We had the good fortune of connecting with Sousan Abdul-Razzak and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sousan, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Like many others, my small business bloomed from a lot of extra time at home. I have a love for traveling and I began creating watercolor paintings of some of the cities I had visited. I loved the end product so much, I decided to open my little art business and share what I created with others! What I didn’t realize is all the things that go into running an art business. There were lots of big decisions to make once I decided that I would print my own art prints. I had to figure out what printer I should get, what paper I should use, how I was going to edit my paintings to be printed, etc. I did so much research trying to figure everything out and I still ended up with a not so great printer! (My advice to anyone looking to create prints of their work is to save up for the good printer… it will save you lots of time and headaches!)

So I had the paper and I had the mediocre printer but I still had to learn to digitize my artwork. Thankfully, I have a background in graphic design, so I had the tools, but I had never really edited watercolors. It was a big task learning how to create prints from watercolor paintings. I ended up combining a few different tutorials to figure out what worked best for me.

It sounds pretty easy but I’m the sole employee so in addition to painting and editing my artwork, I also spend a lot of time taking process videos, photos, editing said videos and photos, tracking finances, marketing, updating Etsy and the website, packing orders, filing business taxes, ordering supplies, designing branded material, and taking extra good care of my new printer… In fact, just before typing this, I was spot cleaning the inside of my printer using q-tips!

So many tend to think of how much fun it is to just paint all day but that’s not completely the reality. Finding creative time is not always easy but they are right about one thing – it is absolutely fun! There are many times that I have felt overwhelmed or self-doubt starts to creep in, but I am super proud of what I’ve learned and what I’ve accomplished. Most importantly, being able to share what I create with others has been a journey that I absolutely love!

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art has an illustrated storybook feel! It’s in a bit of a whimsical style. I’ve been to a few different countries and cities and I have always loved the historic architecture and building facades! The different feelings that each new place evokes just by walking around the streets and parks is something I find so comforting and it’s the thing that I miss the most when I leave. I try to capture that in my artwork, especially in the City and Drawn Dwelling Collections.

Having a small business is anything but easy. It is by far the most difficult thing I have done and the hardest I have ever worked. Thankfully, my knowledge of graphic design helped me tremendously when it came to starting an art business. It has allowed me to accomplish most things on my own. What I don’t know, I just research and teach myself. While learning these new things can be stressful at points, it’s very rewarding once you figure it out! Another thing I tend to struggle with is self-doubt. I think it’s a hurdle that a lot of creatives come across. When you put your work out there for others, it can be well received or simply passed by, and when that happens, you feel a bit lost. There are many times when I have felt like giving up because something isn’t going how I had hoped. When I feel like that, I remind myself how far I have come and I just look at what I have created and what I have learned. That’s one thing I am still teaching myself and something I think others should remember: Give yourself more credit. Starting and running a small business is no easy task and putting yourself and your work out there can make you feel very vulnerable at times. However, never lose sight of your own worth. Any time you feel down, look back at all you have created and how much you have grown. It will help you appreciate your value and feel proud of yourself, which is such a necessary mind frame to cultivate!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh wow! Some of my favorite things I’ve done around the Houston area are watching a play or musical at Theater Under the Stars, visiting the Museum of Natural Science, or catching an event at Miller Outdoor Theater… when the weather is a bit more mild!

A couple places I enjoy just a little outside of Houston are the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch and catching a concert at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. At the Wildlife Ranch, you have the opportunity to feed different animals from your own car. Not gonna lie though, the ostriches terrify me! It’s an incredibly fun experience though! As far as Cynthia Woods goes, I’ve been to concerts at pretty much every venue in Houston and Cynthia Woods will always be my favorite! You can either get a seat under the covered section with fans or you can just lounge on the lawn. Either way, it’s such a relaxed and open venue and I highly recommend catching a show there!

I know there’s plenty more places that I have yet to visit around the city. All I know is that when you’re with good friends, any spot you visit in Houston will result in great memories!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When it comes to any endeavor of mine, my parents are always my ultimate supporters. Starting my own business has been no exception! They have reassured me when I’ve reached low points and they have shared in my excitement for the high points. I also have some incredibly loyal friends who have rooted me on from the beginning. Some of them probably have more of my artwork around their house than I have around my own house! Having the love and encouragement of my friends and family is something that I am incredibly grateful for… whether it is related to my business or my personal life. I owe them so much!

Another shoutout I’d like to give is to people and organizations like Voyage Houston. When you are first starting a small business, especially a creative one, it can be so difficult to just be seen. Everyone always wants something in return and at the beginning, you just may not have much to give in exchange. Those who give others the opportunity to be seen are some of the best members of this community. I know from experience how much it means!

Last, but not least, I want to thank anyone who has just looked at my artwork and has expressed appreciation. It could have just been said in passing or while scrolling through social media feeds, but those kind words stick with me forever and are always a motivation!

Website: LilyvineDesign.com

Instagram: @lilyvinedesign

Facebook: @lilyvinedesign

Other: LilyvineDesignShop on Etsy

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.