We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Mello and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shannon, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting my own business has always been something I had in the back of my head. It would resurge some days, and begin to collect cobwebs on others. In 2020, I was in my tenth year teaching middle school art. After going on spring break, as most would know, we did not return due to the Coronavirus. My husband and I were both teachers at the time, with two young kids of our own. With the uncertainty of this new virus, we chose not to enroll them in school and to take the biggest gamble of our lives…I would resign from teaching and homeschool our kids. We were terrified. We were essentially going to be living on one guaranteed salary, and it was a teacher’s salary at that. Two years before this I had just begun to dabble into the world of selling my artwork. No knowledge of how to start an LLC, no knowledge with sales tax, business income tax, and spreadsheets….it was all new to me. But I did know that my work was selling. To say that I had jumped into the deep end was an understatement. I had to learn everything, and fast. While I was terrified of the unknown, I somehow knew everything would work out. It has been a wild ride, but I’m proud to say it is going well.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I still feel like my career as an artist is just beginning. I have so many ideas in my head, all the time. I think of art all day…how could I paint those shadows, what colors would I use for those reflections. I have ideas strike at the most unusual times, I often have to write them down so I don’t forget. It will take me at least this lifetime to get through everything I have planned. One of my favorite parts about being an artist is meeting the people I connect with through my art. It’s so strange to me sometimes…I create this thing that comes from my subconscious, and this person appreciates it and wants to keep it. It really blows my mind, and I am so intrigued by it. A lot of collectors have become good friends. I hope they know how much they really mean to me. Whether they know it or not, they’ve become part of my journey and I really will never forget that. I value these relationships so much.
Before taking the leap to become a full time artist, I really did not think it was in the realm of possibility. Once, however, that I took that leap, I knew it would work out. You just have to take that initial leap. I could imagine where I’d be, how it felt to walk into my studio in the morning and create. I visualize, hear, smell, and breathe what the future looks like. I don’t leave anything out. Call it manifestation, call it positive thinking, it’s what works for me. I absolutely have days where there are struggles. I mean, when it came time to pay my sales tax for the first time, I called the Department of Revenue and told the woman, “Okay, please talk to me like I’m a Kindergartener”. Learning all of this is exciting to me, though. As a former teacher, a lot of us say we’re in in to be life long learners as well. It’s true. I have a passion for learning. This has been the most enriching time of my life by far.
I’d love the world to know that I hope my art creates a connection. I’d love it to connect with the first time collector because it brings them calm and peace. I’d love for it to stir up a memory of that time of self realization. That time when you were standing outside in the freezing cold, but the world looks so beautiful and silent. I want this art to elicit a feeling similar to the simplicity and silence of nature.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
In 2017 I lost my father, completely unexpectedly. My dad was in better shape than most at 61 years old, and had collapsed after his weekly hockey practice. I felt completely numb for months. I needed something to channel my grief, something to give me hope. An opportunity arose to take an encaustic class, and I immediately jumped on the opportunity. After taking the class, I had started purchasing the supplies that same weekend. I rarely do anything half-assed, this was a full on, full throttle new beginning for me. I read, I experimented, I failed, and I had surprises with this medium. Encaustic paintings, which are essentially beeswax and tree resin, are created in layers. It is a very natural material with organic movement. My dad had instilled our love of nature and the outdoors our entire lives. I feel so connected with this medium, and it brings out my love for nature. And my dad.
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