Interview: Megan Elizabeth

I grew up in Maryland, just outside of DC, enjoying childhood summers swimming in lakes and at the beach and always exploring outdoors. My elegant, feminine and often abstract artwork is inspired by travels all over the world.  I have lived abroad in Spain and traveled much of Europe and the Caribbean, collecting impressions and memories from each place.  Currently, I reside in Brooklyn NYC with my family and am the leader of the Tuesdays Together NYC chapter, and serve as the Regional Director of the Northeast for Honeybook.

When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?

I grew up doodling, coloring, imagining, dreaming, daydreaming and always wanting to make art.  The making of the art was never a decision I made, it is something that has naturally just happened throughout my life.  I can't stop! 

When I am happy, I make art.  When I am sad, I make art to clear my mind.  When I am inspired, I think of making art.  It's always just waiting in the back of my mind for a chance to come to fruition. 

Tell us about your process and inspiration. How does each painting come to life?

I often tell people that my mind is like a camera. I see beautiful things (sunrises, sunsets, florals, and fleeting moments) and those images become stored in my brain for a later time. Then, usually I have a dream about a painting and then the next day (ideally) I paint it!  It's a very crazy process, but traveling and seeing new things definitely, accelerates the creative process for me.  

We are really inspired by your business sense in the arts. Tell us a little bit about how you got started selling paintings and collaborating with others. 

I began selling my art at pop-up shops, small local shops, and online with an Etsy shop.  I soon realized that in order to make my business effective, I was going to have to take it to the next level by taking it really seriously and dedicating much more time to it.  

I was super lucky, thanks to a shift in our lives and a new job for my husband, to get to start my business full-time 2 years ago.  When I started, I went 100 mph in the direction of my dream, because I had waited so long for the timing to be right. I was so excited (and still am) to wake up every day and follow my passion. 

One of my fundamental business practices is to meet people in real life.  I believe that as a business owner, you can leverage the power of online communication to a point, but that the REAL interactions still have to be happening over coffee, drinks, or, ideally, bagels.  Instagram has really helped my business grow, but I love even more when those "IG friends" become REAL friends! 

My role as the leader of a group of creatives called TuesdaysTogether (as part of The Rising Tide Society) and as a Creative Strategist for the Community Team at a start-up in San Francisco called Honeybook has been so pivotal in learning my business savvy. I love giving back to my creative community by sharing ideas, leading meetings each month, and making sure that all creatives feel welcome and able to ask others for help. I also love the challenge of brainstorming and having a unique perspective as I help contribute to helping a start-up company grow and serve new audiences. I firmly that believe if we all help one another when we can, that the creative economy can succeed more.  

I am the kind of person that learns best by doing.  I need the "trial-by-fire" in order to succeed. I am ok with mistakes the older I get and I appreciate the life lessons in each chapter of life.  

What are some of the biggest fears and challenges that you overcame as a creative?

Fear of failure, at first. I wanted my business to work so badly and I was very fearful of it failing and being embarrassed or having to reinvent myself AGAIN.  

Fear of success, next. I was worried that once it started working, I wouldn't be able to sustain my business as it grows or that I would burn out or fall out of love with it. (Note: I won't ever fall out of love, but I DID get an AMAZING intern thanks to a feature on Create Magazine!) 

Currently, not feeling so fearful. I'm learning to re-channel that energy into gratitude. It's a much more productive thing for me to "worry about". I secretly love worrying. :) 

How do you like to unwind? Tell us about your favorite things to do when you are not painting. 

TRAVEL.  If I could just be a travel blogger on the side, my business would really thrive.  (not kidding)

Also, I love spending time with my family, taking walks in the park, pretending to be a tourist in NYC, getting lost and discovering new places on accident, eating delicious new foods, doing yoga, reading books. 

I LOVE reading.  I am currently reading like 4 books at the same time.  

What advice would you give other creatives looking to take their career to the next level? 

Step 1. Tell yourself that you are going to do it, even when it isn't glamorous, even when it's really hard. Resign to not giving up. 

Step 2. Ask for help. Make creative friends and trust them.  

Step 3. Give back. Give to others. Help others grow. In turn, you will grow. 

How do you feel about your creative community? Do you like to attend art openings or workshops?

As a total extrovert, I thrive on human interaction and new experiences. I LOVE meeting new people. I love discussing new ideas with others and challenging my brain to think from new perspectives.  I attend meetings, meet-ups, art shows, and any other event that I can, but not with the motive of getting people to buy my art. I think you genuinely have to love what you do in the research capacity, I love learning. And when I learn, my business thrives indirectly. I almost always attend events and forget to give out my business cards, and then I return home and my husband teases me for being such a people person that I forget to be a business person.