Unique Art Blossoms at Wildflower Art Studio
Wildflower Art Studio is inviting even just from standing outside the building. An all-glass storefront graces Locust Street, the gently sloping hand lettering of every sign contributing to a minimal, beautiful studio. Though it seems hand-lettering makes up Etsy and Pinterest, Wildflower Art Studio owner Emile Stewart has been hand lettering since the fourth grade.
“When I was 10 years old I had a booth set up in front of my grandmother’s store selling my own hand-lettered cards,” Stewart said. “This was over 20 years ago. I made my own posters for my booth and it said ‘thank you’ in big letters, the same letters I still use today.”
Stewart said she persisted in hand-lettering through college, ignoring the critics.
“In college when I was studying art, my professors were like, ‘You can’t put that on your art. That’s not art.’ It’s not considered fine art, but it was my art and I wanted to do it so now it’s cool again,” Stewart said. “When I started teaching these classes at my dining room table six years ago, there weren’t other people doing it. It was just right place at the right time to be a hand lettering lover.”
Stewart’s family has always been creative—in fact, her sister Bailey is Wildflower’s studio manager, and their mother is going to be teaching children’s art classes in the summer. This artistic upbringing led to an advanced education in art, and a travel bug that led her to live on a sailboat for two years in the Bahamas, where she met her husband.
"I had a super creative family growing up and my mom would always do art projects with us, and we would make our own everything,” Stewart said. “She was the original Pinterest mom before Pinterest.”
She studied drawing and painting and received a Master’s in Art Education as well as working at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia before starting a career.
“I avoided career for a while, focusing on adventures,” Stewart said. “I was definitely making art but now I feel like a lot of my art is really focused on those adventures.”
Stewart realized she was so extroverted, she couldn’t be by herself making art, and wanted to share her art and skills with others. She began teaching high school art at Northwest ISD in Fort Worth, and taking on clients to learn art from her home. When her calligraphy and hand lettering classes got popular, Stewart was getting invites to teach classes and workshops all around the world, but had a newborn to raise. She came up with a solution that really put her brand on the map: creating a DIY calligraphy kit. The item made it to the Amazon Best Seller List, and to date, they have sold over 10,000 units to budding artists from over 100 countries.
Denton has been the home of the studio since October of last year. Since the space’s soft opening in December, every workshop has sold out.
“While it was a risk to open up a brick and mortar, it has been amazing,” Stewart said. “This town has given us the warmest welcome. Every single workshop has sold out, and I’m absolutely blown away. We’re trying to accommodate for the needs so we’ve added a lot more workshops for the spring and then we’re offering kids art classes.”
Stewart’s workshops are more like the beginning of learning a skill that you’re meant to hone on your own time, after you’ve left the studio.
“Our goal is that our students leave with the tools to continue on their own, so it’s not like, come in, make a project, leave with a finished thing, done,” Stewart said. “It’s very much an investment in yourself when you come to a workshop.”
She said the calligraphy classes are more structured and challenging while the watercolor, drawing, and hand lettering are the most fun and therapeutic.
“Creativity, I think, is as vital as like exercise. I think children are so good at it naturally, but when we get older, if we don’t have the tools to do that, which most people are not artists, most people in the world—in Denton it’s a different story, but overall— they need access on how to channel creativity again,” Stewart said.
Stewart noted that in the summer, there will be a shift toward kids’ art classes. In talking about the growth they are experiencing in selling calligraphy kits, the numbers of participants in classes, and the support of Denton so far, Stewart said more than once this was her “dream come true” and she was “blown away.”
In describing the name for her studio, Stewart described the meaning behind the name and logo, designed by local graphic designer Emily Holt.
“I grew up in the country, literally in fields of wildflowers, so that is initially why I’ve always been drawn to wildflowers. In all of my traveling around, I just really came to notice the beautiful things growing in brokenness and that’s what it symbolizes. Because a wildflower may be called a weed sometimes,” Stewart said. “They’re not always beautiful to everybody but I think sometimes out of our pain and brokenness come beautiful things. It was actually a splatter, it was a mistake. So she digitally put the leaves coming out of it but it does symbolize the beauty coming out of a mistake, really. Wildflowers are messy and wonderful.”
Wildflower Art Studio’s grand opening will take place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 3 at 715 N. Locust Street. Art activities will take place for kids and adults, and giveaways of DIY kits, t-shirts, and a gift card will be available.
Check out their website for workshop info, to purchase a calligraphy kit, or learn more about the business.
Header image by Will Milne.
Header image layout designed by Holden Foster