In honor of Creative Summer, one of our awesome clients has written a guest blog about how her art has made her better at business.
by Renée Vevea
It’s always a bit difficult for me to answer the question, “What do you do?”. A common question oftentimes asked by people just met or haven’t seen for a while. My answer is not a simple statement or a one-liner. I’ve come to fear, in my own way, answering this question because I’m not sure where to edit myself. It would be easy to say I’m a teacher, a banker, a marketer, a salesperson, a stay-at-home mom, a student. But my answer goes something like this:
“I work full-time as a digital senior business project manager for a large corporation downtown Minneapolis, am a part-time adjunct faculty (teaching two times a week) at a local college, am working on my doctorate and am also an artist specializing in acrylic painting and have an art studio in St. Paul. And, by the way, I’m a mother to a college senior, am preparing for my third solo art show this year, and spend lots of time in the social media arena – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and blogging – under various nomenclatures. “
Eyes start to glaze over midway through my description and heads start to shake.
But I don’t think I’m alone in not having a one-line answer to the question “what do you do”. In our current culture of digitization we have at our realm smart phones, wireless tablets, GPS navigation systems, and everything in between. We are becoming a culture of multi-taskers whether we like it or not. We can order our groceries, make doctor’s appointments, pay our bills and send a birthday card all online. Instead of sitting on the couch and watching television for four hours a night, we can sit on the couch, watch television, pay our bills, send emails to friends and family, connect thru social media, take college classes, check our work email and write our grocery list. Some say technology has improved and streamlined our lives; others state it has isolated us.
I’ve always been both analytical and creative, using the left and right sides of my brain. Finding a career that both challenges and satisfies both sides has in itself been challenging. Always easier to find jobs that were more analytical, the creative side started to atrophy a few years ago and I felt like I was losing part of myself. After trying jewelry making, knitting, quilting and card making, I took a painting class. It lasted 6 weeks. The first night I was so afraid – I had never held a paintbrush in my hand nor made a color wheel. Blue and yellow make green….red and blue make purple….how glorious it felt to blend and swirl the paintbrush with the wet acrylic paint into a variety of sumptuous colors. The first stroke of wet paint on the canvas made me feel uplifted, airy and light. I wasn’t nervous anymore. I took the class six more times and began to introduce myself at each first session as the student the teacher wouldn’t pass – it was a joke – but I couldn’t get enough of painting and the classroom gave me the three hours a week to be free. Free from thinking about work, about deadlines, about schedules, about to do lists.
Finally, after the sixth time taking the class, my teacher, a wonderful woman with two MFAs, took me aside and said I should go it alone – she could teach me no more. I had started using many multiple compounds with the paint and my paintings, very abstract and textural, took on a style all of their own. Fortunately, I found an artist’s cooperative in St. Paul who, after an interview and viewing of my work, accepted me into the co-op. My art has flourished and is ever-changing – with the seasons, with where I am emotionally and spiritually, and with the different and myriad inspirations that come my way. My first solo art show was this past January – over 40 pieces. I was very excited to have the opportunity to show my work – and only my work – in one location for three months but also apprehensive and a bit anxious feeling vulnerable about my paintings. What if people didn’t like it…what if no one came to the opening (fortunately over 200 people did come to the opening!).
Art is art. It has its own subjectivity which cannot be controlled, nor edited. I paint what I like to paint. When I paint I’m in a place like no other – my mind is free and I feel the most creative. The time I take to paint – usually 4-6 hours per week is very important to me and I have realized, thru the practice, exercise and commitment to painting, I have grown in my career. Painting has taught me to be more patient, to not be so hard on myself, and also, if I don’t like something, I can do it over. It’s okay to show someone your art – or at work to share with your co-workers your successes – it’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to open up. Rejection is something we put on ourselves.
I still don’t have a short answer to the question, “what do you do”, but am happy to share all that I do and have realized that sharing the part of my life, art, that is so important, has not only filled the creative side of my personality but also allowed that side to show at work and through some of the projects I work on. Art and creativity are everywhere…including the business world.
Renée Vevea lives in the Twin Cities and works in the interactive field. Renee is also an adjunct faculty at the Art Institute International. A member of the Old Town Artist’s Co-op in St. Paul, Renée has been painting for over three years and is busily preparing for her third solo art show this October. She is excited to have her son graduate from college in December so she’ll have more funds to purchase painting supplies.