Shea and son, Caysen.


An artist is often stereotyped in a couple different ways.  Some visualize a broke, hippy, getting in touch with their inner feelings, and putting it on a canvas. Others think of fine wine, and arrogant artists in a New York City gallery. However, an artist does not have to be either or. At least not for Shea Hartman-Hodges.

“I knew I wanted to be an artist around the age of 25,” Hodges says. She goes on explaining that, she had lost her job at the bank, had three kids, a husband and had already tried lots of things. She says, “At this point, I didn’t care what I did, I just wanted to enjoy what I did.” Therefore, she began studying at Morningside College, to earn a degree in studio art and creative writing.

Hodges says, “Most people told me I couldn’t get a degree in art or writing. Especially writing, because I have dyslexia. That was all more reason for me to prove them wrong.” Today, Shea sits in her downtown studio in Sioux City. When you meet her, she is happier than ever to talk about anything. Her long brown hair is down, and she is dressed in jeans and a crochet sweater. Her smile she gives is always more than welcoming. Terry McGaffin, a professor at Morningside, says, “I was set up to be her advisor for art classes. She made a strong first impression, a very positive force. Her confidence and self knowledge just leaves you in awe.”

Shea talks about what it means to be a modern day artist. She says, “When I’m asked what I do, and I reply that I’m an artist, they say, ‘OK, but what’s your real job?’” She laughs and says that she usually tells them she also bartends downtown. “People look at art like it’s just a hobby,” explains Hodges. She feels this is why it is so financially hard to keep up. Most people in the area do not buy professional artwork. You can’t buy paint and supplies to continue to do art, when no money from your work is coming in. Other struggles she has found include, finding places to show her work and knowing how to promote herself. “The huge thing I learned in school was confidence and how to take criticism, but no one taught me how to promote myself to the public” she says.

McGaffin feels that one thing Shea does best is keeping herself informed. Sitting on Shea’s desk is a copy of “I’d Rather Be In The Studio,” a book on self-promotion. She looks at it and says that its ‘her bible,’ with a large grin on her face. She does not ever regret her line of work choice. “I love my job. I don’t have to make excuses for being eccentric. Most of all, I can show my kids no matter what, you can go after your dreams,” says Hodges.

Artwork done by Shea Hartman Hodges

One Response to “Life As An Artist- (Final Feature Story)”

  1.   fuglsang said:

    Shea has a good story to tell, and probably some good advice, but I’m not sure you’ve gotten deep enough yet. More on the dyslexia, maybe. More on the economic aspects I imagine. With more time and more interviewing you would have got there. Keep working on your writing, Jen. Your style will develop with time and you’ll get more comfortable.

    Keep challenging yourself. See you next semester.