We had the good fortune of connecting with Whitney Parker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Whitney, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
This for me is all about passion. Do you still love what you do? Are you wanting to give up because it’s hard or because you are burnt out with doing the same thing for too long? I think one way to combat this is to find ways to continue to change and grow within your profession. For me, I am constantly trying to evolve my artwork and process. Keeping my style, but finding new elements to work with, new inspiration to pull from. While it is still challenging, I am passionate about what I do and feel a calling to create.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have tried to coin a term for the type of art I create since it doesn’t really fit in a typical medium. Combining acrylic and watercolor painting, specialty papers and my sewing machine, I have been calling my work “Sewn Abstract Art.” Even though I did go to art school, my background is a bit untraditional seeing as I majored in fashion design. I spent the majority of my career in the bridal sector, designing wedding gowns and accessories. In high school my focus was on black and white film photography, which is what led me to apply to the Savannah College of Art and Design. It was there I was able to explore all different types of mediums (pottery, bookmaking, printmaking) along with photography and fashion.
After graduating, I moved to New York City for my first job as an assistant fashion designer. I learned so much about the bridal industry, and more importantly, about myself. I moved not really knowing anyone in the city, making very little money, but doing a job I was so excited about. The two years I spent there were some of the most challenging of my career, but also where I grew the most as a person. I think learning more about myself and how to cope in tough situations, is what helped me really become successful in my future endeavors.
Once I left New York, I got married to my high school sweetheart and moved to California. We spent two years here before moving back to the East Coast to Charlotte, North Carolina. I worked in bridal boutiques as a consultant and manager also while running my own bridal accessory business. I discovered a lot about running a small business by learning from my mistakes. Also, talking with brides/clients directly was extremely beneficial to the work I do now. I became very well versed in explaining the process of designing and ordering a wedding gown and making sure that all communication was clear to help them understand how they were punching something they essentially had never seen. This has been invaluable as I now run 80% of my business on commissioned work.
Before making California our home for the past six years, my husband and I spent two years in Philadelphia. I attribute a lot of my adaptation in life and art to the journey of moving to so many different parts of the country. Learning to see things from many different perspectives has been one of main contributions to who I have become today. I work hard to bring the fundamental design elements I learned in school, but also rely on my inspiration and intuition that I have gained over the years to guide my creative process.
My hope is when people see my art that they find a connection to it, something small that brings them joy. That is one of the things I appreciate most about art is how it can be interpreted differently by each person. What a special job I have to do what I love and hope that it inspires and brings joy to others.
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?
Ohh, interesting question! We live in the San Francisco bay area, but honestly, hardly ever make it into the city…(insert all the emojis here). We do however have some amazing things to do in the surrounding area. I think I would start with: -Patxi’s deep dish pizza in downtown San Carlos
-Then on a hike at the Stanford Dish. From the top you can see campus, the bay and mountain ranges – it’s incredible.
-Moving on to a tasting at Ridge Winery – unless we have time to drive up to Napa 😉
-We would need to stop in downtown Palo Alto for the farmers market and some boutique shopping
-And there is nothing like a cocktail at Half Moon Bay’s Ritz-Carlton perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean
-Can’t forget Santa Cruz to the beach and boardwalk
-And I guess if you are here we should go to the city for you to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Redwood Forest 🙂 And being a huge Braves baseball fan, we would go to Oracle Park (Giants stadium) to see a game right on the water.
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?
I think my success lies within a group of people all the way from when I was a young kid. But, I am particularly grateful for my parents who always supported and encouraged my love for creating. They continually told me I could be an incredible fashion designer or a world renowned photographer. They fostered my love for all things art and for that I am truly thankful.
I would also not be here doing what I love if not for the support from my husband. He is always the first person I turn to for advice and guidance in big life decisions (like starting my own art business!) and without his constant encouragement, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Thank you also to all the friends and family who initially bought art, shared my work and encouraged from afar when I got started, The confidence you helped instill in me early on is where I owe so much of my success.
Headshot by Rosa Delgado ( https://rosadelgado.com ) All other images are taken by Whitney Alyssa