I'm back and with the second part of my interview with the amazing entrepreneur and artist, Lily K. Doyle. So let's pick up where we left off in our interview from yesterday.
Marie Gilbert: “I know you do parties for both adults and children, but did you ever have a client who after attending your party decided to take up art?”
Lily K. Doyle: Yes, one client after attending one of my art parties enrolled in a night art course and there was another person who had not painted in years and ever since coming to my art party, she’s picked it back up again. She tells me all the time how happy she is about that. I once did a little boy’s party, it was adorable. He wanted all his relatives to paint with him. It was him, his little brother, grandparents, aunts and uncles and his parents. It was such a cute little party with a Star Wars theme. We all painted little Star Wars space scenes. So, there were people at that party who’ve never been exposed to art and they just walked out feeling so proud. I mean I’ll help people if they want me to and even paint part of it for them or if they want to do it themselves then I just guide them.
There are also cases where you make a connection at one of the parties and all of a sudden, you’ve made a friend.”
Marie Gilbert: “You’ve said that when you started there weren’t that many painting parties, but now, they are all over the place. How do you keep your edge without giving too much away, but what do you use besides canvas?”
Lily K. Doyle: “I grew up in a house where my mom’s business was organizing arts and crafts shows at the Malls back in the day. So I’ve been exposed to all kinds of art my entire life and what’s funny is when I started the paint party business, I had to reteach myself how to paint because when you’re a teacher; you don’t have time for yourself.
But, I am all things crafty and artsy, so my goal is to continue with the canvas painting parties, which I simply love, but I am going to bring in other types of crafts. I’ve already started and people can go to my Facebook Fan page to see what I’m doing. One new craft I’ve recently started are hand painted wine glasses. It’s been a huge hit!
I have three or four other arts and crafts parties that are coming up and I’m really excited about them. I’m busy working on the samples now. Hopefully, people will have a paint party with me and then they will visit me again to do a different art project. This will expose them to another kind of art. I also want to do some on location events; I have all kinds of plans in mind.”
Marie Gilbert: “Do people request a certain type of art?”
Lily K. Doyle: “Yes, I have a party coming up in September, a woman who’s been to two of my painting parties. She sent me a little image clip of a tree, which happened to be in the style of Gustav Klimt’s “Tree of Life.” So I went on line and looked at a whole bunch of images and created a painting just for her. This business can literally be customized to any group or organization. If a little girl likes horses, I can do a horse painting. It’s just been so rewarding.
I have to design my paintings simple enough so I can reteach them to my clients. I keep saying that I need time to find my own painting style and paint my own designs, so I can see how far I can stretch as an artist. But I have to put that on hold for now, I’m just too busy between my day job as an art teacher, Undercover Artist & my family.”
Marie Gilbert: “How far in advance should someone contact you to schedule a party?”
Lily K. Doyle: “Ideally, it should be a month or a month and a half, however, I have had people call me two weeks ahead and if I’m free, I’ll try to swing it. With my work schedule, I’m teaching school from Monday to Thursday, but I’m free nights and weekends for Undercover Artist.
This business started out as a necessity and I wanted to take lemons and make lemonade. There are a lot of good art teachers out there that can give you instructions, but not to toot my own horn or anything, but you need to have the kind of personality where you are part art teacher and part entertainer.
I’ve always loved theatre and one of my hobbies is community theatre and I bring that into it. I joke around, I make people feel welcome, I nurture them and I boost their confidence. A lot of my art events definitely have that party atmosphere: bring a bottle of wine- girls’ night out kind of fun. However something else happened over the last three years I didn’t plan on.
First, I keep meeting the most amazing people who introduce me to more amazing people and it’s been this ripple in the pond effect. Secondly, I have accidently fallen into doing charity work and I’ve never had that type of rewarding feeling before. I’ve always taught art and I love giving to my students but this is different...”
Marie Gilbert: “Now you’re giving back to the community.”
Lily K. Doyle: “Yes I am and it’s all good, it’s good for the soul you know, to be able play even a teeny tiny part in helping a person or organization that is battling something way bigger than any of your own life problems. It also makes me count my blessings. I hate, hate, hate to admit it and I was really ticked off when the budget came down from the Governor and my art job was cut, but in reality, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, it really was.”
Marie Gilbert: “Speaking about budget cuts, as an art teacher what are your thoughts on important programs being cut from the curriculum?”
Lily K. Doyle: “It’s ironic because I’ve been a teacher for nineteen years and they are being so strict these days with the curriculum and the New Jersey Core States Standards including art, however, when the budget gets a little tight, it’s very often it’s the arts that go and that’s what happened to me in 2010. It was a humbling experience.
Art is associated with every other subject: art is math; art is world history; art is science. Art can be factored into all the other subjects. Not to mention for kids who were like me, where I was not the best math student, I was not the best writer and art was a class I could go to where my art teacher made me feel important. When a child walks into my art room door, it’s not just about their art work; it’s about their self-worth. I make sure every child learns not only the history and science of art, but also the social aspect and leaves the room feeling good because they have created something.”
Marie Gilbert: “I want to want to thank you Lily for being a guest on my blog and since I took one of your classes I am now an Undercover Artist fan.”
You can find Lily K. Doyle: