One of my favorite things about supporting and following small shops is getting to know the community of artists, makers, and entrepreneurs. The idea that women should lift each other up instead of tearing each other down is at its truest when it comes to this community, and I couldn't be more grateful for that. That's why I end every Q&A with a question about other shops the interviewee likes, and it's how I've found some of my now-favorites.
All of this is to say that when Daneisha of Pixel & Ink Creative (read her interview here) recommended the art of her friend, Morgan Allain, I couldn't have been more excited to be introduced to another artist that I may not have known otherwise. Morgan sells her art through her shop, The Inkling Girl, and all of her work is stunning. I found myself getting lost in each piece as I was scrolling through to choose a favorite to highlight here, and I wouldn't be surprised if anyone reading this does as well. Morgan creates a mix of original pieces and pop-culture inspired art, and each one of her pieces is filled with detail and clearly a ton of work. I also love the variety of how she sells her art between prints, pins, stickers, and mini framed pieces. Morgan was one of the many unfortunately affected by Hurricane Laura recently, but given her passion for what she does, it's no surprise that she's already back creating and was incredibly nice enough to talk to me once she and her family were safe and settled back home.
Morgan talked with me about how she turned her passion for art into her full-time job and how she and her husband are navigating these pandemic times with the loss of conventions and art shows. Read on to learn more!
My pick: I can't get over how gorgeous and intricate her Serpents, Ravens, and Roses piece is.
Q: Let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of starting your business? What made you want to do this and how did you turn your idea into a reality?
A: I had been sporadically selling my art since I was teenager, but it wasn’t until after my daughter was born that I began to really push myself to create and sell consistently. I came up with a name (The Inkling, initially), created an Etsy account and also started selling work at local events. Over time I learned what worked, what didn’t, and what direction I wanted to take things.
Q: Was there a moment when you felt like this was something that was going to take off and become a success for you?
A: I don’t know that I ever had that moment. As my business has (very) slowly grown over time and I’ve found some wonderful and consistent buyers, it’s been amazing to realize that I can keep doing this; it’s worth my time and there are people who really value my work.
Q: What were your friends and family’s reactions to you starting this as a career or a business? Were you nervous to share it?
A: There was never really a clear cut start, because I’ve been immersed in art since childhood- it’s literally the only real passion I’ve ever had. I never had a back up plan, so I don’t think anyone close to me expected me to be anything other than an artist. My only other goal was to be a mom :)
Q: Is this your full-time job? If so, how long did it take you to transition into full-time?
A: Yes, I make art full time! It has taken years for the income to be fairly consistent; making and selling art tends to be feast or famine. In my early 20’s I earned a Bachelor's Degree (in art, but not painting) and worked as a Barista (which I loved). I did art on the side for extra cash until staying home full-time in 2012. For a while I had a few art students while I taught myself watercolor, but I never felt like a great teacher because I’m still learning my craft. The past 8 years have been a lot of trial and error, a lot of hustling, a lot of pushing myself to become a better painter. My husband is an artist too, so we cheer each other on.
Q: What is your process like when deciding what your next piece will be?
A: It’s not always a concrete or fully realized decision, weirdly. I tend to get a compulsion to paint something; a flower, a bird, a fox- and I have to get that flash of inspiration onto paper. The initial idea will evolve as I gather reference images to work from. Very few of my paintings end up how I initially envision them, but I like that. They are usually more interesting than what I was originally intending.
Q: Obviously, we’re in strange times right now so I have to ask everyone I talk to - how has COVID-19 affected your business and what are you doing to keep everything going during this time? What can people do to support you and others during all of this?
A: Back in February my husband Danny and I realized that our income was about to take a huge hit, because for the last few years he has traveled the US selling art at conventions. Big events and conventions were some of the first things to dry up in this pandemic hell-scape, haha! We just adapted- we both began to take on commission work and really hustling from home. I began sharing our individual Patreon sites and Etsy shop and also selling older art really cheap- which has been nice because I needed it to go anyway.
Q: What do you wish more people knew about running a small business?
A: There are no days off. None. It’s hard to stop working- especially when you work almost exclusively from home. The other thing is that every artwork I send, especially the original works, are a piece of my heart. When you have an original painting of mine, you have a grain of my soul- and also some cat hair because there is for sure cat hair in all of my paintings.
Q: Favorite item in your shop currently?
A: Oh that’s hard! I usually love my most recent painting, which right now is my Bayou Blossoms piece. It’s a watercolor of magnolia flowers and multicolored baby alligators. I really like my nature-oriented works, especially the ones with my native Louisiana flora and fauna in them.
Q: What goals do you have for your business going forward?
A: I’d like to eventually have the guts to sell my work in brick and mortar stores! I don’t ever want to have my own physical store, but I’d love other shops to carry my work. I’d like to do some collaborative work, I want to paint murals of some of my existing pieces, and I’d definitely like to have a bigger social media presence.
Q: Lastly, let’s spread the love. What are a few of your favorite small shops owned by women that you personally shop from?
A: I have art from some really wonderful women like my bestie Daneisha/ @shop.pixelandink, and my friends Sam/ @sambomade and Esther/ @maryesthermunoz. I just bought a gorgeous print and sticker from Emily/ @emilycottonbird, and I have some really fun stickers and magnets from Carissa/ @theartofjonicholson! I could go on forever- but that’s off the top of my head :)
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