Living in Greenville makes an impact on you. Whether you grew up here, relocated here or just love visiting, it’s easy to fall in love with the gem of the Upstate. Artist Kathryn Dale Barton now gives Greenvillians an opportunity to wear their pride on their sleeves. She’s created charming tees in an homage to Greenville as part of her Grow Your Own Roots initiative.
Grow Your Own Roots is a movement Kate started to not only bring attention to Greenville, but to promote local arts. “I have a lot of roots in Greenville and I think the GYOR concept is for people who love their city and want to make it better,” explains Barton. Though she now resides in Charlottesville, VA, the Greenville native still loves the town she was born and raised in. A native of Greenville, she graduated from Eastside High and went to the Greenville County Fine Arts Center for initial training in the arts. “I got great instruction there from Glenda Guion in ceramics and Jim Campbell in painting.” A true lover of all the arts, her favorite memory about Greenville is going to Shakespeare in the Park. “It’s such a cool experience and I look forward to it every time I can get home for it!” says Barton.
Kate dabbled in art classes later as a student at Clemson University, but her studies took her down a different path and she graduated with a nursing degree. It wasn’t long after that she realized her true calling was art all along. So how did she go from nursing to Grow Your Own Roots? “It came at a time I was transitioning from nurse to artist and making a leap into unknown territory,” says Barton. She took a leap of faith to leave the safety of a steady career and delve into the sometimes thankless world of an artist. “I want to live life purposefully,” adds Kate with enthusiasm. This dive into the art world was an adventure, and “I wanted to see what came of it!” says Barton.
Being a Charlottesville resident led Kate to create Grow Your Own Roots – Charlottesville tees as the first in her collection. “The original tee is a design from a painting I did,” says Barton. Inspired by turn of the century poster art and Alphonse Mucha’s work, she first did a series of poster paintings as she was finding her purpose again as an artist. “The Charlottesville poster design and ‘Grow Your Own Roots’ just came from a lot of sketches as I was deciding what Charlottesville meant to me,” says Barton. Creating a Grow Your Own Roots – Greenville tee was the next logical step for Kate, as she wanted to convey what her hometown meant to her.
Barton’s goal with the tees also has a benevolent side. “I’d like them to be used as fundraisers for cool projects, sort of like TOMS,” says Barton. TOMS, a shoe company created by Blake Mycoskie, is credited with creating the One for One movement. For every pair of shoes sold, a pair is then given to a child in need. With the giving spirit that resides in Greenville, maybe someday Kate can get her wish.
As for future projects, Kate has expanded her reperetoire to include illustrating. “I’ve done a CD cover and have a few potential children’s books I hope to illustrate!” she beams. With no typical day for Barton, look for her time to be spent in her studio, bouncing between projects. “Owning a business takes a lot of time,” says Kate, but she’s proof you don’t have to be a fashion designer or have an MBA to leave a mark on the fashion or business world. Even with all the success of her projects, and the Grow Your Own Roots movement in particular, she still considers herself a rookie. When asked for advice to give to budding artists, she simply smiles and says “Ask me in 5 years – I’m just one year in.”
So the burning question on everyone’s lips is, where can you get these awesome tees? Store locations are listed on Kate’s Grow Your Own Roots site, and include places like the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Emily Austin on Augusta and Cocobella Boutique. The tees come in a variety of gorgeous colors and are sized for men or women on Alternative Apparel’s ringspun 100% cotton tee, “so soft you want to sleep in it!” Kate exclaims. So do your part and buy local art, while promoting Greenville in a hip and unique way. Trust me – when you wear your Grow Your Own Roots – Greenville tee, everyone will want to know where they can get one!
Be sure to also check out Kate’s amazing canvas and wood paintings and posters – she’ll be happy to do commission work!
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