We had the good fortune of connecting with Ava Wolf and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ava, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
After I graduated college and struggled to find a job in the entertainment industry, which is what I studied in college, I started getting back into art and illustration. I was working a few different part time jobs and I just needed something to do outside of work that made me feel more fulfilled. It started out as a side hustle, but later grew into a full blown business with a mission to help people connect through punny greeting cards and colorful art. Over the years it’s also become a place to bond over deeper, more meaningful illustrations about self-reflection and growth.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a freelance illustrator and owner of Aviate Press, where I sell paper goods and lifestyle products. I think what sets me apart is that I am not a trained illustrator – I didn’t go to school for art, but I did doodle and draw during all of my college classes. I ended up learning most of what I know as an illustrator from joining a shared studio space with other illustrators, who taught me so much about the industry and how to develop my style. I don’t think it was easy to get where I am today professionally, but I had lots of help from my studio mates and my support system. It was definitely challenging to make the leap from side hustle to full time, but I’ve grown so much since making that decision and I don’t ever want to go back to the work force! Over the last few years I’ve really honed in on my style and my mission as an artist – to talk about mental health and help others feel less alone. That’s helped connect me to tons of other people struggling with anxiety, which in turn helps me feel less alone.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend were coming to visit, we’d start our day off at one of my favorite local coffee shops, where we’d get a couple lattes and breakfast sandwiches. Then we’d take a stroll through Shelby Bottoms park, where there are lots of lovely flowers and wildlife. We might go to Cheekwood for a tour of their art exhibits or gardens later in the day, or visit Radnor Lake for more nature and hiking. We could also take our kayaks out to one of the winding rivers in Tennessee that offers more scenic views and an easy float. For lunch we’d have tacos and elote at Mas Tacos and for dinner we’d go to Butcher and Bee, where we’d share whipped feta and drink wine. Then we’d go to the Belcourt for an indie movie that evening.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to shoutout my old boss Adam Tanaka who was always so encouraging of my side hustle, even when I was his full time employee. He’s shared lots of his entrepreneurial knowledge with me over the years!

I also want to shout out my studio pals at The Warren in Nashville. We have a shared workspace together and they’ve helped me so much over the years as I developed my business and illustration style.

Website: aviatepress.com

Instagram: @avamariedoodles & @aviatepress

Other: patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Avamariedoodles

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