I have always drawn, ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil. My grandfather used to sit at the kitchen table and draw shapes with me, and my uncle was good at drawing too, which I found to be just mesmerizing. My mom, although she used to cry when she had to go to art class (a fact she now finds amusing having an artist for a daughter) always had crafty things around that I would play or make things with, like scraps of fabric, paints, and Aileen’s Tacky Glue. (I’m unstoppable with Aileen’s!) She’d take me to the art supply store and let me pick out some charcoal pencils or a tote bag to “bedazzle” or whatever, haha. My dad is an incredible craftsman and builder, so the need to work with my hands and create has always been a huge part of my life. Luckily, they’ve both always been really supportive.
Last summer I had an illustration on a limited edition bottle of Blue Moon beer and there was a facebook voting contest in which people could vote by “liking” my image. I had no idea what to expect or if my label would even be printed, but I painted something I was proud of and at the end of the day that was what mattered to me. When it was time for the big reveal, I was shocked and overwhelmed by the positive response!
Support from friends, family, locals, and people from other parts of the country that connected to to the work– it was the first time I’ve had a piece of art have that kind of reach. It allowed me to do so many fun things like go to a NYC Gallery opening with the original art, paint glasses at Best of Baltimore, be on the front page of the news, and do live drawings of my favorite local bands during the Handmade Quarterly to auction for Providence Center. The final count was something like 7,400 “likes”! Many of them came from Amy & El’s amazing support, they even gave me the celebrity treatment in the September 2015 shop with my own little Blue Moon section!
The Art at Large studio has been located in the heart of the Arts District since its designation, so Sally and I have seen Annapolis’s art scene go from fairly quiet seed stage to an exciting whirlwind of talent and personalities! Especially this past year.
As a MICA alum, I still feel very connected to the Station North Arts District through taking workshops at Baltimore Print Studios, participating every year in MICA’s Art Market and now the Women’s Industrial Exchange, and checking out other venues like Creative Alliance and AVAM. Annapolis is so close to Baltimore that we have a lot of cross pollination of artists, ideas, and movements. Baltimore is pretty fertile ground for artists, which radiates out to surrounding areas like Annapolis. More galleries, studios, restaurants, festivals, public art, and theaters are popping up in Annapolis every year and the community is turning out at large for support. I think our biggest challenge now is for the big players of Annapolis to see that there is room for the arts amongst all of the good Annapolis already has going for it. Annapolis is an ever-growing destination for international visitors and if we don’t have more outlets for the arts, we aren’t showcasing the talented voices at our fingertips.
How long have you lived/worked in Annapolis?
I first became involved in the Annapolis art world as a student at Anne Arundel Community College. I never wanted to go to college, but luckily I had a watercolor teacher in high school, Mrs. Kaptain, that really inspired me to get serious and pursue my work as a professional, so I enrolled at AACC. Best education I could’ve ever received for a killer price. The professors, the facilities… all top notch. They helped me so much when I was trying to get into MICA, my dream school, and it paid off! I graduated in 2010 with my BFA in illustration and built a collective art career, working at Art Things (a.k.a. Artist Disneyland) and for Art at Large– a large scale graphics and illustration studio owned by Sally Wern Comport. Sally’s husband Allan was one of my favorite professors at MICA so I started off helping out here and there, and now I am her right-hand woman! It's a job that presents so many opportunities and introduces me to so many cool people in Annapolis and beyond.
I was fortunate enough to meet Amy & El for their very first pop-up at Westgate Circle (where 1429 MFG is now) through Sally’s friend Chuck who owns that building as well as our space. Sally & Chuck came into the Art at Large studio saying “You’ve gotta get down there, you’ve gotta see what these women have done to that space. Talk to them about what you’re doing too.” I remember seeing them unloading their cars all week and catching glimpses of the shop through the window, but not until their opening party could I fully appreciate the genius behind these two lovely ladies and the pop-up concept.
First impression of Amy and El
My first impression of Amy & El holds up to how I know them today– truly fabulous and down-to-earth. They took a blank, sort of beat up canvas (its much improved today as the 1429 MFG space!) and transformed it in a short time into exactly the shop I wanted to see in Annapolis, with handmade goods, unique art prints, sweet home decor, and lots of local flavor! I’ve gotten to see how much they’ve grown in terms of streamlining their business model while very much remaining true to the mission and the heart of what they represented in that first shop. Even when business was slow, or overwhelmingly busy (like their Midnight Madnesses!), Amy & Ellen have always been persistent and remained true to themselves, their families, and their goals.
3 items or designs that you love from other HERE. featured artists
I love Kim Hovell’s work: her color palette, the elegance of her brush strokes…I admire her ability to paint impasto while maintaining a lightness to her work. Its like she’s frosting a cake! She’s so sweet and a smart business woman too, knowing the outlets that suit her work rather than creating the other way around.
My family–mom, sister, G-ma– collectively own pretty much the entirety of Sarah Trumbauer’s body of work, but she’s so fast at creating new stuff that I’m sure we’ll have to shop more the next time she’s HERE. As someone who can be a bit of a bull in a china shop, I am in awe of her grace and ability to create such delicate and beautiful illustrations. From her necklaces to her prints and ornaments, I am always shopping for more. She has such a knack for coming up with new applications for her work as well, she’s business savvy too in that way.
I am also always in the market for any bit of Providence Center pottery or woodcraft I don’t already own. I love everything Providence Center is about– giving a sense of independence to adults with developmental disabilities through art programming and job placement– and I’m so thankful for what they do for the community. Tom Wright who most recently ran the pottery studio is brilliant in his designs and the ways in which he involved the participants, I can’t sing his or the organization’s praises enough.
I am Irish so I would really love to go to Ireland with my husband or my best friend Molly (she
studied abroad there). I would take my watercolors and just paint as many green landscapes as I could stand. I feel like Paris is the mecca for all artists too, so I’d probably pop over there and see the Moulin Rouge and Montmarte. Henri de Toulousse-Laurtrec and Van Gogh are probably my two biggest artistic inspirations so it would be a dream to just sit in a cafe and sketch like they did in their time.
What book are you currently reading?
Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick. Haha, that sounds very grumpy but its a great dry comedic memoir that has me LOLzing at times. I grew up living and breathing Saturday Night Live so comedy is always my go-to genre for entertainment.
What is your favorite movie or book ever?
Oh gosh, I am an entertainment junkie so that’s a toughy. I will say the movie I find most
inspiring and pertinent to my life as an artist is Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. This has been a favorite since I saw it as a little kid. Aside from being astounded at the sheer craftsmanship of his art and the unique aesthetic that Tim Burton has defined for himself, I have figured out that I am a Jack Skellington of art-making. When I was at MICA, being surrounded by all these creative and talented people, I wanted to do EVERYTHING. I tried every medium, took studio classes I knew I would struggle with, and wracked my brain trying to figure out what I was trying to do or say as an artist. Watercolor was the thing that always came easily to me so I would paint as a relief from the stress I was causing myself from the bad/challenging work I was making! (You’re scratching your head, right? Me too.) So finally I figured out I am Jack Skellington. It may seem like a lot of fun to do Christmas– i.e. something that someone else does really well that you want to try– and you should give it a try! But at the end of the day, stick to Halloween. It’s what you’re good at.