Visual Arts

Sharna Fulton Encourages Self-Confidence through Self-Expression

You can find art all over town — not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

If you're one of those folks who thinks the color pink is offensive or downright oppressive for young girls — well, you clearly haven't met Chloe Pink.

After graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder, Sharna Fulton spent her twenties working in her native Denver as a communications specialist. “And then I moved away,” she says. First to Washington, D.C., and later to Atlanta for two decades, where she began experimenting with a cartoon character – Chloe Pink – with a shameless affinity for pink.

Fulton moved back to Colorado last July and brought Chloe Pink along; Fulton's goal is to turn her into a brand property available for licensing in the children's and women's gift, toy, publishing and apparel markets. Chloe Pink, she explains, is “a motivational character and a leadership role model for girls. She’s a seven-year-old who has a magic cap and the support of her BFF, Pete, a terrier mutt.”

When Chloe Pink dons her signature baseball cap, she can go anywhere she pleases. “The message to girls,” Fulton says, “is that they should be able to follow their dreams. It’s about being self-confident, adventurous and independent.”

Those are messages that have been pushed out a lot lately. But the current dialogue has been centered around STEM, Fulton says, and encourages girls to explore science, technology, engineering and math. She has a slightly different take on the subject of girl power: “What I try to do is encourage girls through the arts because I think it makes them more confident and helps them understand themselves better,” she says.

“I think we are all creative,” continues Fulton. Especially elementary school girls: “They love to color and write, and that builds the self confidence needed to express yourself. With art, there is no wrong answer.” 

Fulton’s day job might have been in the communications and advertising realm, but “I’ve been an artist my whole life,” she says.

When she was seven, Fulton knew she wanted to write children’s books and do a cartoon. She wasn’t an art major in college, but she took plenty of painting classes; later, she tried her hand at illustration while living in Atlanta. Fulton dabbled in commercial art and even ran a successful, sporty pottery business focused on custom mugs and ornaments marketed primarily at marathons. 

“It was really popular, but also really time-consuming,” Fulton says of her pottery business. She made all of the pieces herself, and eventually decided to close that down and focus on Chloe Pink. “A lot of what I do is self-taught,” Fulton says, noting that Chloe Pink has evolved tremendously since she was created in 2006.

To accompany the simple, pink-loving doodle, Fulton self-published two activity books for girls ages four to ten, available on Amazon and through the Chloe Pink website.

The activity books contain humorous, heartfelt messages, and have journal sections, too, with prompts to get girls and their parents thinking. “With these books, I do creative workshops at libraries, after-school clubs – even Starbucks,” Fulton says. Her last workshop ran for seven weeks at a local Boys & Girls Club of America, and incorporated elements of literacy. 

Fulton has also prototyped a Chloe Pink doll. “What I’m trying to do with Chloe Pink is make her a brand, and license the art to manufacturers and publishers,” Fulton explains. “I’d like to see Chloe Pink in Target, just like Hello Kitty.”

In the meantime, Fulton is shopping around a Chloe Pink picture book that she wrote and illustrated. For more information on Fulton and her character, visit the Chloe Pink website.
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Jamie Siebrase is a Denver-based freelance writer, and author of the forthcoming Falcon Guide Hiking Wth Kids, Colorado: 52 Great Hikes for Families.
Contact: Jamie Siebrase

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