Despite what her younger self might say, Debbie Jacknin has been an artist her entire life. Throughout her different career paths, Debbie’s love of art prevailed and she always found a way to pursue art in her free time. After years of setting aside her artistic career, Debbie decided to pursue a career that allows her to create her own art and support other artists in her community. In 2016, Debbie and her daughters, Jenn and Jacklyn, opened Songbird Artistry.
Debbie started as a Retail Manager, learning the ins and outs of running a successful business. When she had her daughters, Debbie took a step back from retail management to focus on her children. In middle school, Jenn, Debbie’s oldest daughter, began making jewelry, and Debbie supported her, creating Jenn’s Jems and helping her behind the scenes with business matters. They sold her jewelry at craft shows and churches, getting to meet other local artists. Debbie’s late husband, Larry, also pursued art on the side and the whole family began working and selling art at the Pittsburgh Public Market. When her husband retired from work after his diagnosis of ALS, Debbie and Larry took that time to live life to the fullest, creating art and enjoying each other’s company. In those two years, Larry and Debbie went to their daughter’s wedding in Colorado, traveled to Florida for the winters, and created over 50 stained-glass mosaics, gifting them to their family.
When Larry died and the Pittsburgh Public Market closed, Debbie and her daughters decided to open their own shop, Songbird Artistry, to sell Jenn and Debbie’s work as well as the work of around 50 local vendors. The store also hosts classes in knitting, crochet, and glass mosaics and holds a queer craft social for the people in their community to get together and learn about art and each other.
Songbird Artistry was inspired by Larry in multiple ways. Before his death, Larry wanted Debbie, Jenn, and Jacklyn to be able to support themselves and follow their artistic passions, something he was denied growing up. He came up with the idea of starting a brick-and-mortar store for them to run. He also was the inspiration behind the name of Songbird Artistry. One day when Debbie and Larry were visiting the beach, Debbie was speaking with a friend and Larry was engrossed in drawing a bird on the beach. When Debbie saw the pastel drawing, she said “Larry, if you were a bird, you would be that bird” and he signed the drawing Larry Bird, creating a life-long nickname. Since Larry came up with the idea of opening a brick-and-mortar store to sell their art, Debbie named the store Songbird Artistry in honor of him and his love for art and family.
Debbie, Jenn, and Jacklyn recently celebrated the seventh anniversary of their art space this past April. In the past seven years, they have worked incredibly hard to create a space for art to be created, nurtured, and sold. Above all else, they wanted Songbird Artistry to be a place that is welcoming to people of all abilities and identities. As their recent anniversary party would attest, Debbie and her daughters have gone far beyond that goal and have created a community of art lovers that support each other through thick and thin.
If you would like to learn more about Songbird Artisty and check out any of their space and in-person events, click the link below!