Denver artist uses self-taught skills to craft bright new future
DENVER, Colo. - Love. Happiness. Peace. These are some of the elements of inspiration for Denver artist, Brittany Kane. After she was furloughed from her job last year, she took the time away to reconnect with the things she always enjoyed doing but never had time to prioritize. Coming from the hospitality industry, Brittany was no stranger to working long hours and found herself painting as an outlet from the everyday hustle and bustle. It seemed only fitting for Brittany to pour all of her energy into her art during the 2020 quarantine when she found herself unemployed and with unlimited free time.
Now, this self-trained artist is turning her hobby into a business one painting at a time. We interviewed Brittany to learn all about her art business, Mile High Abstract by Brittany Kane Art. Here's what she said:
H&F: Please describe your career prior to this venture.
Brittany: I am currently furloughed as the Senior Event Services (Banquets) Supervisor from the Grand Hyatt Denver. Being one of the main hotels in the city we hosted and put on everything from large conventions, extravagant weddings, and kosher events out of our fully kosher kitchen to hosting city wide events, intense plated galas, and everything in between. I had no set scheduled days and was at work between 4:30am - 5:00am beginning paperwork, managing servers and coordinating/supervising all of the service while in constant communication with sales and catering managers, audio visual, stewarding, the client, etc. I have been in hospitality for four years with the Grand and am “technically” still an employee, but the future is beyond unclear as of now.
H&F: What were the initial phases of furlough like for you?
Brittany: The initial phases of furlough were amazing for me! I am lucky enough to be privileged to where I could actually enjoy the time off (my 31st birthday was March 20 so I was really enjoying it!). Before that, I was getting extremely burnt out with work and it was taking a toll on my mental health so I took full advantage of the time off: I slept in, took a jacuzzi bubble bath every evening, drank champagne, watched 17 seasons of Top Chef (and Tiger King, of course, plus everything else on Netflix), and cooked and gardened my little heart out. In Denver, we went into a full lockdown so since restaurants were closed, I had to learn how to cook all of the dishes that I wanted to eat but couldn’t get, thus leading to a giant leap in my culinary skills. I had only been painting and creating art at that point for 13 months, and it was mainly used as a therapy outlet that I began from working in the hospitality industry, so I didn’t paint the first month and a half of quarantine, oddly enough.
H&F: Tell us about how you have redefined yourself. Describe your project, business, brand and/or platform.
Brittany: I have created a business out of an after-work passion in only a few short months with literally zero training. I have never taken an art or business class in my life and received my degrees in Spanish Language and Literature and Criminal Justice and Criminology from the University of Missouri - Kansas City. I am completely self-taught in everything from painting techniques, finishing, framing, and hanging to creating my own website and sourcing and designing all of the products in my store. Brittany Kane Art was publicly born July 1 as my art first went on display here in Denver, and after that came the Mile High Abstract Shop. A community based shop out of Denver, Colorado where everything is sustainably produced because we love our planet and all of our designs are completely original because we love independent artists! Currently, our line includes original artwork and art prints, phone cases, greeting cards and postcards, Apple Watch bands and stickers all featuring designs from Brittany Kane Art. In the future, the shop will begin to incorporate other independent, local artists so they have a platform to help sell their artwork, just like the opportunity I was given.
"...love, happiness, and peace... That’s something I can relate to, and just want to bring that to people with my artwork." - Brittany Kane
Brittany shares her leap of faith into her new business was very serendipitous. Pre-pandemic she was having conversations with a co-worker about displaying her art at Long Table Brewhouse in Denver. She thought that opportunity had passed as she realized restaurants were closing and she did not want to put any additional pressure on anyone working in an industry directly impacted by the pandemic. However, much to her surprise, in June of 2020, the co-worker from the brewhouse reached out to her and asked Brittany to hang her art. This was it. The big break to was waiting for.
"At that point, I had nothing to lose, all the time in the world, the support of my friends and family, and some extra stimulus money to invest," Brittany said. "July 1 my art went on display at Long Table Brewhouse. July 1, I sold my first 2’ x 3’ piece and Brittany Kane Art was born!"
H&F: Tell us something unique about your brand.
Brittany: Every original art piece is painted by hand and completely one of a kind. All designs used for the Mile High Abstract products come from one of those original paintings, many of which are in private collections and never to be available for purchase. Mile High Abstract by Brittany Kane Art also creates custom stationery using exclusive designs and company logos for all business needs. (I just finished a custom postcard project for Sola Salon Studios!) We also participate in NFT and Rarible, where you have the ability to purchase the rights to a piece or pieces of our digital artwork to use for whatever purposes you might desire, giving you the ultimate design freedom.
H&F: What’s it like having your own art studio?
Brittany: Having my own art studio is like being able to be a big kid, even though I already am! You can spill resin or splash paint, get it anywhere and it doesn’t matter! The best feeling in the world since I basically gave my wood floors an unintentional splatter design throughout the first year and a half of my painting journey. It helps clear out clutter from the house and also gives me a place to go work so that I am not sitting at home all day, every day. My business has increased tenfold since getting a studio and reducing my distractions. It is located at PRISM Workspaces, 1 mile from the Santa Fe Art District in Denver, CO, which has over 50+ studios with artists from every type of category. Because of that, I am able to learn so much and be inspired by their years of experience, craftsmanship, color combinations, passion, etc.
H&F: Describe for us where you get the inspiration for your art.
Brittany: The inspiration for my art comes from nature and earth, my deep love for the culture of the 60s and 70s, and my desire to make people smile. Smiling helps you in many ways by releasing neuropeptides in your brain. So we should all smile more! Tie-dye everything, bright colors, funky designs, love, happiness, and peace... That’s something I can relate to, and just want to bring that to people with my artwork. I create pretty freely without restrictions since I have no formal training, so I am usually experimenting with new mediums, colors, techniques, and random tools. My boyfriend is also an artist and musician. We share studio space so I receive constant guidance and invaluable knowledge. He's so beyond talented that he continues to inspire me every day, just like the tens of other local artists who have studios right around ours!
H&F: What are your future plans to grow the business?
Brittany: My future plans for growing Mile High Abstract and Brittany Kane Art include many outlets such as:
-Licensure deals for my art and designs where I can make royalties.
-Selling at art fairs and festivals. -Expanding my personal store with new designs and products.
-Getting into local stores and boutiques that support independent artists and small businesses.
-Entering art calls to get larger exposure and gallery showings.
-Volunteering at the Denver Art Society to be able to get my art hung and shown in the Art District for free.
-Continue to expand, show and sell artwork through the local breweries of Denver.
H&F: What encouraging advice would you offer someone unsure about starting their own venture?
Brittany: Just do it. The longer you wait, the longer you waste, and there is already too little time on this earth. You don’t want to have any regrets or questions of “what if?” and things don’t just happen overnight. You have to continue to put in the work and push through the obstacles that will inevitably arise. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Learn from them, build up your confidence and believe in yourself. Once you begin to fully believe in yourself, you can manifest anything!
Brittany hopes her story serves as an inspiration for others who lost thier job, but also she hopes to inspires those who worked all of 2020. She says, "you don't have to lose your job to realize you can do something for yourself."
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