Making It: Get Totally Tangled in Akron with April Couch
MAKER: April Couch
BUSINESS: Totally Tangled Creations
TRADING THE OFFICE FOR ART: April Couch was born in Alabama, but she’s been an Akronite for more than 30 years. After earning a business degree from Baldwin Wallace University, she worked in banking for 17 years, until she quit to stay at home with her three children. Once her kids grew up, she started planning her future.
“I had to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Couch explains. “I didn’t want to go back to my career because it wasn’t something I was passionate about, wasn’t something I was in love with. So I decided to go back to my first love, which is art.”
A life-long doodler, Couch discovered Zentangle, a meditative method of drawing structured patterns that resembled what she had been doing for years. “Most people call this Zentangle, I call it doodling,” Couch said. “Because it looks like what I’ve done all my life, the kinds of things I got in trouble for, doodling all over my papers when I was in school.”
April Couch doesn't plan most of her drawings ahead of time, she just follows along wherever her pen leads her.
CREATING TOTALLY TANGLED: Couch took Zentangle and her drawings and married the two, coming up with her own style. Not long after, her business background kicked in, and she began thinking of ways to make her “doodles” more marketable. In her research, she looked at what types of products are sold bearing images from famous artists.
“I decided to start putting my art on various different things,” explains Couch. “That’s why when you look around, you see it on t-shirts, cards, buttons, and coasters. Those are things that are reproducible, things that are sustainable.”
Additionally, Couch has created plenty of larger scale, one-of-a-kind pieces, such as tables, vases, lamps, and more notably an intricately painted turtle named “Tuesday.”
“Tuesday I kind of got attached to, so he’s not for sale yet,” Couch said with a smile.
Tuesday the Turtle is one of Couch's favorite pieces.
FOCUS ON PEOPLE: Couch’s Totally Tangled Creations aren’t sold online because she prefers meeting her customers in person. “I want to build relationships with the people I do business with, I don’t just want to sell them something,” she explains. “I feel that if you have relationships with people, and they care about you, and you care about them, they naturally want to support you. For me, it’s not just about making money.”
Meeting people in the community and building friendships are only part of what April Couch loves most about creating her art. It’s also rewarding on a personal level for her.
“Art is very therapeutic for me. It’s very calming,” she said. “It transforms me to a different place. And I don’t know that it gets any better than that.”
Couch's larger works of art, like this gourd, can take her up to 75 hours to complete.