It’s art you can touch!
Emelie Levesque recently started her business Pass the Lines with the idea of creating paintings that aren’t just for looking at.
“It is handmade textured art, stimulating the sense of touch for anyone with visual impairment and sensory issues. It allows them to enjoy the artwork to the fullest,” says Levesque.
The 17-year-old École Secondaire Catholique Algonquin student says the idea derived from her own love of art.
“When I was little, I always wanted to touch the art at the museums and the galleries I went to but obviously I wasn’t allowed,” she says. “I came to the realization that I probably wasn’t the only one to do that and so I always wanted that concept of being able to allow people to touch my art.”
Levesque says she has always had a creative mind and has done her own drawings, paintings and photography, but she says, “I knew that if I was going to create a business, I wanted it to be something that everyone could enjoy and something that’s very close to me personally.”
Levesque says making her art helps with some of her challenges.
“I have a learning disability; I have dyslexia and I have eye muscle and visual perception dysfunctions and so making this kind of work really helps me to think about new concepts of art and I just want to continue sharing that with the public and the community.”
Levesque didn’t envision selling her paintings until a presentation came up in her high school marketing class organized by Rebecca Foisey, a Program Coordinator at The Business Centre Nipissing Parry Sound.
“She did a presentation about the Summer Company Program and she was very inspiring and so well spoken and so that’s when I decided I was going to try and get my business going,” says Levesque.
“I submitted my proposal and some background information and the very next day she did an interview with me and I got accepted.”
Levesque says the Summer Company put a handful of young entrepreneurs through 12 hours of workshops which she says were integral to getting her started.
“Those helped me figure some things out such as how to deliberate my messages, how to research and market for your business, as well as giving us different websites and tools to use to reach the public,” says Levesque.
“The $1500 startup money was also a huge help, and it was all so amazing how well it was coordinated to help young entrepreneurs.”
Levesque says in order to make her business cost efficient, she had to think differently about how she would create her paintings.
“I was using acrylic paints which can be pretty expensive and it wouldn’t be fully textured,” she says. “I came across an advertisement for drywall compound and I found that there were so many creative ways that I could make my textured art with that and be cost efficient.”
Levesque says creating her pieces is a five-day process, but an efficient one at that.
“It’s about an hour for each piece, but there are different processes that take time to make it all happen,” she says.
“On the first day I will use the dry wall. The second and third day I will then layer it with primer. The fourth day I lay down the paint and finish with a varnish on the fifth day.”
Levesque says this process allows her to work on several pieces at a time.
“It’s the best way to get everything done and not stress out when it's getting close to a pop-up show or a market day. It also gives me time to work on my social media pages (Instagram, TikTok and Facebook) or research new techniques,” she says.
Levesque says it’s been a joy to be able to sell her pieces to the public.
“When I did my pop-up shop at Northgate Shopping Centre, people came up to my table and said ‘are we actually allowed to touch this?’ and I said, ‘yes please go for it!’ It made me really happy to get to see people experience that and feel the different textures. It warms my heart so much that people enjoy my product,” she says.
Levesque will be selling her textured paintings in person at the Market in Sturgeon Falls on July 23rd (this Saturday) and says it is something that she is planning to continue doing beyond the summer months.
“I think being a young entrepreneur is quite amazing and very unique. Throughout the summer I will be operating my business at different artisan and farmers markets in the area, and then in September I will be continuing to run my business online.”
She adds for other young people who have an idea and want to start a business, the best advice is to do as much background research as possible, and seek guidance and assistance.
“Do your research, make a plan, get someone to review it and then submit that to a program like Summer Company,” she says.
“They are an amazing and friendly and positive group to work with. If you have an idea and you want to make it a reality, just go for it. I never would’ve imagined that I would’ve been running a company just four months ago, I was looking for a part time job, until I saw the presentation by Rebecca and decided to go for it.”