A Life Update

About 6 months ago, I had a quarter life crisis. I realized that I couldn’t keep putting a band-aid on my passion. I realized that I could die tomorrow and never have the opportunity to do what I love, full time. I wanted to start working towards my own WHY. About 6 months ago, one of my students came up to me and said “Maddy, I wish I was passionate about something like you are.” My students say a lot of encouraging things to me, but this one stuck out. How cool is it that I have found my passion in art, at a very young age? How cool is it that I get to do what I love every day and inspire people directly that they ARE creative? I knew 6 months ago that my passion was on fire and I couldn’t put it out.

Ever since I was a little girl I had dreams of owning my own art business. I grew up knowing exactly what I wanted in life. I wanted to be an artist.

As many of you have seen or experienced, that has been something I have been working at for years. I started selling custom artwork before I can even remember. I’ve sold funky knit goods, duct tape treasures, painted water bottles, quilled paper crafts, painted phone cases, slime, drawings, paintings, classes, pottery, painted ceramics, bracelets melted from toothbrushes, and more.


After I graduated from Stout, everyone asked me what I was going to do for work. I heard things like: “What do you want your real job to be?” (Referring to the fact that my art was not a real job). I replied with things like, “well, I will work in the business world for a while and make some money, and then when I am old and almost ready to retire, I will do my art full time for a few years.” This society has taught us and me that art is not a real job, only a side hustle. I am so thankful that I am not going to let society tell me that anymore. I can’t imagine actually working for 40 years doing something I am not passionate about.

So, over the past 6 months I decided to intentionally grow my business and see what I could do while also being employed full time. Which basically meant marketing to strangers (that are actually less strange than me) and opening up my services to the public. Holy shit, did my business grow. I started partnering with breweries and country clubs, with other artists, and connecting with students and helping them grow. It has been such a dream come true (I know that sounds cheesy).


I have been working MP Design about 40 hours a week while ALSO working at Employee Strategies 40 hours a week, and realized recently that working 80-90 work weeks was not something that was fair to anyone in the situation, and especially not fair to me.  It’s been a total roller coaster working this much for an extended period of time. I have so much more respect for people that actually work 80 work weeks for years and years, but I learned that I couldn’t do it anymore. 

A few months ago, I started dreaming of a business plan, made a website, registered my business with the IRS, found a tax gal, etc.

I also started questioning if this was actually going to work. The quote about yourself being your biggest critic is extremely true for me. I never called myself an artist until a few months ago, because I don’t think I truly believed I was an artist. We think the term artist refers to people like Pablo Picasso, or maybe Macklemore, but really the definition of an artist is anyone who is making art as a profession or a hobby.

Today, I made a leap in my business, MP Design. I’ve been taking baby steps in my business forever, but today I made a big step. Today, I put my notice in at my full-time day job. It was probably one of the hardest things I have done.  The people at Employee Strategies made leaving so hard. They are some of the coolest people I have ever met and even though I am leaving, my time there has been so amazing, fun, and educational. I learned SO many things that I am applying to my own business today. I am looking forward to finishing out an amazing experience at Employee Strategies through January.

Being a full-time artist is something I have dreamt about, literally. This is something I did not think was even possible. I never thought I could make it as an artist. I mean the term “starving artist” can be a real thing. I am extremely happy that I am going to make it as an artist.

Every emotion you could possibly think is going through me today, is. I am so scared, so ready, and so thrilled to be able to rock MP Design.

Here are some goals I have for 2018:

  1. Teach 1,500 students
  2. Teach more in the corporate world (holiday parties, office paint night, etc.)
  3. Donate more classes (volunteer at hospitals, nursing homes, etc.)
  4. Make art, just to make it!

Thank you for the support, texts, calls, and social media shout outs. I cannot wait to make 2018 my year. 

-Maddy Paulsen