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Choose your own adventure: Online superstar Busy Being opens brick and mortar outpost

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Abramson keeps shop. Photo by Caitlin Ryan
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Dream Collective jewelry. Photo by Caitlin Ryan
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The wide array of art sits cozily together. Photo by Caitlin Ryan
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Megan Whitmarsh necklaces. Photo by Caitlin Ryan
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Everything from textiles to jewelry and chocolate can be found. Photo by Caitlin Ryan
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Handmade brass and chain necklace by Hanna Keefe. Photo by Caitlin Ryan
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Busy Being is the accumulation of 10 years (and counting) spent working in the contemporary art business. It's a design shop of sorts whose owner, Amber Abramson, has cultivated relationships with variety of artists and artisans with wildly different aesthetics reflective of her own, multi-faceted personality.

Suggestive graphite drawings of “seductive gangster-queens” with comical curves in risqué positions are nestled comfortably between sweet, handmade moccasins and a row of bold, modern brass and stone necklaces. Garnering international attention over the past seven years as an online-only outlet, Busy Being materialized into a brick and mortar shop in the 10’x10’ room in the back of Domy Books just one month ago.

A former art curator and current associate director of New Image Art gallery in Los Angeles, Abramson looks to her rolodex of talented friends and contacts to stock her store with unique art merchandise. "My concept with the [brick and mortar] shop was to offer things that you couldn't find in other places in the city,” she says. “It’s all made by friends and by hand, and 99 percent of it you can’t find in Austin."

 I think the name can be interpreted in a lot of ways. . .You can be a ‘busy’ human ‘being,’ but you could also just be busy being... whatever. It's like Choose Your Own Adventure.

The name Busy Being was born out of Abramson’s tendency to load her plate of responsibilities and passions a bit too full, a bit too often. “I was juggling a lot [in 2004], and that is how the name came about. I think the name can be interpreted in a lot of ways, which is also what I liked about it,” explains Abramson. “You can be a ‘busy’ human ‘being,’ but you could also just be busy being whatever. It's like Choose Your Own Adventure.”

A similar sequence of strategic, enterprising moves in both career and life led Abramson from L.A. to Austin this past summer. Owing to her experience curating over 40 exhibitions for galleries in L.A., San Francisco and Mexico City, Domy first tapped Abramsom to organize a temporary show in their back room, but quickly relinquished permanent curatorial control of that space once Busy Being’s established, unique point of view came to light.

Abramson applies the same guiding principles to merchandising as she does to installing an art show: She strives for balance, space, continuity and looks for those special pieces that beg for further investigation. The new physical space plays host to jewelry by German Katrin Jurati, textiles by Texan Ashley Thayer and fine art by Angeleno Albert Reyes, with even more internationally-sourced products available online.

Because of the trust she’s instilled in the artists and collectors she’s worked with over the years, Abramson is able to bring Austin an exciting new crop of artistic talent—and a breath of fresh air along with it. She also has plans to organize a show between a sampling of folks featured on/in Busy Being during SXSW, adding yet another dimension to the yearly creative circus.

Abramson says the goal is to grow and strengthen Busy Being’s offline presence while simultaneously keeping up with her long-distance directorial duties in L.A—a symbiotic relationship that will benefit curious shoppers pounding the pavement in Austin. And do not mistake Busy Being for a temporary pop-up shop to be dismantled in a matter of weeks; the path Abramson has chosen proves to be a fruitful one with an endless array of happy, alternate endings. 

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Busy Being hours are 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. Mon - Sat and 12 p.m. - 7 p.m. Sun.

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