A Troy student has opened her own Etsy shop called The Wilder Prints to sell hand-made watercolor portraits.
Sarah Talbot, a senior graphic design major from Montgomery, opened the shop last week and is already busy with orders.
She sells prints of her original watercolor paintings of the Catholic saints.
“The whole concept of it is The Wilder,” said Talbot. “These (saints) were the rebels of their day. They lived wild and free, contrary to society, all for the glory of the Kingdom.”
“I find so much beauty within the church and just everyday people, real people, the saints, who lived their faith so wildly that they changed the world because of it.”
She started painting the portraits while she was studying abroad in Sweden last fall.
“You know, I’m there by myself, and Sweden is a very dark place, like physically as well,” Talbot said. “There’s only three hours of sunlight a day… I paint them in really bright colors to kind of contrast the dark atmosphere of Sweden. I needed something bright and happy to look at every day.”
She explained that she grew up in a family environment where art was common. Her whole family enjoys a plethora of art activities, such as drawing and painting. However, she only started painting the saints while she was in Sweden and started selling them online last week.
“She hadn’t put it out there until now, which is awesome,” said Talbot’s sorority sister and friend, Farrah Gaston, a senior biomedical science and Spanish double major from Camden.
“She’s showing the world what she can actually do. I think a lot of people really like it.”
Gaston has encouraged Talbot by both helping with some business aspects such as pricing and by purchasing three prints for herself; Gaston purchased prints of Jesus of Nazareth, Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Francis of Assisi.
“She’s so talented,” Gaston said. “I mean, everything she paints, draws, designs on the computer… It’s always great.”
According to Talbot, however, it has not all been easy.
“Honestly the biggest challenge has been picking up the business aspects of it,” Talbot said.
“Because I never thought that this would happen. I just started painting for myself and then people saw it and started asking for it and so it’s taken me a year to figure out the business behind selling art and distributing it in a way that’s effective and humble, in a sense.”
She scans each portrait into her computer and then edits it in Photoshop and prints it professionally several times before hand-cutting each one to make the final prints look the best they can.
According to Talbot, she has spent a lot of time and money on supplies, including packaging materials, envelopes, backing and painting materials.
Along with running her business, Talbot works, goes to school, serves in her church and participates in sorority activities.
“I think last week was one of the hardest weeks of my year,” Talbot said. She has spent several late nights designing and packing her prints.
Despite the challenges, she still encourages others to follow their dreams to create their own businesses.
“Take your time,” she said. “Watch a lot of YouTube videos and figure out all the materials you’ll need and what it takes to run a business. It takes a lot of thought. It takes a lot of math.”
“You never know how successful it will be unless you bite the bullet and go for it.”
According to Talbot, running a business is a delicate balance.
“It’s hard because you want to have that humble attitude, but you have to promote yourself as well if you want to be a successful artist,” she said specifically to those trying to start their own creative business. “I think the world needs a little bit, or a lot-a-bit, more truth, beauty and goodness, especially in this day and age. So, we all have to find what we can do to contribute to that.”
She also encourages artists to not be afraid to give away a couple pieces to get their names out there.
“I never thought I would get to this point,” she said. “And so, my goal isn’t to be a world-renowned artist or to paint the next Sistine Chapel. My goal is simply just to give the gift of beauty to the world.
“It gives me great happiness to know that these bright beautiful pieces are sitting in people’s houses. It’s just something to draw their eyes closer to heaven.”
Talbot’s friend Kat Bokenfohr, a senior exercise science major from Enterprise, says she is extremely hopeful for Talbot’s business.
“It’s an actual ministry for her, like why she does it is to really display who these saints are for people,” she said. “It’s her displaying her love for art, but also her love for her faith and the ministry and her friends by giving them the original piece.”
Bokenfohr further explained that Talbot will be a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) missionary next fall and that the benefits of The Wilder Prints will help with that.
“Just because you’re not Catholic doesn’t mean that you can’t go in there and really find that person that you can connect with, that saint that you can look into,” she said.
Those interested in purchasing prints can visit Talbot’s The Wilder Prints shop on Etsy.com. Prices range from $15 to $30, depending on the size of the print.