Art with heart: Local artist strives for ‘joy and positivity’ with business | news
Just five years ago, Owensboro resident Corey Ziemer decided to create his own Christmas card, which led to a business that now offers much more
Christmas cards are still a staple for Ziemer, but the 23-year-old’s art shop, Corey’s Heart & Soul Designs, also offers t-shirts, canvas and outdoor stepping stones upon request.
His mother, Tisha Ziemer, said the expansion started during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That (springboard) took a good two years,” said Tisha Ziemer. “He had orders coming in… all the time.”
It was never really planned for the Ziemers to start a company around Corey’s art. The original plan was to help Corey, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of 2, reach his full potential, Tisha Ziemer said.
“We had no idea about business,” she said. “We just shared this one Christmas picture and it blew up. We were just trying to deliver, sell to individuals and it was crazy and one day I pulled up in a church parking lot and just yelled. I’m disabled myself and have had cancer a couple of times and I didn’t know I could make it through; it was a lot. And I prayed right then.”
That’s when she met Donna Southard, owner of Crazy Me Gifts & Apparel, which has since sold Corey Ziemer’s work.
Along with Crazy Me Gifts & Apparel of Owensboro, his work can also be found at the Santa Claus Christmas Store in Santa Claus, Indiana and on the Corey’s Heart & Soul Designs Facebook page.
He also has artwork in public spaces, including a painting on his backyard fence featuring classic and modern Disney characters, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Nemo, Dory and Marlin from Finding Nemo, and creatures from A Bug’s Life. All are painted to reflect Corey’s mission of “joy and positivity.”
“It’s always struck me that animation is his niche,” said Tisha Ziemer. “And he said[on a]radio station that he likes to do animations because they’re happy; Almost all animations are smiling and he likes that.”
Sarah Higdon, Corey’s life support coach, helped him turn the fence into a personal outdoor art gallery. She started out as a part-time art teacher for Corey and is proud of how far he’s grown.
“From his artistic point of view, just the progress he’s making and the techniques he’s learned are pretty impressive,” said Higdon. “…It’s amazing to just sit back and watch. I’ll just show him a thing or two and he’ll just run with it.”
Tisha Ziemer said she hopes her son’s work will be an inspiration to everyone, especially those in the autism community.
“It makes them start thinking that the future is ahead of us and that they’re not always kids,” she said. “They won’t always be in elementary school and you struggle to get services in school; They grow up and then everything else falls away (in terms of services). … You have to be prepared and come up with something that they’re passionate about and always commit to it.”
Corey will be showcasing his new holiday card during the Wendell Foster 2022 Special Needs Expo at the Owensboro Convention Center in October. He is also in the process of completing an Easter card.
“We take it one day at a time and let God guide us,” said Tisha Ziemer. “… As far as we can go, we’re going to take it and we hope to do good things for Corey because he’s awesome.”
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