How did Danielle Rimbert become interested in producing art?
“I was born,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon, basically. I have diaries from when I was younger than my daughter, like 6 years old, writing, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to be an artist.’”
Her childhood dream is now a reality. Rimbert has worked as a full-time artist for the past seven years, although she’s been creating art in Kitsap County for more than 20. Earlier this month, Rimbert put down roots in Bremerton, opening an art studio, Rimbert Illustration, on Callow Avenue.
Throughout most of her career as an artist, Rimbert was mobile. She painted windows around town for the holidays, painted murals and commissions, and taught paint-and-sip style art and drawing classes. As business grew — particularly painting murals and signs, which require large equipment such as ladders — Rimbert needed space to work out of and store her equipment. She rented out a storage unit, but with no electricity or heat, it wasn’t an ideal solution.
One of Rimbert’s window-painting clients is McGavin’s Bakery, the Callow Avenue business that owns the building Rimbert Illustration is located in. The space had been sitting vacant for years, and when the owners heard Rimbert was looking for a studio space, everything clicked into place. She opened the doors with an open house on Nov. 3.
“I had some people that found out about it on Facebook that I had no idea who they were, and they just wanted to come check it out,” she says. Family and friends came and checked it out, too. “I’ve lived in the area for a really long time and so I already have that built-in network of support.”
Rimbert says she doesn’t want Rimbert Illustration to be a showcase solely for her own work. She envisions it as a communal space for west Bremerton.
“This neighborhood has been kind of neglected for a while and business owners are banding back together, people are starting to buy more houses in this area, the city’s finally looking to reinvest more, and so we want to redefine the area, create a sense of pride in it,” she says.
In addition to displaying her art and hosting art classes, Rimbert says she plans to exhibit other artists and host indoor markets for the holidays. A weekly singer-songwriter showcase will take place every third Monday of the month, offering a laid-back, family-friendly vibe, she says, and open mics or poetry slams could be on offer in the future.
Rimbert says she also plans to rent the space out for events like receptions or birthdays, or possibly even small conventions. “The potential is there for whatever people want,” she says. “If other vendors wanted to rent it for their own market, they could do that.”
Rimbert is largely self-taught; although she has taken art classes in school and college, she “didn’t go to art school with a big, fancy degree,” she says. “I … [was] a single mom working two or three jobs, but even during then, I was making art and when my daughter was 1, I quit my real job and started teaching classes.”
She was determined to make a living as an artist. “I started my business with $200,” she says. She was asked by a business to do a painting class, but it went out of business after the first one. She bought the art supplies from them and started networking with restaurant owners she’d worked for in the past.
“I just used that already-built-in network of people, and I started doing paint-and-sips,” she says. “I would go and partner with restaurants or bars or wineries. … With the power of social media and my network, I would pop up and say, ‘OK, Tuesday night, we’re going to be painting this picture. I have this many seats.’ And I would have people pre-pay.”
About 10 people showed up to the first class. But it started growing. “I’d have one class, and then I had two a week, three a week, and then sometimes I would have 40 people in one class, she says. She also continued to do window-painting. With just three full-time window painters in the area, that side of her business started to grow as well, she added.
Rimbert says her artistic style leans toward the illustrative — hence the name of the studio. But she’s versatile: “I do more realistic portraits, and I do whimsical, lots of color. I tend to focus on nature or fantasy themes.”
Activities at the studio will start off slowly — November to December is a busy time for Rimbert, with many clients wanting holiday window-painting done in a fairly narrow timeframe — but come January and February, she anticipates opening it up more, and expanding to offer classes in things like knitting, embroidery, or jewelry-making.
“It’ll expand as I expand,” she says.
617 N. Callow Ave., Bremerton
Painting events are Tuesdays and Fridays
Live music is the third Monday of the month