a thriving artist community, it also seems to be one of those places that is a true haven for working artists. I'm not surprised! This week we are interviewing Charleston-based artist Raven Roxanne, whose vibrant paintings are bursting with magnificent colour and energy. I hope you’ll enjoy this look behind the curtain of how Raven balances her art and her business.
What was your first ‘proper’ job and how did you land it? Was it what you intended to do as a career?
My first proper job was the ‘Creative Coordinator’ for a small jewellery line called Avindy out of Atlanta.
Has art always been in your blood?
It has!! My mom is an artist and my parents have owned an American Craft gallery for 40 years called The Zoo Gallery. I grew up playing in my mom's studio.
What’s your main creative discipline and how did you get started in it?
Painting. I grew up around my mom who was a painter and so that developed my relationship with the practice.
Do you see yourself as introverted or extroverted, and does being either affect the way you work?
Extroverted. That is why working along other amazing artist fuels my work. I need people around me. I am very lucky to have found Charleston and the great artist that inhabit this city.
What is your favourite kind of commission, and why?
One that they say they trust me and let me run with it! I don't like too many limitations. My work is never as good.
How did you know you were ready to have your own business?
I didn't but it sure happened fast.
How did you go about starting your own business?
It is interesting when you start thinking of your passion as a business. To put that label on it changes it. When I moved to Charleston I took 6 months off and just focused on painting again. I took about a 4-year break after college (I have my BFA from Auburn University). I threw away a lot of paintings, cried in the shower a lot, and with the support of other artists like Teil Duncan and Lulie Wallace, I kept going. When I felt like I had a good body of work, I booked a show and my husband (who owns a design+developing group) built me a site.
How did you secure your first clients?
She found my site and liked what I did.
What is your typical daily routine like?
Wake up, coffee, work out, water my flowers, walk my dogs, eat a good breakfast, bike to my studio, paint, eat lunch with Teil or Lulie, paint, bike home, cook dinner for husband, relax with my little family (husband + 2 pups) in front of a movie.
What traits do artists have that help with running a business?
They are problem solvers.
How does being an introvert (or an extrovert) help or hinder you when it comes to business?
Being an Extrovert helps me because I like to work and communicate with people. It hinders me because I am in my studio alone a lot and that challenges my productivity.
Do you have a favourite medium or technique?
Paint is my favourite medium, but I'm not partial to a technique.
What’s been the most beneficial business decision you’ve made?
Using Shopify as my e-commerce platform form.
Artists and writers often describe the compulsion to work – do you experience an overwhelming desire to create something new?
I am always interested in creating something new, in and out of the studio.
Do you ever feel alone in your work?
No, I have been lucky to have a supportive community of friends and artists.
How do you relax?
Yoga, beach, walks, snuggle my dogs, work in the garden.
Where do you find inspiration?
In relationships, in good conversations, in gardens, in light.
What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
What would you like to be remembered for?
Loving people well.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
Seeing how proud my parents are of me.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Finishing a painting that you know is your best yet and leads you in a new direction.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your business and how did you overcome them?
Not to compare myself to others too much. I can get down if my work doesn't sell as fast as someone else's or if I like someone's work better than mine. Recognising what interest that sparks within me, and going after that, helps me overcome it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is a piece of art advice: ’It does not have to be a hand, just reference one.’
If you could have dinner with any inspiring person (past or present), who would you choose?
Want more? Head this way for more PROfile interviews.