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Rising Stars: Meet Kaitlyn Dear

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kaitlyn Dear. 

Hi Kaitlyn, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
Since I was a child, I have always been the artsy type! Growing up I would always be caught doodling on the side of my homework or tagging anything near me if I had a Sharpie in hand. In high school, I had a very supportive art teacher who believed in my talents. He is the one who convinced my mom to let me explore art in college, so I minored in Graphic Design. To me, that was close enough! However, after college, I bounced from job to job, primarily superficial sales jobs that completely sucked the life out of me that had nothing to do with design at all. I majored in communication however none of my post-college jobs required my degree. 

Although I would occasionally pull out my sketchbook, I had never committed to my art practice until after 2015 when I was working the most stifling desk job yet! I had just returned from an eye-opening, jaw-dropping, and awe-inspiring trip across the country that my best friend and I took. Right before the trip, when I was working at. (Well, I won’t name the company but it was in Downtown Detroit) I finally just quit, sold all of my possessions, took the seats out of my minivan and my bestie and I headed west! On that journey we saw so many amazing views; misty pines on the side of the Rocky Mountains, orange sandstone walls that towered over us, 100,000 tumbleweeds rolling across the highway in 65 mph winds, and finally the black sands of the Pacific Ocean. There was so much more than that that I had not seen before and it was those views that had me saying “I cannot wait to paint this when I get back”! So, when I returned, I entered another unfulfilling job or two, and finally, in 2017 I made it a priority to create art after work every day! My husband had an old tackle box full of so many art supplies and I was drawn to the watercolor palette. Every day I painted with the watercolors and posted it on Instagram and Facebook. It was only a couple of weeks after that, that I was asked to do commissions, which snowballed the start of my small art business. In 2020 I launched my online shop and became a vendor at my local farmers market selling my original art on products such as tote bags, notebooks, blankets, throw pillows, and more. At the same time, I started getting asked to do pop-up shops in my community. In 2021 I began offering watercolor workshops which have been very successful, selling out every time! This year, in 2022 I have launched an Interactive Digital Download to help other creative entrepreneurs start their businesses and register their LLCs. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
To be honest, I have been so supported by my family, community, and folks I have met online! I went from posting my art I made for fun, to getting paid for commissions, to selling my art on products at Pop-Ups and Farmers Markets, to instructing workshops, and helping other creative entrepreneurs start their businesses. However, that is not to say it has been easy. I think the biggest challenge has been getting people to take me seriously as a professional artist. When you are in kindergarten and you tell people you want to be an artist when you grow up people oh and ah but when you are on the verge of stepping foot in the “real world” most people ask what your backup plan is. So overall my biggest challenge has been proving to others that I can be successful as a professional artist and creative entrepreneur. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a watercolorist known for my nature-inspired paintings. I enjoy painting luscious flowers, landscapes, and abstract paintings. When I feel like I have a creative block or when things get hard in life I go outside or try to go on a trip if possible. Being in nature is what fuels me to create and in some cases, I take my materials outside to paint end Plein air. My art is also inspired by things beyond our beautiful planet. I am also an astrologer and have studied astrology since I was 11, so for over 20 years now I have been learning astrology. That is where my business name Clexo came from. My friends call me Cleo (as in the fortune teller Miss Cleo) and in college, I don’t think anyone even knew my name was Kaitlyn. The xo came into the mix when I first made my Instagram handle in 2011, I combined Cleo and xo (as in xoxo), becoming Clexo. I have incorporated my love for astrology and the planets into my art with my zodiac series and more recently painting the planets on circular paper. 

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
Since Covid-19 I have seen a tremendous number of artists, creators, and makers emerge on social media! I feel that with the reach of social media and the need for real-life connections creative entrepreneurs will continue to be successful. I say that because when we could not connect IRL we were all online, experimenting with TikTok and connecting virtually on zoom. But during that time, I noticed tons of artists and creatives sharing their work, offering virtual workshops and even virtual shopping, and doing so successfully! Once things opened back up my own local farmers market noticed an increase in vendor participation. It was as if everyone had leaned into their craft or their hand at gardening. In turn, consumers packed the isles of the market in support of their local farmers and makers! 

Contact Info:

  • Email: kaitlyndear@clexo.org
  • Website: clexo.org
  • Instagram: @clexo
  • Facebook: @clexo

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