We had the good fortune of connecting with Todd McPhetridge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Todd, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I believe the most important factor behind my success has been tenacity. Never giving up. I have made a life out of making the impossible happen. My mental fortitude comes from my faith and knowing that no matter what happens, I will be able to persevere and overcome my circumstances. Over the years I have collected flying pigs because they represent the impossible. We have all heard the saying “When pigs fly” and that resonates with me and my approach to business.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always been an artist, even as a kid. I was hardwired to be creative and I knew that my mind worked differently at an early age. I would sit for hours and color, draw and create art. In first grade I came in 3rd place in an art competition at school and was in the newspaper. My winning piece was a hand-drawn Mr. T poster telling kids to read books. I was a kid of the 70s and 80s and I embraced it fully. When I was 16 my mom gave me a camera for Christmas. That was it. I was hooked. That was back in the film days, long before digital. I would go take pictures any chance I could. In the late 90s I got my first computer and started learning how to create graphics. That led me to my career in a round about way. I started out as a web designer, then Creative Director and that morphed into Marketing Director. I was like a kid in a candy store. I wanted to learn everything I could about graphics, photography, marketing and e-commerce. It was like an addiction. Early in my career I did not have the money to buy books so I would go to the bookstore or library and read for hours. I spent a lot of time online learning too. I am forever a lifelong student of my craft. I have no formal education, other than a 6-week continuing education course on photography in my 20s. Not having a degree has made me work harder to prove my worth. I have worked with some incredibly smart people over the years that have become great friends and mentors. All of my creative years have led me to starting my own marketing and e-commerce agency, during a pandemic no doubt. I started Atlas Hawkins to serve businesses that were struggling to find their way online. When the pandemic hit and businesses had to quickly find a way to get online and grow, I knew that I could help play a small part. We provide marketing strategies, e-commerce websites and digital marketing campaigns to help companies accelerate growth. Over the years I have managed to work a full-time job, work as a consultant on the side and pursue my passion for art. I have sold over 20,000 art prints world-wide and recently rebranded my entire art business. I stopped using my name, Todd McPhetridge as my brand, because it is super tough to brand a name like McPhetridge. I have been called every name in the book, from McPartridge to Muppet Ridge. Yes someone actually called my last name Muppet Ridge. So, I started Big Canoe Studios. I sell rustic farmhouse art. It has been an amazing journey and I am so thankful for the friends I have made over the years. My wife is an incredible source of inspiration for me. She owns a newborn photography studio called Madison Colt Studios. Her level of creativity amazes me every time I look at her work. Our wedding is just a quick example of how creative she can be. We were married by an Elvis impersonator in an abandoned Primitive Baptist Church in Cades Cover. Afterwards we spent several hours in the Great Smoky Mountains photographing our own wedding pictures. It was one of the most incredibly fun days of my life. My advice is to find something that you can get lost in for hours and it seems like minutes, then pursue that with every part of your soul. That is your gift. That is your purpose in life.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a friend were coming to town and they wanted to have a great time I would start with a trip to the North Georgia mountains. There’s so much to see and do, from Blue Ridge to Dahlonega to Helen. I would take them to great places to eat like Four 41 South in Canton for BBQ, Nuevo Laredo Cantina in Atlanta for Mexican food, or my favorite Japanese steakhouse, Kani House. I could name a hundred other places to eat, but those are by far my favorites. As far as things to do, there is the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Woodstock Antiques for cool finds, Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, Ga. and Old Car City in White, Ga. If they wanted to get outdoors and go fishing, I would book a trip with River Fishing Adventure. Marty knows how to put big fish in the boat. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It is hard for me to point to one person, organization, or book. There are so many. I have had so many mentors over the years that helped guide and mold me into the person I am today. My wife has encouraged me to pursue my dreams and goals over the years. She has helped me with my walk with God and to learn more about His love and grace. My wife has taught me a lot about patience and mental toughness. She was diagnosed with and beat breast cancer in 2017. Watching her go through that taught me that tomorrow is not promised to anyone. This life is short. Give your life to God. We all must make the most of each day. My mom has always been my biggest fan. She bought me my first camera for Christmas when I was 16. That would forever change the direction of my life. She is the reason I am in my line of work today. She has also taught me a lot about never giving up. My mom was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in February of 2019. They gave her a few weeks to live without treatment and maybe a year with treatment. As of February 2021, my mom is still fighting the good fight. There is a lot to learn from adversity. That is usually when the most growth happens. My Grandfather and uncles taught me the value of hard work, responsibility and the amazing sense of humor that I have. My cousins are some of the most genuine and creative people I have known. I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by so many great people. Last, but not least, my kids amaze me with their creativity and how artistic they have become over the past few years. My son recently got into landscape photography and goes by the name Jack Mizoti and my daughter has started drawing. I wish I had half their creativity when I was their age. I am blown away at how far they have come in such a short period of time.