We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Curtin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I fully expected to pursue the traditional “American Dream” by going to college, starting a career, getting married, buying a house, and filling it with dogs and the expected 2.5 kids. However, my life didn’t unfold this way, and for that, I’m very grateful. I wouldn’t change it for the world. In general, I’m risk-averse and prefer to go with the flow. Unfortunately, that style can make it difficult as an artist to achieve both your personal and career goals. In fact, just mentioning that I’m an artist solicits questions about “But, what’s your real job?”. While, being an artist isn’t common, it is a career that I’m very proud of. I did not initially set out to start a business. I majored in art and later married a tattoo artist. I taught art part-time and began showing some of my personal art creations at the tattoo shop. The art began to sell very quickly right off the walls and I began getting custom requests through Facebook, including portraits, abstract pieces, and much more. Soon thereafter I also began selling my creations at local art and craft shows and expos as well. My heart and passion have always been with being an artist and the creative process, not necessarily running a business. I would love to create the art and have it magically sell itself! Realistically, I’ve had to learn to market myself and utilize social media to grow the market reach of my business. As I continue to grow as an artist and as a business owner, I’m very excited with the freedom that the world today allows: We can define ourselves, our careers, and drive our own destiny. I truly found freedom when I decided to make my art my business: No schedule, no boss, and the blessing of doing what you love day in and day out. It truly doesn’t feel like a job at all!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art has continually evolved with my own personal style, but also based on what my customers want. I originally started with handmade sock monkeys, then acrylic canvas art, which evolved into pet portraits and even license plate signs. The struggle has always been between painting want I like and want to see, and painting what sells. Being an artist as a job is a delicate balance. Luckily for me, I can adapt to what people want and like, and I’m not limited to one specific style. The license plates are definitely a unique item that sets me apart and my bright colors draw people in! I truly have my own customers to thank for getting my business to where it is today in every way!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Being in the hub of DFW makes it so easy to become a tourist in our own town! We recently bought a Pogo pass which gives you access to tons of stuff throughout town for one price! If I was showing friends around I would definitely hit the bike trails that connect the entire city, stop at the Katy trail icehouse restaurant along the trails to eat, and maybe even bring the dogs to one of the many dog parks after. A great afternoon activity for our kids and the adults would be the Perot museum and the aquarium. One of my favorite stops lately is also cidercade! You can’t go wrong with unlimited arcade games, and kids are welcome during the day. Another fun activity for the whole family, that’s also on the pogo pass, is summit indoor rock climbing! At night the rollerrinks are a fun flashback, and the new dog movie theater in Plano is something unique as well.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Another part of my art business is creating handmade custom license plate signs from reclaimed wood. The most common order is for animal silhouettes, but I also cut out states, cars, and custom designs. My favorite part of making those recycled signs, is that I have the ability to offer them wholesale and also donate them to dog rescue groups. The group I foster dogs through has been my biggest supporter, and even sets up whole booths to sell my art at pet expos. As a small business, there’s only so much we can offer as donations and support to other organizations and businesses. I feel grateful that I am able to support my rescue group, and in turn they support my small business. Boston Terrier Rescue of North Texas (Texasbostons.com) helps hundreds of Boston terriers all over Texas and neighboring states. Giving these dogs a second chance at life while making art is a double bonus!