Lowcountry Originals - Part 2

Meet 7 Dynamic Local Artisans


July 2021 Issue
Part Two - To Access Part One, Click Here:

Cool art vibes saturate the air in every form and medium in the Lowcountry, one of the most beautiful natural canvases on earth. With all the surrounding beauty, it’s no wonder the Lowcountry is teeming with creative, talented artists. Some do it for fun. Some do it for a living. All do it to nourish their organic need to create.

Welcome to our second edition of Lowcountry Originals, where you will meet seven dynamic artisans, all filled will creative energy and verve for their work. They have allowed us a peek into their creative worlds, revealed their fears and doubts, told us what inspires them and given us insight into their processes.

Scroll down to take a creative stroll and step into
the Lowcountry art scene >>

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Kristin Griffis

photography by Cassidy Dunn Photography

Current Residence:
Ridgeland Career: Artist Art: Painter—Pop/Folk (with a touch of naive) Family: Husband James Vicars; 5 Children: Jakob, Abby, Katherine, Hailey and Vanessa

What’s the best encouragement you’ve ever received in pursuing your artistic talents? I just keep reminding myself that God gave us all talents, and they are meant to be used and shared with others.

Were there ever naysayers? How did you overcome? I don’t bother worrying about naysayers. I do my thing. I paint for me. If other people enjoy it, then that is awesome.

How do you get your “creative juices” flowing? Music! I always paint to music and let it carry me. The music decides my colors and what I am going to paint. I just hold the brush and go along with it.

What do you love most about your creativity? I love translating what I have going on in my head onto canvas. And, I really love the reactions from the onlookers when my artwork speaks to them and when people appreciate my art so much, they want to purchase it and hang it in their homes.

When and how did you discover your talent? I have been painting all of my life. It is part of who I am.

How did you choose painting for expressing your creativity? I went to Montessori Gardens as a child, and it all started with finger painting. What artist, living or passed, would you love to spend a day with? I love Van Gogh. I love his color combos, in particular. I would just love to watch him paint!

Describe what ultimate success looks like for you. Ultimate success is doing what you love. And, I do!

In your artistic pursuits, what is your proudest moment so far? My proudest moment so far is my two licensing deals with Immaculate Baking, a division of General Mills. They saw my artwork online and asked if they could keep me on the radar for future packaging. So, every time I had five or so paintings finished, I would send them photos for consideration. I called them “Colorful Hellos.” The third time I sent a Colorful Hello, they chose one. They purchased the piece, and I did a licensing deal with them. I was so excited! Shortly after, I went to Karis Gallery to see the Peter Max exhibition. It was an honor to meet Mr. Max and I loved having the chance to tell him how inspiring he has been to me. I love his colorful work, and I told him that to me, he is the king of licensing his art. I had one under my belt, but when I saw him again, I would have more. So, it became a challenge for me because I had to keep my word to Peter Max!

In addition to your art, what’s your next best talent? I love cooking. I have a large garden this year and most of my vegetables are grown in it.

What makes you a Lowcountry Original? My dad was brought down by Robert Graves and was one of the first architects on Hilton Head. I was born and raised here and love how special this area is. It is purely magical.

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Sergeant Dana Beesley

photography (top) by Sgt. Anne Henry
photography (middle) by Sgt. Dana Beesley

Current Residence: Parris Island Career: Active Duty Military—Marines
Art: Photography
Awarded: 2020 Military Visual Awards Photographer of the Year. Her portfolio was one of more than 2,000 submissions from US and NATO military members around the world.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve ever received in pursuing your artistic talents? When I was first starting out as a photographer in the military, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make perfect photos every time. When I didn’t, I let it consume me. I had this vision in my head of what I wanted my photos to look like before I even went out on a shoot, and that prohibited me from enjoying being in the moment. A mentor of mine told me to enjoy the process of trial and error, because every shoot, regardless of how you feel it went, is a chance to get better at the craft. The only way to learn is through making mistakes, and not taking yourself so seriously is a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal.

How do you get your “creative juices” flowing? As I’ve gotten older and learned more about photography, composition and light, I see beauty and moment value in everything; a lot of that comes from simply driving around in the middle of the night, or before the sun rises, and observing the world as if I were an outsider looking in. I get inspired by listening to music throughout the day and as I drive. It not only energizes me and gets me excited about making pictures, but it also helps me focus on the editing and sequencing process.

Describe what ultimate success looks like for you. One of the most rewarding things for me as a leader in the Marine Corps is going out with my younger Marines and seeing them capture gorgeous imagery, or get stronger at speaking with drill instructors, recruits or higher-ranking personnel for their stories. It motivates me to see them succeed and receive the accolades they deserve. I am so lucky to work with a team of incredible photographers, videographers and graphic artists. They make me want to be better and get outside my comfort zone as a storyteller. It’s because of them that I got to where I am today. (Editor’s Note: Sergeant Beesley was awarded Military Photographer of the Year)

Why did you choose photography for expressing your creativity? I was drawn to wildlife and the beauty of the national parks as a child. My family and I would frequently go on camping trips to places such as Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, the Oregon coast and the black hills, and those adventures instilled an appreciation and sense of wonderment and creativity in me. My parents kept hundreds of issues of National Geographic in the basement of our home, and that was where my first interest in traveling and photography started. After Marine Combat Training, I was assigned the designator Public Affairs Specialist, and went to school at the Defense Information School aboard Fort Meade, MD. There I was trained in the areas of writing, the Adobe suite, broadcast journalism, photography and videography. Over everything, I enjoyed photography the most.

Do you think you’re weird? If so, what do you love about your weirdness? The most confident and inspiring people I know are secure in the fact that they are “weird” or quirky. I’ve struggled with confidence and self-esteem most of my life, but after I joined the Marine Corps and learned how to be a better leader for my Marines, I am able to be 100 percent true to myself and proud of my accomplishments.

People always think creative people are messy and chaotic. Are you neat or messy? How does your way work for you? I think oftentimes my thoughts and ideas are definitely chaotic, but over time the best images I’ve taken happened because I took a risk creatively. I think that’s why being a storyteller on the Island can be a challenge. To beat the monotony of the same training, I will try shooting with a new lens, priority shooting mode, or intended theme for the shoot. I’ll look for new composition angles or lighting techniques. The photos may not always end up the way I intended, but I can always go back out the next week and try, try again.

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Amanda Walton

photography (top) by T.R. Love, T.R. Media World

Current Residence: Hilton Head Island
Career: I am a doer of many things…. Administrative side Lean Ensemble Theater, Photographer, Graphics and Website Design, Mom
Art: (see above)
Family: Daughter Katy and getting married in the fall!

What’s the best encouragement you’ve ever received in pursuing your artistic talents? I believe encouragement begins before you are aware of your talents. Regardless of what I was pursuing in my life, my father always said to me: “Why the hell not?” I could always come up with a reason or excuse not to do something, and he would always come up with the reason I could or should. This has given me such freedom as an adult, I now automatically think I can do anything.

What artist (living or deceased) would you rate as a perfect 10? I am going to go with two people here. And, well, because music is life, they are both musicians. First, living, Jason Isbell. The man can tell a story—a really, really good story. Second, not living, Johann Sebastian Bach. He is my favorite composer. There is a lot to be said about someone who can bring out all of the feelings without saying one word.

How or why did you choose photography for expressing your creativity? The feeling that photographs elicit. All the feels… joy, sorrow, rage, tenderness, aching, hunger, lust, anger. If a photograph is taken at the right moment you can feel any of these things and maybe even many of these things. And if it’s food… Quentin Bacon takes such incredible food photos you want to lick the page.

If you could go anywhere in the world to perform/create your art, where would it be and why? This question is my daily “why”. One of my lifelong goals is to travel all over the world and photograph people and their cultures—food, art, clothing, all of it! I want to eat with people and hear their stories. I want to watch them work, play with their children and cook their family’s dinner. A grandmother who has been in the kitchen for 60 years has a methodology that can’t be replicated without experience. It’s a beautiful thing to catch a slight glimpse of that experience through a lens. Not enough people know or learn about their family’s history and culture. It’s part preservation, I suppose.

Describe what ultimate success looks like for you. The freedom to get up and go. To be able to pack my bag and camera and hop on a plane. I saw a shirt once that said, “I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.” Jeremy and I have “everywhere” on our list, so we are working on that.

In addition to your art, what’s your next best talent? Cooking. I love food. All food. I believe this is also a form of preservation, and it’s something that is being lost in our current culture, gathering around the table and sharing a meal with the people you love and with no distractions. My favorite part of the day is eating with my people.

What’s something unique in your house/studio/collection that more than likely no one else has? I’m not sure I would call these items “unique” but they are very special to me: I have my great grandmother’s mixing bowl and some of my grandmother’s silver. It is all worn from so much use. The bowl is more of an oval than a circle, but I remember lots of cakes being made in that bowl. Photography (bottom-left) by Amanda Walton