SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Throughout Cristina Piecuch’s time in college, she took a variety of art classes.

After being introduced to the art of printmaking, Piecuch fell in love with this specific style and the spontaneity that the ink brings to her creations.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration from Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Upon moving to the Rio Grande Valley from Michigan, Piecuch found herself working a lot remotely and began looking for a new opportunity.

This search led her to become an artist in Art Business Incubator South Padre Island’s (ABI SPI), Art Residency Program.

From free studio space and sales support to business training, ABI SPI helps artists with aspirations to own and operate their own art-related business.

“I graduated from college only two years ago right when COVID started so I felt like I had a lot of learning to do,” Piecuch said. “The world wasn’t what our professors said it would be once we graduated so when I saw this opportunity and that they would also be educating us more on the business side, as well as provide a space for me to work, it was kind of the perfect timing for what I needed.”

Piecuch began her time in the year-long program in February.

She creates her work primarily through traditional relief printing and digital methods, and enjoys the duality that each medium provides.

Her first mini art series was inspired by the birds that live and migrate through the South Padre Island area.

“We’re lucky that we live in such a migration hub. I get to see birds that I’ve seen up north come down here and birds that pass through here year-round,” Piecuch said. “In the beginning of my time in the program, I was strongly inspired by the flora and fauna of the area.”

Piecuch said she is now continuing to explore different things and create new pieces.

“The most recent project that I completed is a piece for an ice cream shop next door that just remodeled and asked the artists here if we had any ice cream themed work,” Piecuch said. “I decided to do a tattooed mermaid holding an ice cream cone because I felt like that was the perfect representation of this area. That’s been fun.”

In addition to creating art, Piecuch also conducts workshops at ABI SPI.

She normally has two workshops a month that are often themed with the time of year.

This month, she led a Christmas card printmaking workshop and a traditional workshop with Christmas elements.

“It’s been really great. There’s a saying that you don’t really know something until you can teach it,” Piecuch said. “I think that is true because it’s really helped me understand my process enough that I can explain it.”

Piecuch said her time in the program has helped her think about her goals as an art entrepreneur.

“Before, I did art because I like it, but I didn’t really know what I was going to go with,” Piecuch said. “I still think I’m figuring that out.”

Piecuch said she’s interested in the idea of partnering with other businesses and creators.

“Maybe one day, in the future, ideally I would love to have my own beautiful studio that I can actually teach out of or have a place for printmakers to work in at a low cost, but that might be a couple of years down the road once I’m rich and famous and have all the money,” Piecuch said with a laugh and smile.

Piecuch feels lucky to have always had good mentors who aided in her learning.

“All throughout high school and college, I had fantastic professors and then here I’ve been able to learn a lot about how it is to be an artist in the real world,” she said. “Because I’m the youngest of this program, I’ve been very lucky to hear about the stories that other artists have been able to tell me in their own experiences in what not to do and what to do.”

Advice Piecuch would give to aspiring art entrepreneurs is to know the importance of networking because that’s what she’s found to be the most helpful.

“If you want to succeed and go places, you have to, in a way, overcome being nervous and afraid by putting the work out there because that’s the only way people are going to be able to see it,” Piecuch said. “I wouldn’t know where I’d be if I didn’t do that and just take a chance.”

To view Cristina Piecuch’s artwork, visit:


>> ETSY: @CristinaPiecuchArt

>> INSTAGRAM: @the.manila.folder

>> FACEBOOK: @cristinapiecuchart