Local artist has different way of showcasing work

  • Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2012 11:42 p.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, December 31, 2012 7:44 a.m.
Submitted Photo
Aiken-based artist Ursula Dodge's Design Studio's images can be found on prints, magnets and cards.
Submitted Photo Aiken-based artist Ursula Dodge's Design Studio's images can be found on prints, magnets and cards.

Artist Ursula Dodge's work spans the far reaches of the globe. However, it hasn't always been smooth sailing for the painter who has been self-employed for nearly a quarter of a century.

The work of Dodge, who recently relocated from Spokane, Wash., is carried locally and exclusively at Jami Chandler's Aiken Dry Goods on Laurens St.

“I love Jami's eye; I love the way she had curated at her store, and her energy is right for it,” said Dodge.

An adventurous spirit, strong work ethic and willingness to succeed has helped Dodge in overcoming adversity.

The way Dodge has been able to showcase her work that has attracted a groundswell of admirers, as she owned a tile company in Seattle.

“I did hand painting and ceramic tile,” said Dodge. “I ended up getting very large and having reps all over the country.”

The artist's company sold her work wholesale to gourmet stores and craft galleries, but there were challenges associated with successfully marketing a hand-made product. For the most part, artistic tiles could be found in art galleries, but Dodge took the unconventional approach, marketing them to decor and gourmet stores.

“People just ate it up,” said Dodge. “I used commercial under glazes. They were bright and shiny, they looked like candy. The images were cute, fun and bright. The price point was right and it sold like crazy.”

The success of the tile company led to a relationship between the artist and a company that had ceramics made overseas, where Dodge licensed her artwork. The company used her images on a number of services, and she received a royalty.

“They did all of the marketing, the sales and production,” said Dodge. “I was just doing the artwork. I got to do some cool things like design coffee cups for Starbucks.”

For about a decade, the licensing opportunity was a lucrative endeavor and found Dodge and her husband enjoying what she describes as a fantastic urban life in Seattle. That was until the company went in a different direction, a year and a half before the start of the recession.

The couple moved to the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana, but the area's extreme weather was less than appealing, and a move to eastern Washington state was what the artist described as a misstep.

However, Dodge's love of horses had her exploring the possibility of moving to the southeast, and a friend from Montana had relocated to Aiken with her horses, piquing Dodge's interest in the area. Dodge was in the process of making the transition to being a dog groomer when she began thinking about creating designs representing dog breeds, she has nearly 250 now, and a propitious set of circumstances, a loan from her mother to purchase a magnet crimper and a warm reception from high-end pet boutiques, would see her designs of dogs, cats, horses, birds, fish, wildlife and coastal landscapes featured on magnets, cards and prints. Dodge's images have also been Photoshopped onto pillows, appear on car magnets and can be seen on vintage reclaimed wood.

“Our product has been really well-met,” said Dodge, who now paints in oils. “It really resonates with people. My style is kind of flattened, very poster art and kind of impressionistic. I always think of posters when I'm doing something. I want it to look like a poster.”

For more information about the Ursula Dodge Design Studio, call (509) 276-0103 or visit ursuladodge.com.

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