Welcome! For those of you who don't know me, I'm Shawna Erback. I'm a professional artist and designer. My art and designs are featured in galleries, gift shops and on the walls of celebrity clients. My art collections can be found on TV & movie sets, licensed products and in the homes and offices of private and corporate collectors worldwide. You may have seen my artwork in Target, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond and The Bradford Exchange.
I'm a concept artist for DreamWorks Animation and create behind the scenes paintings for animated films like How To Train Your Dragon, Puss In Boots and Shrek. I have over 15 years of selling experience and I have grown my company successfully over the years. Hundreds of thousands enjoy my artwork and handmade luxury items. I am very busy.
Hopefully one or two of my posts will help spark your own dreams. I'll show you everything from behind the scenes in my studio, my daily paintings, outings and even teach you how to sell your own work. I'll also show you how to make things that sell really well. I stay on top of all of the new trends and ideas.
First I'm going to tell you my story so you know where I'm coming from.
My dream was always to be a stay at home mom. When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I was so delighted! I was also very scared. I wasn't scared of being a mom, I was concerned because we didn't have much money. My husband and I were working 7 days a week just to make ends meet. We were living in Calgary at the time and it was so hard to try to make ends meet every month. We were living paycheck to paycheck (barely). It sucked!
When our son Brandon finally came, I happily went on maternity leave. In Alberta at that time, mother's got one year with their new babies. I had one year to figure out what were were going to do. I was dreading going back to work because all I wanted was to be a stay at home mommy, but no matter what happened after my leave was finished, for now I was going to enjoy every minute with my precious new baby boy.
It's funny how things happen that change the course of your whole life.
One day, I was watching Martha Stewart on TV. I love her. She was doing a demonstration about making soap. I was memorized. This was it! To make a long story short, I ran out and spent a whole lot of money we did not have on soapmaking supplies and dove head first into my very first business.
A nice block of soap I made! After months of practice, I finally got my formula perfect! I'm working on a new formula for my Fairy Dreams Collection of Soap that will be available on my website soon! I'll be sure to post a tutorial on how to make soap from scratch. I have hundreds of batches under my belt!
I learned all I could about the soapmaking industry and got my hands on as many marketing books as I could. I named my company Brandon Essentials after my son. I very quickly went to work on my new website and learned all I could on how to get my soap into stores. I was like a sponge, learning and reading. I started calling boutiques and stores and after what seemed like eternity I finally had regular sales coming in.
I was also starting to sell my soap on Ebay after my brother called and told me about it. (Ebay was brand new back then). It was perfect. I was doing it! I didn't have to go back to work. I made everything from a little room in my basement that we converted into my soapmaking room. The hours were long and I was exhausted at the end of each day, but at least I was able to stay home.
Life was looking up! We were so happy and to make it even better, I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter Amber! I felt so blessed. Life was finally coming together.
Then it happened...
My whole world came crumbling down when my Mom and Dad came to visit. My Dad looked terrible and was quickly rushed into emergency. The receptionist took one look at him and found him a bed immediately. Looking back, I know that she knew. I was so scared as I watched the Dr. do some tests and he put a pen in my Dad's hand and asked my Dad to tell him what it was and my Dad couldn't tell him. I couldn't contain my tears, I've never been so frightened. What was happening to my Dad??
It was that afternoon that we found out that my Dad had a brain tumor - Glioblastoma Multiforme. The worst of the worst. I hate those words.
Dreams, Hope, Plans...gone.
A few months later and my Dad was gone. My precious father that I loved so much was no more. Devastation doesn't even come close to how I still feel when I go back to that moment. My stomach tightens up and it's hard to breathe. It's so hard to write this.
God Must Need You More Than We Do by Shawna Erback
My Dad died in November. My mom came to visit again and over our morning coffee, asked me what I wanted for Christmas. None of us felt like celebrating but we still went through the motions of trying to make everything as normal as possible. I thought about it and said "Paint", I would like to try painting again. I used to paint all time time. My first painting I can remember creating was of a black horse when I was about 13. I painted it for my Dad because I wanted him to buy it for me. I loved painting.
I started selling my art and over the next two years, my art sales were quickly overcoming my soapmaking sales. I sold my soapmaking company and dove into my work as an artist and designer. It wasn't a hard decision, I love to create. Painting makes me feel good. I can't explain enough how creating and making beautiful things changes me for the better. Each piece brings new light, new hope, new dreams. I do it for my Dad's memory, I do it for my children, I do it for all of us.
I hope to teach you and inspire you. You can do this! You can create your own path doing what you love. It's possible. Don't let anyone hold you back.
Take care, Shawna