Brushes and Business

MSUM alumna, artist and TEDxFargo speaker Hannah Stelter is brushing broad strokes as a new business owner.

Amidst the pandemic, Hannah was let go from her job, but with an abundance of free time, she needed an outlet to express her creativity.

“I started sharing my artwork on TikTok in 2020. I ended up creating a middle finger and within a couple of days it had 250,000 views!” she says. Now, her account has over 33 million likes and over 700,000 followers.

Instilling more confidence in her art by realizing people appreciate it, she began attending markets and events to sell her art.

@hannahstelter2 Hey artists...your artwork is beautiful and unique. Carry on 😁 #artist #tiktokartist #drawing #artistsoftiktok #gocreate ♬ Create what you wanna create - Designed By Hannah

All That and Pen Some

Hannah eventually quit her daytime job and pursued art full-time.

“People started to really love my art and asked me if I sold it. So, I started to sell it on an online store, and I built an online business,” she says.

In November 2022, Hannah started a second business, Scribble Lady. She hosted a pop up for Scribble Lady and successfully opened a brick-and-mortar business in downtown Fargo in May 2023. Her business is an art supply and gift shop in the front, and the back hosts an art gallery where she showcases her fine art.

Designed by Hannah, her original business, is where she sells her art. Inspired by the interest in her glass pen videos, she opened Scribble Lady, which features art supplies and her gift products like stickers and cards. Scribble Lady also collaborates with other artists who embrace imperfection.

Looking Back

With multiple degree, minor, and certificate options, MSUM’s School of Art encourages students to explore their creativity. The School of Art offers unique opportunities through internships, study abroad programs, the National Art Education Association Chapter and more.

“I majored in graphic design, but when I took intro art courses, it made me fall in love with art. It made me feel like an artist,” Hannah says.

Graphic design at MSUM uses state-of-the-art technology to allow art students to fully practice and experiment with their craft. Graphic design offers up-to-date technology and on-campus studio space. Students are guided on how to highlight their achievements and opportunities in a resume.

“My professor whipped out watercolors (which I hated), and now I am a watercolor artist!” She said. The guidance of one mentor can shape your career and future.

Drawing Inspiration

Hannah’s primary subject matter is the human figure, so she looks to others for inspiration. Her work is about embracing, showing positivity, and self-love. Her figures may look like scribbles up closely, but after stepping back, observers can see it’s a beautiful piece of art. This represents the ‘imperfections’ we may see within ourselves up close before stepping back and seeing we are more than that.

Over the course of the pandemic, part of Hannah’s routine involved her going live on TikTok every Tuesday night for an hour.

“I would take drawing requests from people; they would be anywhere from a 45-year-old mom to a 10-year-old kid,” she said. Later, she combined these drawings into a book.

Facing Challenges

Opening a store and not necessarily knowing what it will take to run it is a stressful feat; Hannah has been able to hire six employees to assist her.

“As an artist, you are a business, which is something they don’t tell you in art school. If you want to be an independent artist, you’ll learn business on the side,” she says. Hannah is still learning about the side of being an entrepreneur and how she can continue to grow her company.

When asked about how she would like to grow her business, she said, “The most important thing is sharing my story, my art, and why it’s important.”

Support Local

Most small businesses have a few workers –– one usually being the owner. Learn about small businesses in your area.

“Maybe you can't buy something locally and that's okay... but come in, talk to the employees, and let them know that you enjoy the space,” Hannah says.

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