City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Shop Small

Meet Local Artist Quinn Candee, Who at Eight Years Old, Has a Booming Card Business and Big Dreams

Article by Katherine Owen

Photography by Poppy & Co. by Kelsey Huffer

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Step inside any artist’s home studio, and you’re likely to find a scattering of tools and snippets of inspiration. Step inside Quinn Candee’s world, and it’s all glitter and paint and importantly, LEGOs. 

The eight-year-old artist is the visionary behind a burgeoning greeting card business, sold via her Instagram, @qcardshop (run by her parents), and at Low Rider in Hygiene. It all started with the LEGOs, after Quinn’s parents, Katie and Dan, explained she’d have to start contributing to the cause upon being asked for yet another LEGO kit (“an expensive house palace of many thousands of pieces,” as Dan puts it). 

“Then I think Quinn asked her dad, ‘Well, how do you make money?’ He said that a healthy business is one that solves a problem or brings delight to people,” Katie explains. “He said, 'What do you like to do that would help people or make them happy?'”

“I said art!” Quinn chimes in, effusively, before jetting off to find one of her favorite art books with which she gives a tour of her sources of inspiration, starting with Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” “My favorite artist in the whole entire world!” she exclaims.

Dan recounts how Quinn got to work immediately: “By that afternoon, she had finished her first batch of cards and asked to be taken to Pearl Street to sell them there. We laughed a bit, a little shocked, and politely said something about ‘Maybe tomorrow,’ as parents do... She refused to accept that. She said she would go sell them out on our dirt road... Katie and I watched from the window as this little five-year-old girl flagged down cars and of course, 100% of the cars stopped. She was so proud. She has never looked back.” 

Quinn’s cards feature brightly hued, textural paint often topped with gold foil or sometimes glitter. Some feature a Jackson Pollock-esque splatter-style, while others are made with a variety of techniques using sticks, brushes, spray paint and a spray bottle. When Katie calls her techniques "unique", Quinn beams, “That’s my favorite word.” 

Quinn explains one of her current favorite methods: smashing two wet pieces together and rubbing them around. “It makes them look cool; it looks like coral,” Quinn explains. She makes the cards out on the driveway or in her dad’s car barn, in batches of 20-50 that tend to sell out quickly. 

The third-grader draws inspiration from far beyond her art book; having traveled to 22 states and 10 countries, she has stamps in her passport that adults would envy. Favorite destinations domestically and abroad include Hawaii and Italy. She’s been to the Guggenheim and MoMA, and was already well aware of Jackson Pollock when asked if she was familiar. 

But Quinn also comes from a long line of artists: “My mom is a really good artist,” Quinn attests. “She watched me paint a lot,” Katie explains, whose grandmother was also a painter. Asked what it’s like knowing her mom’s art has been in galleries, Quinn’s quick to add: “I got inspired—it's awesome. I want to be in museums.”

For now, Quinn’s pretty happy to have people buying her cards. Asked how it feels to have others paying for her art, she smiles: "Oh, good. Because now I have money to buy this,” she says, gesturing to an intricate LEGO masterpiece. 

But the art also came at a critical time in Quinn’s life, as her family chased down a diagnosis for what they would eventually find out—after a year of research, appointments, bone marrow surgery, MRIs, blood work and genetic testing—is the ultra-rare genetic disorder called Ollier Disease. The disease is characterized by benign growths of cartilage that develop within bones and therefore cause abnormal bone development. Currently, Katie and Dan are in the process of launching The Ollier Foundation, in order to find a cure. Dan reports that, right now, the deformities can only be treated through invasive surgeries. Eventually, they hope Quinn’s cards can be part of the cause. 

“It's been hard and emotional, but it's been inspiring,” Katie begins to explain. “What's the emotional part?” Quinn cuts in from the LEGO table across the room, to which Katie explains that there were a lot of unknowns. 

“To process some of her emotions, doing a bunch of cards would distract her,” Katie says. “I think as an eight-year-old she's not able to really always articulate how she's feeling, but she is able to get it out in art. It's very beautiful. Looking back at it. In the moment it was hard to see, but now, I think that she definitely worked through some of that with art. Without missing a beat, Quinn chimes in: “We'll get through this!” 

Find out more about Quinn’s work and shop the next drop on Instagram at @qcardshop or at Low Rider.