“What would it look like if you stepped away and did something else?”
This is the thought process Jenny O’Brien explains during an 11:00am People of the Neighbourhood interview at an imperfectly stained table in 4Cats Arts Studio at 250 Victoria Street. The faint smell of drying pottery and sight of miniature scissors leaves you reminiscing over middle school art classes.
Stepping away. This is an intimidating and often uncomfortable thought process that resonates with people who have moved from one industry to another, or one country to another; yet, the O’Brien’s managed to do both. Moving from Sydney to Vancouver to Kamloops, the couple switched from their careers in the medical industry (Jenny) and animation production (Mike) to open 4Cats Arts Studio in July 2012. Jenny states that she , “…has always been in love with art, I’ve always done it on the side, as a hobby, but it’s never been something that I believed that I could get into as a business. I was over the moon when we found 4Cats, this is something I could do, and it incorporates everything I love doing. Mike followed a path to animation in the last year of his Bachelor of Fine Arts and has always wanted to be an instructor in some capacity. This is perfect for us.”
Jenny adds, “We chose to open downtown because we wanted to be able to draw on the entire community…I think the draw to Kamloops for me was from growing up in Chase. This – an arts studio as opposed to window shopping with my mom while my brothers played sports- would have been something I really would’ve appreciated as a child. I really wanted to bring that back to the community.” Mike & Jenny’s experiences both overseas and in the region have established an open-minded network, whether hosting corporate paint-night parties or sponsoring up-and-coming artists during Art Battle.
The couple’s contributions have not gone un-noticed either. In February 2017, 4Cats Arts Studio was awarded the Downtown Leadership Award by the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Associations. Furthermore, their business received 2 nominations for the 2014 Business Excellence Awards hosted by the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce. It’s business owners like the O’Briens that foster open-mindedness, creative arts, and hard work throughout the cobblestone neighborhood.
Whether you are spinning some clay, splashing paint or pouring resin, be sure to book your next artistic adventure with Mike & Jenny at 4Cats Arts Studio!