Welcome to the first ever “small business spotlight” featured on H. B. Anderson Writing! Small businesses are a subject I am passionate about, making this segment a welcome addition to my other writings. Small Business Spotlight will only feature my tried-and-true personal favorite small businesses whom I want be recognized and celebrated as the unique entities that they are. They are meant to give you a good introduction or a deeper look at the business in spotlight.
Our first small business spotlight focuses on Salty Jo Art which sells art in many forms! Salty Jo Art is a creative business that opened in 2020 specializing in custom stickers, skate decks, longboard decks, and prints that can be found on http://www.saltyjoart.com . “Skate decks and illustrations” is how Joanna Bookamer sums up her business’ focus on the website’s home page (Salty Jo Art, 2020). It takes mere seconds of observation to become impressed with the wide range of ability and imagination showcased in Joanna’s portfolio page. You get much more than bargained for by purchasing from this Ringling Art School-attended artist.
In this slideshow, you will see many creations by Joanna, herself. Most pictures are products on her site http://www.saltyjoart.com or pictures from her Instagram @saltyjo.art and others are pictures from her large and growing portfolio. (And, if you look closely in this slideshow, you will see my very own custom-made Salty Jo Volkswagen longboard). All of my likes and interests were included on my board: ukuleles, dachshunds, cats, the colors yellow, orange & blue, and the ocean.
Salty Jo Art offers free shipping on most of their products, as well as timely and friendly service. Custom orders are welcomed! Bounce some ideas off of Joanna or describe your ideal vision to her for any of your art needs.
During this first segment, I had the pleasure of interviewing the artist behind it all! Let’s recall the interview, shall we?
Hannah: Joanna, I’m delighted to write this article today and shine the spotlight on one of my all-time-favorite creative businesses! It’s nice to have the opportunity to interview you in a more serious and formal light as we explore some of the inspirations behind your art and the processes by which you work. It’s not everyday that I get to make a blog post with one of my closest friends, so I know we are going to have fun with it! First off, Joanna, what is the sole mission behind Salty Jo Art? What do you specialize in?
Joanna: Originally, Salty Jo was started because I wanted to make a living doing what I enjoy. At the job I was working before, I felt like I was going nowhere fast, so I finally just quit and opened up and online shop/gallery. I love to draw and paint and create, and people seem to enjoy seeing what I come up with. I figured if God’s given me these hands and this head, I want to use them. I want to be excited to get up in the morning, and trust that income will be provided.
Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of requests for stickers and custom portrait paintings, but I also sell painted longboard and skateboard decks, as well as illustration prints.
Hannah: What better way to go about life than to pursue your God-given talents! I especially love how you emphasized that it is God that ultimately will provide for you while you do your work, Joanna. That shows that desire to work until God, not just humans.
Now I know there are a lot of questions in the psychology community concerning the nature vs. nurture debate. This particular debate analyzes how the influences of environment affect them vs. the genes that they were born with. I’m going to indulge these questions for one second and ask a few questions about where exactly you noticed your love for art originate.
Was your environment something that played a part in your artistic abilities? If so, who particularly encouraged or influences you in this way? Or was it perhaps natural inclination, practice, or a little bit of both? Did you always want to become an artist?
Joanna: Yeah, trusting God was a long internal conversation that I needed before I was able to let go and quit my job.
Growing up, my sisters and I read a lot of picture books, watched a ton of cartoons, and played make-believe every second in between. We were constantly using our imaginations, so drawing was just a natural outlet. My mom has a folder somewhere of my drawings, and likes to remind me of the little stories I would illustrate before I could even write. My family very much had a role in directing my interest, whether or not they’re aware of it. And there were also a few select teachers over the years who encouraged me and made me feel potential.
Hannah: So very interesting. It think there is a famous Pablo Picasso quote that is very applicable here, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain one once he grows up.” I think this very much is the case for many individuals.
And, Joanna, in particular…what you said about teachers is very relatable, as well. I, for one, never even considered the possibility of becoming a writer until certain teachers encouraged me to. This goes to show the responsibility that everyday encouragement and influence can have on us as we grow throughout our lives.
Joanna, you mentioned that you paint longboard and skateboard decks. Did the desire to do this stem from your own experience longboarding and skateboarding? When did you begin? Also, what particular methods/inspiration are needed while painting these decks?
Joanna: I think I’ve always looked on skateboarders in awe. I admire the skill and nonchalant attitude of skaters in general. I spent a year at Ringling College of Art and Design, and that year was very lonely for me. I ended up watching skate clips and ‘how to’ videos to pass the time, and eventually bought a longboard. Painting it made sense- I kind of marked it as my own. And then I thought, ‘you know, I wouldn’t mind doing this for a living,’ which is also when the idea of SaltyJo started to form.
As far as inspiration, I don’t really have it down to a formula. Looking at other people’s art helps to get excited about a project. Sometimes I’ll leaf through my sketchbooks to see if I want to turn a doodle into a painting. Also, I’ve learned that I can’t just crank art out nonstop. Sometimes I have to spend a week away from art and just be outdoors, which seems to help fill my invisible inspriation basin. I think to make something, I just need a starting point, and that doesn’t come on my own. It’s always from a memory or a song or people-watching or some mangled tree from a hike. I guess it’s more to say, it’s necessary to have a spark of inspiration, but there’s not always a particular spot to find it. It’s a matter of looking for it.
Hannah: That’s a very poignant outlook on the atmosphere surrounding boarding and the solace that it gave you away from home. I find that your view on the creative process is one that I admire, because it has a realistic realization that art cannot simply always be forced. It takes time, effort, and inspiration. The process is never perfect or even linear, per-say.
As you know, I am in my own process of starting up a creative business. For one, my writing business Hannah Anderson Writing and secondly my business HannahMade where I share the items and designs that I make by crochet, sewing, or paper. What advice would you give other young women and men that want to start a business? What are some good attitudes to bring that first year of operation?
Joanna: First of all, congratulations! I’m proud of you, and I’m excited whenever I hear someone decides to start their own business. Know that just because you are new in the game, it does not make you or your product less valuable. Don’t undersell yourself. Your time and ideas are worth investing in. You may not see a lot of interest immediately, and there will be lulls, that’s normal. Don’t get discouraged. Keep making stuff and use the lulls as time to recharge or branch out with your creations. Use social media and post as often as you can to keep people updated and interested. Be careful, though. I, for one, get sucked into social media super easily, so post and close the app; don’t let scrolling steal your time. Also, accept that you’re going to make mistakes and learn from them. Accept any feedback, but take criticism with a grain of salt. I know a lot of people who mean well and ask if I’m looking for a job or if I’m still doing “that art thing.” Your small business is a job! Don’t let small comments get under your skin.
And, finally, do not feel guilty for enjoying your work. I so often feel guilty for spending an afternoon out with my sisters because I feel like I haven’t been working. In reality, I’m probably spending more hours a day working than I would have at my previous job. Your schedule may not have the structure of a 9-5, and you may not dread working on a commission (I hope you don’t!), but that does not mean you haven’t been “working”.
Hannah: Jo, in conclusion, is there anything we should be looking out for in the future with your shop? What excited things should we expect?
Joanna: Thanks for having me, Hannah! I’m working on new sticker packs and prints that will be available on http://www.saltyjoart.com
This concludes our very first small business spotlight! It was so fun getting to talk to Joanna about her business and sharing it to the readers of H. B. Anderson Writing. If you are interested in anything you see, or if you have a custom order in mind- make sure you check out the links provided to Salty Jo’s website and follow along with Joanna’s newest creative endeavors on the @saltyjo.art Instagram.
Until next time, my friends,