We had the good fortune of connecting with Cara Heard and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cara, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I believe that the most important factor behind the success of the Lush Art brand is the people. This is a business designed for the people. My drive was to make art attainable for all, to help people feel seen, to build confidence and community. And I did that, with an amazing group of employees over the years. I love providing a place for my instructors to make money on their talent. Artists don’t have to be starving. I also know that being relatable, sharing the funny I Love Lucy moments of my life, the ups and downs make me easy to approach and makes people feel comfortable. Basically we strive to make people more comfortable with our awkwardness and relateability. Are you anxious? Great, so are we. Are you depressed? Great, so are we. Are you socially awkward? Great so are we. Regardless of who you are, we want you to feel special and not alone. I don’t want art to be snobbish. You can always sit with us. During Covid and lockdown, that became even more apparent. We pivoted to online learning and my main goal was to allow people a place to be seen and heard through our zoom classes.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am self taught. I was a hair stylist who became a new mom who then suddenly moved across the country. I became a stay at home mom and desperately needed a creative outlet. So I bought some paint and canvas and painted. And painted. I learned often what not to do, and had enough magic happen to keep going. It took awhile to develop what would ultimately be “my style”. Now I continue to practice and play to improve. I take classes, I travel for inspiration, I am always thinking about the beauty around us. Much of my art has to do with nature, because that is what I find inspiring. I love color, flowers, sunsets, animals.
I have found my true love with mixed media. I love texture and meaning. I believe art should make you feel something, not match your sofa.
I still have paintings that don’t turn out, but what I have learned over the years is to embrace the mess. And there is always gesso.
Art is so deeply personal, and it is so hard to put a peice of yourself out there for judgement. But when someone lights up when they see something I created. When I turn the corner and see a piece I am proud of, it makes it worth it to keep sharing. I don’t “get” a lot of successful art, but I can appreciate that they put themselves out there. Even though I have built a business on making art accessible to all, I realize the key to art, isn’t for everyone to get it. It isn’t for mass consumption.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh goodness I am an Enneagram 7. This whole question is my love language. I live in Warner Robins so when my best friend lands in Atlanta we would stay in a cute Airbnb in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood. We would drink beer and wine in a nearby park with my friends that live in Atlanta. We would walk to Ponce City Market and eat Pho and walk around all the shops. We would buy crystals at Modern Mystic and meander in Citizen Supply. I would want all the plants at the plant area but know I don’t want to carry them around with me. We would walk down to Hotel Clermont and bask in the wonderful tackiness and drink cocktails and watch the sun set. We would get up the next day and eat the magic of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits while watching them make biscuits in the window. I can safely attest to all of this because it happened earlier this year when my best friend visited from Oklahoma.
Then if we were going to keep the party going I would take her to Savannah and stroll through the parks, go and sit at the bar of The Grey and order all the specials and drink Georgia craft beer, hello Creature Comfort Athena. We would go on the architecture tour with Jonathan Stalcup, a SCAD graduate. Can you tell I just did that a couple of weeks ago?
Other favorites of mine are Dovetail in downtown Macon, weekly Wednesday trivia at Wartown Growler in Warner Robins (my Cheers, where everyone knows my name), the little biscuits and Collard Green Soup at Swanson House in Downtown Perry, an Iced Hemingway latte (add an extra shot) at Between Friends Coffeeshop. And of course shameless plug, a night painting at Lush Art. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have been lucky to find amazing groups of people during my journey. The Lush Art Cheerleaders are the people I always want behind me. That includes my employees who work hard to keep Lush Art consistent, unique, fun, and quirky. My painters (customers) who come in and support my dream with their time and money. The Lush Club members who are so sure I will continue to pump out good stuff they invest in a membership each year. Groups I am a part of that make me feel seen and give great advice. The Web in Macon, which is a co-working clubhouse in which I am a member. Amber Housley’s Blooming Business Inner Circle, my business coach and fellow members. My past boss, Ron Childers of The Headwaiter in Fayetteville, Arkansas who taught me about being a small business owner and always putting people first without knowing he was such an influence. And Sandy McTier who has been such a blessing to meet, she is like a big sister in the art world.
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