Remember those Klutz books for kids? There was no way of knowing at the time, but two of their books had a real, practical impact on me for the rest of my life. One was a kids' cookbook given to me when I was in the 1st or 2nd grade. My family may have been sick of all the rubbery scrambled eggs I made, but I've been cooking ever since. In fact, I still pull out Kids Cooking when I'm low on ideas for dinner.

The illustrations from Kids Cooking always crack me up.

The other Klutz book was Nail Art. My cousin got it as a gift one year. Through the power of toothpicks and polish, we were stylin' at every family function with chicks on our nails at Easter and trees on them at Christmas. Her book gave me a new, practical way to think about art and design for the rest of my life. Although cooking is more tangibly practical, I can't dismiss nail art.

Image taken from Chalkboard Nails.

Consider Sharmadean Reid of WAH Nails or Madeline Poole of M.P. Nails. Not only have they made it to the top of their field through skill and business savvy, but they've changed the whole nail and fashion industry. Poole and Reid have proven that accessible art is a valuable commodity. People want art in their lives when it is inexpensive, for everybody, and when it is made specifically with marginalized outsiders in mind (aka: people who investors, bankers, and the majority of conservative men dismiss as a valid and meaningful force in our society, such as women, LBGQT, POC, and those living in poverty).

An interview with Sharmadean Reid. Video taken from Broadly.

Reid talks about how bankers didn't want to invest in her business because they didn't get it. The business of beauty and creating a space for women to hang out no matter their income didn't make sense to them. They didn't see WAH Nails as a serious business, but a few years down the road, Reid has investors banging down the door to talk to her. Considering the history of gendered professions in the last 100 years, it's not surprising because, historically, women's work is just that, "women's work", until it becomes profitable; then men "professionalize" it and push women out the door.

Dolly Parton in 9 to 5. Image taken from Billboard.

Artwork follows a similar pattern: it's only profitable if it's seen as serious and expensive, where "serious" translates to "exclusive and humorless." Wayne White is an artist who's inspired me to change the way that I make art. Poole, Reid, and White couldn't come from more different backgrounds, but they inspire me because all of them have found their voice and vision outside of the rules of who can make what, how, and for whom. It's what I want to do and to be with my work.

Art is here for folks and is available to you wherever you are!


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