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Conversations with Shae Waseka

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shae Waseka.

Hi Shae, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My name is Shaelynn (Shae) Waseka. I graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a Bachelor’s Degree in 3D Animation and Teaching Artist Minor.

Shae’s Art Shack officially became an LLC in January of 2022 and began in a garage in 2020. A friend contacted me asking if I could paint him a piece to go in his new condo. He gave me complete creative freedom to create whatever kind of abstract art I wanted. After finishing the consignment it became evident that I really enjoyed creating large abstract customized pieces. Over the next two years, I began completing more pieces for family and friends. In the fall of 2021, I submitted twenty pieces to MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design) Art Sale. 18 of the 20 sold in the sale.

Shae’s Art Shack incorporates 3 aspects – Consigned art; Graphic Design; and the sale of original abstract pieces.

Alongside my business, I work part-time as the head of Digital Arts at the Southside Boys and Girls Club. In this position, I work hard to develop a creative calm atmosphere that gives the children the opportunity to learn, create, and thrive. My goal is to engage them in developing creativity, teach them productive life skills, and provide a healthy comfortable environment. I want to pass on the many things I have grown to love about art.

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?
Over the two years, it’s been an uphill battle. I’ve gone months where I have had no freelancing opportunities or I haven’t sold any paintings. A challenge I have found is finding the exposure and audience to advertise my art, especially online. Many of the pieces that I have sold have been through the connections I know. At the moment I am searching for places in my local community where I can display my art.

Another challenge I have found is staying self-motivated. Being a small business owner requires a lot of self-motivation. It is a challenge I face every day. Since I am doing what I love it is way easier to find the motivation but it is still something I am working on.

For one of the first pieces I created, I was asked to recreate a canvas painting of his favorite band album Dark All Day by Gunship. This piece was one of the most challenging for me because it was one of my first customized pieces and I had doubts about my ability. The hardest challenge of the piece was creating a gradient in a circular motion. The second hardest challenge is fashioning it with LED backlighting. What I find is that the most challenging opportunities in my life have become the most rewarding in the end.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
For my original paintings, I love combining acrylic and texture. I have found that the best place to buy my supplies is in the home improvement aisle of home depot. I use drywall mud to create a matte risen texture which gives the painting more depth. To apply the drywall I use my hands. This allows me to become more connected with the painting and it also gives me more ability to manipulate the drywall mud. The pieces I am most proud of are the pieces that I have produced with my hands.

For the digital side of my business, I have been working with different small business’s creating short animated pieces and branding. I have created videos that promote blogs, designed logos for new startups, and developed style sheets for new company branding.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
As of right now, I am currently starting off myself, but the one thing I can say is that you just need to take small steps at a time. In the beginning, I was getting overwhelmed with all the possibilities and the endless to-do list. What I have learned over the short few years is that it takes time to develop something great. As long as you keep working at it and stay dedicated it will work out.

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