Calista Cooper blows me away. She was my “booth buddy” when we both did our first Market Collectives last year. We connected through learning together (and covering bathroom breaks). She is one of the sweetest, most down to earth, and ridiculously talented people I have had the pleasure of meeting. One of her prints (an owl) has found a permanent place on my alter at home, and it reminds me of the magic in life. All of her work does, really. Read on to find out more about who she is, what drives her, and how she came to make some of the most stunningly magical prints you can find.
How did you discover art as a way of therapy, and connecting to yourself and others spiritually and emotionally?
I have struggled with anxiety for most of my adult life and I discovered the artistic process as a way of relaxation. While I am creating I feel the anxiety drift away as I am completely absorbed into the work. I hope this new energy passes to those who observe my paintings!
Your art primarily focuses on animals and nature – why is that?
I feel a connection to the fight, fire, and frailty of animals in the wild. Specifically, I find a strong connection through the eyes of each animal I paint. The relationship is the reflective aspect of the process and helps me grow as an artist and a woman.
How did the dripping quality come to be? Is there a meaning behind it for you?
The first incident was a complete accident – and I let it go! This was a big step for me (letting go of perfection) and for that reason I held on to the drip quality. I find that it give each painting more energy as well.
How did the shift from “creating just to create” shift into becoming a business? How has that shift been for you?
There are hills and valleys through life and I shifted into selling my work during a valley. It wasn’t a big one but it was enough of a lull for me to focus almost entirely on creating – on a larger scale. As I reflect back I am so grateful for the opportunity – and those that continue to present themselves as I move forward in my creative career.
Biggest reward being an entrepreneur? Biggest struggle?
I genuinely enjoy everything about the small business process. I do, at times, struggle with the organizational side (like I think most do :D).
What advice do you have for those starting their own endeavours?
Keep moving. When you have a setback, try something new. If you feel that you are not being received by a particular audience try reaching out to another. Just keep swimming 😀
How do you define success?
This is a difficult one for me especially because my definition of success varies greatly from those around me. Success to me is finding happiness in something that is completely your own. It could be motherhood, a small business no matter how fiscally successful, or becoming a partner at a law firm. If you can hold on to it as your own and find growth along the path, this is success to me.
What is your ultimate goal, both personally and professionally?
I try to set small goals rather than one large one. My goals for this coming year are to write and illustrate a children’s book and create a completely new series of paintings.
You talk about how “the process is not always organic”. What does that mean to you? How has it been hard to come to terms with, and have you been able to?
I spoke briefly about being a perfectionist. Additionally, there are times when I have used art as a means to an end. I have learned that focusing on the final result removes all meaning behind my work and I try in every way to make it organic. For the pieces to transform naturally – at least to an extent.
Do you find it difficult to release a piece for sale once you’ve put so much of yourself into it?
Actually, no! I have experienced an ’emotional’ loss only once and that is because it was a piece that I painted in the exact spot I temporarily hung it in my home. A strange reason to grow attached to a piece but it happened none the less! It found a happy home though which I am happy about 🙂
What inspires you – not just your art, but you personally?
I am a lifelong learner. I pay attention to small things around me that give me inspiration. Often it is the energy from others. My partner, for example, is extremely driven and I learn from his zeal in every way. I allow it to push me further toward my own, very different brand of success.
What do you feel is the most important thing in life?
WHOA! Is this an interview or a therapy session!?! I believe that relationships are the most important thing in your life. I believe they take work and need to be nurtured. They should come first and give you strength and peace. I also believe that it is healthy to let go of relationships that don’t give you these things.
How do you find balance? What does balance look like to you?
I’m not sure I have found balance. As an artist, a creative spirit, you feel a lot of unrest or a lack of contentment (or maybe this is just me). I push myself creatively sometimes past the point of something that could be considered a balance – but I am working on acceptance of my own parameters.
How are you trying to make a difference in our world?
Albert Einstein said it best, “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education”. As an art teacher I want to completely reverse this understanding. I want to share my passion for creativity and its importance. I have noticed that creativity is something you can learn. Some students are naturally creative but the process – of letting go, thinking outside the box – can be taught to everyone! And let me tell you, once you help someone understand their own ability to be creative it is a pretty cool thing to witness.