Hatch Tribe Hero | Cory McBee
When Cory McBee left her longtime corporate design career to pursue her love—creating art—she knew it was right. The thing is, when you're doing what you're meant to do, it clicks. It lights you up and you don't get tired of it.
You have dance parties in your "office." And that's exactly what Cory does in her Charleston studio with her young daughter and dogs. She is still the type-A, hyper-organized and business-minded fempreneur that succeeded at a corporate career and built her Modern South Studio into a sustainable business. That balance of levity and work ethic is exactly what makes her our Hatch Tribe Hero of the month.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Having control over my creative goals. I love that I control what happens. Things don’t always go as planned, at least I know I am calling the shots. There is something empowering about knowing succeed or fail - you own it?
WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?
Too many ideas. It could be the next painting or series I am working on, it could be a list of contacts I have yet to reach out to, the next collaboration. Ideas, ideas, ideas.
WHAT IGNITED THE SPARK IN YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
Control, I wanted to control over my work and process. It started when I became tired of designing for others. I want to design and create what I had in my head. Plus, I needed a more creative outlet. Modern South started as a design business back in 2012 and an outlet for my graphic illustrations. In 2015 when I decided to begin painting again I did so under the Modern South name.
WHAT PERSONALITY TRAIT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
My ambition. I would not have accomplished half of the things I have in my life without it.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Don’t let fear rule you. While I am ambitious, I am overly practical and cautious. I wish I had not waited so long to start painting again after college. I don’t regret my path as it lead me to where I am now. However, the longer I went without picking up a paintbrush the more intimidating it became to do so. I kept waiting for the “right time.” And while when I chose to begin again was a good time, I wish I had started it sooner and maybe let some of the other things I had going on go to do so.
WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION?
I spend a lot of time looking at the works of mid century artists and illustrators. I have always used geometric shapes and formulas in my graphic illustrations, however it was only recently that I was able to break through and begin to add those to my paintings. My abstract landscapes are definitely influenced by Mid Century abstracts and coastal scenes, however now the same geometric shapes you see in my graphic works are now appearing in my abstract work. Combining the brush strokes and feel of my landscapes with more geometric work is a breakthrough I have been working on for some time.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE FEAR?
With a lot of wine. Also the older I get the less afraid I am. There is something that comes along with age and knowing that nothing ever came from fear. While I have made some bad choices I don’t regret any of them. I have had some great wins, and losses. However, I have never regretted doing it, just not doing it.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH ONE EXTRA HOUR IN THE DAY?
Spend time with my daughter. No one makes me laugh like she does. One thing that all entrepreneurs can relate to is balancing your time. The number one statement people make to me is, “I don’t know how you do it all?” My answer is always the same. “I just do.” Working full time and being a full time artist is not easy, but I make it work. The key is not to be lazy. There many times I just want to sit on the couch, drink a glass of wine and watch TV but I can’t I have to get shit done. I sacrifice that extra hour of sleep, or that tv show to spend with my family. For every hour I waste watching tv it is one hour less I have to spend time with my daughter. Don’t get me wrong there are times I do watch tv and drink a glass of wine, but it is all about balancing it.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO COME HOME TO?
A piece I have just had a breakthrough on. There is something so rewarding about coming home to a piece I now love, but hated the night before.
WHEN YOU'RE NOT WORKING, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND YOUR FREE TIME?
With family and friends, that is an easy one ;)
ABOUT CORY MCBEE
Cory McBee is a contemporary coastal abstract artist based in Charleston, SC, where she lives, paints and has dance parties in her home studio with her husband, daughter and two pups. It took Cory over 15 years away from art to realize this dream. After over a decade in a graphic design career, she came back to her passion for painting. Born in Dallas, TX, she grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, PA and graduated from The College of Charleston with a BA in Studio Art and a MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design in Graphic Design. After silencing the painting part of her creative soul for 15 years, she realized she was denying a huge part of who she was. Now, each day she spends painting feels like a precious gift.
Recently, Cory was named to USA Today 10 Best Makers of 2017 list. She also work with West Elm local, the high-end design boutique Mitchell HIll, and galleries like Trager Contemporary and Kristen Coates.
When not painting—or having a paint dance party—much of her free time is spent travelling with her family, exploring culture and the arts everywhere we go. Her passion is to bring those experiences and exploration into her life through art and design