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Grindstaff gears profession to art world

Much like the stroke of a paint brush, Colton Grindstaff used time and precision to accomplish his goals.

It all started with the love of the arts. Grindstaff, a 2018 graduate of Elizabethton High School, capitalized on opportunities that formed over the past academic year to create heART Natural Productions, a small business created in conjunction with the school system’s pilot Bartleby Project program. Through the process, Grindstaff was able to create heART Natural Productions — a business geared toward promoting arts in the Tri-Cities area.

All of the work started with a passion of promoting the arts, according to Grindstaff.

“My inspiration came from as little to those as a kid on a sidewalk drawing flowers with chalk to as big as those on Broadway,” Grindstaff said. “Everyone has art in their heart. Be it through business, theatre, drawing… anything really. Everyday people inspire me because, yes they may not be published or put on pedestals, but when they make art… for those split seconds they are completely satisfied.”

Since graduating, Grindstaff has continued the theme of hitting the ground running by working with several artists in the region.

“heART is a more art projected based company,” he said. “Think of like how athletes have agents to negotiate a player’s talent. I go to a local business or company and negotiate why my artist should be showcased somewhere at their establishment. In the future, I look to get more immersed into the world of theatre and film.”

Grindstaff credits Karen and Tom Hitchcock of Blue River Studio for the growth of the business and assistance with different projects. Grindstaff worked alongside the duo during the 2018 Downtown Elizabethton Art Walk and helped with different artistic items for the project, including some artistic flair some chalk art scattered throughout the downtown sidewalks.

The idea for the business was able to blossom during the 2017-18 academic year at EHS.

Grindstaff was one of seven students enrolled in the inaugural entrepreneurship class. The class, which was co-taught by EHS teachers Jessica Hayes and Alex Campbell, allowed students to create their own small business ideas and apply for a monetary amount of funding — provided by XQ America — to start up their idea. Students brainstormed on marketing, business plans and other ways to make their businesses self-sufficient. Along with the teachers, several business owners and local entrepreneurs assisted students as “sharks” by giving advice on how to manage money and make their businesses successful.

“The Bartleby Program is amazing, but at the same time I feel everyday kids could do what I do, given the opportunities,” he said. “There is obviously some elite group of kids going through the program, but when I look around my classroom and see those kids who aren’t as ‘smart’ or ‘applicable’ as say those who are widely considered are, those kids are the ones that make the most wonderful pieces of art or compose the best poetry. All the kids in Bartleby are excellent, but by no means do I consider myself more elite, just more immersed and given more opportunities.”

With the growth of the arts continuing in Elizabethton and Carter County, Grindstaff was quick to give advice to those coming through the ranks wanting to reach their dreams like he did.

“My words of encouragement is, as a fellow artist, is to never be on the fence,” he said. “If you’re thinking about doing something, then do it or don’t. Go all out. If you don’t think that book that you’ve been writing or all the time you’ve spent in your room working and memorizing lines is going to take you anywhere, you’re absolutely right, it’s not. You have to go that extra step. Send it in to that publishing company or try out for that play.

“If you fall, so what? Never be scared of failure or rejection,” he continued. “Even the best get rejected. Edgar Allan Poe was rejected for his work his whole life and now 100-plus years later there’s a football team named after his poem and he’s in every English and history textbook.”

To learn more about Grindstaff’s business, visit heART Natural Productions on Facebook or call (423) 542-5369.