By Ashley Whittle Tiedt
Photos by Kelsea Schafer
More of a Hobby
Mallory was born in Indiana and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, where she graduated from Brentwood High School. She left Nashville and moved to Tuscaloosa to study Management Information Systems. As she had done in high school, Mallory continued to take art classes at Alabama when they fit into her schedule.
“It was relaxing,” Mallory says. “I would get together with my other creative friends and we would just paint. My major was very intensive, especially the last year or two. That is a way to unwind a little.”
Upon graduation, Mallory’s art was relegated to the weekend as a hobby. Soon, Mallory’s career took her to New York City, where she spent her days working for Microsoft and her nights and weeks visiting art galleries around the city.
“That was kind of my informal art education because my friends and I made a point of going to shows,” she says. “I got to learn a lot about some of the artists that you would learn about in art history. I also learned a lot about post-modern pop culture artists. I love contemporary. I love funky!”
Working for Microsoft is where Mallory fell in love with PowerPoint. Creating art is how she processes her emotions, pouring her whole self into the canvas meant to be displayed in someone else’s space.
“PowerPoint is Microsoft’s best product,” she explains. “When I worked at Microsoft, I loved to design decks. Now, I actually design my pieces on PowerPoint instead of sketching.”
Covid Changes Everything
In 2020, like the rest of the world, Mallory found herself isolated at home.
“Covid was very hard for a lot of people,” Mallory notes. “There were a lot of restrictions in New York. I lived alone and found myself doing more and more art to pass the time.”
During lockdowns, Mallory started “The Artist Way,” which is a 12-week program that is built to help artists dig deeper and connect more with their creativity. It was therapeutic in a way, providing an outlet for the anxiety and loneliness of the time.
She would spend the day working remotely for Microsoft and her evenings perfecting her craft. She also began commissioning work during that time, selling the majority of her work save for a few pieces.
“The Artist Way” program, the pandemic and the commissioning and selling of her artwork had started to make Mallory think about what a change could mean for her life.
“I started evaluating and thinking about what I am most proud of that I’ve done in the last few years,” Mallory says. “So that analysis is something that really made me think more seriously about doing it full-time.”
The Leap of Faith
The decision to leave Microsoft was not an easy one for Mallory.
“I love the company, I love everyone I worked with,” she explains. “I truly have nothing bad to say about it. I just thought if I were to reach my career aspirations at Microsoft, I would never feel as proud as if I were to build an art career or build a small business on my own.”
For the next six months, Mallory wrestled with whether to leave New York. Eventually, she moved back to Nashville and started the process of determining where to start her art career. Mallory’s husband, best friend, sister and brother-in-law all decided to move to Birmingham, so Mallory decided it was time to move there as well.
Mallory began looking all over the Birmingham area to find the perfect place to live and finally stumbled upon Mountain Brook.
Mallory believes that anything you take in comes back out of you. The beauty and charm of Mountain Brook shine through her artwork. While Mallory creates art to sell at shows, most of her work is commissioned.
To begin the process, Mallory sets up an hour-long interview to learn more about the art she’ll be creating, asking questions about their lives and passions.
“I think of a theme based on the interview,” she says. “I spend time in prayer, just asking for creative guidance. I want to make sure that it’s something that’s really special. During that time, I determine what stamp will be used on the piece. So my faith definitely impacts my work a lot.”
Mallory will listen to sermons and Christian books while she works. She doesn’t just create the art, she custom-builds the canvas before she begins to paint. They are built in unconventional shapes that will fit together on the buyer’s wall. She uses acrylic paint for the color blocking and then creates custom stamps for the text on each piece.
“I really like that process,” Mallory explains. “A lot of times, the text is what really resonates with someone and makes them feel like the piece speaks to them. It’s also something I want to embody or that sets the tone for a space.”
The space is also special to the process. To truly customize the experience, Mallory needs to get an accurate representation of being in the space. If one is local to Birmingham, she wants to be in the space and embrace it. If one isn’t, a virtual tour of the space will do.
The most interesting part of Mallory’s process brings her back to her Microsoft roots.
“I build the art in PowerPoint first,” she explains. “It helps me to design it in that way first before I begin to create.”
She won’t always show the client the PowerPoint design first, but building it in that way allows Mallory to brainstorm and design, while allowing her to see the design before it is on the canvas. Inspiration is everywhere for Mallory Lane, from Microsoft to Mountain Brook, she’s talking art everywhere she goes.
Those interested in commissions can visit mallorylanecreative.com or follow her on Instagram at @mallorylane.creative.