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Check Out Candice Griffy’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Candice Griffy.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
The house I grew up in had numerous oil paintings that my grandmother had done throughout her lifetime. One, in particular, always captivated me. It was a sofa-sized oil painting of a farm scene with rolling hills, cows, ponds, fences, and a gorgeous sky.

The clouds got to me. I had never noticed other paintings portray clouds the way she did. There were hues of yellows and greens, shadows of gray with such depth and warmth.

Even as a young girl, I would stare at the clouds in that painting. Looking back, I wish I could sit with her and paint one time. To learn from her. By the time I came along, I believe her painting days were behind her. I never saw her “in action”. Unfortunately, she passed away when I was 16 and as we started going through her personal belongings, I saw a new side of her that I never understood.

I was the lucky recipient of the rusty metal case holding her decades-old oil paints. Paints that were so old, you couldn’t bend the tubes, and the labels chipped off. The beauty of oil paint is there’s a fresh center, you just gotta get to it. I started cutting the tubes in half and began experimenting with her canvas boards and linseed oils. I can still remember the smell. Fast forward a few years.

I enjoy art. It’s a fun outlet, almost like therapy for me. I began to find my style. I remember the first painting that I ever sold to a stranger. It was on eBay of all places. As good as it feels to sell your art to family and friends, it’s a new rush to sell to a complete stranger across the country. When my husband and I had our first child, I opened an Etsy shop to help with daycare costs. It was just a side hustle, nothing too successful. After all, in 2013, I sold a whopping 2 orders on Etsy… but in 2014 came and it was 72.

It was enough to help offset childcare costs and keep me actively painting. The majority of my paintings were commissioned pieces, most often for nurseries or children’s rooms. I had a few successful products of creating oversized airplanes, fire engines, or construction themes that were less whimsical. These began to grow in popularity for the ability to grow with the child and fit into more modern parents’ desires.

I learned fast to listen to my buyers. I had no idea what would sell. I would create piece after piece expecting it to be the next product in order to typically only hear crickets. It was then that I started focusing primarily on commissioned and customizable pieces. Every single piece that’s a popular item in my Etsy shop today started with someone reaching out to me saying “Have you ever painted a _______?” which I typically followed up with “No, but I love this idea.”

Fast forward again another few years and a second child. I was focusing more on my full-time career because of, well, stability. However, when 2020 hit and COVID forced me to work from home and virtual school for a 1st grader, things started to change. I was getting tired of the 40-50 hours a week at my day job followed up by 20 hours a week doing what I really wanted to do. I had reached a point in sales that had me at a crossroads. Either I really push this and go all in, or I have to cut back and limit my orders.

It was simply too much and I had reached burnout in a time that was unprecedented for us all. My husband was amazing. I think he knew what I needed to do before I did. Then a friend in the realty world suggested that I do house portraits and offer them to realtors locally. She insisted this would be a hit. I tried my first one and realized that could actually work and all I needed was to hear from one realtor that she would buy from me. I reached out to one, just one.

She eagerly said “Yes! I love it!” That’s the day I turned in my notice at my job. The funny thing is, she never bought from me. That’s ok though, I just needed that nudge. I went door to door to realty offices handing out flyers and business cards and shortly after, there were a handful of realtors buying from me. I was blessed to be surrounded by supportive friends and family. I picked up the pace and hustled building a website, completely revamping my listing photos, and researching and attending online sales workshops.

In my first 6 months as a full-time artist, Candice Griffy Designs had reached records sales online. I was approached for my first wall mural which ended up being such a fun and beneficial experience for me. I even painted a piece for a local MLB baseball player! Over the years I’ve been commissioned to paint pieces that would be auctioned off at the yearly American Breast Cancer Society Galas.

It’s an honor to be considered for such an important cause. Word of mouth is incredible in this industry. You simply can’t do it without the relationships you build and the kind customers who trust you with each order. 2021 went out with a ‘bang’, selling a total of 604 paintings.

2022 has started out phenomenal. It’s the month of May and I just sold painting #480 for the year. I’m continually blown away by how blessed I am to do what I love, even if it is just a little while. It’s an incredible journey. Oh… and now I’m the mom at parent pickup, class parties, and field trips, not in a meeting room under fluorescent lights.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The balance between being a mom and a full-time artist has taken some adjusting. I learned quickly that I couldn’t be too set on specific hours I would work, I had to be flexible, sometimes painting at 2 am. It’s not always easy to be “creative” on demand but I’ve learned a lot about myself.

I’ve also learned that I’m tempted to explain or defend myself. Ultimately, you’re going to have an overly critical customer, or maybe you’ve had a bad day and that poorly timed email makes you raw when it normally wouldn’t. I fight the urge to defend myself and not take criticism personally. That has been a huge learning curve.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am an artist that has found a home with commissions. You will rarely see me in a gallery or have an art show. I really enjoy taking a client’s idea and making it come to life.

I really pursue the art that has a heart connection, a portrait of the father and his 2 daughters at a softball game, a portrait of the homestead that has been in your family for generations but sadly is being sold, a painting of the dog you adopted before you ever had kids, or the mural of your all-time favorite places in St. Louis.

I’m most proud when a buyer becomes a repeat buyer because that’s when you have truly made a connection. Anyone can say “Yes, I’m happy with this piece.” but when they come back or send their friends/colleagues, there’s no better feeling. My 6-year-old daughter wants to be an artist like mommy.

I feel like my pricing sets me apart from many artists. I’m not trying to get rich, I just want to make a living. I try to be fair in pricing, would I pay this price? If my answer is absolutely not, then something is wrong. I’ve tried really hard not to increase pricing just because of inflation changes or supply/demand.

Mostly because I’m lucky enough that I haven’t had to adjust much and everyone is getting hit hard. It’s not going to help my business to follow suit. I would rather bring happiness and joy during these times so we can all have a win.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
I learned we needed community more than we realized.

COVID was full of unknowns. Local stores had empty shelves for a short time. I couldn’t get paints or canvas locally for a bit and it just required a bit more focus on my part to plan ahead and get organized. Many of my pieces were sold to high school/ college coaches as gifts for graduating athletes, however, sports stopped. It just really caused me to pivot constantly.

Pricing:

  • $125-500 house portraits
  • $50-150 sports portraits
  • $100 pet portraits
  • $40 sq ft wall murals

Contact Info:

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1 Comment

  1. Nita Boatwright

    August 23, 2022 at 2:51 am

    Hi Candice, I:m happy for you and all you have acconplished. Nice paIntings, Best of luck in what you do, you have a great gift. I enjoyed reading your hisrory. God Bless you.

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