Junior artist Catherine Sheehan launches @artworkbycatherine and turns passion into business

Sheehan’s work ranges from pastels to paints, all featured on her Instagram page.


(Photo Courtesy Catherine Sheehan)

Sahanya Bhaktaram

Junior Catherine Sheehan believes in a work-hard, play-hard balance, but her “play” involves chalk pastels, oils and acrylics and graphic design. 

Sheehan has combined her natural talent and social media to launch her own small business. Her business @artworkbycatherine on Instagram has taken off since she launched during her senior year of high school. But, art is still a hobby for Sheehan, and she emphasized the importance of not taking art so seriously, a mentality she’s held since middle school. 

“My art teacher in high school really cultivated my love for art because she encouraged me to just play with it,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan worked with chalk pastels and portraits in high school but has become well-versed with a variety of different artistic mediums through taking classes and personal experimentation. Through taking the Vanderbilt course Painting 1 with professor Farrar Cusomato, she learned to work with oil paints. She’s currently teaching herself graphic design through apps like “Procreate,” and recently created a logo for her brother, an aspiring musician. 

“My brother and I definitely feed off of each other and I am grateful to him that I can bounce ideas off of him. We are both very supportive of each other’s respective passions,” she said.

Sheehan loves creating and sharing her creations, but she did have some doubts about turning her passion into a business. When she began selling her paintings, her main fear came from the expectations of others. She used to worry about not being able to create a piece that complemented her clients’ visions, but she has started to enjoy the challenge.

“I like when the project is very unique to the individual. It makes the piece very cool to make,” Sheehan said.

Social media, specifically Instagram, has not only given Sheehan a platform to share her work, but serves as a fountain of inspiration as well. She loves to scroll through fellow Instagram art accounts and find small, unique artists. 

While she’s grateful for this platform, she does not plan to use Instagram to launch a full-time career in art like others on the app. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in the tech industry but hopes to satisfy her creative niche with something in front development or experimental design. Even if not through academics or a job, Sheehan prioritizes her art as an essential expressive outlet and a time to clear her mind. 

“When I work on my art, I get into a dreamlike zone where I can’t hear anything. It’s very therapeutic,” she said, “Having art as an oasis is important to have to complement my other interests.”