We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Melissa Kilpatrick and Kiah McDaniel a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Melissa and Kiah, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. So, what do you think about family businesses? Would you want your children or other family members to one day join your business?
Since my daughter and I began working on Perspective Shift Art together, I’ve been amazed at her tenacity. Working with resin is not easy, there are a lot of variables to keep track of and any changes in temperature or humidity can wreak havoc on your art. But she kept going and kept learning and I’m very proud of the quality of her work. She also pursued licensing agreements with several authors and has grown the business in a way that hadn’t occurred to me.
I think the key to working with family members is just to treat them they way you want to be treated. It would be easy for me to fall into the mom role and just make all the decisions, but I truly enjoy working with Kiah and would never want to diminish her role that way. I try to show her the same respect that I want to be shown and it seems to work pretty well. She tends to make the major decisions involving her side of the business and I make the decisions involving mine. I also appreciate the fact that if she thinks something sucks, she’s going to tell me. She’ll do it very kindly, but I will know when something isn’t her cup of tea. That is far more valuable to me than if she were to tell me what she thinks I want to hear.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your background and context?
I’m a self-taught mixed media artist. I began exploring art by attempting fluid art. I found the technique very interesting and had a lot of fun with it. After a while I decided to try something I’d seen on YouTube, which was making a tree out of hot glue and covering it with metallic acrylic paint. After that I was hooked, both on working with hot glue as well as just adding tons of different textures to my work. I’ve added heavy texture mediums of various kinds and I love playing with chunky glitter and adding different fibers to the paint. After a while of playing with different textures, I discovered iridescent medium and gold leaf. I’m fairly certain my house will never be glitter-free again, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay.
Kiah’s work with resin started when she decided to make a bookmark. She’s an avid reader (so am I) and she paid attention to what books and series were popular on social media. She then contacted a few authors and was able to become licensed with several of them. Kiah also is the one who set up our Etsy shop and she manages that quite well. I manage our website and do the majority of Facebook and Instagram posts. Maybe someday these algorithms will stop being the bane of my existence!
We’ve only been on this art journey for a couple of years, but I am very proud of the quality and creativity of our pieces. I take a lot of inspiration from nature and creating a tree or flower makes me feel more centered and grounded. I also hope that our art inspires people to try being creative in some way. The world needs more artists and musicians and poets. Those are the people that keep things interesting.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
I used to think I could never be an artist because I wasn’t gifted with the ability to draw well. I’m so happy I didn’t let that self-limiting doubt stop me from becoming an artist, and I hope someone else out there sees our artwork and decides that maybe they could try something artistic. There are many, many different ways to be artistic or creative. While I prefer to work with paint and hot glue and gold leaf, my mother-in-law creates breathtaking quilts. I could never reach her level of skill in that media, but I certainly recognize her artistry. Kiah has become quite skilled in working with resin and I recognize that is just another way of creating art. I guess I just hope that seeing our artwork allows others to be inspired in whatever way they let their creativity show.
What’s worked well for you in terms of a source for new clients?
I feel like art fairs have been our best source of new clients. Kiah’s resin work does pretty well on Etsy, but my pieces are so much more impressive in person. As a certified introvert I wish that weren’t the case, but it is what it is. Thankfully Kiah does not suffer from my introversion, so she is a big help at in-person events. It has been very interesting as we’ve gone through the past two years. When I started doing art fairs, I thought I only wanted to do one-day events. Now it almost doesn’t feel worth the effort unless it’s two or more days. Part of that is because constructing our booth involves quite a bit of heavy lifting, but the end result is worth the effort. I am also very happy that we have begun to make some sales in the days and weeks after the events we attend. Always, always, always have business cards to hand out at events, it can make a huge difference in after-the-fact sales!