We had the good fortune of connecting with Cie Hoover and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cie, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk…The proverbial “leap of faith” that has, and will most likely continue to shape my art and music. Was there risk involved when I chose to forgo the family business in Virginia and go to college for music business in Nashville instead?…absolutely. Was there risk involved when my wife and I quit our fulfilling full-time jobs in Nashville to hit the road for a year to tour with our music?…definitely. Was there even more risk when we decided to continue life on the road and tour nonstop for a total of six and half years?…yep. And, was there risk involved when I started putting myself out there in the visual art world?…totally.
For me, risk plays into the whole “you only live once” and “live life to the fullest” mantras. In my mind the first “real” risk I took in my life was when I decided to focus on music as a career path. Music had worked its way more and more into my life in my formative years, starting off with piano, then guitar, and then playing in bands with friends in high school. It was my greatest passion, so when it came time to decide on where to go to college I opted for a “road less traveled” approach and went to school for Music Business at Belmont Universtiy in Nashville. I say “road less traveled” because I grew up in a family where a family business was a prominent feature, and I was the “obvious” choice to be next in line to be groomed to take the reins. Opting to instead throw myself into a ring that I basically knew nothing about was a major risk. Rather than a steady, comfortable job in a family business I cast myself into the unknown…but managed to come out the other side all the better for it.
My initial risk paid off and I found myself in a job on Music Row days out of graduating from college. I started off as a publicist, working under Pam Lewis, one of Garth Brooks’ former managers. From there I worked for Meinl Cymbals, the International Songwriting Competition, and then found a foothold at Gibson Guitar as their Global Event Manager. It was a highly engaging and highly demanding job in which I got to travel the world for events, conventions, and festivals…including events such as the GRAMMYs in Los Angeles. I worked for Gibson in this capacity for roughly four years while my wife was a music teacher for Nashville Public Schools.
We were both passionate about our jobs and gained a lot of fulfillment from them. However, in the midst of all of this we had also started playing and writing music together and things were slowly getting more and more serious with it. As many risky decisions are made, we found ourselves one evening having a drink at our favorite bar and began discussing the “what if” possibility of quitting our jobs and seeing if we could make a living on the road as a fully independent band. With a little liquid courage and encouragement from our bartender we said “let’s go for it.” A few months later we had said goodbye to our jobs, packed up our instruments, and we were off the test the waters of life as full-time touring musicians for the foreseeable future with our band You Knew Me When.
Low and behold a year of touring came and went and we had to make a decision…do we go back to “normal” life, or do we continue our troubadouristic way of life? Honestly, it wasn’t that hard of a decision for us, but the risk of traveling and making a full-time living as touring musicians remained. We would continue this lifestyle for another five and a half years. In total we performed 1,068 different gigs during our six and half years on the road, released three more albums, traveled to 49 of the fifty states and up into Canada, made numerous trips to our US National Parks, and drove coast to coast and just about everywhere in between
That all leads us to the present day. After six and half years of touring nonstop we realized the need to find some life-balance. This decision led us to the choice of where to put down roots. Do we go back to Nashville? Do we go live near family? Nope. Instead, we took a chance on a community in Southwest Colorado that we had fallen in love with over the years. The small mountain town of Ouray, nicknamed “The Switzerland of America”, was to be our home. In Ouray Karisa was offered the opportunity to be the music teacher for the local school, and I had time to delve into my other creative passion…visual art. We still tour and play music regionally during the school year and nationally during the summers, but this chance to have a home life again allowed me to take a little risk and put myself out there in the visual art world.
Once again the risk of stepping outside my comfort zone has seemingly paid off and I continue to create art as my secondary career path. After buying and remodeling our old 1898 mining house in Ouray, I had discovered the versatility of wood as an art medium and began transforming my garage into my woodworking studio. Since that time I have continued to explore woodworking as a creative and artistic medium. My art art has grown in recognition since receiving the Mayor’s Choice Award at the Inaugural 610 Arts Collective Regional Arts Exhibition in Ridgway, CO, back in April of 2019. To date I have done several regional exhibitions, numerous commissioned works, and recently installed my first public art installation in Alamosa, CO.
All of this said, have these various leaps of faith all led to sunshine and rainbows?…definitely not. Life on the road presented challenges galore. Broken down vehicles, handfuls of less than ideal gigs, mental and physical exhaustion, etc… were all part of the equation. Personally, I battle with my own anxiety, stress, and depression from time to time, and being an introvert has always seemed to make risk in my life that much more challenging to confront. There have been so many times in my life where my brain would be telling me “but it would be so much easier just to sink back into quiet solitude.” However, for whatever reason, the compulsion in me to periodically take some risks in life continues to resurface. I believe it it this kind of inner balance, the balance between my introverted tendencies to my periodic impulses, that has allowed me to follow my passions and be successful in my creative endeavors…well that, as well as an extremely supportive and loving wife.
So, how do I think about risk you ask? I think of it as a tool…as a mechanism to enable dreams to become reality. I think of it as a reflection point…as a time stamp in my personal history. I think of it as a mental gauge…as a means to know when I’m emotionally ready for the next big leap of faith (and, if I’m prepared to possibly fail in that leap). The risks I have taken over the years have definitively shaped my life. For me, risk is essential to not be stagnate. Risk is essential to make to most out of this ride we all call life.
– Cie Hoover
CIE CREATIVE CO.
YOU KNEW ME WHEN
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
“Unique” is a common comment when folks see my art for the first time. In this day and age where there are so many talented artists in the world I think doing something that is truly unique is always a challenge. After buying and remodeling an old 1898 mining house in Ouray I discovered the versatility of wood as an art medium and began transforming my garage into my woodworking studio. Since that time I have continued to explore woodworking as a creative and artistic medium, delving into both wall-mounted and sculptural works…and even incorporating sculptural aspects into wall-mounted pieces. In many instances I let the natural wood grain help to dictate the overall aesthetic of a piece. I feel that woodworking has helped me find a new way to connect with the natural world and environment.
While art has always been a hobby of mine it wasn’t until 2019 when things started to become more serious. The first step was receiving the Mayor’s Choice Award at the Inaugural 610 Arts Collective Regional Arts Exhibition back in April of 2019, and subsequently receiving the John Billings Choice Award at an amateur sculpting competition (John Billings is the maker of the GRAMMY Awards). From this point I had several articles published about me and things started to pick up. I had several initial exhibits in the area and also started getting a lot of requests for commissioned pieces. It was definitely an exciting time having my art recognized so quickly…and even better than that actually selling my my art!
It is always a magical moment when a piece of my art resonates enough with someone to the point they decide “that’s coming home with me.” I believe having someone make that type of commitment to a piece of art is one of the highest compliments an artist can ever receive. This is one reason I always prefer to sell my art in person whenever possible…I think folks generate a better connection with pieces when they have the chance to learn more about the creative process behind it.
While I’m still not quite at a point where I’m making a full-time living off of my art, I am fortunate enough to also have a creative music career along with my wife that keeps me busy otherwise. Our band You Knew Me When has released four albums to date and we typically tour nationally in the summers. I think having the balance between these two creative passions is why I’ve managed to be successful at both…that and a lot of hard work.
That said, the visual art world continues to be relatively new to me and it is not with out occasional rejection. Case in point: I recently submitted two applications for public art projects, one at the Denver Convention Center and one at the Denver International Airport. Both applications were not accepted and I just received typical blanket response emails from them…”Thanks so much for applying. There were so many talented applicants for the installation. Unfortunately you were not selected.” It’s hard for the fledgling artist to get a foothold in these types of areas, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying.
If you don’t put yourself out there as an artist you will never be successful as an artist. Rejection is just part of the game. I’ve learned to use it as motivation…to become better, to make my art more refined, to make my art even more unique.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am fortunate enough to live in one of the most beautiful, picturesque mountain towns in the country. Ouray is nicknamed “The Switzerland of America” because of its astounding natural beauty. Whenever we have visitors there are so many amazing sights to see and things to do. From epic hikes, to seeing waterfalls, to soaking in hot springs, to rock climbing, to ice climbing, to skiing, the list goes on and on. For outdoor enthusiasts this place is Mecca.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost I have to recognize my amazingly beautiful, talented, loving, and encouraging wife Karisa Hoover. I would also like to thank my supportive family, all of the friends and fans we have made over the years of touring, and the communities of Ouray, Ridgway, and Telluride, Colorado, for your support of our music and my art.