Inspiring People: An Interview with Anne Hockenberry of Birds and Berry Studio

I recently had the opportunity to chat with a super inspiring woman, Anne Hockenberry of Birds and Berry Studio

She is an amazing artist who loves to see God in the ordinary and capture the beauty in life. If you read a little about Anne, in the first couple lines you will see why I thought an interview with her would be so fitting for Shelby at Home. She is living and loving her passion in life,and her art. She has found inspiration in her family and love of nature, particularly birds with all thanks always to God. 

Read on and be inspired by Anne's story: 

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

Anne: I’m a teacher turned entrepreneur who started an Etsy shop a year ago on a whim during a week of snow days off school. I still teach part time at a small Christian school, and I create art and stationery that I sell in my shop the other part of my day. I moved to a small town in Wyoming last June with my husband of 7 years. We love to enjoy the outdoors and chill at home with a bowl of popcorn and Netflix.

Q: Shelby at Home is all about living your passion, the thing that makes you ‘you’. What is your passion?

Anne: I am passionate about seeing beautiful things in unexpected places and sharing that beauty with others through my artwork. In a world filled with ugliness, I love to think that I can fill people’s lives with a little bit of beauty.

Q: The name of your company is Birds and Berry Studio. Where did this name come from and what is the story behind it?

Anne:When I was younger, growing up in a small house with four siblings, I used to escape to the attic of our playhouse and stare out the window at the birds that played in the trees. I poured over nature books and read the names and descriptions of birds. My first real artwork at a homeschool art fair was of birds. If you visit my Etsy shop, you’ll see plenty of little feathered friends. So when it came time to name my shop and blog, Birds and Berry seemed to be a perfect combination of my name (Hocken‘berry’) and one of my favorite things.

Q: Often making the leap into pursuing our creative side takes courage. Were you nervous to put yourself out there? What personal obstacles did you have to overcome?

Anne:I have created art since I was young and would occasionally give art as gifts to friends, but my mom was my main fan. Of course, I never really took her opinion too seriously because I felt she had some maternal obligation to like my work. So I was nervous to offer my art to a larger audience at first and I was afraid it wouldn’t be good enough. I have no formal art training, but I’ve gotten enough encouragement from friends over the years that I felt like it was squandering my gifts not to put myself out there.

I started my shop with very few expectations (to be honest, I thought I could pop a few sub-par photos up there and my shop would be sold out in a week), but once I realized everything that goes into becoming a successful entrepreneur, I became more invested and poured more of my heart into it. It’s scary to offer a piece of yourself to the world, but I’m loving the journey.

Q: What is creative process? Does something inspire you or push you to create?

Anne:I think the creative process looks different for each person. We all create in different ways - whether it’s a delicious meal, a song, a stylish outfit, a story, whatever – but I think there’s something in us that was made to create. The process might look a little different for each person, but for me it starts with the inspiration I see around me every day. Ever since I was little, I have singled out the beautiful things around me in nature and tried to reproduce them. It’s really the love of creating that drives me to do it.

Q: Do you have any regrets about how you ended up in your business? Is there anything you would have done differently knowing what you know now?

Anne: When I started my art shop last year, I had no idea the amount of marketing that goes into creating a brand and making it visible to a wide audience. I am terrible at this side of it. I would love to sit at home all day and create beautiful stationery and original art and just magically have people find and buy it (that’s my right-brain creative side talking). But I knew nothing about how to create a shop that stands out it the crowd and is popular. This is the part I struggle with and I feel like it’s been a year of learning curves in this department. If I really had a clear vision and plan for my art business when I started and had been more prepared for the amount of effort that goes into selling my product, I think I could have shaved off a good amount of stress and frustrations. I’m still learning a lot as I go along and it’s good to remember that success is not made overnight.

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration in your life?

Anne: I’m so inspired by all of the wonderfully talented makers I’ve come to know. I love Ruth’s work at Gracelaced.com. Anna Mason is another amazing watercolor artist. I really can’t pick one person but I love to see what other artists and makers are creating.

Like I said earlier, my mom is my biggest fan and she also gives good advice when it comes to the art I create. She sees things a little differently than I do and it’s helpful to have her eye and encouragement along the way.

Q: What is the most important thing in your life? The reason you do what you do?

Anne: All of the art and beauty that I create points back to the ultimate creator, God. Beauty if found in a lot of places, but I see my creator so clearly in nature and I want to be a picture of Him to the people around me.

My husband is also a source of motivation for me. He works so hard so that I can pursue something that I love. He also has an amazing eye for beauty and give great insight into my artwork. He’s pretty much the best!

Q: If you could give one piece of real advice to others about pursuing their passion what would it be?

Anne:Even if you don’t make a living out of your doing your passion, carve out time in your week to do a little bit of the thing you love. Don’t be afraid to share your gifts and talents with others. When you have a passion for something, it shows, and others will be inspired by it. And lastly, be patient. It’s easy to get discouraged and think that everyone else is more successful or has risen to the top overnight. But that’s just not the case. Keep working to share your gifts with others and you might be surprised by the results.

 

Emotion is the driving force behind all enjoyment of paintings. If we didn’t care about that aspect any ‘ol painting from the dollar store would be fine to hang on our walls. But our love for what the painting represents is what makes art into a real work of art in our eyes. This painting might as well be my heart on the canvas. Have a painting that speaks to your heart.