Zhu is one of several student artists who have turned their love of the arts into a business. She also juggles it with her classwork from two majors.
“If you’re looking to decorate your wall, why not have it be art from someone you know and someone who would appreciate the encouragement?” she said.
Zhu creates watercolor paintings and sells her creations to students on Facebook.
Junior Christina Townsend has also used social media to market her creations. The journalism and communications double major was sitting at home last summer when a Pinterest obsession sparked an artistic interest.
Townsend said she saw quotes online she wanted on her wall, but decided to make them herself. She bought paints and canvases and continues to use the supplies more than a year later for her business, which she calls “Wallart by Christina.”
Townsend has sold about 40 paintings since she began marketing her business through Facebook and Instagram last summer. Each painting costs $15 to $25 depending on the size and intricacy of the painting. She has even shipped her art to New York City as a gift.
“I think what’s special about my paintings is that they’re custom,” she said. “If that quote hanging on the wall can give someone a dose of daily encouragement or inspiration, I think that’s a good thing.”
Townsend has made wall art for students in Greek life to decorate their houses, including members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority.
Some students, like junior Maura Hartzman, created a Redbubble page to display their drawings and oil and watercolor paintings. Redbubble is an online hub similar to Etsy. Customers can request copies of her work to be printed as posters or on phone cases and pillows.
“I’m not an art major but I still have stuff I want to share with the world,” she said. “This site is a really good avenue for people to get the word out.”
Hartzman also does tattoo designs for friends and customers. She said making her customers’ ideas a reality is more important than money.
“Some things are just better expressed through colors than words,” she said.
Zhu took her art across the world when she studied abroad in Copenhagen and Hong Kong last year.
“My goal was to paint or draw a picture of everywhere I had been in the past year,” she said, adding that studying abroad gave her the reflective time she needed to take a break and just draw.
Zhu said her art is not a business so much as it is a way to contribute to an artistic community on campus.
“People consider art a lot of the times to be inaccessible,” she said. “It’s kind of a bougie thing to be an art collector, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s a lot of talent on campus, so support other artists and students.”