great cosmic happy-ass:
bumping along on a road less traveled
by melissa stanz (with interference, er, assistance from the great cos
ityou cant help but break out in a grin when you hear the
name. The grin quickly becomes a belly laugh when you read the greeting
cards Diane English creates. And thats exactly Dianes point,
as well as a point the Buddha madewhich is, that enlightenment
cannot be achieved without a sense of humor. (She and the Buddha share
similar body issues)
if The Buddha said it, perhaps we should listen! Diane chuckles.
The Great Cosmic Happy-Ass Card Company (greatcosmichappyass.com)
was created as an expression of the way Diane sees the world. Her original
greeting cards, magnets, t-shirts, mousepads, mugs and prints are for
the marginally enlightened and spiritually challenged among
usand who isnt? Her creations range from tender, nurturing
spiritual messages to whimsical, funny, irreverent quips.
time in her Weaverville, NC studio is like basking in the sun after
weeks of gray winter. Inspiring words cover everything. Bright colors,
wonderful original canvas paintings, and enough toys to make any inner
child salivate line her shelves. The environment inspiresdemandcreativity.
Its really important for me to surround myself with fun,
colorful, playful art and thatin and of itselfis an expression
of creativity, she noted.
this company has been an evolution for me. Something I learned in my
14 years owning a metaphysical bookstore was that people were taking
their spirituality way too seriously,
you know like, My
prayers are better than your prayers
or Im going to
heaven and youre not, or the UFOs are coming for me and
theyre leaving you behind. Oh puleeeeze, lighten up! Wheres
the fun in that? she mused. "I want my art to help people
feel better and laugh at themselves and at life. If I can spread a little
humor around, I'm a happy camper."
Dianes art interests started as a child and she won prizes at
art shows, including a contest put on by a national cookie company.
But fear & misunderstanding of what Art was, kept her
from attending art school. I just didnt think I had the
talent to follow the required discipline of art, so instead of following
my heart, I followed my head and went to technical school and became
a medical technician. "Go figure!" she recalled. That career
A move to become a hippie in West Virginia required a change of career,
and she spent the next decade working as a graphic artist for local
newspapers. They were obviously desperate for bodies, but they
hired me because I groveled and begged. I really wanted to get back
into an art field.
At the same time, she gobbled up all the metaphysical books she could
get her hands onno easy feat in West Virginia! Then she created
her first barely marketable work, an inspirational poster she sold to
Unity churches. I made enough money to buy a new coat and some
winter boots, and I was thrilled, she laughed. I only show
that print to really, really good friends now. Its a miracle I
was able to sell it at all.
A vacation to St. Augustine, FL, in 1986 proved to be love at first
sight with the Nations oldest city and I just had to live
there! She moved there soon after to open a metaphysical bookstore
called Dream Street, inspired by a constant quest for spiritual knowledge.
I knew nothing about opening a bookstore, but I was so excited
about the possibilities and I figured any fool could sell a book, [her
birthday, by the way, is April Fools Day] and ignorance was bliss,
so I just jumped in. But thats the way I go into everything, you
'Leap and the net will appear'. Dianes bookstore
grew from about $30,000 in revenues the first year to more than $250,000
in yearly revenues in the peak years, but she decided to give it all
up and go for the art.
her tenure as a bookstore owner, she read The Artists Way, a book
that changed her life. It opened up a world of possibilities and
gave me permission that I hadnt given myself. It helped me put
away all the wrong concepts about art that Id carried with me
my whole lifea door was flung open and the light poured in.
Artists Way, coupled with a trip to San Francisco to attend a
Life, Paint & Passion Workshop proved to be the genesis
of her current card company. She started cartooning and painting every
spare moment. I got incredible encouragement from all my friends
and customers. I reproduced the first painting as a card and magnet,
put them on the counter in my store, and promptly sold out. AhHa!
Im on to something! Another career was born. Then she moved
her computer into the store and began creating onsite. Computer
art was new. I taught myself how to use the graphic software. People
just loved to watch me and learn how to create illustrations, especially
when they realized they could do it too, and the possibilities were
Her move to Asheville occurred in much the same way as most events in
her life. A customer came into my store and told me she was moving
to Asheville, and told me that Asheville was right behind Santa Fe as
a great place for artists to live and work. It was like a bolt out of
the blue; my guardian angel literally hit me over the head. My partner
and I visited two weeks later, and moved to Asheville within 3 months."
after moving here, she was contacted by a national distributor who now
represents her cards, magnets & prints to book and gift stores nationwide.
Her web site orders have increased 1000% in the past year, and she recently
contracted with an international group that will represent her to kiosk
owners in malls in the Northeast & Canada.
Id love to have my artwork licensed and spend a lot more
time creating rather than the day to day business of marketing. Ive
got a bazillion ideas that Id love to put into action, and all
of them fun."
Diane knows there is creativity yearning to be expressed in everyone.
Creativity is spirit expressed. You know how good you feel after
youve created a great dinner, or made someone a thoughtful gift,
painted a chair or written a poem? Well, that feeling is a holy expression,
its God in action. So I just love to encourage others to do what
brings them joy and express the talents that Spirit has given them.
Diane believes that no matter what that talent is, if you embrace it,
you and the world will be happier. You cant wait for everything
to be 'perfect' before you start your own business and follow your dream.
Perfection is the death of creativity. People are more magnificent than
they think they are, more creative, expansive, smart and brilliant than
they give themselves credit for. Go for it! You Can Do It!
I started this company at age 58 with no formal training. If I
can do it, anyone can. Theres really nothing to lose and a life
of creativity to gain, so why not? Dont let lack of knowledge
stop youit didnt stop me. You just learn as you go along,
And if you need a goose to get started, just call me.
Dianes art is available in many locations in North Carolina and
a complete listing is on her website greatcosmichappyass.com.
[Guess what? The Great Cosmic Happy Ass is going to be appearing regularly
in the pages of WNC WOMAN starting next month. Yippee! - Ed.]
MA, is a freelance writer, editor, and marketing communications professional
in Asheville, NC. She creates communications plans, and writes copy
for newsletters, web sites, ads, press releases, brochures, and feature
articles for regional and national clients. When she's not writing,
she loves to be outside walking with her husband and chocolate lab,
or riding her horse in these magical mountains. Contact her at email@example.com.
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