When local artist Lulie Wallace opened one of Anthropologie's catalogs this summer, she came to a stop on page 38. And not because she saw something that she wanted to buy, but because there was something on that page that she had created herself: a pair of her own floral still-life paintings, leaning against a wall next to a velvety violin case. It was a dream come true.
Wallace's work, which she's exhibited locally at floral studio Stems, has made the internet rounds over the last year. Design*Sponge made a major post of her art in January, and blogs like Oh Joy and Oh Happy Day have included Wallace's paintings on inspiration boards. Then one day, Wallace got a surreal e-mail from Anthropologie with a major offer to sell her pieces. "I e-mailed them back and I was like, 'A single tear ran down my cheek,'" she says. After all, it's her favorite store.
"I think it's hard when you choose being an artist as a profession," Wallace says. "You're kind of like, is this okay? Am I going to be able to do this as a living?"
Anthropologie bought 22 of her pieces. Some went to the online store, while the rest went to physical locations throughout North America. Anthropologie's sister store Urban Outfitters purchased the rights to two of Wallace's pieces, which it sells as printed wall murals on the store's website.
"It's so much fun to see them in different scenes, stylized and stuff like that, because when you're here, there's stuff everywhere," she says, referring to her studio at Redux Contemporary Art Center, the walls of which are covered in paintings. "Normally, I'm in my sweatpants with my hair on top of my head, so it's nice to see them in beautiful places because this is not so glamorous."
Currently, you can purchase "Flowers for Bobbsie," a one-of-a-kind acrylic on birch wood, on Anthropologie's website for close to a grand. Or you could just visit Wallace in person at her studio or on her website and buy something similar. Despite her recent financial gains, she plans to keep her space at Redux for as long as she can. She likes being surrounded by other artists.
Wallace admits that with all of this attention comes a lot more work. It may be easier now for her to sell her paintings, but it's been hard to keep up with demand. And she's been painting so many flowers that she needed a way to refresh. Wallace found it in a different creative outlet: textiles.
Pretty, purply pastels, stripes, geometric shapes, and, not surprisingly, a number of florals are all a part of Wallace's first collection of fabrics, which will be officially released on Nov. 29. The line will offer weekender bags, lightweight luggage that's foldable and collapsible. "We kind of felt like there's a lot of totes out there but there's not a lot of good cool luggage," Wallace explains. Pillows will also be available, and all of the fabrics will be for sale by the yard. All will be for sale on Wallace's website.
Local firm Stitch Design Co. has helped with the designs. The fabric is printed in North Carolina, and North Charleston company Usner Products is sewing everything up. "I see me really getting into this fabric thing," Wallace says. "I think it's a cool sustaining business. Art, I feel like, comes and goes. It's just really neat to focus in on the fabric so in each season we can pop for something different."
Wallace considers the November launch a "blurred Spring" — hence the bright colors — and plans to release new fabrics early next year as well. And now that Charleston has its very own Anthropologie store, you may see Wallace's paintings on King Street sometime in 2013.
"I've been approached by a couple people to say they would love to carry my work but I wasn't necessarily ready to make that step," she says. "And I'm super thankful that I waited, because if you over-commit yourself to a lot small things, you miss out."
Lulie Wallace's fabric line will be available on her website, luliewallace.com.