What Draws Us Together: Meet Midtown Resident and Illustrator Sharna Fulton
Once a copywriter, Fulton is now a full-time artist with a paper goods company featuring her own cheerful designs
BY ELLIE HENSLEY
Midtown is home to dozens of public art installations, world class arts and cultural institutions — and talented artists making a living and their mark on the district through their work. Illustrator Sharna Fulton has lived in Atlanta since the ‘90s, but just moved to Midtown last June with her husband and dog.
Fulton’s illustrated landmarks across Midtown — from The Fox Theatre to the Sabine Woman — are featured in print and digital projects that carry the theme for the 2023 Midtown Alliance Annual Meeting in her signature cheerful style.
We spoke with Fulton about her career journey, her paper goods company Little Desk Drawer, and how her experience as a Midtowner is going. Read more below.
Getting to the Essence
Fulton started her career as a copywriter for an ad agency, but left the marketing world in the early 2000s to focus on becoming an illustrator full-time.
“I saw an exhibit at the High Museum of Art, a Matisse exhibit, and felt so strongly about going back to art,” she said. “Illustration is the sole focus of my life and my passion.”
Fulton transitioned fully from writing to art about five years ago. Her favorite things to illustrate are cities and architecture — she created a map of Savannah for Savannah Magazine and has gone on to design maps of a few other places, including Tybee Island, Boston and Washington, D.C.
She describes her art as mid-century modern, and her target audience as “the same people who would buy from Kate Spade or Rifle Paper Co.” Although she originally envisioned her customer base might be an older demographic, she has been surprised to find that her work is also popular with Gen Z and millennials.
“I like [my illustrations] to be cheerful, but not sugary sweet,” she said. “I want it to seem realistic, but also positive, happy and easy to digest and look at. I like to do simple illustrations that get at the essence of something, versus lots of layering and patterns.”
Capturing the Heart of the Arts on Paper
Midtown Alliance commissioned Fulton to create a playful cityscape of Midtown for our 2023 Annual Meeting that would include dozens of buildings, art installations and other visual landmarks people know and love about the district. The key message for the event on February 8 will examine Midtown’s next opportunities to bring people together in the public realm.
“When I got the call, I was really excited,” she said. “I was given a list of what to illustrate and it was such a fun challenge to see and revisit everything, take pictures and get a feel for what I would be illustrating.”
Freelancing is a sizable part of Fulton’s work, but she also recently started her own paper goods company, Little Desk Drawer. She designs and ships her own greeting cards, notepads and prints from her online store. For the first time in July, she’ll be showcasing and selling her work at the Atlanta Market at AmericasMart in July.
Exploring the District on Foot
Fulton and her husband moved to a condo on Peachtree Street in 2022. She said she has always wanted to live in Midtown.
“Where else in all of Atlanta can you live and walk everywhere?” she said. “Trader Joe’s, restaurants, Ponce City Market, the BeltLine, the High Museum, the Fox, the Atlanta Botanical Garden — you can walk to all those places and see breathtaking architecture, gorgeous trees and landscaping, dogs, and people you’ll see every day. You connect with people, plus it is great exercise. I’ve really fallen in love with walking here.”
Fulton’s favorite things to do include going to the Coda Collective food hall for lunch, where she likes to play foosball and cornhole. She often takes her dog to Piedmont Park, and goes to see art exhibits at the High and performances by the Atlanta Symphony. She and her husband enjoyed going to the Atlanta Pride Parade, the route of which goes right past her front door.
“It was incredible to see so many people and businesses out there,” she said. “All these people coming together and celebrating love and independence, it was amazing and that is such a Midtown thing.”
Follow Fulton on Instagram here and view her work available for purchase here.
Get your keepsake printed copy of Fulton’s new Midtown artwork by attending the 2023 Midtown Alliance Annual Meeting on February 8 at the Fox Theatre. Find more information on the speaker lineup and tickets here.