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Meet Edward Freeland in McDonough

Today we’d like to introduce you to Edward Freeland.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Edward. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As far back as I can remember, I wanted to live the kind of life that I could, one day write a story about. I’ve always enjoyed exploring and getting my hands dirty. Not only was I drawing and painting during those earliest years, I was regularly freaking my parents out by my necessity to randomly explore the far reaches of my Northern Californian hometown. I always laugh while thinking about what the parents of my first childhood friends must have been thinking. “Who does this 4-year old boy belong to? He just showed up on his training wheeled Huffy and is asking for something to eat. Why is he only wearing shorts and cowboy boots? You live where? That’s over a mile away?!”

While growing up, creating art was just one of those things that I did sporadically. Like whenever I had a class assignment that might incorporate some type of cover page or plant rendering for biology class. I’d always get lost in the art aspect of the project I was working on and be very meticulous about the details of its outcome. The art assignments were the ones I really looked forward to and always put significantly more time into than what was expected.

As a young man, I wasn’t convinced that an early career in art was realistic and so, most of my time was spent studying, hanging out with friends and playing sports. Art was one of those things I thought I would attempt later in life, when I’ve achieved business success and was finally sustainable, financially.

I think a lot of us have experienced how life can lead us to places we never thought we’d go. I’ve always been a dreamer and an adventurer and I remember getting a lot of slack for being too lofty with my goals while growing up. So, in my attempt to buckle down and get focused on what others perceived as realistic, I studied at San Jose State University and the Academy of Art University during the late 90’s and early 2000. And, I ended up working for a number of startup companies during the dotcom era. Fortunately for me now, all of these startups went bankrupt and I was forced to move on and find other paths. I soon found myself getting into sales jobs, and even relocated to Chicago for a year to be a Trader in the scrap metal Industry. I tried a lot of different jobs over the years in my attempt to find what felt right, including roofing, some construction, owning and operating a medical marijuana business, and most recently working as a Drive Through Attendant at Chick-fil-a for about a year and a half in McDonough, Georgia. However, the need to create art was always enticing me to come back.

In 2015, I met an accomplished sculptor, Andy Davis of McDonough, GA who attempted to take me under his wing and develop me as his studio assistant. He had several high-profile commissions he’d just won, including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. statue for Atlanta, Georgia’s state capitol and four statues of Hall of Famers for the new Atlanta Braves stadium. Just before Andy and I were to begin working together, on them his life was tragically cut short by a drunk driver. This was a pivotal point for me because it pushed me to do some serious evaluating of where I wanted my life to end up, and it finally sunk in that it was up to me to take control of the outcome.

I used what Andy had shown me from his own journey and I began teaching myself how to sculpt through trial and error, books and YouTube videos. While creating my first sculpture (a bust of a 21-year-old Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), I also began creating a new series of paintings with the vision that they’d develop into my signature style of work. I have always been a huge fan of textured paintings and didn’t have the money to purchase textured mediums from art supply stores. Therefore, I knew I had to be resourceful and willing to use items that I would find laying around my home. Things like sand, sticks, rocks, recycled glass bottles, house paint, etc.

Over the next several months, I developed my process and style of multimedia sculptured glass paintings. I wasn’t sure what subject matter would sell so I decided to diversify and painted several figurative pieces as well as a few riverscape scenes. There were several high-end galleries I had been talking to through my process of creation and even began showing at one for a couple weeks, before seeing first hand how careful a fine artist must be when seeking gallery representation. From my short-lived experience at this stepping-stone gallery, I took my work door-to-door and approached every gallery in Alpharetta and Roswell. I pitched my work to numerous gallery owners who were willing to listen, before finding the most perfect situation I could ask for at the Ford Smith Fine Art gallery in Roswell, GA. The funny thing is that Ford and Cristi Smith (President/Owner of Ford Smith Fine Art, as well as Ford Smith’s wife) weren’t looking to represent another artist. I’m not sure what you’d call it? Serendipity? Strategic luck? I stumbled into the most perfect situation, and the rest has been history in the making. I’ve been selling just about every piece I’ve created and I’m developing a backlog of commission requests, including two pieces for Shaquille O’Neal. I’m even collaborating with Ford Smith on a bunch of pieces that we refer to, as our “In Concert” series.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road to this point hasn’t been easy but it’s been very worthwhile. And, I’m extremely grateful for all of it. Every part of it needed to happen as it did, for this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. In November of 2013, I came to Georgia to enter rehab for drugs and alcohol. My plan was to stay here for just two months, get clean and sober, and then fly back to California and resume my role as an owner of my successful medical marijuana business. I never anticipated me remaining in Georgia. All of my possessions were in California, except for the two suitcases of limited clothing and possessions that I brought with me. And I didn’t know a single person in Georgia.

As I learned more about addiction, I realized that I needed to change everything, in a big way. I needed to start over and this new Georgian environment could be a huge opportunity for me and my recovery, if I let it. So, I gave up everything I had left in California and worked on rebuilding a new life. I had faith that I would just figure it out and things would come together. In 2014, through a lot of persistence and clever convincing to the Owner/Operator I began a new job at Truett’s (a branch of the Chick-fil-a restaurant chain), starting at the ground floor. I walked to and from work most days, saved my money, and learned to live within very humble means. Over the course of the next year and a half, while working for Chick-fil-a, I created a new strategy for my future and changed my perception on how I would approach this new life. Not to mention, a fire began to build within and I soon attacked everything I attempted with more hunger, desire and passion than I’ve ever experienced. I stopped letting fear dictate my next moves or lack thereof.

Eddie Freeland – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Eddie Freeland Fine Art is a new business that specializes in the creation of original art that is dynamic and hypnotizing for the viewer. My fractured glass sculpture paintings will change in appearance, depending upon the angle of view, time of day, reflective light, etc. It’s almost like viewing a diamond from different angles. It’s extremely powerful if you have an opportunity be in the same room as these glass sculpture paintings. Each perspective will engage the viewer in clashing wonder.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
One of the things we’re most proud of is the work we do in the community. It’s very important for me to give back and use my art in therapeutic ways that help people who are recovering from substance abuse build better coping skills. I’m also very passionate about auctioning my work to raise money for helping take care of the numerous animals at Noah’s Ark Wild Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, GA. The vision for Eddie Freeland Fine Art is much greater than just producing and selling art.

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