We had the good fortune of connecting with Lily Cain and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lily, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I have always wanted to be an artist, from when I was very little to an adult I’ve always been interested in a visual language. Throughout school I took art classes, double majored in art and then attended the Royal College of Art in England to receive my Masters of Fine Art.
When you are going through the process of academia, you learn to be a certain type of fine artist. Lets call it “The Traditional Artist”. As a Traditional Artist, you learn to build a portfolio of work, fine tune your craft and technique, and mature in your ideas – creating your own lexicon of visual language. You learn to apply to galleries, develop relationships with curators and other artists and become voice in the art community. These are all very important things. Things that all artists need. but they are not the only things you should learn. The question that I was faced with at the end of the day was “Who will see my work?”. If I remained within the Traditional Artist path my audience would remain within the art community and I wanted more than that.
I was starting to develop this business COVID-19 hit and everything stopped. This could have been the best push that I needed because I learned to pivot. I created a commercialized venue for my work “Lily Cain Studio” where I started selling giclee prints, and my business took off. I realized I didn’t have to rely on a brick and mortar to have an audience. I began marketing, and really utilizing social media platforms to identify a larger audience for my work.
I learned a really important lesson through this process and it was: never rely on others for success. As a traditional artist, you are taught to do that. As a small business owner and female entrepreneur, I create success and opportunity.
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.
I arrived in Colorado straight out of graduate school – from London to Grand Junction. I was looking for an adjunct position somewhere on the west coast and had reached out to an old professor/mentor and had asked if he knew of anything. He put me in contact with the Art and Design Department of Colorado Mesa University because they were looking for an Artist in Residence. The rest is history.
I received my MFA from the Royal College of Art, London UK in Printmaking. I specialize in intaglio prints and also in oil painting. It wasn’t until I moved though that I started in watercolor and drawing. I’ve shown and am represented by several galleries.
My work has always been about feminine attributes and isolated spaces. On the western slope I am surrounded by so much wildlife and beauty that it has found its way into my watercolors and drawings and taken on a life of its own.
I started my small business in the beginning of 2020 – not the best timing, but one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever given myself. I started small, making a handfull of limited edition Giclee Prints of my watercolors and its taken off from there. Now my business is broken into two areas: Original Works and my Printshop. I collaborate with different businesses and companies in Colorado and California and I couldn’t be happier.
Covid-19 and quarantine really pushed me to pivot and find alternative ways to engage my audience. There are always tough love, mistakes and failures when you start something new. My advice: embrace it and learn to pivot. Learn to work with your community and reach out to other small business owners about starting a network. You will learn a lot about yourself and what you are made of. If there is anything I’d like my viewer to take away from my work, I hope you feel as much joy in the piece as I did when I created it.
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.
My best friends are visiting! I am getting married in October and they are my bridesmaids.
I would take them on a drive through the monument
A day at the Grand Mesa. Mesa Lakes Lodge Canoe rental to paddle around island lake
I would definitely take them to the Palisade Farmers Market to enjoy all our wonderful produce. They would probably end up in a peach coma – but its well worth it.
Palisade Brewing Company for food and beer and homemade root beer!
The Glorious Fig, Downtown Grand Junction for snacks
And then some live music with a concert somewhere. Its hard to pick, we have a lot of amazing venues.
I just hope no one falls in the river. Well, on accident.
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?
Founder and owner of The Middle – Wellness Center
She’s one of those boss babes that never gives up.
the one with me printing, surrounded by students is at CMU ( I’m an adjunct professor)