TRAVERSE CITY — Ryan Greiner wasn’t sure where his life was headed last winter when he walked away from a successful career in banking.
But he never imagined 10 months later he would be sitting atop a successful business as a working artist.
The 33-year-old husband and father didn’t just turn away from a job, he quit a career that he had made his life for more than a decade. It was a job he was good at, a job that helped support his wife, Stephanie, and 2-year-old son, Ben.
“It wasn’t the life my wife and I envisioned,” Greiner said Wednesday morning in his home art studio. “I missed just about everything for 2.5 years. I was taking care of other people’s responsibilities. For what, so I can make somebody else rich?”
The small shed that serves as his studio sits behind his Slabtown home and features a floor covered with paint splatters and walls adorned with abstract art.
For several years Greiner had been painting in what little spare time he had. It was a pastime he was pretty good at, but nothing he thought he could really make any money doing. He has no formal education in art aside from a short watercolor class he took years ago where an instructor consistently told him he was doing things wrong.
“It really took making that leap,” he said. “It was scary.”
Working in the financial industry was pretty much all the Central Michigan University graduate had ever known. He worked for Hagerty Insurance for a short time after graduating with a degree in finance and business, but quickly moved into banking.
But long hours at the office and limited time with his family wasn’t Greiner’s American dream.
So the couple invested a significant part of their savings in getting Never Wonder Studio started. Greiner knew people were interested in abstract paintings he made on wooden cutouts in the shape of Michigan. But along the way he realized his art would sell much better if it was smaller, cheaper and more accessible.