We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Spieker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I can’t say I’ve always been one to take a chance, but lately that seems to be all I have been doing. I think we all found a “pandemic hobby” whether it was baking bread or learning the piano or in my case, painting. A friend of mine found what I call “dotting tools” at a local craft shop and after watching a couple of videos on how to use the tools I thought I’d get some for myself. My first dot paining was awful, but it was fun. 3 months after that first painting I set up a table at my first market and nearly sold out of all the things I’d painted. I remember being so nervous for that first show; thinking I wasn’t good enough to be there, thinking no one was going to like my artwork and feeling more vulnerable than I had ever felt because I was about to share my art, my brain and my creativity with the public.
Now, I have an LLC and am about to celebrate one year as a small business owner and feel comfortable calling myself an artisan. I’ve worked hard this last year painting and trying new mediums – I’ve sacrificed time with friends and family, I’ve lost and then found myself a couple of times – but most of all I have finally found something that makes me want to wake up every day.
I’ve worked the same day job for the last ten years, and today is my last day. Back in February of 2022, an organization called NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) posted a position for a “Communications Coordinator” in Colorado Springs. I read the job description and it truly sounded as if they wrote it specifically for me. The one downfall – it was part time. I remember thinking there was no way I could afford to only work part time. But, I went for it and was offered the job of my dreams.
This is the biggest risk I’ve ever taken because I’ve never not worked 40 hours a week. I’ve never worked for myself and the thought of my life changing this drastically is honestly pretty scary. I’ve been offered other jobs before, and sure, I’ve thought about taking a new job, but this time is different. How often can we say we’re being given the gift of time?
Work/life balance. Opportunity for self care. Time. Time for me, my family, my friends and most of all MY CREATIVITY and MY ART. When I started painting and eventually selling my artwork, I knew this was a goal but I never would have imagined it happening so quickly. I believe that timing is everything and the universe made that clear by giving me this new job opportunity. Risk is terrifying, but when it pays off, so rewarding.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve always loved painting, but not necessarily on canvas or in the traditional sense. I would buy used furniture and refinish it in a way that was more my style, usually with bright colors. I’m obsessed with the meditative adult coloring books and have dedicated hours to coloring, building color stories and it might sound silly to some people, but those coloring books saved me from a severe anxiety disorder. When the world shut down in 2020, I (like everyone else) started working remote. At the time, my husband and I were living in a one bedroom apartment, so every day I would break down my office space and turn it back into a creative space so I could find separation between my work life and personal life. A good friend had picked up what I call dotting tools from a local craft shop and after watching a couple of videos, I bought myself a set of tools and as it turns out, I’m good with dots. I was painting 5″x 5″ canvas to start and after gifting them to friends, word got out and I was getting requests for custom orders. Fast forward to the summer of 2021. and I found a real small maker’s market and though it would be a cool idea to try and sell to the public. The name of my business is the Adopted Alien Project because I was adopted and that fact is a huge part of my life journey. And I call it the Project because I am building something that is more than arts and crafts to me. I specialize in dot mandala painting, but the Project also includes macramé, dream catchers, resin pouring, refinished furniture and really anything where I can find joy. I was nervous to start the Adopted Alien Project because my art has usually just been for me and to share it with others – especially strangers – opened me up for a level of vulnerability and criticism I have never experienced. I can’t even put into words the support and encouragement my husband, Matthew, has provided. That and the overwhelming love and support I’ve received from the community of local artists I’ve been welcomed into has opened my eyes to my full potential. I used to think I was meant for a big job in a big office in a big city, but that’s not the dream. The dream is becoming a full time artisan and sharing my passion and art with the world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is tough because I am such a homebody! Alright, if I had to show my best friend (who lives in Michigan) a good time she’d have to come visit in October so we could head up to Ball Arena in Denver to check out a Colorado Avalanche game. If my first passion is art, my second is easily hockey. The next morning, we’d head to downtown Colorado Springs and have breakfast at King Chef’s Diner and do some shopping at Bang Bang Boutique, Eclectic Co., Poor Richard’s Bookstore and Everest Tibet Imports. In between shopping we’d also grab some Solar Roast Coffee. Then we’d grab some Louie’s Pizza and head home to watch a Harry Potter marathon. Our next outing would include a stop to Cronk Art and Curiosities, Springs Spirituality and Celebration Metaphysical Center. And we’d have to hit up Holly Horter Yoga for a Forrest Yoga class in Old Colorado City followed by tapas at TAPAteria. Lastly, we’d visit Who Gives a Scrap and make one more visit downtown to Bonny and Read Seafood for a lobster roll.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First, I want to say thank you to Ben Fisher from iwalkonjello; without Ben’s recommendation this article wouldn’t even be happening. I also want to dedicate this to my husband, Matthew, who believes in and supports me in everything I do.
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