This is the first in what I hope is a long series of interviews with inspiring women. My idea is to interview women entrepreneurs who have created their own vision and share those interviews throughout the year to inspire you.
Questions will be similar, yet tailored a bit to each interviewee. But as this series evolves, questions will likely change as I learn better ways of asking.
While I will be interviewing a lot of artists, art is not limited to artists. The art of running a business is challenging and rewarding, no matter the discipline. Told in their own words (as much as possible), I'm looking forward to sharing fascinating stories from inspiring women!
A big thank you goes out to my first interviewees, as they trusted me without being able to see what I was creating.
Inspiring Women - Lou Tollefson, painter
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
In order for me to start selling my work at festivals etc. I had to register my business with the state. Most people be-bopping around an art fair probably don’t even realize that everyone there is an entrepreneur! They are managing and operating their business. This is what I do and it is what I think the backbone of being an entrepreneur is.
You have a fascinating About page on your website. You talk about still being a bit shy. Do you think your art helps you with that? In what way(s)?
I used to be intensely shy. I would hide behind my Mom when I met someone new. I am still quite shy, but I am just better at working with it. Artists naturally tend to be a bit more introverted as they spend a considerable amount of time working alone. I have to have two hats as I am often a hermit with my two cats and my paintbrush for hours at a time and then I have to present and sell my work to the public. Being on the introverted side and being an artist is actually an awesome combo. I am lucky too in that I am also rather loquacious. I love to talk! So, it works out pretty splendidly for me in the field I am in.
What do you think the biggest misconception is about you and your art?
Something that comes up a lot is my age. There seems to be a common misconception that if you are young you cannot be talented and successful. That is nonsense. I recently met an eleven-year-old girl who made stunning pottery. I bought several pieces from her and encouraged her to keep rocking it!
How do you think being a painter makes a difference to people, if at all?
I see being a painter as a way to communicate a variety of ideas, emotions and beauty in an alternative form. We have to stop and look at a painting. It makes us slow down a bit and remember how we feel. Ideally, I am offering something good to those who view my paintings.
Describe your perfect day. Art-related or personal (or both).
I have a lot of almost perfect Art-related days. I choose joy and so I do what my heart enjoys most days. I don’t think art should be a struggle. Art for me is all about beauty flowing out of me. It feels good. If it doesn’t feel good, it isn’t right.
Share a great moment you’ve experienced relating to your business and or art?
I often paint commission pet portraits and get to witness the sheer joy and deep love that many folks have for their furry children. I am lucky to get to experience a piece of that. Many of the pet portraits I do are of animals that have died and left a mark that needed to be seen. In particular, I painted a cat portrait for a woman whose cat had passed away and wanted a painting done of her. The woman was so touched by the painting that she felt like she had a piece of her furry baby back with her. She was then able to get another cat to fall in love all over again.
Are there any future projects you’re excited about?
I’m constantly trying new things! More recently however I have been live painting at local events and gatherings. This is a new and exciting way to get other people involved with what I do. I’ve noticed that sometimes paintings can seem unattainable to people, and this is a way of diffusing that idea.
Create your own interview question. Is there something I should have asked but didn’t? Write the question and your answer here.
What inspires you?
I am attracted to vibrant color. My paintings are often high contrast and use vivid color. I have been known to use neon paint from time to time! My subject matter is also what inspires me. I see a cute cat or a dainty flower and I just cannot help myself! I am a fashion fan and find myself drawn to paint beautiful women with some kind of eccentricity to them. I want people to see how beautiful everything truly is.
Where can we find you?
Online you can find me on my website at: www.Loulure.com
In person you can find my work at the Paramount Gallery and Gifts in St. Cloud, MN, Minnesota Street Market in St. Joseph, MN and at various local art events including the St. Cloud art crawl and upcoming art fairs.
What is the best way to contact you?
Email me at: Lou@Loulure.com
Who is your ideal customer?
Ideally, if you enjoy my work, you’ll buy my work!
Can we buy your artwork, or support you in other ways?
Please do buy my artwork! Also, I always encourage everyone to check out local art events. Support local artists!
What is the least important thing we should know about you?
I have tattoos. I think that there is a considerable amount of judgment towards tattooed individuals. False stereotypes have been created and I hope, with time we can break those down.
What would you like to say to others aspiring to pursue their dreams?
Be dedicated -very little happens over night. Also, support others you enjoy who are out to do something fabulous too! If you support others you will be creating a support system for all.
I want to thank Lou for her time and honesty. I met her last summer at an art fair, and have seen her sporadically over the last year. She's one of those people that glows. That's the only way to describe her presence when you're talking to her. Lou is genuine and passionate about her art.
I can't wait to bring you my next interview!
~Barb Kellogg, photographer, tea drinker, and dark chocolate lover
P.S. Do you know a woman entrepreneur that you'd like me to interview? She can be in any kind of business—art, banking, landscaping, you name it. You can share this blog post with her as a bit of an introduction. There's no catch. No fee. This is my way of sharing great stories to inspire others.