How Starlandia's Clinton Edminster Found His Calling
Where to find a used bicycle tire, a tube of alizarin crimson oil paint, a sack of small sticks, a coolie hat, a blue striped flag, some fabric with leopard spots... and more— lots more!
Clinton Edminster seems to fit in the Starland Arts District where he lives and works. The slender 26-year-old entrepreneur has shaggy dark hair and a beard and wears tattered jeans and a purple sweater matching the walls of his store – Starlandia Reclaimed Creative Supply. You’d never guess he grew up on the rugged coast of Alaska or that his first real job was on his dad’s commercial fishing boat, hauling salmon out of the icy waters off the Kenai Peninsula. And yet, Edminster said in a recent interview, that’s where he acquired the skills that have paid dividends all his life: “Perseverance and making do.”
When you’re on the boat, he said, “you can’t go to Wal-mart and pick up that little tool you need. You have to figure it out. You have to make it work. No one else is going to do it.”
In his early teens Edminster became interested in movies – more specifically, special effects and computer animation. For his senior year of high school he wrangled a scholarship to the widely acclaimed Idyllwild Arts Academy in Southern California, one of only a handful of art boarding schools in the country. He became the school’s “Film Student of the Year,” mostly, he said, “because I did special effects for everybody else’s films,” and the next year he was off to the Savannah College of Art and Design on another scholarship.
At SCAD, Edminster intended to pursue film making, but the curriculum was designed to expose him to a variety of artistic expression and, he said, “I got hooked on painting.” He studied painting at SCAD through his sophomore year, but back on the fishing boat in Alaska for the summer he came to the realization that “I didn’t want to be taught any more how to paint. I wanted to make my own way.”
Edminster returned to Savannah. He continued to paint, but also got a job at Foxy Loxy, a café and coffee shop near Forsyth Park, and started volunteering at a non-profit gallery that displayed works of local artists. At Foxy Loxy he learned business skills that weren’t needed on a fishing boat, Edminster said. “Working with people. It was a fast and crazy environment. I learned about consistency, style, atmosphere, details and working with customers.”
It wasn’t long, he said, before he realized that his painting career wasn’t having the impact he hoped it would have, and that “my real skill was in helping other people produce their artwork and helping the community get access to it.”
Was that a disappointment? Not so much, Edminister said. “Art was always a means to an end, and I came to the realization that art might not be the best vehicle for getting my ideas out into the world. There were other avenues.”