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Mississippi Made: Ole Miss Students Turn Artistic Talent Into Cash

The starving artist is something of a meme in modern society, but some Ole Miss students have been able to turn their artistic talents into a little something extra while they earn their degrees.
Mia Tomasella, a senior accounting major from New Jersey, attends Ole Miss as a full-time student and paints in her spare time. She paints a range of pieces for personal benefit and often accepts requests from people she knows.
“I paint, it’s because of my mother,” she said. “My mom is basically my artistic icon. She paints around the house all the time. Our house is basically a resemblance of all of our artistic abilities. So I just kind of picked it up growing up.”
Tomasella said she loves painting and has found an audience among sororities on campus for her pieces, but definitely wants to keep it on the side as a hobby while she pursues a career in accountancy.
“I would love to have taken art,” she said. “I did take an art class, but I took practicality into consideration. I’m good with numbers so I rolled with that and I’ll keep art and painting as a hobby on the side. Art is definitely just an outlet on top of all my stressful accounting work, so I’ll definitely keep painting.”
Sarah McCullen, 20, is a junior print journalism major at the University of Mississippi and an Oxford native. Since early childhood, McCullen says she has loved to paint and draw.
She describes herself as the kid in grade school who would sit in the back of the classroom and sketch nonstop on her notepad while the teacher spoke. As a child, McCullen also took private art lessons, but could never find her unique niche until about two years ago when her mother asked her to paint a watercolor bird for their home.
McCullen agreed and painted her first of what would soon become many bird paintings. McCullen’s mother posted about it on Facebook where it caught the attention of various business owners on the Square.
McCullen has since showcased her artwork at different boutiques in town, selling out in one on her very first day.
McCullen now does deer and cows and even portraits. She plans to display and sell her work at Double Decker at the end of April.

Story contributed by Julia Martinez, Mia Sims, Jordan Dollenger and Amy Rosenthal.

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