Create the World You Want to See
When artist, Erin Laughlin, made the leap from doing what she thought she was supposed to do, to doing what she wanted, the chains broke…and she discovered she had fastened them herself. Seems simple enough, in a culture that makes many demands of us…one of which includes going against the grain…right?
Pursuing a full-time career in art was closely related to Erin’s work in the community. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Erin studied business and entered that world in a full sprint working at large healthcare corporations. As her business mind allowed her to be a natural at networking, she organized a party for a close friend…and the rest seemed to fall into place.
“My friend has rheumatoid arthritis, so at the party, we had an impromptu fundraiser for The Arthritis Foundation,” says Erin. “The party itself and the results of the fundraiser were actually so epic, people kept asking when we were going to have another one.” Erin says it dawned on her that combining fundraising and charitable efforts with her business savvy and ability to organize a large network of people was the best way to have a positive effect on the local fundraising scene. In fact, she went from that first house party straight to a St. Jude fundraiser of 400+ guests in 2011. But that wasn’t all.
She managed to pull the event off at no cost to attendees, and the selling point was the fact it was a singles party, adding the fun element of a “singles auction.” She has since implemented a ticket price that remains attractive to attendees and helps to raise additional funds. Erin says, “As it turns out, people love the ‘singles auction’ aspect and we have been able to raise a lot of money with that strategy.” Over the years, Erin has had numerous events at different venues, each time benefiting a different charity. In some cases, her efforts have helped to raise over $40,000 from a single event for a given charity.
As the years have passed, Erin has refined and tweaked her strategy, now utilizing the talent of a five-person committee and an additional 20-person singles team. Each person on the larger team creates their own fundraising package and makes it a component of the singles auction. Some of the other charities she’s helped benefit are YWCA Mend, Front Porch Ministry, and other local charities. Realizing how charitable work helps to fill voids, Erin gained the confidence to pursue her passion for art in a full time capacity.
In August 2014, Erin quit her “day job” and went all-in with her artwork. She creates custom and commissioned pieces, specializing in gold leaf and acrylic styles. Since most passions call for continuous sacrifice, just the other day, she made an online appeal for a cost-effective solution to ship her artwork across the country. But while Erin has always been an artist, the calling to pursue this career was one she would admit she fought for some time.
“I was making decisions from my head, and I knew in order for my art career to take off, I would have to fully commit to it with courage, and display that to others.” Erin says visual art allows her to express where she is in life. Coupled with the talent for creating positive experiences, Erin plans to establish her own nonprofit this year to take her efforts to the next level.
Given her energetic approach to life, and even though she has been busy meeting the demands of an influx in sales of her artwork, I naturally had to ask her what else is in store for 2016. Erin simply said “Mural projects, more auctions, and more venues.” A lot can be said about taking the plunge to follow one’s passion. As we are constantly bombarded with fear-based messages, we must strive to look for people like Erin Laughlin, who not only fearlessly pursue their path, but combine that with a desire to help elevate others. People that…create the world they want to see.
Get involved and be about change by subscribing now