My name is Elizabeth Willien, I am a 21-year-old artist. I love creating in all formats—from interior design to painting to photography—the list goes on. Over the past few years, I have been drawn to the passionate drive I see in others, and really developed a love for other people’s creations. Too many artists and businesses don’t get enough recognition and I became determined to do something about it! I wanted to create a local modern platform that would showcase deserving artists, makers, and small businesses.
So, I started ScruffyKnox on Instagram.
The term “scruffy” was first associated with Knoxville when organizers of the 1982 World’s Fair proposed their location of choice. The idea that a small unknown city would host the world’s largest fair was skeptically viewed. The largest critic was a reporter from the Wall Street Journal who called Knoxville the “scruffy little city by the river,” unintentionally giving the now-famous nickname: “the scruffy city.” Oh, but Knoxville proved them wrong by hosting a very successful world’s fair, and kind of changed the negative connotation of that word. In my eyes, scruffy means unique awesomeness.
Much like the criticism toward Knoxville back then, artists, business owners, and makers are told that they will fail. I see it differently. Just as Knoxville overcame the negativity, you too can be successful no matter what anyone says! ScruffyKnox is a place of empowerment and shines a light on the incredible local talent in our city. The Instagram community is currently over 11,000 followers and growing. I am so happy to share the creative endeavors of others along with some of my own designs. I hand-screen print tees and other merch for Knoxvillians to represent our amazingly scruffy city.
I am so humbled to be a part of the Knoxville style and included among such inspirational women in this magazine. Thanks for reading my story and I hope you continue to pursue your ambition no matter where you are in life. Find what feeds your passion, and flourish.
I would love for you to share your creativity with me by tagging @scruffyknox or using #scruffyknox in your posts.