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Life & Work with Annie Sparrow

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annie Sparrow.

Hi Annie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I began painting and drawing before I even learned how to talk. At age 2 or 3, I was drawing realistic portraits; I never drew stick people. I’ve always loved drawing people; I was obsessed with portraits. My mom enrolled me in private art lessons growing up, which I despised, yet I was able to learn different mediums and techniques in these classes. The most useful thing I ever learned in these classes was from a teacher who wouldn’t let me use pre-made paint. I could only use primary colors to create colors.

As frustrating as this was, it taught me to execute my visions and color schemes. In high school, I picked up AP art and got back into art. In my sophomore year of college, I got to redecorate my bedroom and I was in search of a painting that matched the interior design of my room. Yet, I found there was a lack of cool, fashion art. I decided to paint my own minis and make a collage on my wall. I posted this on my Instagram just for fun, and girls at Alabama loved it and inquired about me making minis for them. This thrilled me and allowed me to jump back into my art. I started an Instagram account that Christmas break.

This was when I was able to showcase my creative freedom and my ability to really paint whatever my customer’s vision was. This blew up and ever since then, I have loved creating custom pieces. By the time I graduated college, I was adept in graphic design and was able to put my designs on phone cases and other merchandising items. Now, I am able to have my own studio in Nashville and over 10K followers, and have created over 500 custom paintings for people.

I’ve even ventured out into apparel and home decor recently. I’m also dipping my toes into art classes. I’ve been lucky to have a few Vanderbilt students intern for me who have helped me with social media and my art shows.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Work-life balance and working from home have definitely been difficult for me. When working in my own home, I wasn’t able to relax and so I’m super happy to be able to have my own studio now to allow a separation of work and life. I also have had to balance managing a functioning business by myself for five years. I had to prioritize my work over absolutely everything, which was definitely hard at times.

Learning how to become my own boss, right out of college, was a learning curve for me, for sure. Knowing when I’m overworking myself, to the detriment of my health, is something I’ve really had to learn. Comparing myself to other artists is definitely a struggle; however, as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to use this as motivation.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m known for graphic design and custom paintings with a resin gloss finish. I specialize in acrylic paintings, custom-painted wood cutouts, all kinds of merchandise, embellished prints, and even my own clothing line and hat line. I love very bright, colorful art full of different mediums including glitter and holographic paper.

I gravitate towards creating very original, unique pieces, and I am constantly changing and adding to my pieces.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
I owe so many people credit for the success of my business! First and foremost, my parents (Melanie and Will Sparrow) for supporting this dream of mine for my entire life. They enabled me to put this dream into reality and I am forever grateful for them. I am ever grateful for my friends and roommates, especially Claire Camp, who enabled me to literally run a business out of our living room.

I also am so lucky to have incredible interns, Julia Chang and Isabella Tyminski who are Vanderbilt students and have helped me immensely with my growing business. The Minerva Program at the University of Alabama was also very fundamental to my business.

Additionally, all of the stores that have partnered with me and hosted my art shows have been such a massive help. Finally, I owe all of my customers so much credit – they truly allow me to keep doing what I do!

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