Q&A: ArtOfRochelle explores what it means to be a maker during the pandemic


Photo courtesy of Rochelle Peeples

Rochelle Peeples is the owner of small business ArtOfRochelle. Peeples shows off some examples of her alcohol ink coaster creations.

Kara Peeler, Reporter

With a love for art and an interest in expanding, Chicago resident Rochelle Peeples ventured into the world of small businesses with her alcohol ink coasters, magnets and paintings in 2018. Her business, called ArtOfRochelle, sells products through Etsy and in artist collaboratives like Chicago Makers Pop Up Shop. Peeples said her love of art helped her persevere and grow her store during the pandemic. The Daily spoke with Peeples to delve deeper into what it means to be an artist, maker and entrepreneur. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

The Daily: What has it been like being a maker and having a small business during a pandemic? 

Peeples: The business itself sort of excelled with a pandemic. I was already going in that direction. I was already making the art, and I was already considering selling the art for about a year. But then the pandemic happened. I started working full-time from home, so that just meant I had a lot of time, so I was making a lot more art than I normally was. And then I started to sell them because I was like, “Well, I have time now.” I was trying to find more avenues to sell, and I saw Chicago Makers was looking for applicants. And that’s that. 

The Daily: What mediums do you use and how did you get started? 

Peeples: I do have a full-time job, but I’m also a maker, so I consider myself an artist. I work with alcohol ink as my main medium right now. So I make alcohol ink, mostly coasters, but I do work with making paintings and other objects using alcohol ink. I started doing that in 2018 and then I started selling with Chicago Makers in 2021, so just this past year. 

The Daily: Where do you hope to take your business in the future?  

Peeples: I’ve been in the makerspace for over a year now. I’ve been in other small markets. I’m still at the shop at Chicago Maker(s) Shop, and I’m also in another store right now. I know that I might want to consider getting into other shops. Some people have reached out to me, but for me right now, I do have a full-time job, so it is a lot. These are not the only two things that are in my life right now. I do want to expand it, but we’ll see what happens. I love making art, so I’m not going to stop doing it, at the very least. 

The Daily: Do you have any advice for other artists? 

Peeples: If you’re somebody who is looking to start your own small, handmade or artist’s business, definitely look at what other people are doing. It’s okay to steal ideas just as long as you’re not just plagiarizing. You want to be successful in your business. I’m still new, so I’m still looking at other people and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Just try stuff out — and if you fail, it’s okay.

Interested in checking out Peeples’ work? Explore her Instagram @artofrochelle or Etsy shop.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @karapeeler

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