Andy and Jan Curran have been artists for more than 20 years and in that time have forged a successful business, Dog Star Creations, in Westbrook, selling their art as greeting cards and journals. The Currans recently switched their business model to Paper Moon, a retail store featuring pottery, blown glass, crystal and other pieces of art. But they’ll keep Dog Star Creations alive, too, with its greeting cards and journals on Paper Moon’s shelves. The couple, who’ve been married for 15 years, made the jump to retail despite dismal economic forecasts. Both say that Westbrook and southern Maine offer good business channels to working artists.

The Currans took a break recently to discuss the hows and whys of their business change, art’s evolution in Maine and their views on making a living creating and selling art.

Q: How long have you been at 1 Westbrook Commons, Suite 1?

Andy: As Paper Moon, we’ve been in this location for three-and-a-half weeks. We spent the winter getting it set up. I’ve personally been in this location with Dog Star Creations for a year and a half. My wife and I are both painters and Dog Star Creations is a cards and journal line.

Q: Why the shift to Paper Moon?

Andy: Well, I’m still Dog Star Creations with my cards and journal line that I deliver throughout New England. Paper Moon is a retail incarnation. Jan and I wanted to start up a retail store. We found this great location and we couldn’t let such a perfect retail spot go un-utilized.

Q: How is Paper Moon different?

Andy: (In) virtually everything. We still have Dog Star Creations cards and journals as our anchor product, but we have six New England, mostly Maine, jewelers, we have a couple of potters from Maine, we have a glass blower from Rhode Island. We are even selling crystal.

Q: What’s it like being able to create and sell your art to earn a living together?

Andy: It’s great. It’s a big, all-encompassing project that we’re working on constantly.

Q: How gratifying is it?

Andy: Extremely.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of owning your business and trying to earn money from your art?

Andy: The constant need to be creative in a non-artistic way. Every day is an adventure. Painting a painting is a project that has a beginning and an end, but running a business is ongoing.

Q: How different is it running your own business as opposed to just selling your paintings?

Andy: For the cards, it’s production and distribution. For Paper Moon, it’s seeking out products that we love and working with artists and companies in order to put things in the store that we want to sell.

Q: How do you find the appropriate artists for your store?

Jan: It’s a combination of things. We obviously choose what we love and would like the public to know about the artists that we buy from. Then, at the same time, it’s what the public wants. We’re kind of in a position of getting the awareness of artists to Westbrook. Sometimes these things don’t work and we have to move on. We’re promoting as much local and New England art as we can.

Q: What is your ultimate goal with Paper Moon?

Jan: To have fun, really. What a joy. We’re artists and we meet other artists because they’re fun to work with. We’re all after the same thing, to make money doing something we love. We have found that it’s a great joy to talk to other artists and also work with them. They like to see what works and sells.

Andy: We get to promote other people who are working on creative endeavors.

Q: With the economy the way it is, how difficult was it to switch your business plan?

Andy: Almost every day is terrifying when you work for yourself. I disagree that it’s a bad time to start a business. We had an existing business that was sustaining itself and people always needs cards, birthday cards, sympathy cards. It’s ingrained in us to celebrate occasions with a card. The card industry, I don’t want to say is immune, but it hasn’t taken the hit that so many businesses have. We also feel that if we can start a business in a down economy and have it grow, then our growth will just be that much stronger when the economy rebounds.

Q: When you look at the art community in Westbrook and in Greater Portland, what changes have you seen in the last 20 years?

Andy: I think that Greater Portland and southern Maine and Maine in general have always been a place where people make art. We have a strong reputation nationally for a place where artists work. I think it’s great where Westbrook is involving into a town where a number of artists are working and I think that’s part of the growth we’ve seen in not only the past five years, but over the past 20 years.

Jan: I think there’s a lot of awareness that has developed over time. This is a community that is learning and wants to support the arts. We need the artists here to move it along. The art walk that was started, they’re fine-tuning it. There are artists here that can be represented. There is a desire now. There wasn’t a desire before. I would love to see more artists come into the area.

Andy and Jan Curran, who have been married for 15 years, recently changed their art business from Dog Star Creations to Paper Moon. While they still sell Dog Star’s cards and journals that feature their art, Paper Moon is a retail store that will sell pottery, jewelry and blown glass products.


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