Artist Evelyn Henson on making art that brings joy, turning her passion into a business, and what she learned from Picasso
In the ‘How I Work’ series, we interview interesting people to learn about who they are, what they do, and how they navigate the messiness and unpredictability of work life. Here, we’re chatting with Evelyn Henson, a Charlotte, North Carolina, based artist.
Hi, Evelyn! Let’s get started by having you introduce yourself.
I’m Evelyn Henson! I’m an artist who creates fine art, stationery, and gifts. I’m passionate about creating art that brings sunshine and joy.
It’s always fascinating to learn about people’s ‘superpower.’ What’s yours?
My superpower is my creativity. I’m creative with my work but also in life: the way I love and support people, the way I find gratitude in everyday, and how I approach failure. If a door doesn’t open, I just find a window.
So, how did you fall in love with art?
I’ve honestly been obsessed with art for as long as I can remember. From drawing illustrations for stories I typed on my Grandmother’s typewriter, to being endlessly mesmerized by art museums, I’ve always loved art and felt a desire to be surrounded by it. I majored in Art History in college and started painting about a year before I graduated. For some reason, I randomly decided to paint my mom some flowers for Mother’s Day, and I pretty much haven’t put down the paint brush since. I find so much more joy and gratitude in life when I’m creating.
It seems like it would be hard to make a living as an artist. When did you realize you could do it?
I just graduated from college and decided an Etsy shop would be a fun side thing to do as I looked for a “real” job. I applied to art museums and galleries across the Southeast, but I never heard from anyone. I just wanted to be surrounded by art, and I was ready to clean the floors, or do whatever. By the end of the summer, it became clear that my Etsy shop had a lot of potential. Given I was living at home with my parents at the time, and had no job prospects, it was a pretty easy decision to make because I basically fell into it.
What inspires your art? Do you know ahead of time if what you’re working on will become a print or a product?
Picasso says “inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Likewise, I find inspiration by continually creating. Painting transforms the way I see the everyday because I see everything as a potential painting subject. Once I’m inspired, I generally know if the piece will wind up being a print or a product. If it’s a floral or landscape, then it’ll probably be a print. But if I’m painting something crazy like a dog in a birthday hat, then I’m already thinking about how to transform that into a birthday card.
Do you have a favorite print or product? What’s the crowd favorite?
Both my favorite and the crowd favorite is the personalized pet series, where you can choose from 100+ pet illustrations to create a custom pet mug, tea towel, pillow, or art print. I love sharing my dog obsession with others. It makes me laugh that I’m not the only person who wants to celebrate their pets in crazy ways!
OK, so let’s talk about your work life. Tell us about your studio.
I rent a small space in Charlotte’s Dilworth neighborhood. The main piece of furniture is a large dining room table, which makes it easy for me to throw paint everywhere and work on multiple paintings at once. The rest of the space is filled with shelves and drawers that keep all my art and supplies organized. Then, of course, I have my art all over the walls.
Since this is Lunch Break, after all, we have to ask: What do you typically eat for lunch?
This is so boring, but I make salads on Sunday and eat them throughout the week.
What do you do for self-care when you’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed?
If it’s a situation where I have to meet a deadline, I’ll walk around the block a couple times to collect my thoughts and come up with a game plan for what I can realistically accomplish in the next few hours. If I’m feeling generally overwhelmed, but not working on anything time sensitive, I’ll go to a workout class, bake something, go for a long walk or run, or read a book — anything to step away and take my mind off things.
And finally, what’s your best productivity tip?
I find I work faster and more efficiently with “task batching.” For example, I create monthly calendar downloads for email subscribers and always put them together during the first week of January. I plan social media content for the month all at once, I send PR emails once a quarter, I review my analytics once a month, and I fill custom orders one day a week rather than as they come in.