Today we’d like to introduce you to Whitney Callahan.
Whitney, before we jump into specific questions about your art, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Right at a year ago, I decided to take a leap of faith and sign up to participate in my first art show. This set in motion a year full of new endeavors, challenges, soul-searching and growth, which resulted in me launching my creative product business and brand. I’ll get back to more about that in a minute, as I’d like to share my background and how I was led to this point. I’m originally from the East Coast, middle Georgia to be exact. I have a degree in advertising and marketing from the University of South Carolina (the other USC). I’ve lived in California going on ten years now.
I had worked for seven years in Los Angeles at a job in e-commerce that I really loved, but I knew it was time to move forward and take what I’d learned there and grown into new spaces. I wanted to explore new facets of myself and put more of my creativity to use through a freelance graphic design and digital marketing career. All this sounded great on the surface, but I was actually terrified and riddled with anxiety at not only moving into a new, unfamiliar career (which I was going to build myself) but also letting go of one that was so much a part of me and my identity was wrapped up in. Leaving my position and that part of my life behind was a year-long personal struggle with many sleepless nights and probably caused as much stress to my friends and loved ones as it did to myself.
Finally, I decided to stop battling this change and accept what I believe was an internal push for growth that I could no longer deny. It was time to see what new challenges were waiting for me and what hidden talents and personal discoveries were calling my name too. So, I moved from Los Angeles to Temecula with my partner of six years in 2018 and although I was aware that new surroundings and a new career would be a change I’d have to adapt to, I had no idea the self-awareness journey I was about to be moved to embark on.
It appeared to me that I needed to take a step back from who I’d always known myself to be and do some internal work – things that were probably always pushed aside when I was going through the motions and stress of my previous job. This self-work really took hold of me, and after going through some serious growing pains (note: this was not pretty, but was worth it eventually when I fully leaned into it) I witnessed myself being transformed – for the better. I don’t know if it’s that I had more time to be introspective, or I was just more willing, but I knew that I needed to do something to elevate myself to be a happier, more confident person who was capable of offering a better version of myself to those around me.
This brings us back around to what I consider hurling myself off a cliff into that first art show I mentioned in the beginning. I saw mention of the show on Instagram and shortly after ran into the organizer, Amy Reichard of HeyGrrrl Collective, who happens to be one of my good pals now. I felt as if it was a sign, so I signed up, got my creative concepts down and started work on my designs. I was terrified of how it would all come together, not to mention the fact that my concept was causing me to bare more of my soul than I’d ever been comfortable with, to the public or otherwise.
The theme of the show was “Power” and my concept was that our inner power comes from our “C.O.R.E.” – Connection, Openness, Receiving, and Engagement. For me, this was deeper territory than I was usually comfortable exploring with people, let alone strangers. In addition to my art pieces for the show, I set up an “Empowering Fortunes” gumball machine which encouraged attendees and myself to get reflective about what these short but deep sentiments meant in our lives.
My art and concepts were well-received and the art show was a complete success. I established new relationships, which would eventually lead to opening many doors in the community. This all had me soaring with excitement and gave me a needed confidence boost to not only create art and more creative products but also gave me an outlet for discussing this deeper meaning of life with a community of people who were interested. Shortly after this, I went on to sell my art and products wholesale and retail in stores and online. As it turns out, the internal push I was feeling for so long was, as cliché as it sounds, to get vulnerable and put myself out there, and it really paid off creatively and emotionally.
Currently, I’m creating more art and products and spreading the word of my brand to more retailers and customers online. If you’re someone who likes happy products that explore our higher consciousness, then my products are for you.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Aside from the turmoil of taking the leap and leaving my steady job, I’d say the things I’ve struggled with the most leading up to launching my business and calling myself an artist are confidence, perfectionism, vulnerability and a clear vision.
Confidence: I’ve always been a socially confident person, but when it comes to self-worth pertaining to being heard creatively and intelligently, I’ve always felt intimidated and scared of judgment. Part of this came from not knowing how to let my own guard down and bare my soul or mind to people – that’s still terrifying! But, if you don’t trust yourself, others will sense that and it’ll make the whole experience feel forced.
I’ve come a long way with letting my expressions, thoughts, ideas, and passions flow because honestly, even though people might judge, the people surrounding me are supportive and it’s worth that. Not to mention, most people aren’t even worried about you as much as you think they might be and have more things to worry about than every little thing you’re doing.
Perfection: One of my biggest struggles during this journey has been overthinking how I’d get from point A to point Z (perfectly) which caused inaction in the face of fear, so it took me a good while to really move forward and share my art. The number of happy accidents and support I’ve experienced as I loosened the reigns on perfectionism has been surprising and much welcomed.
Vulnerability: I’ve always been quite guarded. Even if you’re close to me, I can be a bit cryptic lol. It’s not intentional. I think that’s one of the biggest transformations I’ve experienced with sharing my art, is letting that guard down some and giving people a glimpse into my mind, heart, and soul – which has always been scary to me. But there’s a good part of me that feels more at ease with that process now. I think that experience is similar but different in so many ways for all artists.
Clear Vision: My partner once told me in reference to my art and design “you have something to say,” and that really resonated with me because that’s the first time I felt like my passion was recognized as something that could matter to others and be taken seriously. I think I’ve always had something to say, I just wasn’t clear on what my message was. It was important for me to genuinely share from my soul, but to also feel it spoke to others as well. Through this journey, I’ve been able to uncover the message inside of me – one that made other people look inside themselves too.
It’s taken me a long time to actually feel right calling myself an artist – it’s that same imposter syndrome everyone has – because who really knows the true definition of an artist? The best part about it for me has been owning that title so that I can feel confident in pushing myself to become more artistic and just share my own “weird and wonderful” (this is a phrase I put on a graphic tee) creative brain with the world in hopes it speaks to people and creates a feeling of connection and inspires meaningful conversations.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Lucky Fun Shoppe story. Tell us more about your art.
My brand is called Lucky Fun Shoppe 🙂 (insert starry-eyed emoji here). It’s my platform to spread good fortune and cheer, which is another way to say I promote a positive outlook and happiness. I make creative products with unique phrases you don’t see every day. This includes art prints, graphic apparel, home decor, accessories, and activewear. I create all of the artwork and prototype products to be developed. I’m a graphic designer and illustrator, always working to expand on my skills. I’d say my products deliver a message of exploring higher consciousness mixed with happy icons and bright colors.
I aim to encourage self-exploration to promote transforming ourselves into being the more whole and genuinely good people we can be to ourselves and others and to make an impact in the world for the better. I believe our lives are a constant work in progress and these themes come through in my products and art, a lot of time subtly and looking really colorful and joyful, but there’s a deeper meaning behind my pieces. I don’t think it’s about masking the issues, rather it’s spreading a good feeling to the viewers – giving them a piece of art they’d love to look at that makes them feel good – but at the same time, sharing a deeper message behind it, should they want to interpret it that way.
My talented artist friend once compared my style to Warhol’s pop art, with using bright colors that are actually the positive outlet for a deeper message. I appreciate this notion, even if I really don’t try to emulate anyone else – I like to create from my heart. (I know, all artists like to think they’re original.) I’m always gathering things I’m inspired by – one being vintage books ranging from spiritual and self-help to business and psychology. I have to say, it’s crazy to see all I’ve created and know it’s my brain and heart in tangible form – it’s exciting to physically be able see what’s on the inside.
As for my future goals for my brand and art, I think my visions, inspirations and plans are always evolving, but I’d say that a constant overarching theme is creating connection with and amongst people, and encouraging us all to think beyond our boundaries and to surprise, motivate and inspire others with my art and products. In addition to creating graphic art, my partner and I have built a couple of installations that involve paint, wood, and lighting and we’re expanding on this with every creative opportunity we get. I can’t wait to do a huge mural with 3D elements involved! I’d also love to incorporate my art into clothing designs. Honestly, I think the sky’s the limit when it comes to my creative applications!
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
It’s funny you should ask, given that my brand name is called Lucky Fun Shoppe. Honestly, I believe luck is something we create ourselves through our actions, but I love seeing the fruits of our labor come through in unexpected ways and surprises. I chose to use the word luck in my business name as a nod to the mysteriousness of life and the good things that happen to us.
I love that we can’t control and know everything. I also love astrology, so this was another way to incorporate the idea that the stars sometimes seem like they are aligning just for us. So, as for getting lucky with my business, I think everything that’s propelled me have come together for a reason and as a result of me choosing to work hard, be diligent and be vulnerable. I can’t wait to see what more good fortune comes from me being willing to put myself out there.
- Graphic Tees – $34-36
- Art Prints & Posters – $10-20
- Rainbow Wall Hangings – $45-55
- Snapback Hats – $38
- Activewear – $55-60
- Website: https://luckyfunshoppe.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org