We had the good fortune of connecting with Katalin Ehling and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katalin, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Actually, I never thought it was a business. I was schooled for two years in commercial art at the American Academy of art in Chicago. Then for one year, I lived at home and worked nearby at a research center on the campus of the University of Chicago. This to fund my one year trip to live and continue art school in Paris. All came about as planned. After that fabulous year, I returned to Chicago. Because I was broke, I found a well paying full time job on Michigan Avenue. During that time, I met my husband to be. We married in 1966, then moved to Arizona one year later. In tow was our six month old daughter. Once there, I took up drawing and painting on my own. Since we lived close to Phoenix college, I continued night art classes. Friends and neighbors bought my oils of still lives. Next came a trip to San Francisco. We naturally did the museums and galleries. That is where I discovered batiks, in a small gallery on Maiden Lane. The art work in the window was so unusual, I had to find out about it. That’s when and where I discovered batik and got hooked on it for decades. The two of us clicked and before I knew it, I was creating and selling batiks as fast as I could. It lasted for decades and I never looked at it as my “business”. It was a gift which opened doors for me to many galleries in the southwest and elsewhere, International Batik Conferences in Belgium, Germany, Boston, etc. Since I worked many hours of the day, often ’til midnight, the wax fumes started to affect me. Then I would take weeklkkng or more breaks and turn to watercolor, print making, mixed media, straightforward drawing and autobiographical collages. Now that I am in my 79th year, I can look back and honestly say I never looked at any of these successes as business, but more of a blessing. The best part has been the close connection with many of my well over 1000 collectors. Best gift of all has been the long lasting and close friendships of my sisterhood of artists.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally? What sorts of challenges are you facing?
This has more or less been covered by a previous question. Was it easy? Overall: yes. More of a challenge creating art and being a full time mom. My blessing was that my studio was part of the house and I was always there for the kids. Fortunately, they were and still are quite self sufficient.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Depending on the time of the year, hang out in the backyard by the pool. Road trips near and far, to share the wonders of Arizona. Depending from where they are visiting, introduce them to our Southwest foods. If from overseas, the Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, Lake Powel, Sedona, Tucson, Tubac etc. Without question, the art scene in the Valley, MIM, PAM, and the Heard. And if they are artists, have a big party with all my art buddies.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost, my husband Helmut Ehling. Being a full time engineer, he also became my full time “art boy”. He became an expert framer/packer/shipper. Second, the blessing of two understanding and self sufficient children, who turned turned out to also grow up to be very talented I individuals. Then all the galleries who carried my work for decades not only here in Arizona but in many parts of the country. Most recently, my Monday morning ART/TALK buddies. We have met almost non-stop since spring of 1997 when two of us started this weeky gathering of artists, to show and share our works with critique when asked, sharing how we make our art, sharing art books, articles, etc.
Other: I am active in FB and somewhat on INSTAGRAM. but I don’t have the links info for either.