Alumni spotlight: Art Stone
Art came to Virginia Commonwealth University in 1988 as a transfer from Hamden-Sydney and crafted his own course of study that included creative writing, photography, and filmmaking. Through his studies, he found a love of storytelling. “I would say that I need something that activates both sides—my left and right brain. I stopped caring about grades and started caring more about what I was learning instead.” He took those foundational writing and visual composition skills and, after graduating, left Richmond to pursue a master’s in fine arts in filmmaking from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Art also taught while in school and after graduating with his MFA, stayed on in Chicago while working for an art magazine and in independent film for a number of years. “I realized that I wanted to work in film so it made sense to go to New York or Los Angeles but didn’t want to do that.”
But, for the all of the creative satisfaction Art was enjoying, he had the itch to switch up his career and indulge his left brain tendencies. He returned to school—this time to pursue a law degree from the Chicago-Kent School of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “I remember saying when I was younger, I’d never go to graduate school,” he says with a chuckle. He moved back to North Carolina and practiced for 15 years, practicing immigration law largely for tech clients. As the boon of the tech industry subsided in the early 2000s, Art transitioned onto the bench as an Administrative Law Judge for nearly ten years before he and his husband, also a North Carolina native, decided to trade coasts and moved to Seattle in 2010.
New to the Pacific Northwest and with enthusiasm for reinventing himself again, Art resolved to make his newest adventure about a love for food that was nurtured from watching his grandmother make biscuits in rural North Carolina as a young boy. He rented space in a commercial kitchen and brought a locally-sourced buttery biscuit to the area, first selling at neighborhood farmers markets, local groceries and cafés. In 2015, Art opened his first brick-and-mortar Honest Biscuit location in Pike Place Market, the famed Seattle farmers market that sees over 20 million visitors annually. Now with eight full-time employees and with service seven days a week, he is enjoying his latest venture at the helm of one of Seattle’s favorite eateries. And, just like his business’ slogan “honest to goodness, kick-ass biscuits,” Art has married hard work and fun to make something really special.