From Nevada to Nebraska: How Cindy Chinn Thrives in Thayer County
21 Oct 2022
Creativity doesn’t have city limits and Thayer County is home to thriving artists creating masterpieces admired from around the world. Just ask world-renowned artist Cindy Chinn, who moved from bright-lights-big-city Las Vegas to rural Thayer County.
We interviewed Ms. Chinn to learn why she chose the good life in Thayer County and how it affected her business.
How can people contact you to commission work or view previous works?
CindyChinn.com is my portfolio and blog website. TheSawLady.com is the business page for my saw art.
How long did you live in Nevada before relocating to Nebraska and why such a drastic lifestyle change?
From California, I first moved to Reno, Nevada in 1981 and then moved to Las Vegas in 1987. Las Vegas was good to me and I loved it there. In 2006, I started the process of expanding my studio by adding a building on my property. I stumbled across an Ebay listing for an entire school on five acres in the sandhills for about half the price of my new studio addition. I wanted easy access to the airport no matter where I lived and this was six hours to the closest airport, so I kept looking. I found the Chester, Nebraska school and sent the link to my partner, Art, asking if he was ready to move.
We submitted a business proposal, but didn’t get the property. Some time later, the first buyer for the Chester school backed out and they offered it to us. Art and I flew out, spent a few days exploring the area, meeting the locals, and envisioning the potential of the school building. At the time, my options were a 600 sq. ft. studio in Las Vegas or a 33,000 sq. ft. studio in Chester for about $50,000 less. It made business sense and common sense to relocate.
Along with purchasing an old school as your home and studio, how has being located in Thayer County benefited your business?
The cost of living difference in rural Nebraska over Las Vegas is huge! I am able to focus on creating rather than wondering how I’m going to pay the bills. The company I was working for when we relocated closed their doors three days after we got the keys to the school, so the first couple of years were a challenge. I had to decide what kind of artist I wanted to be. I found my creative focus, which would have been difficult to do in Las Vegas because I would have had to take another corporate job.
As a business owner servicing global clients, what benefit(s) would you share with another service provider to convince them to relocate to Thayer County?
There is something to be said for small town life. In the big city, things are expensive. Here, we are able to easily ship artwork all over the world and being centrally located is a plus for shipping within the states. I have an artist retreat and the location is perfect!
My overhead is so much less, I am able to offer a quality product for a lower price. I am more productive with less distractions by living outside of the constant, fast-paced, expected-everything-yesterday environment that comes with big city living.
For the past 15 years, I continue telling my artist and handyman friends to move here in the good life. There is room and work for them here, especially handymen.
Do you have future plans to relocate again or is Thayer County forever home?
We are building for the future. At some point, I will retire and my studios will be used for classes, workshops and a retreat center—Center for Creativity Artists Retreat. It has been my dream since high school to have a place where I could have rooms dedicated to different mediums and be able to create whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to. So the Chester school is a dream come true for me. We could never move.
You are the perfect example of an unboxed artist. What are your niches of art design and which is your first love?
Without drawing, I couldn’t design. Without wax carving, I wouldn’t have pencil carving. Without imagination, I wouldn’t have any of it. So my first love is imagination and my favorite way to express that love is combining all of my mediums.
In my youth, I started with crafts and pencil drawing, then painting, then sculpturing. In Las Vegas, my corporate career shifted my creative outlet to being in front of a computer making animations, designing slot machine graphics, logos, websites, and teaching.
It wasn’t until I moved to Thayer County I was able to return to my creative roots and expand. I currently have the largest Mural Artist group on Facebook with over 11,000 members. I also work with mosaics, glass, marble, stone, styrofoam, copper, cloisonne, clay, wood, fiberglass, a plasma torch and welder.
I think I covered everything. Is there anything you’d like to add?
When we first moved here, someone told us that we would never be accepted, that we would never fit in. The community has been so supportive and welcoming to us outsiders. That guy was so wrong! We feel like we are part of the community and we care about the success of the Village of Chester because everything we have from goals to commitment are invested in this community.
At TCEDA, we agree. We have so much more room for creativity to run wild here in the good life. How lucky are we that Cindy and other talented and creative residents continue to choose to thrive in Thayer County! Ready to come join us? The good life is calling. Contact TCEDA today to start planting your dreams in our county.