By Sam Ekstedt
Dec 18th, 2023
The romanticized idea of the Starving Artist has been echoed so many times that it has become a somewhat cliche warning. The artist that is broke no matter what they do, no matter what they create. While this sentiment has a basis in reality, it is far from the whole story. A self-sustainable future as an artist is far more attainable than one might believe, and nowhere better is the incredible beginning of that journey found than with HBHS' own Gwyn Rands.
Under the artist's name, Genith, Rands has been making a name for herself in the community. With her fantastic use of colors and a funky angular art style that is recognizable and unique, it is no wonder the love for her art. All it takes to understand this fervor is looking at the colorful and detailed pieces she sells as prints.
Photo by Elisa Rodriguez
In an interview, about her art popping up in unsuspected places, Rands said “The really crazy part is that sometimes I’ll be out and about, outside of school, and I see my stickers; the craziest place is people’s cars. I've seen, like, two of my stickers since I started driving.” While she brands herself as an illustrator and mainly receives commissions in that category, including character design help and logo design, Rands is well versed in all kinds of mixed media. Due to this, she has a wide, versatile range of artistic abilities from illustration, embroidery/fashion design, animations, and even short comics. But where did she begin? How does someone grow their art business, let alone get the confidence to try?
Photo by Elisa Rodriguez
If you have managed to stop by HBHS’s Art Fair, you have probably seen Rands at her stand selling stickers, prints, and clothing featuring art all drawn, printed, and placed in biodegradable packaging. Two years ago, Rands’ Sophomore year was the inaugural year of HBHS’ Art Fair. Having been a part of the conversation that initially proposed the idea of the Art Fair, Rands said, “He [HBHS’ art teacher, Mr. Harward] was just talking to the class one day; he was really in his monetization era. He was like, ‘You gotta monetize your art! Gotta get out there!’ and we were like, ‘Oh, we should do a fair or something.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, that’s a really good idea. We’re gonna do an Art Fair.’ and he kept bringing it up, and we weren’t sure if it was actually going to happen, and then he was like: ‘This day, Art Fair, we got tables and two days,’ and then we did it!”
Her initial success at the Art Fair surprised her not only because people were interested in her art, but also because of how lucrative it was. From then on, over her years at HBHS, Rands continued to strive and grow as an artist and a business owner. This month, on the 11th and 12th, Rands once again sold at the Art Fair and remarked after the first day that her strategy was “Asking people what they’d like to see, like the sticker packs. So I’d be like, ‘What’s cool?’ ‘What would you like to see now?’ I asked 30 people. I got a lot of cowboys and southern stuff. I did two of those (Cowboy-themed sticker) packs for $8 each, and they sold out today!”
Besides the fiscal success of the Art Fair, when asked about the confidence she gained from it, Rands said, “Oh yeah! Confidence in art, confidence in selling, confidence in career path. I think for a lot of kids, that's it too; it’s all different aspects of art and creative careers.” About her growth sparked by the Art Fair that fostered her creating her business as Genith, Rands commented, “I think it just takes one thing to spark that passion, and with the confidence of selling it and people buying it, it can really put it into motion.”
The stories told greatly influence how people perceive their reality. While the Starving Artist serves as a cautionary tale and a warning for the inevitable risk-taking that comes with the territory, it makes a successful creative career seem impossible for both the artist and those who support them. As is the notion that the artists that ‘made it’ and their success are so far removed that they might as well be in a whole other universe. Rands was not immune to the story’s effect and explained her view and how she overcame it, “It’s bad—the Starving Artist trope. I actually think that without the Art Fair, I don’t think my parents would have let me pursue art. It was only when I was actually showing them I was making a lot of money from the Art Fair when my parents were like, ‘Wow!’ It’s a really great confidence booster doing art 'cause you’re always told it’s kind of like a gamble career.”
According to the US Bureau of Labor as of May 2022, the average yearly pay of someone going into Rands’ field nationally was $57,560 per year with an hourly pay of $27.70. Taking into account the fact that California is one of the states with the highest paid illustrators ranging between $64,070-$129,960 yearly and her skills already, it’s no wonder she’s confident in a successful and stable future. Now a Senior, Rands hopes to take that gamble and pursue an art career. She has already applied to numerous art schools with acclaimed illustration and graphic design programs. Rands’ creative way of approaching her art and business tactics is inspirational to anyone who wishes to follow in the same footsteps. When asked what advice she would give to aspiring artists, she offered, “I feel like it seems overly complicated a lot. In the media, you’ll see people creating things like a whole shop. You just gotta sit down, do it, and know what your stuff is worth.”
Go, join Gwyn Rands on her colorful journey as Genith as she bursts into the art scene. Check out her Instagram and TikTok @_GENITH_ and stop by the next Art Fair in June!