By Samantha Lambert
Katlyn Arnold has always had the urge to be different and uniquely creative. She was born and raised in DeFuniak Springs, graduated from Walton High School, and then earned her Bachelor’s in Art Education (grades K-12) from Troy University in 2014. Art has always been a passion for her.
Arnold started teaching at Walton Middle School in 2015. There was not an art program in place, so she was able to create one. That first year, she had five classes of 6th grade Visual Arts. The next year, she was able to add one class of 3D Media Advanced and four classes of 6th grade Visual Arts.
Arnold also started an after-school Art Club that year. For the 2017-18 school year, Arnold was able to add a 2D Advanced Art class for 7th graders and a 3D Ceramics class, in addition to three classes of 6th grade Visual Arts.
“When I became an art educator for Walton County, everything just flowed from my brain into my lessons as smooth as glass,” Arnold says. “I loved the ability to come up with inspiring topics, unique projects, and dabble in all types of media with different techniques.”
But she had also been thinking about being an advocate for the arts throughout local communities and inspiring others with art. “I wanted to expand my horizons. I wanted more!” At the end of this past school year, she decided to leave teaching and start her own art business, Uniquely Clever LLC.
Arnold’s goal is to renovate an old school bus and travel around giving art lessons, hosting fundraising and community events, and providing a quality, fun experience. “My husband and I have already started the renovating of the school bus we purchased,” she says. “I would like to have individual studio space inside with fold-out easels and cool décor. There will also be a storage area and a bathroom.”
She also plans to paint a mural on both sides of the bus and has already named the vehicle “The Imagination Machine.”
Arnold also wants to have DIY parties where adults can socialize, sip some wine, receive one-on-one help from her, and take home a gorgeous masterpiece. Arnold has been creating imaginative birthday parties for her eight-year-old son Hayden over the years and would like to do birthday parties on the bus as well.
Arnold wants to try as many art techniques as possible with her business, including painting, drawing, mixed media and clay. She also wants to recycle and help the environment where she can. “Recycle art is my jam,” she says. “I did that a lot with my students in the classroom. I strive to create lessons that focus on recycling, caps, cartons, wire, string, wood, old gadgets, you name it and I will strive for engaging art fun while helping our planet.” She eventually wants to add ceramics to her business and purchase a kiln.
Arnold points out that her father is part of her inspiration. “He developed his own welding company and has done very well with that. I want to see how far I can go with my business.” Her husband Ryan and son Hayden are behind her 100 percent, along with her former colleagues at Walton County Middle School.
She hopes to open her business in August and has launched her own website, UniquelyClever.com. The site is full of bright colors, and many of her paintings are available for purchase there. “I want to support the community by giving discounts to military personnel, first responders, and teachers,” Arnold says. “I’d like to collaborate with charities such as animal shelters to raise money and collaborate with schools.
“I want to be different and uniquely creative.”