Getting Creative in Cleveland

Name: Emma Thompson

Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavors

Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project: For my STEP project I wanted to further explore my love for drawing and painting in a fun, creative, and productive manner. I decided to start an online shop (known as an Etsy shop) where I sold my drawings and paintings. This allowed me to be creative AND gain business experience.

What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?: When I began my project, I had never really felt like a “real” artist. As silly as that may sound, I simply felt like my passion was nothing more than just a hobby. Because my STEP experience also doubled as a business, it gave me a real opportunity to critique myself as an artist. My customers even left me some really great reviews on my online shop page. To be able to create works of art that were so beautiful and unique that complete strangers wanted to hang them in their homes was such a confidence booster. Below you can see an example of my art that has been purchased by many complete strangers to hang in their home and office I have never been a more confident artist before this summer.

What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? I had many different positive experiences during my STEP experience that made me a better and more confident artist. One of my favorite things to make this summer was dog portraits. An example of a dog portrait I created this summer is shown below. One of the dog portraits I got to make this summer was for a family that had recently lost their labradoodle. I honored the beloved family pet by making a portrait for this family to hang in their home. The family loved their portrait and was so thankful I shared my talents with them


In another experience, I created a “Cleveland Skyline Canvas” (shown below) for a customer that was starting a new job at Sherwin Williams in Cleveland. Sherwin Williams is an important part of the Cleveland Economy and I was so flattered that my painting was going to be hanging in their office space. The customer told me he gets so many compliments on my art.


I was really proud of how much my business grew. Below you can see a chart of revenue vs. month (for July, as I am writing this article). As more and more people discover my shop, more and more people are buying works of art from me. That makes me feel great about my art. I have never been this confident of an artist. I now feel comfortable trying to techniques knowing that I have a multitude of customers who like my work.

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Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?  Truthfully I have never been a confident person. In high school, I always felt like I needed verification from others in order to feel good about the art that I have created. If I got a “B” on my AP studio art assignment I felt that I somehow lacked talent and technique. Now I finally can feel good about what I create. I can try new things knowing that SOMEONE will find it beautiful. In addition, I also got some wonderful business experience. I loved my STEP experience and I really think it allowed me to broaden my horizons in a way I would not have otherwise!

Link to my (now inactive) Etsy page:



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