We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrea Becker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrea, what’s your definition for success?
For me, success is a state of mind. If I am enjoying the work I’m doing, my students are enjoying their classes, and I feel I have the freedom to spend my time off however I’d like – that feels successful. It’s hard to put a dollar amount or a sales order amount to define success, that feels stifling. I could be selling my pieces for thousands of dollars, but if the experience of making and selling those pieces is stressful and draining, that doesn’t feel like success to me. When I teach classes, a successful class is one where my students are having fun and enjoying the process, regardless of whether or not they end up creating a masterpiece.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My career as an artist began in the theatre. I received my degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Puget Sound in 2013 and began working as a props artisan for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Butterfly Effect Theatre of Colorado. I love having this theatrical background because of the creativity I was surrounded by and the obscure and strange projects I worked on – like hand-writing letters and staining the paper with tea and coffee to make them look old, then stringing them up to dry in my small apartment bathroom. I enjoyed creating props for the shows and being a part of the artistic community in Boulder, CO, but I struggled creating balance in my life working full time in retail as well as the odd hours of professional theatre and left those jobs after two wonderful seasons.
In 2017 I began working for my mother at Art for Fun! Studio and Gallery. My skills as an artist greatly improved when I started teaching. Working with kids and adults of various levels of experience challenged me to approach each class in a new way, taking in the individual needs of each student and adapting projects accordingly. It challenged me to take things that had become second nature to me, like watercolor painting, and break it down into smaller steps, look for educational resources, and learn from other teachers and artists. When I created Cactus Flower Designs in January of 2020 my intention was to make greeting cards that were broad enough to attract an audience, but specific enough to attract the kind of audience that would “get me.” My friends and I often sent each other simple “thinking of you” cards, and I wanted to create the kind of cards we would get excited to send each other. I began with two cards: “I would have called, but we’re millennials. We don’t do that” and “I would have called, but we both have anxiety.” I think these designs helped brand me as the type of artist that is authentic and relatable to my target audience – other anxious millennials. My most popular item in my shop so far has been a magnet that says “Take Your Meds” and I think that confirms I have hit the sweet spot finding my audience.
My shop has since expanded from greeting cards and now includes stickers, magnets, ceramics, watercolor and acrylic paintings, and a few fused glass pieces as well. I think one important lesson I’ve learned while building my business and my brand is to do what makes me happy, and people will follow. This allows me to explore other mediums and try new things with the faith that the people who “get me” will continue to relate to what I put out.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Most of my favorite places are not in town, I really love taking road trips. But if I had to pick a few highlights in town they would be: Earth Plant Based Cuisine – their milkshakes are absolutely incredible
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art – their exhibits are always fascinating
South Mountain Park and Lookout – one of my favorite ways to get perspective on how massively sprawled out this city is
Encanto Park – I grew up really close to this park and went there most weekends with my dad and sister, hung out there with my friends in high school, had my Bat Mitzvah party at their clubhouse, and I just have a lot of nice memories there
Any of the ‘berto’s restaurants – nothing quite hits the spot like a 24hr burrito place, it’s one of the things I missed most when I lived in other states!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have two shoutouts, one is to my mother and the art studio we run together. Art for Fun! Studio and Gallery is a dream my mother began fulfilling after she lost her own mothe r. My mother, Barbara, opened her studio in 2005 after stepping away from her career as a school teacher and administrator. The studio was always a “happy place” for me, so when I moved back to Phoenix in 2017 I was happy to jump into the role of Studio Manager as well as teaching classes with her. It has been a great learning experience working with my mother and seeing her passion for creating an encouraging and supportive environment for adults to get back into a routine of creativity. My second shoutout is to my friend Kelsey DeLange and her business Best Wishes (@bybestwishes). I found Kelsey through Instagram in 2018 and I loved the authenticity she showed through her artwork and her social media presence. She has always been kind and approachable and when I was able to meet her in person in 2019 it was hugely motivating to see that she’s just a regular person with great talent and a desire to brighten other peoples lives through her artwork. Only a few months after meeting her I began working on the first designs for my own business, Cactus Flower Designs.
Instagram: @cactus.flower.designs and @artforfunstudio