I’ve known Rachel since Kindergarten. We were both “Cougars”, that’s Canterbury Woods Elementary School Cougars, ahem. We attended the same birthday parties, had tea parties in Red Fox Forest, went to high school together, and have recently stayed in touch via our blogs. I knew Rachel would be perfect for this interview because she has completely embraced her calling to be an artist. I found her answers fascinating and I think you will too :)
Can you share a bit about yourself? (A brief introductory bio)
Hi, I’m Rachel. I’m an architect-turned-artist, small business owner, greeting card designer, blogger, amateur photographer, and lover of travel, good food, and red wine.
How do you define authenticity?
Having the confidence to be yourself and pursue your goals without being influenced by anyone else.
After college you worked in an architectural firm, as an architect and just recently you have moved into the art world with your own studio (Funnelcloud Studio). Can you describe the path you took to get to the place where you are today? As in, how did you find your calling?
I was creative and artistic from a young age, yet I never really saw art as a career. I was interested in architecture as a practical way to satisfy my desire to design and yet still be able to make a living – so I got a degree in architecture and then worked in several architectural firms. I learned a lot, but something was missing. There were so many business-related and technical aspects of practicing architecture that really trumped the creative part – the part that made me want to be an architect in the first place.
I struggled a lot with whether my career should be my passion (it wasn’t) or just a way to pay the bills. I took art classes in the evenings to try to satisfy my desire to be artistic and creative. Ultimately, I decided that there was no time like the present to pursue my true passion – art. I opened up an Etsy shop, and eventually quit my day job so I could be an artist full time.
How does your current career and creative journey reflect your authentic self?
I think that being an artist is who I truly am and it took years of education and working in the wrong field for me to discover and accept that. Which isn’t to say that architecture was a mistake – I have a strong background in design that I gained through my experiences and education as an architect, and I use these skills every day working as an artist. Architecture, art, photography, and even cooking are all part of my path as a designer.
Creatively, what is your favorite piece so far?
Oh, that’s tough. I don’t think I’ve created it yet! But I’m working with some new media right now and hoping to unveil some paintings in the next few weeks that might be my best work yet.
How do you ensure that you maintain your own authenticity, when often it can be a struggle?
Artistically, my motto is “just do it.” For so long I wanted to sell my art, but I was paralyzed by the need to make things perfect before I had even started. Now, I just force myself to create stuff. If I have an idea, I need to jump on it, before I lose the motivation. I may create some total duds, I may waste some paint, but the risk – and the possibility of success – are definitely worth it. I think this advice can be adapted to just about any aspect of one’s life.
For people struggling to find their own authenticity, what advice can you offer?
Examine what you want out of life and what you hope to achieve and take the steps to do so, regardless of what others think you should be doing. Write it down. Say yes, take risks, try new things.
If you had to use one word to sum up your year, what word would that be and why?
Um, stress? Or how about scary? Those probably weren’t the positive, motivating words you were looking for! But the truth is, being your own boss and running your own business is both stressful and scary. It’s also awesome. On a more positive note, the word opportunity comes to mind. So many amazing opportunities have come along this year because of my shop.
Lastly, where can we find you in the web-o-sphere?
Rachel, thanks so much for participating in the series. If YOU would like to take part in the interview series or know someone who you believe truly lives an authentic life, please send me an email: amanda[dot]coolidge[at]gmail[dot]com.