Louisiana-native Nicholas Leach found Cups while studying art at Mississippi College. For Nicholas, Cups was the place for networking and finding inspiration as an art student, especially since many of his fellow classmates had work on display there.
“If you wanted to hang out or meet up with friends, you went to Cups,” he said. “Being there was so inspiring to me because of the art on display. Lots of student art. It was a community vibe. You could kind of peer into what was motivating the artists in Clinton and the college students. It was art that felt real. Being there was also inspiring on a personal level because it showed me that getting my work out into the world was feasible. Like I could get some recognition too.”
One day, Nicholas’ friend, who worked as a barista in the Clinton cafe, recommended he put his art on display. What followed was a new perspective on his creative potential and his relationship with the art in his community.
“The first few pieces I put on display, I had actually already created and just thought they would fit well on the wall,” he said. “But then, I started thinking more about how others would engage with my art, and I ended up making a piece specifically for the store. It was a colored pencil drawing of one of the Cups mugs. I thought it would resonate with students and would make me stand out to people who were just sitting in the cafe and happened to look at it.”
Today, Nicholas lives in Jackson, Mississippi and works as a graphic designer. On his days off, he practices oil painting with a focus on portraiture, and visits Cups in Fondren for a tall cup of black coffee. Cups is still the place where he meets friends, makes memories, and draws inspiration for his creative projects.
To any local artists wanting to have their art displayed at Cups, Nicholas had this advice to share:
“Create something that’s true to you. If you’re putting your work up at Cups, put your best foot forward, because that piece is gonna be a lot of people’s first impression of you. Being on display can lead to a lot of connections–I’ve had a few friendships actually start that way. So, I would say put your best foot forward, but don’t get in your head too much about the process. Create what you like!”