Well, it's only been on my to-do list for a year, but here I am! Welcome to the very first blog post of The Messy Painter. I set out to start this little business of mine a little less than a year ago, and can't believe how far it's come, how much I've learned (and still have yet to learn), and all of the incredible, encouraging support I've been given along the way. I set out to start this blog sliiiightly earlier in the year, but as any entrepreneur knows...one. step. at a time. Being a creative turned business woman and #bossgirl, (can't not throw in credit to Sophia Amoruso for kicking my ass into high gear with her book), is not for the faint hearted or heavy sleepers.
To begin with, let me introduce myself for those of you who don't know me personally or have only been following along on instagram (@themessypainter). I'm Crystina, and I love making a mess and making beautiful things. I do a little bit of teachin', a little bit of paintin', some picture takin' and a whole lot of mess makin'. No but really, I make messes everywhere I go, (just ask anyone who has been around me for an hour), because if you didn't make a mess...did you really have fun!? I fell in love with watercolor painting a few years ago after years of unsuccessful attempts at acrylic and canvas painting. Photography is my first love, but painting is what really fuels my soul, so you'll get snippets of my photos only on this here blog. When I'm not doing those things, I'm planning my next adventure with my amazing other half, George (who is really the only reason I can even do any of this) and our handsome man, Gus (...and by man I mean dog). George is St. Pete's newest real estate lawyer with GCC Law, more details on that later on in the blog!
I have always known that I wanted a career that enabled me to wake up every day and be happy. Well, definitely easier said than done, but when I started The Messy Painter as an official business and not just a side hustle of freelance work, I knew that I was on the path to doing just that. I cannot BELIEVE how far I have come. I really, truly can't, and I think most entrepreneurs probably feel that way. You don't know what you're made of until you push yourself to do things you've never done. If you had asked me a year ago if I thought I'd be creating artwork for more than just my own entertainment, I wouldn't have believed you. If you had told me I'd know how to build a website, learn how to use photoshop like the back of my hand, actually be able to call people clients, and have a real live business account that says "The Messy Painter," I would've said, not uh..not me..that's A LOT of work. And it has been, but it honestly has been the greatest journey I ever embarked on and one that I hope continues on forever.
But it all started with a contest...
Back in June of 2015, my mom (always the cheerleader of my art), sent me a link for the Beall's Next Florida Artist contest. Beall's is historically the first "Florida" department store, focused solely on all things coastal and Florida themed. My reply to her? "I don't even shop at Beall's, it's for old people." (So ruuuude of me, I know I know, but that's what I thought at the time!). I listened anyways, and on the very last day that submissions were due, I submitted my best watercolor coastal work - a blue lobster, a blue crab, a pink flamingo, the state of florida and a redfish. I had done them only very recently for fun, and as an excuse to use new art materials. I made a super quick 30 second video on my phone that I secretly hoped no one would watch because of its painful awkwardness and wrote an artist statement that I'm pretty sure didn't even make sense. I had NO idea what I was doing or where this would take me. I'd never even really sold a painting to someone other than a family member at the time. Within a month, I received a call that I had been accepted as one of the top 5 finalists.
UM WHAAAAT!?!?!? I called every one I knew that had ever encouraged me to do this kind of thing, beaming from head to toe with shock and joy. Let me preface this by saying, I LITERALLY never win anything, like EVER. And all of a sudden I was in the top 5 for a contest with one of the largest department stores in the southeast United States. More importantly? My artwork was about to be seen by some pretty prominent people that could actually make this artist dream thing of mine a reality.
Long story short, I didn't win. But I DID get to meet the President of Beall's, the VP of Marketing and their team of lead designers. A few short weeks after not winning, I was called to come back to the headquarters to sit down with the designers because they wanted me, ME, to freelance for them and work on Fall 2016 collections. I might not have won the contest, but I won in real life..which was SOOOO much better. This was the beginning of what has become an insanely busy ride.
Fast forward to August 2016, I am now residing in the eclectic, funky, vibrant and highly creative city of St. Petersburg to be among other fellow creatives. I teach elementary art by day, and run my business by night. It's exhausting, and there have been so many days (actually, sometimes every day), where I want to quit, bury myself in the covers and watch Netflix until the emails and deadlines go away. But then there are days when a new client finds me who lives on the other side of the country and says, "I am in LOVE with your work, can you create everything for my wedding for me?" or when I'm running on 4 hours of sleep after teaching all week and am set up up at a market waiting for my first buyer and someone stares at my work and says to me, "How do you DO that, you have such talent!". As an artist, I am my own worst critic, so it always surprises me to hear people make these kinds of comments. But it's also when I realize why I do what I do, and why I need to keep going. At some point, push will come to shove, and I will have to retire from teaching (...like 35 years early). I'm a HUGE advocate for art education, but I can do more outside of the classroom for it. I'm horribly terrified to make that plunge after this school year, but I know with my kind of drive, motivation, pure love for what I do, and a big helping hand from my friend coffee, I can make it all happen...anyone who uses that recipe can.
When I'm not teaching my tiny humans how to draw their own faces and not eat crayons or lick paper, you can find me at the St. Pete Indie Market on the first Saturday of each month, and the Indie Flea in Tampa on the third Sunday of each month. I get to rub elbows with some of the coolest makers I know there, like Lesley Arroyo of LA Fernweh designs - seriously some of the most on point and sickest jewels I've ever owned. I'm always stocking up on her stuff and drooling over how gorgeous her stones and metal combinations are! You can also sign up for adult watercolor workshops with me with different themes each month with my favorite downtown business lady and local arts supporter Amy Marshall of Strands of Sunshine off Central Ave in downtown St. Pete. And coming very soon I will be offering a new collab with former art teacher turned entrepreneur Melissa Mudd of Make Me Studios in St. Pete with a different spin on my watercolor classes (details coming soon!!). Since moving here I have found it so easy to network and join forces with other like minded creatives like St. Pete native Amelia Bartlett, recent founder of St. Petian, freelance photographer and all around kick ass girl boss. Check out her recent coverage of one of my watercolor workshops and then let yourself get lost browsing her beautifully crisp and authentically captured photographs of St. Pete here .
So, I've been wanting to start this blog for, I don't know, years??? But who has the time! TODAY I actually realized that I say that to myself WAY too often. I DO have the time, YOU have the time too. It certainly takes sacrifice, and saying yes when you really want to say no, or staying awake when you really want to sleep, and definitely turning on music instead of Netflix, but we all have the time if we make it.
Now that you've (hopefully) stuck around for my chatter, I hope you also stick around to follow my blog! I'll be writing about everything from my favorite supplies and techniques, artists block and (always) being tired, my favorite local spots and more!
Stay tuned for my next blog entry on my favorite supplies and techniques. Until then, stay messy my friends!