The marvelously-talented Traci Bautista has created an online art marketing e-course called Discovering Y.O.U. and she asked me to give some helpful tips and advice as a working artist.
I was honored, as it wasn’t more than about 5 years ago that I met Miss Traci and was awed by her beautiful and colorful collages. She is a talented lady, great teacher and always so generous sharing what she knows and what she’s learned.
One of the questions Traci asked is to tell our story of how we came to be a working artist. So here it is:
I’ve always been creative. My mother missed the creative gene entirely, but luckily she recognized that it had skipped a generation and landed smack dab in my DNA. While we did not have a lot of spending money, she made sure I had a supply of crayons, paper and glue.
I remember tearing up magazine images and pasting them down as a way to pass the afternoons. I also remember playing dress up and rummaging through her collection of costume jewelry, which is why I think my heart skips a beat today when I find a box of junk jewelry parts at garage sales or flea markets.
In high school I decided to become a reporter and, by college, my desire to do award-winning journalism became my passion. I continued in this vein for more than a decade, steadily working my way up to larger papers with bigger beats.
At 30, my biological clock rang, more like an alarm clock bleating loudly at 3 a.m. I was getting burned out by daily news, and my husband and I decided to start a family. As an on-the-go-reporter turned at-home-mommy, I went through an identity crisis. To get through it, I joined a mothers club and started scrapbooking.
Within a few months of going to evening crops to socialize with other women, I grew bored with using the pre-made stuff and picked up the tools of my childhood — paper and paints and glue and started using my photos in an “artsy” way (much to the chagrin of my mom peers).
This lead me to Art Unraveled in my hometown. I took classes, came home inspired and made art while my son napped. I also began freelancing for my former boss.
A colleague called because she was promoted to editor-in-chief of a new lifestyle magazine in Scottsdale, AZ and asked if I would write for her. I agreed to be the Arts Editor since it was quickly becoming my new passion.
Word got out about my writing abilities and I began freelancing for other art magazines. One thing led to another and I was back working full time, barely having time to eke out my own creativity. Just as I was feeling overwhelmed, the magazine closed.
Another editor friend called and asked if I would go to New Orleans for a feature about the visual arts scene there. (This was pre-Katrina). I packed my bags and left for a week in the Big Easy. I met the editor of Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion, struck up a conversation about collage and assemblage and came home with a feature article promise. A week later she called and offered me a mixed media column.
I did this column for nearly 5 years before the magazine closed. I kept up my freelance gigs and pursued my own artistic dreams in the hopes that I would one day get to make and teach art as a professional artist.
Then the most wonderful thing happened. We became naturally pregnant with our miracle baby. As I was dealing with morning sickness, my wickedly-talented friend and mentor Susan Lenart Kazmer asked me to join her company.
My husband and I have a beautiful 14-month-old baby girl, an almost 11-year-old son and I’m working as the Director of Education and Marketing for ICE Resin.
I am living the life of my dreams. Making art, raising a family, coordinating an incredible design team of talented ladies, dreaming up and putting into action online and print media marketing campaigns and teaching my own work. I was recently offered two additional column opportunities — one traditional print and one online — and I’m thrilled by my incredible luck.
I’m in my 40s and proud of it because all of my experiences led me to this.
If there is one salient piece of advice I can offer it’s this: Say YES! Yes to opportunities, yes to things that don’t necessarily mean $$$ in your pocket, but opportunities for promotion of self and others. Work your craft. Never stop learning. Network, network, network and always find a way to say YES! to the crazy ideas friends offer you.
Say YES! to the joy life offers you.