“I think that the common thread running through my art is that it’s happy. It makes me feel positive and I hope this carries through to anyone who has had the opportunity to see it.”
We first noticed Tina Wenke’s artwork in a Leanin’ Tree catalog and it didn’t take long to add her to the Crown Point Graphics family! We licensed several designs in January that same year, and since that time many of her beautiful, happy, fun designs have been added to our line. One of those first designs, “Whimsical Thank You” continues to be one of our best sellers.
Tina and her husband Michael, also an artist and Tina’s business partner, are a pleasure to work with. They are in touch with artwork trends and willing to customize designs to fit Crown Point Graphics’ needs. They often reach out to us asking if there is anything in particular we are looking for. It is a special treat when we are able to meet face-to-face with Tina and Michael, reviewing new concepts and bouncing ideas around. We’ve dreamed up many products during those informal meetings.
Working with Tina the past 10 years has been wonderful! We look forward to seeing the most recent designs we’ve licensed go into production, and the new designs she will create.
I always knew I wanted to be an artist and began my career after art school in Cincinnati, Ohio where I've lived my whole life. I've had the pleasure to create illustrations for lots of fun products like greeting cards, gifts, party papers, stamps and even baby diapers...and most recently, garden flags. I'm always very enthusiastic about new projects and I truly hope that my art brings a little joy to anyone who has the opportunity to see it.
I live with my three children, who have been my primary source of inspiration over the years, and my husband Mike, also an artist. We work together in our in home studio. When not working, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, gardening, and everything creative. I love making my own jewelry and artsy handbags and totally enjoy teaching art to young children.
Interview with Tina Wenke
What made you want to become an artist?
I knew I wanted to be an artist ever since I was very young. I loved spending lots of time at my aunt and uncle’s house. He was a commercial artist and he would sit at his drawing table and doodle and paint in his free time. I could just watch him work for hours. I believe that their love and encouragement was the thing that helped me choose a career in art.
How would you describe your art to someone who was unfamiliar with it?
It would be a challenge to describe my art from a visual standpoint to someone who is unfamiliar with it because I love to experiment with different media, so my collections often look very different from each other. The common thread running through my art is that it's happy. It makes me feel positive and I hope this carries through to anyone who has the opportunity to see it. As far as the design of my art is concerned, I like to have a main element or center of interest, with one or two secondary elements, and lots of little things throughout the design that keeps the viewer interested enough to stay a while and maybe come back later to see if there was something they may have missed.
What has been the biggest influence on your design work?
I think that the person who has been my biggest influence is my husband Mike. We like to bounce new ideas off of each other. He always gives good input, although I don't always accept his suggestions warmly, he's usually always right. He encourages and inspires me to step outside of my artistic comfort zone and try new things, which are almost always a success.
What is your personal motto?
I think my personal motto is "Always look for the good in life, especially in the most difficult times.”
What is the biggest lesson you've learned since becoming an artist?
Always make sure that your artwork gets seen! I was devastated when one of my college friends and I applied and submitted our portfolios to Gibson Greetings and he got my dream job as an illustrator while I got offered a technical job. I wallowed in my sorrows for about a week and then I picked myself up and decided to use this as an opportunity to learn and grow. I would humbly use every lunch break to walk around the floor and study what the artists were working on. I felt I had learned all I could in those two years and then decided it was time for a change. I resubmitted my portfolio and do you believe it, I was told that they were so sorry, but they never saw my portfolio the first time or they would have hired me as an illustrator on the spot. To this very day I am very diligent about making sure that my art always gets seen and I try to stay humble and positive.
What inspires you? /Where do you get inspiration for new concepts?
Many things inspire me, like my faith, my children (especially when they were young), nature, the world around me, kid’s art, looking at other artists’ work on the web, in shops and in museums, and going to art and trade shows. I never know when or where I will get a new idea, so I find it very helpful to keep paper and pencils always on hand so that I can doodle down ideas and I won’t forget them.
What are your plans for the future?
If it were in God's plan, I would love to keep doing what I've been doing and to grow and expand our list of great companies to work with. It's so exciting to meet and get to know new clients and we often become close friends after working together. It's always been a dream of mine to illustrate and perhaps write my own children's book. It would be amazing to have the opportunity to do this, too.
What is your favorite work of art (done by you)?
I think that my personal favorite work would be my "Tiny Ballerinas." It's a card design from my Sarah's Garden Collection with Leanin’ Tree. It's an image of four little ballerinas with wobbly tutus and tights falling down. It was inspired by my daughter Sarah's dance lessons when she was only four. It's very near and dear to my heart.
What is your creative workspace like?
My husband Mike and I share a studio space on the lower level of our home in Ohio. It's very convenient, simple, and if I have to be honest, pretty disorganized most of the time. We call it our international headquarters. Seriously, because of technology, we can send art in minutes, anywhere around the world …and we do. Mike works at his Mac computer and I work at an easel on my desk. We like to post visual inspiration and our latest designs on the walls as inspiration to keep ourselves motivated.
If you could spend a day with an artist, living or dead, who would it, be and what would you do?
If I could spend the day with any artist I would pick Monet. We would spend the day painting, talking and maybe drinking some French wine in his beautiful gardens in France...Wow!
What art projects are you currently working on and how are they different from past projects?
We've been creating lots of designs for garden flags -- something we have never designed before. We have over fifty new designs that have been introduced since Spring 2014. It has been fun and challenging at the same time because I've learned that what may work as a greeting card design may not necessarily work for a flag. I've learned that our designs need to be simple and very readable, almost like a stylish billboard. Another new project that I’ve had the opportunity to work on this year is designing lots of angel figurines. So fun!
What statement do you hope to make with your art?
It's really very simple. I want people to feel very positive and happy whenever they look at something I've made.
What stands out to you is one of your favorite professional highlights so far?
When I had the awesome opportunity to design an entire line of Pampers diapers. P&G, in Cincinnati, flew in lots of well-known artists and designers from around the world for a kick off meeting. Artists were submitting designs to decorate a new line of diapers. I'm very proud to say that home girl got the job! It was so incredibly fun to see all of my friend’s babies interacting with my cute, colorful, silly animals at changing time. Who would have thought that my highest achievement would be to decorate something that gets pooped in and then thrown in the trash? Ha ha!
What is your favorite part of your job as an artist?
Working from home, making my own schedule, and being creative whenever I'm inspired. Mike and I have worked together for close to 20 years, without killing each other I might add, and this has allowed us to be there for our kids when they were growing up. I think that's why we're very close to them.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is the insecurity of being self-employed. My work schedule is not usually booked ahead more than a few weeks or months and it's hard to know what I will be working on after that. For me, it takes a lot of faith to be in the art business. Most of the time we are designing for products that will not hit the market and bring in income for a year or two down the road. This is especially tough.
Do you have a website to showcase your designs?
I have a new website: www.TinaWenke.com
What do you feel makes your designs unique?
Each piece tells a little story or a moment in time about relationships. It may be a sweet little hedgehog couple sitting on a blanket sharing a romantic moment or it may be an illustration of two teacups next to each other that symbolize a close, warm relationship between two people. Relationships are very important to me and to everyone, so I try to communicate them in my art.