Get to know Chelsea *Sparks*
Hello there! My name is Chelsea Weiss, but people know me as Chelsea *Sparks* too. I came up with the name, Chelsea *Sparks*, because I found that when I worked with people, I loved when the creative sparks would fly.
I opened the doors to Art Collective on Jan 9th, 2019 after a successful Pop Up Shop in November and December of 2018. I created a unique boutique in historic Downtown Frederick that offers one-of-a-kind handmade goods, original artwork and mixed media workshops with the most fabulous of artists.
I tend to call myself a mixed media artist. Over the last 11 years, I’ve been trying out many different techniques and areas of art & making. I like to make things that have many layers and some aspect of sparkle or shine to them. While I love a crisp and new aesthetic in art styles, in my own work I prefer things that are weathered, look as though they have lived a life already and tell a story.
My schooling was in graphic and interior design, and I’ve also dabbled in event design and planning. Throughout my career, I have ongoingly participated in artistic learning experiences in a variety of mixed-media specialties. My favorite work is my steam-punk inspired mobiles. I am always open to learning a new technique, and am constantly experimenting.
So here’s my story about starting the shop:
After participating in 5 weeks of Artomatic Frederick in the Fall of 2013, I realized my need to have artist friends actively in my life. There I met my future Artner, Bette Brody. On one of my shifts, someone told me about an online group organizing site called MeetUp and how I could find like-minded people looking to “meet up”. So I investigated and set up a group called Art *Sparks* of Frederick. We met pretty much monthly and either had demos by other *Sparks*, show and tell, or brought individual projects to work on while we met up.
Art *Sparks* of Frederick was a great meeting place and we had a variety of artists and makers over a 5 year span. I hosted Holiday Markets in my home for a few years and then moved onto more public spaces with a larger group of artists.
In the summer of 2018 while I struggled to strap two mannequins onto the roof of my car heading to the Chincoteague Blueberry Festival, I realized I wasn't up for festivals or shows any longer. It was an exhausting way to make money. A fortuitous call from Sharon Mesa during the drive to the Eastern Shore changed all that.
Sharon owned En Masse in Downtown Frederick asked if I was still interested in having a pop up shop in her studio space. I said, "YES!" before she even finished the question. I came up with a plan and enrolled my art *sparks* tribe into participating. Chelsea *Sparks* Pop Up Shop was a great success. At the end of the run, the lease for the space became available and I chose to open up a permanent shop.
The first half of 2019 was a bit rough, as I was running Art Collective by myself. I started hosting a handful of onsite classes and workshops. For the second half, Bette started working the shop a couple of days a month, which helped me a lot, along with the artists volunteering during the holiday season. I realized that for the shop to be successful and for me to have time to create and make art, I needed more help. I asked Bette to be my Artner and she was on board.
We began hosted even more classes at Art Collective and were just getting our schedule ramped up earlier this year, even adding a visiting artist’s multi-day workshop, and then the pandemic hit. We had to cancel all our classes and workshops and close our doors for April and May.
To be honest, it has been a test in small business ingenuity to keep the shop running. The biggest help has been creating personal virtual shopping appointments. This is a personalized Zoom or FaceTime appointment where I walk you around the store and show you what we have in stock.
People ask if we have a website, and we do, though with most of what we sell being one-of-a-kind, listing all the items is just too overwhelming. Plus, it’s far more interesting having your own personal tour of the shop to see the collection of unique items our artists have made.
If you are interested in shopping virtually with me this holiday season, you can find more details on how to set up an appointment with me here.