We were lucky to catch up with Paige Davidson recently and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Paige thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Do you think your parents have had a meaningful impact on you and your journey?
I grew up in a creative household. My mom has always sewn, baked, knitted, and she created stained glass when I was a kid. My dad got a Bachelor of Fine Arts and was a self-employed graphic designer for all my years growing up. I grew up in their studios watching them work, and watching their customer service. Hour upon hour of my pre-school years, after school time, and summers were spent in Dad’s studio watching design logos, screen print, and hand-letter signs with One Shot sign paint. Even as a young kid, I was encouraged to be his helper, and I got free rein of his nice art supplies in his studio to make my drawings and paintings. When he’d go to the coffee shop around the corner to dish with his buddies, I’d tag along and take my drawings and sell them. I learned as a pre-schooler that I could create things with my hands and sell them. I also learned that things don’t come easy but that there’s gratification in working hard.
Paige, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I graduated with my BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas in Austin with a focus in painting and printmaking. A couple of years later, I moved back to my small Texas hometown into the warehouse that had previously been my dad’s art studio, and in 2003 I opened up a studio/gallery there selling my paintings and drawings. That same year, my mom and I started a collection of handbags and clutches made from vintage textiles, Cahoots Handbags. A couple of magazines featured our website and the two branches of my business (fine art and handbag design) continued to grow simultaneously. A few years later, we renovated the quirky, 100+ year old building next door which had been my maternal grandfather’s auto-part store in the 40s=70s. I have been running a gallery space, painting studio, and handmade gift boutique in that historic building for the last 14 years. The space focuses on my paintings (which are predominantly landscapes and detailed portraits of vintage Airstream trailers) as well as my pottery and Cahoots Handbags. My business differs from others in that I’m not only a small business owner keeping regular hours, I’m also making 80% of what I’m selling, Being the gallerist/shopkeeper in addition to the artist allows me to create and grow deep, genuine relationships with my patrons. It is hard to stay on top of it all, but I’m so proud to have been able to make a living as a creator for over two decades. My visual art has been featured in national publications, in film, and on television shows like DALLAS, The Good Guys, and Queen of the South and our handbags were included in the Red Carpet Style Lounge at the Academy Awards and MTV Movie Awards.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative in your experience?
It brings me enormous joy when someone comes in and immediately connects with a painting I have created because it reminds them of an experience they’ve had, or a place where their loved one’s ashes are spread, or it triggers a childhood summer memory of hiking and camping with their family. I get texts occasionally from customers who are drinking their morning coffee from one of my handmade cups or who have planted their new plant baby in one of my pots. As thrilling as it would be to be an art star in the most prestigious gallery or museum, what matters most to me personally are those intimate connections with the people who come into my personal space, share some fellowship, and choose a special piece to take to their personal space.
Have you ever had to pivot?
The pandemic was a game-changer for everyone in one way or another. I naively thought I’d have the gallery closed for a few weeks and things would go back to normal. Instead my business was closed for months. I started new watercolor still life projects, developed more of a web-business, focused on my social media accounts, and kept one foot in front of the other. As stressful and unsure as it all was, that first year taught me that my studio practice is the most valuable time I spend. It is what feeds my spirit. I”d previously been open 6 full days a week and was constantly struggling to find time to create new work. The pandemic allowed me to slow down, and for the first time in 15 years spend every day in the studio with messy hands and a really full spirit. When I reopened, I adopted a new schedule, working Sunday-Thursday in the studio and greeting customers only on Fridays and Saturdays. This new schedule means that I am personally far more balanced, I’m able to create so much more, and my customers have so many more options to choose from on the weekends. It has been enormously freeing.
- Website: www.paigedavidson.com www.cahootshandbags.com
- Instagram: @paigedavidsonstudio @cahootshandbags
- Facebook: @paigedavidsonstudio @cahootshanbags
Photos by Paige Davidson