I studied to be an artist. I tell everyone this story of how I wanted to be a fashion designer but my mother met a 'starving artist', Andrey Tamarchenko, who convinced her that I needed to learn how to paint everything in order to become one. She had me enroll to take classes while in high school, prepping my portfolio. I was then accepted into all the art schools where I applied, and of course without even knowing how to sew, I surely wasn’t getting into fashion schools. So I just kept going with the life of an artist. But truly it’s a more complex story.
Just like every art student I graduated with a thought that I’ll never make a living as an artist. After a number of different stints I landed a gallery director job and that surely was the dream of every art student and every parent. All that prestige: the gallery openings, art fairs, auctions, fancy clients, celebrities, worldwide travel, crazy money. It’s a perfect life, isn’t it? What more could you possibly wish for? But you know what? It’s a brutal backstabbing world. It’s a life where I didn’t sleep at nights because I knew I wasn’t honest with clients. I suffered from ridiculous bouts of depression – never knowing who my friends at work are, not trusting any information I was given. I sold my soul to the devil and I felt it every single day.
Then one day I was sent to Italy to check out the Venice Biennale and I stayed another week for an art retreat with that same art teacher I met back in high school, my one and only guide through life, Andrey Tamarchenko. Painting every day with him in the hills of Alessandria, I saw just how deep my abyss was. I was balling my eyes out again, every single night of that week. But this time it was different. I cried due to the realization that I cannot live like this anymore. I saw that no amount of money can fix the horrible damage I was inflicting on myself every single day. This art retreat was a deciding factor that finally made me leave the gallery and reevaluate my life.
Yes, it has been tough not getting a six figure salary, and building a business of my own from scratch. But at the end of the day, it’s my painting practice that still keeps me honest with myself. Every week it gives me strength to tackle all kinds of dilemmas that come my way. It’s the only way to stay balanced.
-And here's a little piece I did with Andrey while in Italy. Feel free to email with questions if you're interested. -