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Creativity Like This Should Be Rewarded – Instead, It Could Be Punished

They just don’t make things like this anymore.

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski create beautiful artwork and invitations with hand-painted designs and calligraphy through their small business Brush & Nib Studio.

“Beautiful handwriting has been one of my passions since I was a little girl,” says Joanna. Joanna uses her calligraphy skills while Breanna paints designs with watercolor to create their truly one-of-a-kind invitations for clients. “It is so rewarding to see a finished product in the hands of another,” says Breanna.

And their creations really are beautiful. As one client said, “These ladies ooze creativity and beauty.”

After meeting at church in 2015, these young women started Brush & Nib Studio from scratch with little money and business background. Like their artwork, their entrepreneurial skills and ingenuity deserve admiration. But because of a law in their hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, they could be punished.

A city ordinance could force Joanna and Breanna to use their artistic skills to create messages contrary to their beliefs or face steep fines or even jail time.

Art is a deeply personal endeavor. For artists like Joanna and Breanna, their work is an extension of themselves. Both women are Christians. Their goal in founding their business is to recreate God’s beauty and use their gifts and talents to honor Him and His creation. It is impossible for them to separate their core beliefs, which are a part of them, from their work.

But that is exactly what a Phoenix ordinance is asking them to do.

Because Joanna and Breanna are Christians, they believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. But as Phoenix interprets it, this ordinance could force Brush & Nib Studio to design invitations and signs celebrating  same-sex weddings if they create similar artwork for weddings at all.

If they do not comply, Joanna and Breanna could face a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail for every day they disobey. “The government shouldn’t be telling artists what they can and can’t say,” says Breanna.

Because Joanna and Breanna were courageous enough to start their business in the first place, they were not going to simply accept this unjust rule that could potentially shut it down. So the two have filed a pre-enforcement lawsuit against the city of Phoenix.

They are now asking  the Arizona Supreme Court to hear their case.  Just last week, several Arizona state legislators, a publisher, and many religious groups filed friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of Brush & Nib. “As the briefs filed last week affirm, no one should be forced to create artwork contrary to their core convictions, and certainly not under threat of criminal fines and jail time,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs.

Joanna and Breanna are now awaiting a decision whether the Arizona Supreme Court will accept their case. In the meantime, they continue to create their beautiful signs and invitations. These two young women not only had the gumption to start a business, but now they are standing up for the rights of all creative professionals in the Phoenix area. 

Just like their beautiful artwork, Joanna and Breanna’s creative and courageous spirits are one of a kind.

Maureen Collins

Web Writer

Maureen has a passion for writing and politics, and her work has appeared on The Federalist and MRCTV.org.

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