Each Thursday (who am I kidding, it can be on any day), we get a closer look into creativity and business; I will be sharing a mix of 13 small business, brands, entrepreneurs, visionaries, and creators while highlighting and sharing an interview with one. Today I had the pleasure of taking a virtual seat with Shelia, a photographer, artist, jewelry maker, a jack of all trades. I remember back when I focused on my photography business, and was looking for someone to model and at that time we just followed each other on social media and didn’t know each other and she agreed. That was one cold winter day years ago, and as the years have passed we’ve continued to watch each other grow in our brands and as woman. Today she’s giving us a peek into her creative process and how she balances life, creativity, and building a brand.
Creators & Entrepreneurs:
a closer look into creativity & business.
Me: First and foremost thanks for having a virtual seat with me! You’re a creator, you paint, you craft jewelry, you take pictures, and you even dabble in being in front of the camera here and there. Sheesh girl you do a lot and I love it, I didn’t miss anything did I? lol. When did you realize you had all of these talents?
Shelia: I do bartend and help curate events here and there as well, but you basically covered it all. A lot of my talents are ones I have had for a while that I honestly kept to myself or didn’t show often but within the last year or two I have been embracing my abilities and talents and growing with them.
Me: Wow, and you make time for all of these things, you’re dope. Tell us a little about yourself and your inspiration behind all that you do. Were you afraid to start sharing your creations with the world?
Shelia: I am 22 years old from Philly and the surrounding suburb, moved a few times. I went to Bloomsburg for a year, transferred to Temple, and I had to take a break because financially I couldn’t afford it. Now, I work 2 jobs (School District of Philadelphia/ TGI Fridays), as well as building my art brand. My inspiration comes from learning about artists such as Basquiat and Jackson Pollock, as well as learning about other art forms and mediums. Which includes batiking, paint pouring, resin, and spray painting. In addition, my very own mind, past and present and other peers give me a lot of inspiration.
I used to be very terrified to show my own no matter what it was because I feared judgment the most. I am a sensitive soul, so the thought of others critiquing my work was a major fear. But recently, as I am taking time as a woman to understand myself and find my peace and balances, I have learned to show off my abilities to others and embrace feedback. You never know who might love your work or who might need that little bit of inspiration themselves.
Me: It’s natural to be nervous to share such intimates part of yourself with the world. I’m glad you pushed through. You’ve recently started selling your own hand painted clothing. What are your plans with it? Where can we find your artwork and the things you create?
Shelia: The clothing used to be something I solely did for myself, to change up my style a little and to add a twist to some of the things I would purchase. When I was very young I would draw out clothing lines I created and then I just started actually creating shit. I would go thrifting and make my own high waisted jean shorts in the summer or distress and bleach old pairs. I would bleach my shirts and hoodies as well and I guess others started liking it and I realized this is something I could make a few bucks from. My goals for the clothing overall is to continue making custom pieces for people and perfecting that craft and possibly get some custom designs of my own printed on shirts too. As of right now you can find samples of my work on my instagram pages. I have a website coming soon.
Me: What do you consider a successful artist to be?
Shelia: A successful artist to me, is one who uses their talents and platform to give back in their community or in this world in some way. A successful artist is also a person who is able to network on all levels to leave their legacy in art in any form possible.
Me: You’ve used your talent to start your own business, what was your motivation behind taking that step?
Shelia: Art was a hobby for me always, it relieved my stress, I have always felt super free doing it. When I took time out for myself as a woman to realize what I wanted in life and what truly made me happy, art was almost on top. I wanted to continue pursuing my craft but I realized this is something I can make bigger, it was never a goal for me to sell, but once I made some profit in it, (mostly my jewelry) I had to get back to what truly made me happy and build my brand around that. That is what I am in the process of doing now.
Me: It takes a lot of focus and discipline to build a brand and you yourself are ultimately your brand. The work you put out ultimately speaks for itself. What kind of self-care techniques do you use to refrain from becoming overwhelmed with juggling life, work, and creating new content, what do you do to relax and get your mental together? If you don’t have any what kind of self-care techniques would you like to incorporate?
Shelia: I am a super busy person, I usually am always working whether it’s my actual 9-5 or my weekend job or my hustle or building my brand. My techniques to take time out for myself to avoid stress is mostly taking walks and smoking, it clears my head and lets me take a second away from everything especially in nature.
Me: What do you do to get you in the right mood to create? What’s your ideal work environment?
Shelia: I get in the right mood to create by setting the mood for myself. On a regular day, my mind is running faster than I can think which leads me to want to create SOMETHING..ANYTHING. So when I get time in the day (usually after work), I set that mood by of course smoking, that relaxes my mind which let my ideas flow smoother. Right now, I am not in the space I want to be. When I have my own place again, the mood will naturally be set; incense in the air, music playing always, my artwork as well as others on the wall, natural lighting, and supplies always around to create. Of course certain vibes and tones set a mood for me when I’m out or with people which will lead me to look up things to create or draw.
Me: What does “being creative,” mean to you?
Shelia: “Being creative” to me means opening up your mind and letting your ideas and mental flow artistically, expressing yourself, being diverse, knowing who you are and using that energy and freedom in art and media.
Me: Do you self-reflect or keep a journal or do you spill your thoughts through your artwork or both? Why or why not?
Shelia: I actually do all the above. I have a racing mind and I’m always thinking about something. I am taking a lot of personal time right now to self reflect A LOT. I am taking time as a young woman to figure out who I am, what I want, and what direction I am going and so on. I also kind of keep a journal, I write my thoughts daily, use a personal calendar, write to-do lists, write stories and my feelings in my notepad. I am a huge promoter of expressing your feelings, and letting everything in your mental out, so whether it is, speaking, drawing, or writing I’m all for it. Mine happens to be all three. As an artist, I release my thoughts through my art. I started drawing at a young age and noticed how it was helping my stress and my thoughts flow, it became therapeutic for me.
Me: What are some of the goals you hope to achieve with your artwork, business wise and personally?
Shelia: I would love to show my work on an international level at an event, festival, or gallery. I would love for a large company, dope brand, or business sponsor to collaborate on a piece or feature. In addition, seeing my work sold to households and being used in home décor as unique urban contemporary home décor would be amazing. Lastly, I would love to have my own show room or gallery.
Me: I think having a showroom would be a dope idea! Anything is possible, do you have a specific audience you gear your work towards, or can everyone take something away from it?
Shelia: Right now, based off the shows I vend, the environment, and the age group I am in, my audience is the young underground Philly based artists. I would love to gear my audience to all, many of the stories behind my work are very relatable as well social and cultural and political issues. I feel like everyone gets a different feeling once I go into the explanation of the piece and that’s something I love watching.
Me: Having people be able to relate to your work in some way or just like/enjoy it is always a rewarding feeling. Usually, a lot of things that creatives do tend to come together in a way. Out of all that you do, are any just hobbies? Or do you plan to do something with all?
Shelia: The jewelry making (bracelets, anklets, and waist beads) was something that was started as “a side hustle” and that is basically still what it is. I love it, I love the product I make and that’s how it started but I would never want to push with that because it isn’t my true passion.
Me: Has your idea of what an artist and creator is changed since you’ve gained experience with both?
Shelia: My idea of an artist and creator has grown more than ever. Taking the time to network and chill around other artists and creators has been worth all the knowledge I have gathered, and experiences I have had so far. My definitions have done nothing but expand and have become even more diverse and complex… which is a good thing.
Me: What have been some of your failures so far on this journey of creating?
Shelia: On any journey, you will have a number of failures. For my creative process, a few of failures for me would include cheating myself with the wrong supplies trying to make it work. There are a few pieces that I have sold that I would love to do again or do with different materials. Also, going to events and not selling many pieces and products is a large failure for me but I know it was great networking regardless. Many times my failures have turned to learning lessons.
Me: I feel like as an artist or creator we all look back at things we’ve created after we’ve grown and want to do things differently. But that’s just apart of growing mentally and in your craft. What kind of work are you most drawn to viewing yourself? Do you find yourself viewing work similar to your own, or completely different?
Shelia: I find myself viewing a range of work, but mostly urban, afro centric, and street abstract or contemporary pieces. When it comes to photography it is similar, except with images, I look at literally everything nothing specific. But with paintings, I focus on crazy bright colors, abstract, mix media work. All types of work honestly.
Me: How do you balance creating and life?
Shelia: I balance creating and life by always implementing creativity into most of what I do. At this point most of what I enjoy involves the arts or creating something. So there is no real balance for me.
Me: Does music play a role in your creative process? If so, what kind or any particular artist, etc.?
Shelia: Yes music plays a role in my everyday process. I think everyone can agree that music pays a huge role in this generation. Depending on my mood, I like everything from Lauryn Hill to Cardi B, I listen to a range of music. It truly depends on how I’m feeling and what mood I am in.
Me: How do you motivate yourself to keep creating or does it just come naturally?
Shelia: I motivate myself by staying focused and busy. More free time you have, the more your mind wanders away from your focus. So creating is almost in everything I do daily.
Me: How do you get people to interact with your work? How do you gain your audience? Do you find social media beneficial for that?
Shelia: Social Media is a large platform that helps people interact with my work. I post my art work on both of my pages. As well as on Facebook, it also helps me show my work to others. I am trying to get my Etsy shop open so that is another outlet source to sell my work.
Me: Some creators are also active in other creative areas, what are some of your favorite creative activities besides what we’ve discussed?
Shelia: I didn’t get into it much, but I want to get back into batiking and dying fabric for sure. I also used to braid hair as well as sew, but I haven’t done them in a while. Most of the creative activities I do, I try to incorporate into everything I produce.
Me: What advice would you give someone who is interested in starting their own business or brand for the first time? What advice would you give to someone who is pursuing their dreams and talents?
Shelia: If you are pursuing your dreams and talents, I will always tell others to make sure you keep following your dreams no matter your age or your insecurities. Don’t let others opinions stop you or slow you down. Always network and try to get a mentor who will help you and guide you. When it comes to starting your own brand, invest it in, take time out to really make sure this is what you want. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There will be set backs but it’s all in the process.
Me: Excluding yourself, are there any people in the world that you admire? Any people in general that inspire or motivate you?
Shelia: I get A LOT of my motivation and inspiration from a lot of the people I associate myself with, other artists, entrepreneurs, and creatives. I could drop plenty of names from family to celebs, but a hard working woman is simply inspiring as well.
Me: If you could change just one thing about our society through your work, what would it be?
Shelia: Now, I try to incorporate social, cultural and political issues in my art work that are major in the media because they are very important especially for the younger generation. I would want others especially younger kids to gain a better understanding of mental health and self worth within themselves and their community through my work. For example my Caution Series features thoughts that provoke me when I think of “caution” in society.
Me: What makes your artwork unique?
Shelia: I would describe my work as unique, because it isn’t one set style at all, it is almost always a mix of mediums in a single piece. My mind provokes all different styles. So as I continue to grow there will be growth in technique and a range of displays.
Me: As a creative individual, do you believe that you perceive the world differently from other people? What role do you think emotions play in your creative process?
Shelia: I feel as though everyone views the world differently, I do believe creatives and artists have a deeper perception of the world and can dive into their thoughts and mind a little more. As someone who is very emotional and sensitive but has a hard exterior, emotion plays a major role in your creative process. For everyone it is different but before I took the time out for myself, I let my emotions control my creative process. I would only produce art when I was mad or sad and it was bothering me. I had to realize that I can’t let that emotion control how my energy and thoughts flow.
Me: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Shelia: In 5 years, I hope to see my work whether it’s my photography or artwork on a larger scale. In homes, in businesses and collabs with brands. I also see myself out of Philly hopefully. As well as developing my brand more to make it one cohesive collective. Lastly, in 5 years, I would love to develop my craft and perfect some techniques and learn new ones I can incorporate into my artwork.
Me: Fun fact about yourself?
Shelia: A fun fact about me is that I am left handed, I take pride in that, there aren’t many of us out here and most are creatives.
Me: Anything else you’d like to share? Advice, tips, motivation, etc.
Shelia: As someone who was LOST a year ago, focused on my relationship and making sure someone else was happy and “okay”, I literally lost myself. Woman or Man, please take time to find yourself and what makes you truly happy and inspired. Don’t get lost in the daily routines that you don’t focus on your goals and dreams. Stop making excuses for what makes you happy.
Me: I definitely feel that! Self-love is the best love and first love you should have. Drop your socials so we can be sure to follow you!
Website coming soon.
Thanks for allowing us to take a peek into your life and many crafts Shelia!
- Taking A Virtual With Jasmin
- Working Women Wednesday – “Getting Sultry With Sage”
- Creators & Entrepreneurs – a closer look into creativity and business
Note that my first two self-published books are still available for purchase. You can find reviews and product information on my site (findingyourself.bigcartel.com) while you’re there you can also take a look at the accompanying products. Be sure to stay in the loop by following @chooseyoualways on Instagram.
Secondly, a third book is in the making and set to release soon, my first urban novel. If you haven’t already read the snippets, click below.
- The Key To My Brothers Heart – Kennedy’s Reign (a snippet)
- The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign (The last snippet)
Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!
Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!