As a female business owner, mom of two girls, and creative designer, I am a big fan of independent artists, especially ones of the female variety. Clients are always asking my advice on who to follow and what art to buy and I always recommend buying local. With the women empowerment vibe that is happening right now in our city, I thought I would take a moment to recognize a few of my favorite female artists of the District. These ladies not only create beautiful art but they are gold stars, inspirations, and a female force to be reckoned with. I admire how they took their passion and talent and created a superfierce career out of it. They say love what you do, and these women are prime examples of just that.
I present to you the fierce female artists of the District of Columbia...
1. What's your advice for young women getting started in the professional art scene?
Have business cards, website and go to events that are not just for artists. Find people outside of your immediate community.
Look for opportunities that allow you to sell - not just "get exposure".
Artists are a need not a want. Our ideas and our contribution to making a building neighborhood or a space unique, soulful or curated is valued. Make sure to ask for payment or put your proposed value in writing.
COLLABORATE WITH GROUND RULES AND HUMILITY
Understand your moment. Are you just getting started? How many years have you been working? Do not oversell your experience level you will find yourself in hot water fast and may ruin a relationship. Instead find someone to collaborate with who does have experience or a skill you don't have. You and your work will be better for it. Be clear about your goals, needs and desired outcome. Write all of this down and share with your collaborators and client. Be humble about the outcome, be grateful for the work and expect to learn learn learn. NO ONE has it figured out completely.
Build a portfolio of YOUR OWN work. Do not, I repeat, do not take credit for someone else's work. Be honest and confident BUT remember it takes a few years for any business to get off the ground. Don't get discouraged by an irregular work flow. When you don't have a client... work on your own stuff and experiment.
COMMUNICATE CLEARLY AND CONFIDENTLY
Use your words- do not assume that the customer, collector or business that has hired you can read your mind. No one is going to babysit your emotions, your process or your deadline. You must be communicative and brief. Do not tell long stories about why something did or didn't happen. It will be appreciated and reflect professionalism.
2. If your one of your paintings could hang anywhere, where would it be and which painting?
The Guggenheim - I haven't painted it yet :)
3. What's your favorite color?
1. Who is your favorite female artist?
Oy! This is a tough one... I would have to go with two and that's tough; Ellen von Unwerth, Yayoi Kusama.
2. Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in North Potomac, MD. My parents still live in the same house that I grew up in. My family is originally from the tiny colorful island of Haiti.
3. What color are the walls of your bedroom?
Light grey...But I REALLY want to paint them white.
1. How did you get started painting professionally?
After art school my solitary goal was sorting out how I could support myself entirely on my art. Through some years of teaching and variety of other jobs, I kept a consistent studio practice and participated in group/pop up/coffee shop/gallery shows in the DC area. At a certain point I decided to take the leap of faith from regular income to freelance, and it was terrifying, but immediately paid off. I had more time to work on my art, which meant I could make more/sell more/play more and be more flexible in how I live my life. Its been a love affair ever since.
2. Do you have a pet?
I do! Well, my family does - who lives here in D.C. She is a yellow lab, and her name is Stella and she is the absolute best. I know everyone says that about their pet...but I am telling the truth.
3. What was the first painting you ever sold?
Tough one to say....I sold art here and there in high school and then college, mostly prints and drawings. Once I started to paint more post art school - I again sold small things here and there but nothing significant. The pieces I remember feeling accomplished about were for my first solo exhibition: Women in Color in 2015. I put blood, sweat and tears into that show and half the pieces sold on the first night. It was a euphoric feeling I will never forget.
1. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I soak up inspiration from everything and everyone I can. I love color and the organic shapes found in nature. I love fashion and interior design and textiles and architecture. The female form (heart, soul and mind) is another HUGE source of inspiration for me that never gets old. I’m always drawing from emotional and spiritual sources as well. My husband is a musician and songwriter so I love hearing him play. I may listen to a song or read a poem or piece of scripture that moves me. Inspiration can also come from a simple conversation that I have with a friend or just a mood or piece of my history that somehow makes it’s way into my work. It’s kind of a mystery to me how it all happens. I just try to stay open to whatever comes my way.
2. Who is your average client/collector?
I don’t know that I can answer that question. Most of them have been women but certainly not all. I think they all enjoy discovering new and interesting works that speak to them on a personal level. My clients tend to be inelegant and curious as collectors. In other words, they aren’t buying a piece just because some big gallery has it on display. They are more interested in discovering work for themselves. They also enjoy the personal connection of getting to know who I am as an artist and learning a bit about my process and the meaning behind the painting itself. Many of them are first time collectors who are finally decorating their dream space and want to infuse some beauty and interest into their new home. I have also worked with seasoned collectors and designers, who are looking for something fresh. It’s a mixed bag but I am grateful for every single one of my clients. It is such an honor to know that someone wants to incorporate my work into their life.
3. What's your favorite shape to paint?
My favorite shape to paint is the female form, for sure!!!
1. How do you feel about the growing art scene in the district for women?
I am pretty impressed with the growing art scene in DC. It's been really remarkable and beautiful to see how many of these emerging artists and creative businesses are run by awesome women! I think it is a testament to the time that women are creating the change they want to see and that they are having a lasting creative impact.
2. Which do you prefer - triangles or circles?
Ha, that is a hard question. It depends on the day! But, I've certainly been focused on making circles in my current body of glitter work.
3. What is your favorite surface to paint on - canvas, paper or walls?
Every surface gives me a different experience. But, at the moment it would be paper. When I work on paper it is an intimate experience, the work is a smaller scale and I am able to be focused on a drawing on paper for hours without having to take a break, its meditative and therapeutic. Painting large scale murals on walls is an entirely separate experience. Murals push me forward and help me learn something new about my self and my process.
1. What's the most exciting project you have worked on?
The most exciting project I have worked on to date is my collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution and renown artist Roger Shimomoura for the exhibition Crosslines that took place in 2016. This was the most exciting for me as a artist because I was given a opportunity to work with a amazingly talented and well respected artist as well as one of the largest art institutes in the world.
2. How would you define your style of art?
I would define my art style having influences from my childhood aesthetically but the context of the content reflecting current events that I witness in my adult life. Although at first sight the art work appears to have a cartoonist style the narrative around the work is typically inspired by stories related to events that may not always be expected.
3. What's your favorite cartoon character?
There are so many that it is difficult to choose. I will say that my favorite cartoon pioneers are Walt Disney and Osamu Tezkuka. I admire them both tremendously for their creative and imaginative designs as well as their story telling. Both of their most beloved cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Astro Boy as iconic as the image of Jesus if you ask me.
I hope that what these 6 strong, talented women have said inspires you in some way to hustle hard and dream big. BIG thank you to my tribe of lady artists for letting us dive into who you are and what inspires you, lots of lessons to be learned.