CINCINNATI -- It could have been that watercolor she made in eighth grade, the one that hung in the Ohio governor's mansion for a year. It could have been the 100 percent support she received from her mother in her pursuit of art. Or it could just be her raw talent and passionate drive.
No matter what instigated it, Adrienne Gaither, 29, who grew up in Cincinnati, was thrilled to find out last fall that her art was chosen to be the label for Pepsi's new line of purified water, LifeWTR.
"I was told that LifeWTR found me because they were searching for emerging artists," she said. "I'm definitely an emerging artist."
The theme of the product, which debuted in February, is, "Inspiration is as essential to life as water."
In an effort to bring more exposure to artists and bring art to more people, those in charge at LifeWTR developed the concept of artwork on the bottles.
"Consumers are hungry for creativity and searching for inspiration," said Alison Lefleur, associate manager of brand communications. "We hope this encourages them to hydrate, too."
According to the website, the name is spelled without vowels in the word "water" for an artsy spin. The product itself is purified water that is pH-balanced with electrolytes added for taste.
LifeWTR chooses three artists whose designs are featured on the bottles for a few months. Then a new series begins, with new artists and new designs. The first series, which ran in early 2017, featured three artists who create vibrant art for public spaces. This second series focuses on increasing the visibility of female artists.
Lefleur says the company hopes to bring awareness to the fact that half of all artists are women, but only 3 to 5 percent of pieces that hang in museums in the United States and Europe are women's work.
"When we started our search, we looked for women who have talent and have something to say," Lefleur said. "After seeing her art, we immediately knew Adrienne was someone we wanted to work with."
For this series of LifeWTR, 20 million bottles will be printed with that art, split between Gaither and the two other artists whose work is featured in this series of bottles.
The label art Adrienne designed debuted in June and will be on store shelves for about three months. Adrienne calls herself a geometric abstractionist, and that is the perfect description of her bold and edgy bottle design.
The LifeWTR website includes this description of Gaither's work: "She attempts to highlight the struggle between what we believe we see, what we want to see and what is actually there to be seen."
She has been working on the project for more than six months, but said seeing the bottles on store shelves is a surreal experience.
"I need to soak up this moment and enjoy it," Gaither said. "Once this moment passes, I don't want to think it went too fast."
Gaither, 29, attended Anderson Place Elementary and enjoyed art classes in school. She said she thought of art as a hobby then.
"At Mason High School I took a lot of art classes, and the class that stuck with me was a digital arts class," she said. "After learning about graphic design and how it is literally everything, I went to college and majored in graphic design."
She went on to Howard University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in graphic design and a master's degree in painting.
Currently, Gaither works in Washington, D.C., as a graphic designer, painter and visual artist. That doesn't mean she's forgotten her Cincinnati roots -- she comes back routinely to visit family and to get some Grippo's potato chips and Busken cookies, which she calls her guilty pleasures. She also appreciates the city's museums and loves to visit Mount Adams and the Cincinnati Observatory.
"Both places remind me of beauty and nature as well as put a perspective on how small we are in relation to the universe," she said.