Keisha Whatley of Custom Arts Studio joins us on the podcast! Go and listen to her inspiring journey and the exciting new ArtHaus project she’s spearheading.

What do you make?

Custom Arts Studio is a full-service fine art & design company. We create/make paintings, illustrations, portraits, murals, we paint on bowling shoes, basically anything our clients come up with, if we can, we get it done for them CUSTOM. We also provide graphic and web design services for local and country-side small businesses. Branding is our specialty and we have created a 3-step process that ensures company’s logos reflect not only their product but their core values as well.

A photograph of Keisha Whatley, a Black woman with braids who is holding a painting and is in front of a red background.

Who do you make it for?

Our clients run the gamut from someone who wants a portrait created for their mother to a multi-million dollar development corporation. Our mission is to make high-quality fine art & design accessible.

Where are you located?

Our commercial studio is located in East Mt. Airy. We just acquired the new location for the Germantown ArtHaus in April of 2021 in Germantown.

When did you start making?

As far back as I can remember. I returned to making in 2014 after an over 15 year hiatus and haven’t stopped since!

How long have you been making?

AS far back as I can remember. My mother always encouraged my art making and I was often in summer and weekend art classes.  I attended the Creative and Performing Arts High School and majored in Visual Arts. It was there that I fell in love with oil painting.

Image of the painting Chocolate Keys by Keisha Whatley. The painting is of a Black woman at a keyboard wearing a blue headwrap.

What makers inspire you?

I am inspired by old-world Renaissance painters Michaelangelo and Carrvaggio and more modern artists like Basquiat and Philly’s Serena Saunders (@mspassionart) but also the dreamer that works all day for a job then comes home to work all night on their dreams. They inspire me. 

What’s next?

The Germatown ArtHaus is what’s next for me; creating opportunities and stages for others to be successful on is directly in line with my life’s mission “to make everything around me beautiful, and THAT be my life.”

What would you like to ask the maker community?

I would ask… what do you need? What is missing in your toolkit that, if it were there, would make the most difference in both your success as a maker and your experience of who you are as a maker.

What was the best moment for you as a maker?

I think my best moment as a maker was when I finished a painting for an exhibit that I was basically doing for free early in my “art as a business” career. I really didn’t have the extra 62 hours that it took to create the piece but the theme and the exhibit location spoke to me. I did it for the spirit of the project. I remember the moment I stepped back from the “Queen” Culture Portrait and knew that it was the right move. I was literally surprised at what my hands had created. The best moment was when others felt the same energy; empowered, inspired and the museum reached out to acquire the painting for their permanent collection. It reinforced my mantra to “follow my gut”

Anything else you want to add?

I would just add that the Germantown ArtHaus needs your support! We acquired the building in April 2021 and since then have embarked on a fundraising journey to raise the funds necessary to restore a 150+ year old Victorian beauty so we can open and serve the northwest community through the arts. Every bit of support helps. You can find additional information at

Keisha Whatley from Custom Arts Studio and Art Haus Online

Go support Keisha Whatley and find more here:

Custom Arts Studio
Germantown Art Haus