Art to Heart: Single Handedly Creating in the City

Both artists and the entrepreneurs,  local talent enriches the community

Grace Ranard juggles school, work and TheSpottedGirl

Grace Ranard just turned 21 and started her senior year at Bowling Green State University, studying musical theater and design tech. Ranard also holds a part-time job and in the little other time she has, she runs her business, TheSpottedGirl.

These earrings feature two plant books.

As a high school student, Grace wanted to wear unique jewelry,  so she started making it herself. Soon, friends were  requesting pieces . Now, that creative outlet is a passion.  “I love to see people wearing the pieces that I create,” she said, adding, “I just get giddy.”

As much as she loves the work, Ranard has to schedule it between her other priorities.  “It is definitely a tricky balance,” she said. “I am a full-time student, and over the summer, I had a full-time job. During the school year, I have a part-time job. And, especially, being a disabled woman, sometimes that takes away from it as well. But I love doing it.”

One of the things Ranard loves most is being able to sell in-person. Until recently, she has often sold to co-workers or friends by bringing products directly to them or working on custom pieces for individuals. Soon, though, she’ll get the chance to introduce herself to a new base of potential customers. 

“I’m actually getting ready to do my first art fair— the Tipp City Mum Festival, which I’m very excited about,” she said. The Tipp City Mum Festival will run Saturday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 24. 

Sven Nelson brings classic letterpress techniques to Toledo

Sven creates typography for various projects.

Sven Nelson has called Toledo home for the last two decades. During that time, he has operated Pineapple Press, a custom letterpress business.

Letterpress, the art of printing from a hard, raised image under pressure, began to interest Nelson while studying graphic design at Ball State University. During that time, much of students’ work revolved around hand drawing, but Nelson was interested in finding something more exciting.

One machine Sven uses to roll the type onto various mediums.

“I was fascinated with typefaces, and I found that in our Senior Design Studio, we had a small letterpress print shop. There were a several presses and a bunch of type. It sounds really nerdy and geeky, but I just started finding out more and more about letterpress.”

After discovering this new interest, Nelson took on every opportunity to practice. “in art school, we had a lot of (exhibition) openings, so I would print invitations on anything that was free or cheap —mainly free,” he said. “So, I did them on any leftover paper that I could find. I even printed on napkins once.”

One of the products Sven creates is cards with different unique lettering.

After graduating, Nelson continued working with letterpress. It started as a hobby,  printing greeting cards or party invitations. His goal was to make more money to buy more equipment.  Nelson now works with letterpress full-time, providing clients with personal, unique pieces.

“My favorite part is always working collaboratively with people and trying to figure out the way that they want it to look;  to try to pull out different aspects of their lives to pour into this momentary piece.”

Gail Christofferson keeps Toledo’s glass legacy alive

Gail poses with her artwork.
Gail’s butterfly mural flies high in Franklin Park Mall.

As a graphic design professional after graduating from Bowling Green State University, Gail Christofferson decided to take a stained glass class. Soon 

after, her mission became to make glass art full-time. Over the course of 20 years, she has reached that point with her mosaic business, Animal House Glass.

An outdoor mural made by Gail.

Mosaic had many benefits for Christofferson, including less fussiness than working with stained glass.  “I really enjoy the mosaic process,” she said. “It’s just a lot looser than a stained glass piece, where you have to cut the pieces perfectly so that your solder lines are nice.  I really like mosaicking.”

Deciding to become a full-time artist didn’t happen overnight. Christofferson, a self-described “art-preneur” had to be strategic and still worked in graphic design as she began the glass business.   “When I was doing that, I was also teaching lots of classes,” she said. “That was my bread and butter, basically.”

Eventually, opportunity struck when a school district Christofferson had done public relations work for had a new building, and she took a chance and suggested a project. “I proposed doing a community-based mosaic. That was my first large-scale project,” she said. “It’s still one of my biggest ones. That led to another, and then another.”

For those just starting out as artists in the Toledo community, Christofferson offers words of advice. “You’ve got to stick it out, and you’ve got to keep marketing,” she said. “You have to keep putting yourself out there. Who cares if you get rejected? If you don’t put yourself out there, you won’t get the big projects.”

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