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The UPS Store Small Business Blog
  • 08 March 2022
  • Public Relations

Proudly Unstoppable: Global Female Artists Make Their Mark

To celebrate Women’s History Month, UPS collaborated with three international female artists to create artwork featured on UPS envelopes as part of the UPS Proudly Unstoppable campaign. The limited-edition envelopes launched March 8 to commemorate International Women’s Day.

man and woman trying to do taxes

The Journey

For a young Danii Pollehn, pursuing a career in the arts was almost predestined. All it took was a couple of markers.

“It was love at first sight!” the German-born, Hamburg-based artist says. Danii would go on to take her A levels in Art & Design, obtain her degree in Fashion Design, and work as a textile designer, but she can attest that the path was not always as clear as that.

“I always thought a career in illustration and design was probably not going to be possible for me. Luckily, after lots of back and forth, I made up my mind and finally started to believe in myself, which helped me push through and finally pursue the career I always wanted.”

Canadian artist Marian Bantjes points back to the first stage of her career as a book typesetter that taught her - or untaught her - artistic preferences and styles.

“It gave me an interest in letterforms, for sure. But also having been trained ‘the right way’ to do things, and doing that exclusively for many years, I became much more interested in ‘the wrong way’ - or at least in pushing some of the boundaries.”

After living in Europe for four years, Chinese illustrator and designer Cheng Peng credits the differences between the East and the West as a source of inspiration to explore artistic elements of her culture. She draws back on childhood memories, such as traditional festivals and their shapes and colors, as important influences.

“There’s a definite intrinsic link between the shapes and colors, that they create intimate combinations, just like in my childhood memories. I enjoy exploring the relationship between shapes and colors and using them to express different moods.”

Cheng says she sees infinite possibilities in these elements from her culture. “Just like the patterns in a kaleidoscope.”

The Inspiration

Cheng Peng’s work, Hand in Hand, Shoulder to Shoulder, depicts modern women small business owners across professions. The art portrays women helping and supporting each other to show the importance of Chinese women in society, and the power of women in the modern era.

Regarding the inspiration for the piece, Cheng says, “The visual symbols convey strong messages of connection, which is the main concept I wanted to express. We need to reconnect ourselves with these lifestyles and ideas in our current state of society. The symbol conveys both the warmth and the strength of the female community.”

Cheng is a firm believer in looking for creative inspiration in the world we inhabit. “We’re surrounded by beautiful things,” Cheng remarks, “and it only takes a pair of sensitive eyes and a passionate heart to find them.”

Women of the World Unite, by Marian, depicts a pattern of diverse women holding hands to show connected groups celebrating community and lifting each other up. She relished the methodical process of the piece.

“I always start drawing, in pencil on paper. I tried some different configurations of the women,” Marian describes, “then settled on the circular pattern.”

“After that it was much like playing with paper dolls, putting different outfits together, changing colors and making them all unique.”

Danii’s piece, called The Power Lies Within Us, depicts a confident and charismatic female hero wearing a vibrant coat that embodies her success. The hero celebrates everyone who helped her get to the top, sourcing motivation, power, and knowledge from her community - because women who support and uplift one another all share in each other’s successes.

“The overall idea was to create a piece that shows a very strong woman in a confident pose growing through experiences and learnings,” Danii added.

Danii didn’t rely on one specific woman as inspiration for the work, but credited the “network of females I surround myself with, who are constantly inspiring me through their paths, actions, and learnings to keep on reaching for the stars and dreaming myself!”

The Wisdom

As successful female entrepreneurial artists, Cheng, Marian, and Danii are uniquely qualified to offer their perspective and wisdom to the next wave of female artistic talent.

To Danii, cultivating a sense of inner confidence and resolve is paramount. “Eventually I feel like it comes down to believing in yourself even though no one else does, keep on working hard, and never giving up!”

Uplifting women has always been a theme in Danii’s work. She stresses the importance of connecting with others, and also supporting them in whatever way works best for the individual.

“Sometimes a like or share on social media makes all the difference. Also, it’s very important to be understanding to each other, even if we might not understand what others are going through.”

To female artists embarking on their own ventures, Marian says, “the first thing I would say is make your own path. Look outside of illustration and design for ideas. Get off the computer, try new things.”

Another nugget of wisdom from Marian? “Learn to write to express your ideas. A huge problem that women have in all business, especially creative businesses, is being heard. Writing helps a lot in being able to present ideas, and the better you can write, the more seriously it will be taken.”

The importance of women celebrating and supporting one another is not lost on Cheng.

“It’s important to support, celebrate, and uplift each other, and for women to join hands and work side by side is a symbol of breaking the barriers and building bridges that connect each other,” Cheng says. “I hope that contemporary women in all professions will work together to understand and respect each other, and work hard for the betterment of society.”

Cheng’s powerful outlook goes far beyond women in the art world. It’s an important perspective for women everywhere who are looking to find their way and make their mark on the world.

“Gender should not be the blocker for us to pursue our self-value. As young women, we should be brave enough to pursue what we want. The measure of success today is no longer a simple standard for all. Know yourself, affirm yourself, develop yourself, and love yourself, and you’ll be successful.”

For more small business advice, check out our Small Business Blogs and follow us on social media. Our series features insights from small business owners across the country. Read more about the Proudly Unstoppable program.

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