Summer Rogers poses with a USC Gamecocks-inspired painting on campus. (Photos courtesy of Summer Rogers/Carolina News and Reporter)

Summer Rogers loved arts and crafts while growing up, but she never envisioned herself as a full-time artist. Now she is a traveling artist with her own business, called Summer Doodles.

Rogers, who graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2021, creates pop art pieces catering to sororities at Southeastern colleges. She teaches painting classes on the campuses and sells prints of her paintings on paper, game day pins, magnets, stickers, blankets and T-shirts. Her 11 x 14 prints sell for $45. Original paintings on canvas start at $150.

Her business took off when she was a freshman and visitors admired her work.

“When I was decorating my dorm room, everything was garnet and black,” Rogers said. “And I wanted pieces that still showed off like my school spirit but had pretty colors that were more girly and whimsical and fun.”

Rogers started painting simple, fun images that she wanted to see, and friends and other students became interested. Quickly, her business spread through word of mouth.

She paints athletic mascots and logos, sorority symbols, cartoon animals and touristy scenes. 

Everything is colorful.

Gibson Darby, a freshman at USC, lives in South Quad and said her entire dorm room is decorated in Summer Doodles. Darby grew up in Columbia and always knew about and loved Rogers’ work.

Her pieces are “all so unique and beautiful and colorful,” Darby said. “And I think that’s just like why I love her so much.”

Rogers grew up in Lexington and started selling her art after a mission trip to Haiti at 16. She said the trip changed her perspective, and friends and family encouraged her to fund a mission trip to go back. So she started her art business to pay for the second trip.

But rather than painting, her art started as calligraphy, done on things such as cards and wedding invitations.

Summer Doodles literally got started because I would just doodle on index cards in my classes in high school, ” Rogers said.  And that slowly turned into, you know, making commissioned pieces for friends and family.”

Rogers grew up a Gamecock fan, and when it was time to go to college, she didn’t apply anywhere other than USC.  She majored in broadcast journalism and minored in business.

“I owe a huge part of my business and what it is to this university,” Rogers said. “It’s just been such a special time and a special way to, like, celebrate my love for the university.”

Rogers thought she could make a bigger impact creating art for a living. But she still uses skills from her degree.

“I started a YouTube channel, so that way I’m able to kind of show off, like, those skills,” Rogers said.

While Rogers’ company is mostly online, she has been able to expand her business by traveling.

“There’s nothing that will impact the way that people know you and know your brand like face-to-face,” she said.

When Rogers visits schools, she first sends emails and makes calls to schedule classes. She also makes sales calls to markets, coffee shops and boutiques.

She also walks around the Greek Village of the university she’s visiting, telling people who she is and what she does. Rogers said she knows a lot about how to put on a good sorority event because of her time in Alpha Delta Pi while at USC.

Rogers has traveled to more than 10 colleges in the Southeast and hopes to expand to other universities.

“I just want to keep expanding, keep going to as many schools and meeting girls as I can,” Rogers said. 

Rogers said the best parts of owning her own business are meeting and mentoring so many girls as well as seeing her work create joy.

“I feel like my purpose is to spread joy through art work, ” Rogers said. “It’s a gift that I am so grateful to be able to share with others.”

Cailyn Scharneck, a senior at USC, recently took a class with Rogers at the school’s Russell House student union. She said she has always wanted to take one of the classes after discovering Rogers on social media.

“She did a good job explaining it, and she was just very like positive,” Scharneck said.

Darby hasn’t taken one of Rogers’ classes, but knows friends who have. She said people come out of her classes so proud of their work even if they aren’t a great artist.

Rogers said the most difficult part of owning her own business is balancing art with the need to do taxes, marketing and social media.

The best advice she would give young entrepreneurs is to take chances and not give up when you fail.

“Go for it,” Rogers said. “It’s gonna be risky. It’s gonna be scary. But I think that at the end of the day, like, you’d rather look back and know that you tried.”

Some people who have been around Rogers say her work ethic and kindness make her a role model. Scharneck described her as helpful, motivational and easy to talk to.

“Doing what you love, and making it into your business … is very empowering for people to see,” Scharneck said.

Rogers’ colorful paints and canvases

A USC Gamecocks-inspired painting

Rogers teaches a painting class while visiting a University of Tennessee sorority.

Students at UNC Chapel Hill taking one of Rogers’ painting classes