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Feature Artist: Abbie Ren

As many of you know, Sketch Wallet is based out of the Las Vegas area and we wanted to feature a local artist and maker; Abbie Ren. She's not only an amazing illustrator but she's created an amazing shop downtown in the Art District that any creative person would love. I was blown away at the cool artist-made products and amazing vibe of the place. Many artists dream of creating such a space but Abbie has made it a reality. She's is an asset to the local art scene and the kind of person any community would love to have. If you're in Vegas, pop in and say hi!
Where did you grow up and if it wasn’t Nevada when did you make Nevada home?
I grew up in Holland, Michigan. It's a beautiful place but cold! I'm glad I get to visit my family there but glad I don't have to scrape my car off in the winters and endure months of no sunshine. I've lived in Vegas now for 8 years and I love it! It was a tough adjustment to get used to the desert but now I wouldn't have it any other way.

Everyone draws as a kid but when did you really get into art?
I truly wanted to be an artist my whole life (you can even check my kindergarten report).

When did you decide to make a career out of it?
On my journey to being an artist I had a LOT of self doubt I had to overcome. I didn't actually try to "be an artist" until I was 24. I did it being very afraid and I'm glad I did. 

Were your parents supportive?
They were actually! But being from a small town I really didn't know anyone in any creative fields and didn't really know how to make a career out of it and neither did my parents. All the artists I knew did it as a hobby and being an artist was considered a pipe dream. Maybe this background helped me be more determined to actually make money and a career as an artist.

How would you describe your style of illustration?
It depends on the day! But I draw a lot of inspiration from mid-century style of illustration. I like to say that I make encouraging art, if that can be a style.

You’ve worked with some pretty cool brands, how do you promote yourself?
I primarily promote myself through instagram and pinterest. I've tried more traditional routes that haven't worked as well for me. 

You recently opened a retail store, how did that idea come about? How long has it been in the works?
I've always liked the idea of curating a shop space. I used to have a shared shop space with a few other artists and then I also worked in a paper boutique. I think these experiences helped me to figure out what I wanted from a store and what seems to work. I also really wanted to offer a small gift shop experience in Vegas since that's what I grew up with in my hometown but hasn't really existed in Vegas until recently. I'm really happy that downtown is becoming a boutique shopping destination.

How would you describe your store?
There's something for everyone! Lots of unique finds to brighten your day and that make great gifts. 

What type of products have you created that are available in your store?
I have my own line of products that I sell online and in my shop (and in other boutiques). Prints, posters, cards, pins, and wrapping paper. 

What’s your criteria for picking other products to sell in your store?
I try to present an upscale boutique on a budget. I don't really sell anything in my shop that I consider to be overpriced (though there's always people who like to make comments!). I have a strong aesthetic and try to find items that fight within that, namely things that are similar to my brand in being colorful and sweet.  I also love selling local product!

The original date for your grand opening happened to fall in the middle of a pandemic, how have you worked around that?
It wasn't fun but I didn't have any other choice! The hardest part for me was the not knowing...not knowing when I'd be able to open. When the pandemic hit I immediately pivoted to selling Local Oasis products online, even though originally I didn't plan to have an online shop. It's probably for the best that I do though! 

Were there other challenges that you didn’t expect?
I didn't know what to expect! Luckily I'm pretty resilient and I'm pleasantly surprised at the support we've gotten from the community. 

What is the overall grand vision for the store?
Eventually I hope to have more than one shop across multiple cities. But right now I'm quite happy and content with the little team we have and how things are going!

You’ve been very involved in the local art community and seem to be more interested in collaboration than competition. How has the local art scene shaped your art and how you work?
I'd just rather have cool art friends than have enemies! Haha! I'm greatly inspired by my artist friends. Some of my dearest friends are Mary from Mary on Adventures and Holly from Battle Born Pins. It's wonderful to have people to ask business questions to and to bounce ideas off of!

Are there other projects in the future you’d like to tackle?
Absolutely. This year has been a struggle both in world events and personal events and the shop has taken much of my focus. I'm trying not to be too hard on myself for not creating many new products this year, but I will definitely be creating more in the future. I have lots of ideas that are just waiting for me take them on!

Thanks for letting us get to know you better! Where can people find you?
If you happen to be in Las Vegas, please visit the shop:
Local Oasis
220 E Charleston Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89104

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