On Skill-Building and Getting Serious About Your Work: Allison Johnston of Fuzzy Grapefruit

this fall, our theme is: flourish.

flourish (n.): to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.

When we make work under our best conditions, we do more than survive—we thrive.

And what grow toward (or say no) to has a lot do with it. Whether you’re a small business owner, independent artist or side hustling creative, your career pathway will take resilience and strategic decision-making. Where do you choose to go? What makes something a yes? Which environments are best for your growth?

Those answers are nuanced, and for the most part they vary. So, as we prepare for craftHER Market Fall ‘19, we’re interviewing some of this market’s featured makers to learn more about their businesses and the ways they create favorable environments for their work. Read on for a peek into their process.


Allison Johnston of fuzzy grapefruit

Allison Johnston of fuzzy grapefruit

about today’s featured maker: allison johnston of fuzzy grapefruit

Behind the strange and cheerful name "fuzzy grapefruit" is equally strange and cheerful Allison Johnston. Allison's background is in graphic design, but she has always loved drawing, painting, and visual storytelling. Although her artistic interests ebb and flow, her work tends to be whimsical and humorous in nature, often features animals, and frequently includes a subtle commentary on the human experience, the society we live in, and the undercurrent of sadness beneath all things. She currently works as an illustrator, designer, and artist in Houston, Texas.


How would you describe who you are and what you do?

I think the term "storyteller" gets overused these days, but it's probably the most accurate descriptor for who I am and what I do. I'm an illustrator, artist, and graphic designer by trade, and I'm truly filled with joy when I get to tell a story through visuals. Also, since I've recently discovered I'm pretty sure I'm a four on the Enneagram, I'm basically just full of feelings all the time.

What are some of the biggest growth moments you’ve experienced as a creative and/or business owner over the last year? What can others learn from your experience?

I've been doing design work for a while now (over ten years), but I didn't start to get serious about my illustration work until a couple of years ago. If there's anything I've learned from this process, it's to just be patient and be true to yourself. Building your skill level and building your business takes time and it's important to maintain focus and just do your thing at your own pace. I think this is why it's so important to love what you do and to be doing it for the right reasons. Most artists don't go into their line of work to become rich and famous, but if that were my main goal I think I'd get really discouraged by how slowly the process.

How do you hold yourself accountable to the goals you set? How do you bounce back when something doesn’t go as planned?

This one's hard. I'm a list-maker and if I don't write it down, it won't get done. But I also don't want to hold myself to unrealistic deadlines, only to be disappointed when I don't meet them. Peer pressure works really well on me, so if I tell someone I'm going to do something, I do it. We all sometimes need that outside pressure, even if it means you're just telling your mom that you're vowing to do something by a certain date. When things don't go as planned, I usually wallow a little bit, call my sister, eat some ice cream, then bounce back within a few days. Deep down, I'm an optimist, so I'm always looking for the silver lining and I usually manage to find it.

Any final thoughts you want to share with the craftHER community on supporting local businesses?

This maybe sounds naive and a little cheesy, but I feel like we can do so much more, together! We are all different people with different backgrounds and skill sets, and it really does take a village to enact change in our world. More and more, I think we're learning that we're stronger together and if we support each other, we can wield a lot of power. That support might come in big ways or small, but we need to continue investing in local business if we want our immediate environment to be a healthy, thriving place.


Would you like to meet Allison in-person? Come out to craftHER Market Fall ‘19 on October 12 and 13, 2019 at Fair Market and stop by her booth. Click here to learn more.

Jane Claire HerveyComment