By Kathy Chouteau
Difficult economic times have given rise to creative entrepreneurs. Richmond artist Tiffany Conway is among them.
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic struck the U.S., the East Richmond resident and De Anza High graduate was let go from her job at a tech startup. Prior to the pandemic, she had worked full-time while attending art shows and festivals and pursuing her art on the side. Now, Conway is seeing her exit from the corporate world as an opportunity to revamp the business side of her art.
“During this time, I realized that I have to figure out a way to create a life that works best for the art,” said Conway. “I’ve been really working hard for the last couple of years to strategically plan my exit from corporate America…So 2020 kind of gave me the push that I needed. I’m a full time artist now and I intend to be full time going forward…”
As part of her reboot, Conway has streamlined her art business, in part, by “cleaning up” her online offerings to focus more on her smaller art works—i.e., limited edition prints and small paintings, drawings and collages—instead of large paintings (which are still available).
“That way, the people who have been supporting me for so long can continue to support me, but don’t necessarily have to invest in a big painting at this time,” said Conway.
Conway has focused on making the aforementioned artwork available on her Etsy page, which she “put a lot of intention” into rebranding. “And along with that, I completely redid my website, and I added an online portfolio so people can see the work that I’ve done in the past,” she said.
Prior to the pandemic, Conway used her social media accounts primarily to “document [her] journey as an artist and not necessarily to encourage the buy.” Amid the new COVID reality, she is more intent toward sales and has trademarked her Instagram account handle, Project Get Free, as part of her overall rebranding effort.
Locals might recognize Conway as a participant in recent art shows at the Richmond Art Center, such as “Right Here, Right Now” and “The Art of the African Diaspora,” the latter for which she received an Artistic Achievement Award earlier this year.
“My art is documenting my life as a Black woman in a celebratory kind of way,” Conway said when asked about her art. “You know, celebrating the ups and downs of just moving through life and new revelation. Primarily, I focus on the Black experience, and in particular Black women, because I think that art is a self-love journey.”
“You know as you continue to make work you have to believe in yourself, and so I think that I’m telling my story but I’m often telling the stories of others as well,” she added.
“I’m looking forward to just kind of connecting and building with the Richmond art community, just in general,” said Conway in summation of her revamped approach to her artwork, which she currently produces via her home studio. “I’ve been making a ton of art during this time.”