That Wally Shoup was a man unlikely to experience spectacular commercial success was apparent early. Arriving in Seattle in the mid-’80s, he managed to get some of his painted-silk scarves--with their distinct muted colors and aboriginal-like patterns--into some area boutiques. But then shopkeepers would say, “We want more of these, and we don’t like these,” he recalls. “And I’d say, ‘Well, that’s your opinion.’” Likewise, store reps wanted pieces that customers could order in advance. Shoup’s response: “Well, I’m an artist.” How could he know what he’d come up with tomorrow? Needless to say, Shoup’s future in retail was limited.
Then again, anyone who turns to Shoup for something preordered and prespecified could not be barking up a more poorly chosen tree