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Local artist pays it forward with new project to help local businesses

Since Kristen Herrington began her journey to complete 22 pieces of art inspired by local businesses, the Local Pay It Forward project has 'taken on a life of its own'
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Artist Kristen Herrington with one of her Local Pay It Forward project paintings

Local artist Kristen Herrington is giving back to Halifax-based shops and businesses by using the gift she’s been given – her own creative talent.

A self-taught artist who works out of a studio in Tantallon, Herrington has been promoting the Local Pay It Forward project in which she creates original expressionistic paintings inspired by Halifax businesses and then spends the proceeds from the artwork’s sales back at those very shops.

“I thought it would make for a curious collection and it wasn’t something I’d seen done before,” admits Herrington of the custom-made artwork. “I found myself wanting to support these businesses as best I could anyways so it was a way to really highlight that more intentional relationship or spending of dollars.”

For the past three months since Herrington began her journey to complete 22 pieces of art inspired by local businesses, the Local Pay It Forward project has “taken on a life of its own.”

She has sold almost all of the artwork — most of it being snatched up within 24 hours.  In return, she has put 100 percent of the proceeds back into such local businesses as Peace by Chocolate, Ana and Zac clothing, One Block Barbershop on Almon Street, Local Source Market, The Floatation Centre and several other Halifax-based establishments.

“At some point, I do have to turn back to pocketing some of that money just to replenish the materials and that sort of thing,” admits Herrington who will transition with the final two paintings as “kind of bonus pieces, if you will, that serve a slightly different purpose.”

Herrington has consciously chosen to focus on small and local businesses that were community-driven or deal in environmentally-friendly products or practices.

“One of my primary goals was to encourage others to be thinking how they’re spending their money,” says Herrington, adding she hopes her artwork will inspire people to rethink shopping at large chain stores over struggling local businesses. 

“And it doesn’t always have to be about spending money, it’s just showing support,” adds Herrington, who showcases her creations for the Pay It Forward project on her website as well as feature them on her Instagram page. “Me posting a picture on social media in recognition of a business — that alone gives them some profile.”

Herrington may be close to finishing her latest creative project but admits it has been a thoroughly rewarding undertaking. While the past year living under pandemic restrictions and measures has cast a pall over several aspects of Nova Scotians lives, Herrington insists that paying it forward for local businesses has been nothing but a spark of illumination.

“There’s been a lot of challenges that we’ve faced but I truly believe that there are silver linings that we have the opportunity to learn from and this is one of them,” says Herrington. “We have the opportunity to really learn who is in our neighbourhood and community (and) I’ll continue to work with and support those businesses because I have relationships with them now.”

For more information on the Local Pay It Forward project, visit Kristen Herrington's website.

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