Local artist turns passion into livelihood during COVID-19 pandemic

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A fake body was being pulled out of the water while Katie Proud sat at the dock nearby. Ironically, that was the most normal part of her day. When she left the dock that day and was headed back home, that’s when life quickly became chaotic.

“I was just kind of like okay done for the day going home,” Katie Proud said. “Then we got an email that said we’re not going to be shooting next week and then that’s when I got kind of worried.”

Like many things in mid-march, COVID-19 abruptly stopped production on the network true crime show Proud had been working on that afternoon.

“We didn’t have our phones, we weren’t looking at the news, we were on a dock,” Proud recalls. “We actually had our director of photography he lives in New York City so we started to get all this information and he was concerned he wouldn’t be able to get back home. So he left in the middle of the set, took off changed his flight so that he wouldn’t be trapped here.”

Unexpectedly, Proud was out of a job.

“For a while, I wasn’t worried two weeks, three weeks whatever,” she said. “Then it turned into months and two months and three months. At first, I way underestimated it. I was like it’s fine I’ll just chill ’til things get picked up and then they didn’t.”

As a freelance makeup artist, in the back of her mind, there’s always the possibility of having little to no work for an extended period of time, though that work drought typically only lasts a few weeks. With the COVID-19 pandemic providing no timeline to return to set, Katie found herself at a crossroads.

“I looked into getting other jobs and then it’s tough because nobody is hiring; there aren’t other jobs and I have a career, I’m not looking for something to do,” Katie said. “I’m doing what I want to do.”

Proud suddenly had an unforeseen amount of free time on her hands. After several weeks without much to do, her sister came to her asking she recreate a piece of artwork she’d seen online for her apartment. A request that would quickly become the kickstart to Proud’s new endeavor.

“I painted her thing and then I had some friends who wanted me to paint them some things and it just kind of took off after that,” she said. “I started posting on social media and I guess a lot of people wanted some stuff painted.”

Proud graduated from Belmont University with a degree in Studio Art and minor in marketing, but it wasn’t until her sister’s request paired with some encouragement from her friends and family that she considered to profit from her skillset. Under the handle @KatiePaintsPlants, she began selling her work online through Instagram, Facebook, and Etsy.

“I love my friends and every time they buy something, I’m like ‘oh they’re my friend and they want to support me’ and then when it’s a random person, I’m like ‘oh maybe they like it,'” she said.

Proud officially launched the @KatiePaintsPlants Instagram page on May 20th of this year, in the time since then she’s sold 17 pieces, nine commissioned projects, primarily through word of mouth. Her new endeavor is now providing both income and reassurance.

“I’m more resilient than I thought.”

Proud is currently selling artwork and taking requests for commissioned pieces. You can contact her through her social media platforms and Etsy account inked below.

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/katiepaintsplants?ref=search_shop_redirect
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katiepaintsplants/?hl=en

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