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Today is:
An Interview with Sheeba of SugarSugar Cards &  Gifts
By Clayton Ruley (GC): Tell me your name, where you are from and where you are trying to go?

"Sheeba" (SH): My name is Maya "Sheeba" Grant-Richardson and I am originally from the Washington, DC metro area. I plan on moving my way up the east coast, making a stop in Philly and eventually settling in NYC.

GC: When did you know you wanted to be artistic throughout your life?

SH: I am a born artist...some say it's in my blood. Both of my parents are creative professionals and in many ways, I always knew that art would be a part of my life. Throughout childhood and adolescence, my hobbies grew into passions. As I entered adulthood, it was only natural that passions would develop into a career.

She Sings the Blues (hand crocheted)

GC: How did you end up in Philadelphia?

SH: It all started with a series of visits to a good friend, Josey aka afroDJiak. I began to make friends and contacts who were for more progressive in their thinking than in my hometown. I felt that I wanted to be part of this network whose mission was to be proactive about creating the type of environment they would like to live their personal lives and on a global level. So I packed my bags for Philly with the words of Mohandas Gandhi as my mantra..."Be the change that you want to see in the world."

GC: What do you think of arts education in schools?

SH: I think that arts education is crucial to a well rounded upbringing. I am disappointed that such an essential part of education is so incredibly underfunded and undervalued. Not only does arts education help students understand the fundamentals of math, science, history, english, and so also helps to develop creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking skills....all very important aspects of human development...regardless of a persons career/life goals.

GC: What are you up to now?

SH: I'm currently running an online store, SugarSugar Cards & Gifts, www. shopsugarsugar. com. The site features my digital poartrait art on a variety of cards. As the shop grows, we will be offering cards for all occasions, postage stamps, gifts for the home, and shoes & apparel for men, women & children. We also host a monthly contest where SugarSugar fans can submit a photo of their face for a chance to have their portrait featured on one of our products!
Our motto: Send a little SugarSugar...It's a sweet thought!

GC: Has there been any highlights of your journey you care to speak of? Highs? Lows?

SH: SugarSugar is a culmination of several creative efforts made over the last 5 years. I ran an online gift shop of crocheted clothing and accessories that were designed & hand crafted by me. I also created hand crocheted portraits that were exhibited in Washington, DC and Philadelphia, PA. In the end, production was timely and overwhelming and left me little time to design. So I began to focus on creating custom portraits in a new medium, Pastels (a dry paint/colored charcoals).

I realized that I would have to charge hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for my work. This in turn narrowed my market and made my work less accessible to the audience i was trying to reach. So, I began to explore other ways of creating my portraits. I began working on digital illustrations of beautiful faces and launched SugarSugar to make my work more affordable while giving myself enough flexibility for my own creative freedom.

GC: What do you tell yourself when times get tough?

SH: Anything worth having is worth working hard for. Tough times are a part of life...overcoming tough times is the reward for your efforts. Without tough times, how could we even appreciate the sense of accomplishment when all the hard work pays off? Of course, it's difficult to see this when your in the midst of obstacles....but i am always aware that giving up on yourself the same as failure...I can not allow my efforts (even if things don't work out the way i had planned)to be in vain. So I press forward on faith.

GC: Do you struggle with doing something that pays you wallet over something that pays your spirit?

SH: Not really...traditional 9-5's can be a reasonable means to an end...I've had to work jobs that didn't really feed my soul, but I channeled my distaste for these jobs into motivation to keep pushing forward on my creative goals...I've also used these jobs to finance these goals...My quality of life is measured by my spiritual fulfilment and happiness...not the size of my bank account. Of course, if i strike it rich doing my artwork, i would not fight it!

GC: .Anything else you are working on?

SH: SugarSugar in my main focus right now. Currently it is on a web based platform, but i have a much bigger vision for the shop in the future that i am working on. Nationwide distribution and opening a storefront (or 2....or more) are part of long term goal that I'm also working on.

GC: Does Obama mean change?

SH: Absolutely. It's already been demonstrated in his ability to rally a nation to become more involved in politics. I'm proud of Obama for breaking down alot of barriers by doing what so many believed were proud of the different levels of empowerment for Americans that resulted from this election. The change I'm most excited about is that we are finally discussing things like race relations and outdated policies in a much more open forum.

No longer can these issues be sugar coated in "political correctness", swept under the rug, or spun to perpetuate an agenda that excludes too many Americans of very basic human rights, whose voices deserve to be heard. The shift in thinking on a personal,national, and global level is a tremendous change that Obama has already accomplished. I'm confident that these kinds of changes will continue while he's in office....

Heartstrings (brush & ink)

GC: What do you think about Change? (think of GeoClan. com's Uploading Change)

SH: I think that empowerment through education and change go hand in hand. I think that change is inevitable...things are always growing and evolving....but it is up to the people to take responsibility for change (whether they are making change happen or living the consequences of it). I also think that as the world of technology moves forward, we must use these powerful tools to our advantage.

For example, Obama and his team planned their campaign strategies based on how people receive and send information. By acknowledging this, he created a campaign unlike any we've ever seen in history. The record numbers of newly registered voter, the voter turnout, the interest and involvment of the youth are major changes. If that's not a testament to "Uploading Change" i don't know what is!

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