Sam Explores Etsy - Local Artists

(Header photo courtesy of Leigh Viner) This week I am going a different route, and will be featuring some talented local artists! If you’re wondering how I come across these gems, it’s quite simple. I search a variety of key words relating to the weeks theme, change the location to Denver, CO, and the amazing locals do the rest. After scanning through the listings, I contact all of the shops that really catch my eye. I go for quality merchandise, and a standout presentation as far as the shop itself. One of the featured artists is our amazing head of social media, Ariana Dufour! Although she doesn’t have her Etsy up and running, her work is just too astounding to leave out.


Beginning each section I included each individual’s perception of what an artist really is. I hope you enjoy!






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“To me, an artist is anyone who takes the things that inspire them and turns it into something else, another form of communication. I don't think it matters if you are doing that with paint, pencil, written word, music, etc. If you have something to say and use a way other than a cut and dry sentence to say it, that's pretty cool because you put some effort and thought into it.”

This self-taught artist has been filling up the pages in her notebooks since childhood. Heavily influenced by Anime and Manga novels, she found a niche in drawing the female form. Being an only child, art became one of the many outlets to fill the void. As soon as high school came around, she was opened up to a whole new world of materials and mediums. To this day, she thanks her teacher, Mr. Miller, for challenging and encouraging her to be the best artist she could be. Although she did not attend art school as she had hoped, she has continued to grow and progress her work over the years. Currently, her work is influenced by neo-traditional tattoo style, fairytales, the macabre aesthetic, death, aristocracy and religious archetypes, and symbolism.

Ariana is inspired by her surroundings. She understands the value in everything around her and uses it to her benefit. Whether it’s a building, movie, photo, you name it, she takes it in to produce the work you see. She also finds inspiration by looking to other respected artists. Following their social media accounts is one way she keeps herself motivated. “I just want to inspire the same feeling in others, as my favorite artists do in me. I want people to see my work and feel some sort of draw and connection. I want them to be captivated even if they can't put into words why. If I did eventually gain enough recognition to be able to communicate to a large amount of people, I'd also like to encourage young self taught artists to pursue their love for art.”

As a strong believer that you should never “stifle yourself by becoming too complacent,” Ariana foresees plenty of variety in her life. She is not one for repetition, and loves trying out new things to keep her creative flow. Although she loves Denver, she would like to try out something new someday (although her attachment would probably bring her back!). “We have one life and you never know how long that life is going to be; I hate the idea of being anchored to one place for my whole life I've been given."

Check out her work, and be sure to follow her on social media!

Instagram: @dufourartanddesign




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“I think that anybody who truly enjoys making art can be defined an artist; whether it’s good or bad I think its passion that matters.”

Starting at an early age, Kelsey’s father kept a paintbrush in her hand. Her fascination with the art of watercolor, and having a painter in the family naturally led her to an artistic path of her own. After college, when she was able to obtain more free time, her father set her up with all of the essentials for watercolor painting. She then self taught herself by reading, watching videos and of course, practice. “I love to paint for myself. As simple as it may be, I like to paint so I can hang it up in my house. I love the fashion industry and I started painting pieces that I loved, but I could never afford, such as designer shoes.”

Her fashion pieces were what initially drew me in to her shop. Being a member of a fashion magazine, I found it unique to see these images in a different medium. It is pretty typical to see fashion photography, but seeing it in the form of watercolor paintings is a change of pace! It is such a beautiful thing that she can spread joy to others by selling her work. “I started my Etsy shop honestly not thinking that it would really take off like it has. It’s been wonderful seeing people enjoy my work and have it displayed in their homes or offices. It’s honestly been an amazing couple of years.”

Inspired by many elements of her daily life, Kelsey enjoys unwinding after a day of work with her art. Outside of her Etsy store, she works as a commercial interior designer. “I’m constantly surrounded by creativity and I think that really pushes me to be better. Architecture has always really inspired me, I love buildings and bridges and I find them quit fascinating. I also love to travel; I think that is where I find most of my inspiration and motivation. Just seeing the world and all it has to offer is really a beautiful thing.”

Although she paints for herself, it is clear that many others have found happiness from her work!




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“Being a believer in Christ is ultimately what defines me the most as an artist. God is the greatest designer and artist, and I feel lucky that he put this artistic spark in me. I am a woman with a thousand ideas running around in my head, and not nearly enough hours in the day to make it all come to fruition. A wife and mom that is pulled in 18 different directions everyday, trying to find that simpler balance, but is enjoying life to the fullest while carving out time to make artwork for people to enjoy in their homes.”

DeaAnna’s shop is filled with amazing pieces that are sure to appeal to anyone who holds a special place in their heart for Colorado. Featuring mountains, inspirational sayings and simple silhouettes, there is something for everyone. Her material of choice, Colorado pine. Perfect for gifts, or simply to spice up a room in your home. “I hope my art speaks to the side of people that craves the simple and meaningful things in life. A reminder to slow down and appreciate what matters.”

Encouraged by her mother, who was also an artist, DeaAnna was taught to “see beauty in simple an unexpected things.” Although they have different artistic styles, they share the same philosophies. Her mother still inspires and encourages her in all that she creates. She also would like to give her husband, Aaron, much credit for all the help he provides to her store!

As far as a source of artistic inspiration, DeaAnna’s answer speaks truly from an artists perspective: “When I'm hiking through the mountains in Colorado; when I get to experience something all over again for the first time through my baby boy's eyes; when I travel to other countries and soak in a new cultures; when I walk into a room that is beautiful and feels loved, but lived in; I could go on and on - I am inspired by all these things.”

Stop in her Etsy store today, and see if she has that special piece you've been looking for!



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“I would describe an artist as anyone that has passion and love for whatever it is they may do.”

From fashion illustrations and fine art creations to vintage, European photography, Leigh Viner has quite the variety of artwork. By perusing through her magnificent prints, it is clear that she has a niche for fashion! The pages and pages of overjoyed feedback also speak for themselves.

For as long as she can remember, art has been an important element of her life. Sketching and doodling from her mom’s fashion magazines became one of her pastimes as a child. At the time, she was quite shy, and found art as a way to express herself. She is thankful today that she was able to come out of her shell, and still use art as a form of expression. She believes that her specific style is the product of years of experimentation and almost accident. “I let go a bit on a few pieces and found that the mixture of unfinished and detail seemed to flow well and work in a balanced way for me.”

Leigh hopes to bring the same joy to others that she receives from creating. She also hopes to inspire others to follow their own passions. Where does Leigh’s inspiration come from? “So many different factors of each day can inspire me. It can be fashion related, music, film or just taking a walk. I also read so much throughout the day, so a poem, or an article. I naturally seem to be in a constant curious and creative mode that I want to create from literally everything around me. 
My motivation comes from doing what I love, It is different each day, and even though sometimes the business side can be overwhelming and extremely busy to the point I run out of time to create on certain days, I would never take it for granted.”

In addition to her role as an artist and business owner, she also has her role as a mother. She loves her 11-year-old daughter, and her boyfriend’s 17-year-old daughter dearly, and considers them her daily motivation. She is thankful that she is able to work from home to keep a sense of balance. However, she does note that it can get a little lonely! “Working from home can be a blessing and a challenge with not seeing others often, so I have to remind myself to stop and balance that out by going out at least once a week and not just depend on my cat during the day for company!

If you have a wall in need of a little color and life, Leigh is sure to have the perfect solution for you!

Instagram: @leighviner

Twitter: @leighviner