This is a series of blog posts featuring interviews with women who are entrepreneurs. While I will be interviewing a lot of artists, art is not limited to artists. The art of running a business is challenging and rewarding, no matter the discipline. Told in their own words (as much as possible), I'm looking forward to sharing fascinating stories from inspiring women!
I met Olivia quite by chance, as we were paired together to display at the same venue during Lemon Twist (an art event) in St Cloud, Minnesota in June. She was fun to hang out with for the day. (I wish we lived a little closer to get together over chocolate desserts!) Her paintings are often inspired by nature, (and to me the images she had that day looked like abstract flowers), so my floral and nature photography and her paintings were a perfect pairing!
And for those of you in the St Cloud area, you'll have the chance to meet her in person! She is one of four artists in Art at Waters Edge being held in Avon, Minnesota in August.
Inspiring Women - Olivia Jakel, abstract painter
Olivia Jakel is a Minneapolis-based artist with a zest for invention. She specializes in abstract paintings and whimsical mixed-media dreamscenery. Both her paintings and mixed media pieces feature her signature drip lines. Olivia's work is influenced by a passion for color, impressions of nature, and decorative stylings.
How do you think being a painter/mixed media artist makes a difference to people, if at all?
I’d like to think my art brings beauty to peoples’ lives. That is my simple wish.
A lot of people love art, but don’t know what they are looking at. Please explain the difference between your paintings and mixed media pieces?
Well, the main difference between my abstract paintings and my mixed media pieces is that although both contain abstract elements, my mixed media pieces also have human subjects in them. In terms of what people are looking at, it totally varies and I love that. People have told me they see faces, falling water, and flowers in my abstract paintings. Sometimes I purposely don’t name my pieces because I find that people are more creative with coming up with their own imagery. My feeling is that as long as you see something that you like in my art, then I’ve done my job.
Share a great moment you've experienced relating to your business and or art?
I’ve had several moments that stand out to me. The first was when one of my paintings was selected as the winner of a design competition for a local winery. Since this was the first time I'd ever won anything with my art, I was ecstatic. A second great moment was when I was invited to participate in an interactive art event in Minneapolis sponsored by Target Corp. called Inter(ART) -- a super fun event with lots of very talented people. Lastly, winning the 3rd place People’s Choice Award at Lemon Twist in St. Cloud, Minnesota was a recent honor.
Are there any future projects you're excited about?
Yes! I can’t share too many details here, but I have a few upcoming projects that I’m very excited about. One of the projects involves creating a collaborative painting with another Minneapolis-based artist. I’m also interested in adding more texture to my paintings, so I plan to start dabbling in that. Stay tuned. (You can get signed up for Olivia's newsletter by emailing her and letting her know to add you to her newsletter list - email@example.com)
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
Being an entrepreneur means constantly cultivating the gumption to pursue my dreams and the freedom to create new beautiful things. Perhaps not as obvious but equally important: building relationships and learning from others is a huge part of being an entrepreneur. As my art business grows, my network has expanded to include so many brilliant makers that never cease to amaze me.
What subjects interest you most to paint?
For my abstract pieces, I’m typically inspired by combinations of colors versus a particular subject, so I tend to see a color combination in bouquet, a fabric pattern, a sunset, or even a row of used books! These color inspirations come out of nowhere, and it's fun to look back at a painting and remember where my original idea randomly emerged from. As for my mixed media pieces (abstract, watercolor, and ink), I really love creating “Dreamscenes”. A “Dreamscene” is a term I created that can best be described as a combination of my abstract backgrounds with Art Deco-like men and women in fancy garments with their backs turned, surrounded by an assortment of modern luxury. They’re dreamy, glamorous and contemplative. I started creating these on a whim, and then I couldn’t stop! Each one has two signature elements: tiled floors and rosette textiles.
What would you like to say to others aspiring to pursue their dreams?
1.) Start now – life is too short!
2.) If circumstances allow, really try to say “yes!” to every opportunity that comes your way to grow your dream. Yes, it will be exhausting and there are bound to be some dud gigs along the way, but it’s a great way to figure out which experiences you want to pursue down the road and I guarantee you’ll meet some amazing people.
3.) Never be afraid to ask for help.
4.) Never be afraid to promote yourself. It frustrates me when I see art without an artist label!
5.) Know that your dream won’t make sense to everyone, and that’s 100% okay.
What do think the biggest misconception is about you and your art?
Some people are confused that I have an engineering background. I’ve learned to embrace this because I think creativity is expressed in many different forms.
I don't know many artists who like self promotion, but here's your chance!
--Where can we find you? www.olivia-j-designs.com
-- What is the best way to contact you? E-mail is best. Shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Who is your ideal customer? My ideal customer is someone who appreciates the joy that art can bring to your life.
-- Can we buy your artwork, or support you in other ways? Absolutely. I sell an assortment of originals at my shows, and I also love doing commissions! Studio visits are also available by appointment.
Describe your perfect day. Art-related or personal. (Or both)
Oooh, what a fun question! Let’s see, if time travel were possible, my perfect day would begin in Giverny to paint outside in Monet’s gardens, a late morning run to pick up some new art supplies (can never have too many!), an afternoon spent in my art studio working on an existing project, and then a date-night meal with my husband in Minneapolis at 112 Eatery – their fresh ricotta with truffle honey is divine. Oh, and I suppose dessert is in order if it’s meant to be my perfect day. I require chocolate, so a slice of turtle cake and a coffee from Café Latte in St. Paul, followed by an evening stroll around any one of our beautiful lakes here in the Twin Cities to catch the sunset.
What is the least important thing we should know about you?
Ironically, white is my favorite color.
How would you describe your art relating to how you’d like people to feel when they see it?
My hope is that when people see my art they are filled with a sense of happiness and creativity. I love hearing about the different elements that people see in my abstract works or why they love particular color combination. It’s fascinating. At a recent show, I met a lovely woman who described an elaborate scene that she saw in one of my large abstract paintings of women dancing around in large flowy dresses. I stared at my painting and tried to see her vision…then I suddenly saw it too! It has been experiences like this that have served as a reminder that we all have beautifully unique perspectives and so much to learn from each other -- in art and beyond.
Create your own interview question. Is there something I should have asked but didn’t?
*Question: The concept of "success" can be paralyzing to any artist, how do you avoid that fear of failure or comparison to other artists? (I got this question from another artist that I admire (Bianca from Wild Humm, check her out!))
Answer: This can be really challenging! I find that when I feel a lack of confidence in my work it’s a red flag that I need to double down and work harder. This has been a very useful trick. I also enjoy chatting with other artists and learning from their journeys when I need boost of motivation. It’s comforting to know that others have been through a lot of the same artistic struggles.
Thank YOU Olivia!
I hope you take a little time to check out Olivia's website to see her work. And for those of you who live in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area, you'll have many opportunities to see her work in person. If you see her, tell her "hi" from Barb in Avon. :)
~Barb Kellogg, photographer, tea drinker, and dark chocolate lover
P.S. Do you know a woman entrepreneur that you'd like me to interview? She can be in any kind of business—art, banking, landscaping, you name it—part time or full time, living anywhere in the world. You can share this blog post with her as a bit of an introduction. There's no catch. No fee. This is my way of sharing great stories to inspire others.