It's hard not to be inspired by the artists and makers of the Cleveland Flea. Brilliant, talented, creative. They're tough as bleepin' nails on their ways to making their dreams come true. We began The Maker Series to take a look — behind the scenes, beyond the booth — to see what drives our makers to do what they love and love what they do.
Q + A with Lucy M. Williams of Boundary & Thorn Illustration
Business is a challenge–creative business even moreso. Makers discover ways to create work– oftentimes as a side-hustle–during the tiny nooks of time between their main gigs, sleeping, playing with their cats, etc... and sometimes the side hustle morphs into something greater. Amongst he lucky few who can say that their art is their work is Boundary & Thorn Illustration's Lucy Williams. Follow up with the young artist in our Maker Series interview to learn how she's making a life of illustrating the magic in our little rust belt city.
Cleveland Flea: What was your path to beginning your business?
Lucy Williams: My business is still very young. I started Boundary & Thorn illustration at the beginning of 2016 and have been falling in love with running this small shop out of my make-shift studio in my one-bedroom apartment in Little Italy. I went to school for illustration and I have been in the professional illustration world for 6 years now. I needed to go out on my own with it to fulfill a dream of mine since I was young.
CF: Why do you love what you do?
LW: I am most happy when I'm making art. It brings me even more joy to get to share my work with others. Having someone (a customer) light up when they see one of my prints and say "this would be a great print for my kitchen, or my bedroom" makes me so excited and keeps me doing what I do.
CF: Why does Cleveland need a business like this?
LW: Illustration is not a dying craft like many people would say. There are thousands of professional illustrators and hand-letters out there, it's just a matter of finding them and finding the ones that love what they do as much as I do. Cleveland is a great place to live and create, because it provides so many unique easily accessable resources for artists like myself to thrive and be passionate. Cleveland always needs new creative businesses! They're what make the city unique and special.
CF: What's the best part of running your own business?
LW: Getting to challenge myself to face new obstacles everyday, and the change of pace it has been from having a 9 to 5 job.
CF: What's your biggest struggle from a business standpoint?
LW: I feel like the biggest struggle so far has been gaining a presence with my work.
CF: What are your goals for the business this year?
LW: I'd like to continue making connections in the Cleveland area... continue being involved in the Cleveland Flea as much as possible... invest in my business enough to eventually have a small studio space. I have many goals, most of which are on the small side, mainly I want to continue to take one day at a time, and remain as passionate and driven as the day I made my first sale.
CF: Did you see yourself growing up to be a creative vendor?
LW: NO! Never - but now I couldn't picture my life without my small business.
CF: What's the first big moment where you knew you were headed in the right direction with your business?
LW: At 4pm on the day of my first Cleveland Flea!
CF: Who inspires you?
LW: My parents, my friends, my co-workers, and other Cleveland makers, artists, and designers. The support i've gotten from the people closest to me to pursue what i'm most passionate about definitely keep me doing what i'm doing.
CF: Have you learned anything about your business by participating in Cleveland Flea?
LW: I've learned EVERYTHING about my business being involved in the Flea - this truly has been the best thing that could have happened for me in this point of my life. The Flea pushes me to make work every day, it keeps me excited about new customers, and it has opened so many doors in the Cleveland community of my work.
CF: What's your favorite piece of advice as it relates to your business?
LW: Take one day at a time, follow my heart, laugh at my mistakes, and always remind myself, that I am a human before I am a designer/illustrator.
CF: How would you hope to hear your business described by your dream customers?
LW: Fun, whimsical, creative, witty, funny, always something new, and unique.
CF: What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about your business?
LW: I have only been making work for my business since January of 2016 - all my products are new as of this year.
CF: What's your favorite booth at the flea?
LW: Lakewood Plant Company!