The Entrepreneurial Artist

Published: Jul 10, 2014
Maria Cate ’16 started Twisted Hand in January of this year.
Maria Cate ’16 started Twisted Hand in January of this year.
Cate puts her custom drawings on anything from cell phone cases to sweatshirts and backpacks.
Cate puts her custom drawings on anything from cell phone cases to sweatshirts and backpacks.
“My drawings are pretty trippy,” Cate said.
“My drawings are pretty trippy,” Cate said.

When Maria Cate ’16 puts pen to paper, she draws nonstop — sometimes for nearly half a day — until her project is complete. Her mind is clear of thought, she is focused, and aside from music, she is free of the noises (both audible and inaudible) of life’s distractions.

“It helps me relax,” said Cate, who turned a lifelong penchant for drawing into Twisted Hand, a company she founded officially in January. Her designs are highly detailed, weaving circuitously from one thought to the next. Cate freehands every piece — accidents only lead to the art’s true intention.

“My drawings are pretty trippy,” explained Cate of the origin of her company’s name.

“If I went into my art knowing I could make mistakes, I would be so much more careless,” she writes on her website, www.twistedhand.net. “Having a permanent marker in my hand scares me into doing the best I can, every single time I draw. It challenges me, and it makes me better.”

Cate remembers going to her older sister’s soccer games as a kid, and instead of watching the action, she would sit in the stands with her parents drawing comic books. While at UT, she posted some of her canvas drawings to her Facebook page, where friends and family started asking for personalized pieces. Their interest — and desire to pay for her creations — led to Twisted Hand.

“I think there is a big demand by people for specialized art,” said Cate, who is touched by the value her customers have placed in her work. “It means a lot to me.”

The take off of her business has come at a busy time for Cate, an entrepreneurship major and graphic design minor. She has two law internships this summer and is taking a class, so she is finding fewer hours for art. But she is committed to her drawing.

As she enters her major-specific courses this fall, Cate brings with her the hands-on experience of running a business, which will give her a real-world perspective on the theories taught in class. As it is, her friends in UT Entrepreneurs already ask her lots of questions about what it’s like to run a business.

At the very least, the experience is giving her a commercial outlet for her artistic side, and she is saving money toward tuition expenses and funds for her graduation goal of backpacking across Europe with her best friend. Then it’s on to law school.

“I want to be my own boss,” she said, “whether it’s owning my own law firm or going my own route with my art.”
While practicing law is her dream career, Cate said drawing will always be a part of her life.

“Drawing is my passion, and I think it will take me far in life,” she writes on her website. “I want to keep minds thinking, wondering, questioning, challenging.”

 

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