Field Interview: Annie Riecke, Ocean State of Mind RI

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This week's interview is with Annie Riecke of Ocean State of Mind RI.  Annie's positive spirit shines through each hand painted sign she creates.  She started selling with Field of Artisans a couple of summers ago and right away she lit up the Field with her smile and love of life. She offers a sign for any occasion, location or feeling and is often painting custom signs on the spot at markets.  Give the gift of Rhody happiness with a sign from Ocean State of Mind RI! 


Find Ocean State of Mind RI in the Field at Whalers Brewing Company on:

SUNDAYS, 12/3 and 12/10, 11:30-4:30


1.  The name of your brand and your use of driftwood make it clear that Rhode Island has something to do with the origins of your business.  Was there a specific moment that you decided you wanted to create Ocean State of Mind RI?  

Around five years ago I started to notice all the wood that was washing up on our shorelines and littering our beaches.  I decided to start collecting driftwood to incorporate it into my home decor and to make signs for others. After creating some signs for charity, I realized that not only was this idea eco-friendly, but it was something I truly enjoyed creating.



2.  Driftwood is a common theme in your pieces, however you've recently introduced some new materials such as 100 year old slate tiles!  Do you plan to continue to expand the base of your signs, or was this a special, one time collection?

Sometimes I look to expand and sometimes things just fall into place! While I primarily work with wood, I try not to limit myself to just one medium.  My only rule of thumb is that the material has to have been used and is now being discarded.  I don't use new materials.  It defeats the purpose of being eco-friendly and minimizing waste.  


3.  You free hand all of your signs and your handwriting is so seamless, stylized and readable!  Have you always had such a good hand or is this something you've perfected over time?

My handwriting has always been pretty neat.  I passed a lot of hours of my education practicing my handwriting and doodling all over everything (sorry teachers).  When I first started painting, I stenciled for the first few months, but it wasn't until a client requested script signs for her daughter's wedding that I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and started doing free hand.  After some hard practice, I never looked back.


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4.  You have a way with words!  The messages and phrases on all of your pieces convey such positivity and are very relatable.  Do you ever have writer's block when coming up with each phrase?  Where do you look for inspiration when planning out these messages? 

Oh, man. I get writer's block, a lot!  When I get stuck, a lot of my inspiration comes from music.  I am constantly scouring for obscure bands, singers, and artists that I find relatable. Yoga has also been a big part of my life over the last two years and that's when a real shift happened in my messages of my signs. 


5.  What's one of your favorite inspirational quotes, phrases or words?

"The effect you have on others, is the most valuable currency there is."-Jim Carrey

This quote is part of his famous commencement address to Maharishi University.  For me, that speech was nothing short of life changing.


6.  You sell in person at markets but you also have a successful Etsy business, website and social media.  Do you find it's helpful to have an online presence?  How do you utilize your in person interactions as a way to direct more traffic to your digital platforms? 

I established myself online about 2 years before I ever did my first show.  I had customers all across the world, but so few in Rhode Island.  I decided to do markets to give myself a local presence.  Over the last 3 years I have used markets to give my business a personalization.  I find that once people have met me in person or have watched me paint (I paint on the spot at almost all my shows), it drives a lot of people back to my online shop. 




7.  I feel like you'd have a good playlist to work to?  Do you listen to music while painting?  What's on your playlist??  Or, do you work best in quiet?

I listen to music borderline obsessively. I always have music playing when painting; I find it helps me relax.  These are my tried and true favorites: Donavon Frankenreiter, Bob Marley, Anderson East, Ray Lamontagne, Jason Isbell, Tedeschi Trucks, Ziggy Marley, Toots and the Maytals, The Mallett Brothers Band (have to support local), Lake Street Dive, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, 

Jack Johnson, The Allman Brothers, Sublime, The Band, and so much more. When I'm not working, I'm usually at a concert.


8.  It looks like you've done some commission work for companies who need signs at their brick and mortar, booth display etc.  Is this a service you are always offering?

I like working with shops that are like minded.  I love small businesses that are selling local artisans and putting money back into our community.  When you invest your money into a small business, you are supporting a dream.  I am always looking for new partnerships. 


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9.  Along with Ocean State of Mind RI, you are also a teacher.  What would your advice be to a fellow artist who works a full time job but also wants to find time to create a small business? 

Balance.  Do what sets your soul on fire and be mindful of your relationships. Having a business plus a full time career is challenging and exciting, but it's the people in your life that make it all worthwhile.  Start small and set parameters on your working time to keep it manageable.  I read a lot of articles and books the first 3 years of my business.  I don't have a degree in business and basically gave myself a constant crash course in marketing.  It made a big difference.


10.  Dream collaboration?  Can be a specific person, general person, company, etc.  What would you create together?! (We're already a HUGE fan of your collaboration with Art by Rosie!)

Art by Rosie is so great! I admire her work and I was thrilled to collaborate with her in creating reclaimed wooden wave art.  There are a lot of local artists that I LOVE, but, Alex Eaves of Stay Vocal has to be the next person I collaborate with.  He "rescues" t-shirts and gives them a second life by re-designing them.  Hopefully next year we will be able to make that happen.  In the meantime, you should totally check out his company Stay Vocal as well as his Box Truck which he transformed into a living space.  Dude is unreal and an inspiration to people who wish to find abundance in the things that already exist around them.


See more of Annie's work on Instagram and Facebook

She also sells through her online shop!