My Journey as an Artist: How it Started, How it’s Going
I believe I was born an artist. I think everyone is. It’s a matter of how we keep our creativity as we age. As society tells us to focus on numbers and grammar, to compare ourselves to others, to work hard, to reach an impossible level of perfection - our ability to express ourselves artistically as individuals starts to fade.
I have always loved to draw. While my young classmates dreamed of becoming firefighters, teachers, or doctors when they grew up, all I wanted was to be an artist.
However, I was told that wasn’t a valid career choice. My family continued to support my artistic pursuits, but only as a hobby. When one of my after school art teachers encouraged me to go to art school, I was met with plenty of skepticism and persuaded by family, teachers, and peers to study something more useful instead. So, I decided to study industrial design (product design). It was the perfect career path for me because I could satisfy everyone’s desires - I could be creative, but also get a “normal” job.
I graduated top of my class but still struggled to find any work. After a year of working at a semi-fast food restaurant in Atlanta, and a few months as an art tour guide in Miami, I accepted the position of CAD jewelry designer for the largest jewelry manufacturer in Hawaii. My boyfriend Danny and I packed our four suitcases and moved halfway across the world to our new home. It had always been my dream to live by the beach but I never thought I would live by some of the most beautiful beaches in the world!
I was immediately inspired by the magical landscape, especially the bright blue colors of the sea, and I knew I had to paint it. I tried using my charcoals, pencils, colored pencils, pastels, paints, watercolors...no medium could capture its wonder the way I was envisioning. It was then, while working on new jewelry designs, I discovered resin. I loved that I could mix pigments to change its color, adjust its opacity, add layers, and that it had a glossy, water-like finish. As I did more research on the material, I learned how it's also used for surfboard glassing - it was perfect. That night I went home and bought all the materials needed to try it out.
I created a little studio space in our small apartment. I covered the floors with plastic, laid out my hand-built, wood panels, and experimented with this unique, new medium. I had never seen anyone create art with resin before and could not find any information about it online. After each layer, Danny and I would have to leave the apartment for the day to let the toxic fumes air out. It took me a full year of trial and error before I could get the effects I was looking for. By that point I was hooked and decided to quit my day job which was a toxic environment in its own way. It was then that I began looking for an art studio so our apartment could be livable again and I decided to dedicate one year to living out my dream of being an artist before going back to finding another “real” job.
I had absolutely no idea how to sell my art or how to run a small business; I was still figuring out painting and resin techniques! Danny helped me figure out all the tax stuff while I tried my hand at marketing and sales. My first few art shows were a disaster and I came out losing money that first year. The second year I broke even. So many people made rude comments, gallery owners constantly turned me down, I was exhausted, and at times I wanted to just give up. But every morning I woke up so happy to be doing what I loved and that was success enough for me.
Now I finally feel to have things mostly figured out (although I’m still learning everyday) and my art business has become so much more successful than I could've ever imagined. I expanded from my first art studio to four studios, and then moved to a much larger studio down the street. I went from a team of one (plus Danny) to a part-time team of seven. I have had to turn down orders because I can’t keep up.
It’s crazy to look back on how far I’ve come and to think about how proud my young self would be of me now. What makes me most happy is that I can paint almost everyday and share my art with the world! I’ve learned that you should never let anyone or anything hold you back from doing what you love. We only have one life to live so you might as well try! Sorry for the long story and thanks for still hanging in there. I decided to start this blog in order to share my story and tips and to hopefully inspire others like yourself to live out your dreams!