Thursday, May 10, 2012

Interviews as Inspiration ~ Jane Powell

This is the first of a series of Interviews as Inspiration. I'm inviting people I admire; artists, authors, people I know, and people I don't. It should be fun! and hopefully inspirational for both you and me.

Ashville, North Carolina
Jane LaFazio and Jane Alice Powell in 2010.
I first met Jane Powell in 2010. I'd wanted to visit Asheville, North Carolina for my birthday and to see the Biltmore Estate, and contacted Jane to see if I could teach a workshop at her place, Random Arts,  while I was there. She quickly set up a Sketching and Watercolor: Journal Style workshop, and it quickly filled, so she set up another! Two days of teaching and getting to know the talented, funny, energetic dynamo, Jane Alice Powell. I so enjoyed the whole experience, I taught there again last summer and will again next month. Jane Powell makes things happen, works hard, and is refreshingly honest. My kinda gal.
Please start by telling us what you do: 
Jane Alice: Every glorious day is a blessing because I get to do what I love, make art! No more corporate suits and shoes and no more panty hose. 

Random Arts, Saluda, NC

Random Arts! Tell us about it. When you started? Why? What’s the status now? 
Jane Alice:  When we moved to Saluda in 1994 it became obvious real quick that I was not going to find a job anywhere in this area so the decision to "create a job" became the best choice for me since I was already artistic and not applying myself like I wanted to. Presto, an opportunity to do what I love. One year after the big move from Chicago, to this tiny little town of 500, The Stamp Peddler (the first name that we chose for the business), was born. After several years it became clear that we were so much more than rubber stamps and stamp pads. We were now officially Mixed Media and a name change became a reality... That's when Random Arts was born. At the end of 2009 our landlord doubled our rent so we made a temporary move to a building that we owned in town and continued to do workshops without a storefront until June 2011 when we bought our own building in Saluda. That's been one of the best decisions we made - to own our very own space.
Jane Powell, teaching
Why do you do it. What makes you so passionate about a business like Random Arts? 
Jane Alice:  Surrounding my self with beautiful papers, fabulous fibers, colorful paints, pens, pencils, chalks pens and everything art is what brings out the passion in me. When someone says to me "this is a happy place" or " I am so inspired when I come in here" sends chills down my spine and brings "me" to that happy place of extreme gratitude and bliss. 

June 2011 at Random Arts Pearson Falls  the Oaks B&B in Saluda
Saluda, North Carolina is 40 minutes from Asheville and about 2 hours from Charlotte, NC. Why did you choose this town? What is there to do in Saluda? 

Jane Alice:  After looking around this beautiful area and researching all the little towns in the Smokey Mountains on several trips here, this tiny little historic town of Saluda, spoke to both of us. Choosing Saluda, as a place to call home, was nothing more than " a feeling" that both of us had and cannot explain. We were enamored enough to go to back to Chicago, quit our jobs, sell our house, turn in our company cars. give up our expense accounts and cell phones and prepare to move in 8 short weeks. Saluda is not about entertaining the masses. It's quiet and serene but offers a multitude of cultural opportunities such as our annual art festival and artists openings held at the Saluda Wine Cellar, the Saluda Center, and of course all the great artists that teach here at Random Arts on a regular basis. There are several great restaurants and nearby we have waterfalls and rafting trips on the Green River and many local artists hold private pleine aire sessions in the Saluda area. 

Classroom at Random Arts
What would your advice be to someone who wanted to start a similar venture? 
Jane Alice:  Be prepared to work hard and expect little or next to nothing for your efforts for years to come. Don't get in over your head and if possible, buy your own building at the onset of your business venture. It will be a major investment but you will "really" be your own boss! 

Another view of the workshop area
What your favorite part of your day? 
Jane Alice:  Pulling into my new parking lot and walking up to the bright orange door and turning the key. All of a sudden everything is magically transformed to the "no rule" play day that I experience on a daily basis.

The front porch of Random Arts
Give us some titles of your favorite books.
Jane Alice:  I really connected with Patti Digh's first book "Life is a Verb" simply because of her down to earth approach to life, living life and making each day count.

 The shop at Random Arts has both art supplies and
cool stuff you didn't know you needed.

Future plans and dreams? For yourself and for the shop?
Jane Alice: Oh my future plans.... I feel like this past year and the renovation of the new space has kept me in the present mode which is where i like to be. Staying healthy & fit is the key to any plans that I have for my future and my dreams of expanding Random Arts and continuing to offer great venues for my customers.

goodies in the shop
I'll be teaching at Random Arts again in 2013. You can see photos of my recent classes in North Carolina here.

Links to my other Interviews as Inspiration:

Rachelle Archer, expressive arts therapist at a school for homeless
Cas Holmes, textile artist
Mary Beth Shaw, artist and Stencil Girl Products founder
Marcia Derse, textile designer
Lesley Riley, artist and author
Danny Gregory, artist and author
Judy Reeves, writer
Carlo Roberts, The Blue Walk travel company founder
Jane Powell, Random Arts owner 


  1. This is a wonderful series, I just love the connections with creative people. It also gives me hope for my own endeavors, including the ART Ranch. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for sharing your favorite people, places & passions with us! It is so empowering to hear the stories of other creative souls. Vivian Helena shared your blog with me. I look forward to meeting you someday. Keep savoring!

  3. oh fun to see jane's new place....hope to get there one day..

    thank you for this....

  4. what a great idea and a wonderful first interviewxxway to go jane! x lynda

  5. I can tell you first hand what a special person and artist Jane is. She is always right there to help you with any steps on your art journey you might need in a non-judgemental way which means a lot to us aspiring "artists". She is one of the many reasons we choose Saluda for our mountain home. Jane is an inspiration!

  6. Thanks for the interview with Jane. If she had been open when my in laws lived nearby, I might have visited them more often! Jane lives in one of the prettiest areas I have ever been. Wishing you both fun and creative weekends.

  7. Great interview! Jane of Random Arts is a very gracious host for visiting artists....myself included!


Thanks so much for visiting!

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