Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Betsy Walton ... Oregon, USA

Artist: Betsy Walton
Business: Gridplane, Inc
Web sites:,,
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

What do you create?
Paintings, drawings and illustrations.

Where and when do you do your creative work?
I work in my home studio. I work at different times depending on my schedule, but I try to get some drawing or painting in every day when possible.

Do you have another "day job"?
Not right now. I left my last job to work on my art and illustration business full time.

Where and what did you study?
I studied printmaking at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Graduated in 2000 with a BFA.

Where do you find inspiration?
I had a teacher once who said that inspiration comes from work. I really try to develop my inspirational momentum by working as often as I can, even when I feel totally flat. If things aren’t flowing, I usually try to get a change of scenery. A walk outside or through Powells books here in Portland usually snaps me out of it.

I’ve been doing my own sort of religious/cultural/philosophical studies course by cobbling together books, podcasts and conversations with friends. I think this has really informed my work over the last several months also.

Nature is always amazing to me. Traveling to a new place is also great for inspiration. I also look to aesthetic traditions in different cultures and lots of art for inspiration. I like to keep my eye on design too. I love to look at other artists work also, both old and new. Ultimately though, I get most inspired by the chase – trying to find that new image and story that can show me something I wouldn’t see otherwise.

What motivates you?
A combination of curiosity, fear and joy.

When did you start doing this?
I started to focus solely on my art and illustration business in 2006, but I have been making art since I was a little kid.

Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
Yep. Seems like I was always taking some type of class, and I did lots of coloring and drawing at home and at friends' houses. I went to ceramics class and made weird little sculptures. I was into carving soap for a while.

When and why did you decide to start your own business?
I made the leap to art-making full time in 2006. I really love the freedom of being self-employed. It's full of surprises.

How did you choose the name for your business?
I use my own name mostly, since name recognition is so important in this field. Technically, though, my business is part of Gridplane Inc, which I co-own with my husband. He has been using that name for several years.

What do you love most about creating your work?
I love that it is engaging on lots of levels. It can be so much fun and so challenging, often at the same time. I like to get immersed and lost in the process. I like that I can work on my own terms, and I can do lots of different types of things.

What's the most fascinating place you've been?
The ocean.

A book you love:
There are lots. At the moment, I’m getting reacquainted with a book I got in college called Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art. It’s a collection of artists' writings about their work, and it’s really great for getting a sense of perspective.

What is the most interesting thing about you?
Hmm, I have a freckle in my right eye.

What achievement are you most proud of?
I’m just thrilled to be at this point in my career, I get paid to draw and paint and make stuff!

What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Give yourself the benefit of the doubt.

What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Decisions, decisions. Both on the creative side and the business side.

What do you love to do in your free time?
Catch up with friends. Wander through junk shops and bookstores, maybe get a coffee and take a walk in the forest. The best is to get a beach house or a cabin or a campsite and get out of town for a couple days.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my May show at Rare Device San Francisco. I also just started a new project called Today's Painting Progress. My goal is to document my work at the end of each painting session and post it on my Flickr page.

What do you hope to achieve next?
I have some ideas for little 3-D versions of my characters that I want to explore. And I want to grow some vegetables.


  1. Great art work. A few years back I did a lot of watercolor painting. I lack originality though, I am always amazed at unique paintings such as these.

    An inspiring site for entrepreneurs, the Young Entrepreneur Society from the A great documentary about successful entrepreneurs.

  2. Betsy's characters are so endearing, and her palette is lovely!

  3. I love these quirky pieces...they are the kind that feel fresh and surprising and that I want to revisit again and again!

  4. this was great - thanks for posting. i love betsy's work and am really excited to see RD's show coming up!