WASILLA — Paintastic Art Studio owner/operator April Dunham is going on her sixth year running her studio out of Wasilla. She’s also a teacher in the Mat-Su School District.
Dunham recently participated in a question and answer interview to discuss how she turned her small business into an educational hub for all kinds of people looking for a creative hobby.
Q: So what was the original inspiration behind Paintastic?“My husband had been laid off the slope… I’m a school teacher by trade. I told him, ‘this is what I want to do, and I think it can help supplement our income. He said, ‘well you can give it a try,’ and here we are.”
Q: How’s that been?“We worked out of our garage the first year, traveling to people and places. We started with just painting and worked up to our full art studio with all kinds of things… I want to go beyond just painting... It’s my happy place. It just kind of evolved with what the community is interested in.
Q: It seems like art in all its various forms is pretty important to you, is that the case?“I have a pretty high stress job, but I love what I do. I don’t ever see me leaving teaching. After a rough day, this is what calms me. This is what calms my brian. I have a pretty busy brain. I love it. It’s hard to get here after work. So, I work a full day at the school… and sometimes it’s hard to get in the door, but once you’ve got people in here, at the end of the night you just leave with this great feeling. You feel good about yourself. You can help other people be successful. You would not believe the amount of people who say, ‘I can’t do art. I’m just coming to support my friend,’ and they end up having a wonderful time, believing in themselves. That’s just empowering...”
Q: How did you end up gravitating toward teaching art through your own business?“It really wasn’t until my husband got laid off that it really was like a kick in the pants. It was like, ‘I have this degree just sitting here. I think I can do it,’” she said with a laugh. “It’s definitely a family run sort of business. My husband made all the tables… My little guy, he helps out with the classes. He was raised in here.”
Q: You have a wide range of things you’re interested in, what would your top favorite mediums be?“When I was in college I excelled in blow glass. I would say probably the thing I enjoy the most or do the best is my fused glass. I love painting… I would say if I have free time, you can guarantee I’m gonna make something out of glass or I’m gonna play on the pottery wheel.”
Q: What’s your favorite part of the creative process?“I’m definitely a kind of multimedia artist... I love when it all comes together... and I love getting messy… I think my favorite part of art is helping somebody else get that mojo. I just found a passion. I enjoy sharing it and giving people an outlet. I have given someone the tools to do it themselves.”
Q: So would you say your studio has a laid back and inviting atmosphere?“It’s very relaxing. It’s one of my favorite places to be. So I’d say it’s a pretty good atmosphere. Lots of laughter.”
Q: What’s your advice to anyone thinking about trying some of your classes and picking up a creative hobby, but they’re worried about their artistic ability?“If you never try, you’ll never know. You’ll never know how talented you could be or how much you really enjoy it... Very rarely do people leave with something they’re displeased with… In the middle of winter it really becomes a place to kill that cabin fever... Sometimes you have to just slow down and take a moment for yourself.”
Q: She also added with a laugh,”It makes a great date night.”For more information about Paintastic Art Studio and their upcoming classes, check their Facebook page, call 907-227-7115 or visit their website at paintasticak.com.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at email@example.com