Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Story as an Artist

In elementary school, I started drawing. I wanted to be able to draw people. I found hands difficult to draw, so I found ways to hide my drawn persons’ hands in their pockets, behind their back or propped on a hip, maybe hidden behind a pom-pom or some other object. I wanted to learn how to draw faces.

I did ballet for a number of years. I was looking forward to wearing real ballet slippers, when my parents divorced and we stopped going to ballet classes. 

My mother took me to t-shirt painting classes taught by Betty. It was a difficult time in my life. I was often unhappy with the end result of my paintings, despite compliments and positive comments from people, which may have frustrated Betty. She probably had no idea what I was really upset about. I entered a local fair’s t-shirt painting competition and won a few awards for my work.

In middle school, I was obsessed with fashion design. I would draw my designs on drawn models during my classes. I always had new ideas. One day, I told my mother about how I wanted to be a fashion designer. She told me that I would work for someone else and that I wouldn’t get credit for my designs. Her words killed my dream. I didn’t want someone else to get credit for my designs.

In high school, I discovered color pencil, and I loved how it gave me control over color, shading and lighting. With color pencil, I could make my drawings incredibly detailed. At home, I could put my headphones on, blast my music, and work layer upon layer of color pencil onto my drawings. I found it very cathartic. 

I also took photography, where I learned about photography concepts and how to develop black and white negatives and prints. I liked taking pictures of my friends, family, pets and inanimate objects. I didn’t like having my picture taken. Sometimes I made beaded stretch bracelets for my family and friends.

Immediately after high school, I went to college. I studied civil engineering. Halfway through my degree, I started to question if I really belonged in civil engineering. Growing up, my mother told me how important money was and to never be poor. Between school and work, I didn’t have much time for art, which made me feel a little sad. I called my mother and told her how I felt. She said that I was halfway through my degree and that I might as well finish. So I walked back into my class. I finished my degree.

During my graduation, a lot of my friends in civil engineering had their hours cut in half or were laid off. The economy took a downward plunge, but I hadn’t expected the engineering job market to be affected. What I thought would be a stable career wasn’t so stable after all. I thought, “Why am I pursuing this if it isn’t what I thought it was?” I really just wanted to own my own business. I realized that it didn’t have to be a civil engineering business. I could do whatever I wanted. I just wanted to be happy.

My friend bought me a pair of kitty earrings from a website called I was inspired by all the cool stuff on her website all made by artists. I was especially inspired by the animal hats and the scarves by Twinkie Chan. I started making jewelry to sell and opened an Etsy shop. I wanted to be one of the artists on! I started to teach myself to crochet with beginner amigurumi patterns and watching YouTube videos.

After graduation, I moved from Las Vegas to Boise with my fiancĂ© at the time. I wanted to be able to pay my bills myself, but I found that incredibly difficult to do with no income. Suddenly, I felt the great weight of $26,000 in student loans and $9,000 in credit card debt that I racked up during college, thinking that I would have a high-paying engineering career by now. I felt pretty stupid. I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself to make money at my jewelry business. I didn’t want to rely on other people. It hurt my pride a great deal to ask for help, but I was lucky to have supportive family and friends.

I started selling at art fairs. I had to learn a great deal about selling my own work. The hardest part was coming out of my shell and talking to customers. It took me about two years, but I was finally able to do it.

After learning how to crochet, I wanted to come up with something truly unique. I didn’t want to just copy what everyone else was doing. One day, I came up with an idea for a rainbow kitty hat. I had no idea how I was going to make that happen. What color would the ears be? Would anybody like it or buy it? Would it just end up being a bright rainbow mess and no one would “get it”? I had a lot of worries but I thought it was a cool. Rainbows for everyone! :)

I didn’t want it to be a regular rainbow. Who says you can only use red, orange, yellow, green and blue? I used hot pink instead of red, lime green instead of regular green, and added purple after blue. Thus, my signature rainbow colors were born!

At first pass, my jewelry didn’t make the cut for But after two years of working on my crochet, my Rainbow Kitty Hat made it to! I was so excited; it was a dream come true!

I started working with polymer clay. Now, two years later, I’ve perfected making Unicorn Poop jewelry and keychains! I am constantly working on creating new items, whether it’s crochet, clay or some other art form. I find joy in making something fun or different and seeing smiles on my customers’ faces. It makes me so happy to hear that I made someone’s day! :)