2018 Was Weird

Tess new Mural shoot-19.jpg

Perspective was the theme of this year. This was maybe the most stressful, hateful, and upsetting year in our country definitely in my lifetime. That’s not news, but everything happening really helped keep me calm and motivated through a busy year, knowing that my “stress” isn’t real in the grand scheme of things.

So, at this time last year, I was discussing my first ever mural with the Nashville Walls Project! Since that post, I have completed 6 big, public murals (check out my CV if you want to see where they are! Oh, I have a CV now, didn’t have one of those really last year). This year has been my busiest year yet and I’m really grateful for the opportunities. I received my first ever grant, had my first real gallery show, joined the Nashville Artist Collective, received my first offer to be represented by a gallery (and it’s in Birmingham, AL- stay tuned), I have shown work in 6 local spaces and shows, got a painting on Artsy thanks to Tinney Contemporary, had one of my murals on a billboard, started paying for my own healthcare (& am still financially supporting myself completely with my art/ gallery gig), and have collaborated with local creatives and designers which will make for some exciting announcements next year. My favorite accomplishment this year though, is that last one I listed. I am working with Metro Arts to make some artistic improvements to a neighborhood that desperately needs safer streets for pedestrians, I made a lot of new artist friends through shows and the Nashville Artist Collective and working on murals and through working at Tinney Contemporary, I am working with Nashville Fashion Week and keeping my goal of just trying to contribute to bringing people and the creative community together, that’s really all I want to accomplish with my art. I really went into this to just make some artsy friends and contribute to something positive. Wait, I also got to operate a boom lift this year, which actually, truthfully might be my favorite accomplishment instead…

Here’s me operating the boom lift all by myself

All that said, my average work week is about 62 hours. Most weeks for the past two months which have been a whole lot of murals, I have clocked at well over 80. (cue the millennial hater eye rolls) I guess the moral of my story is really hard work pays off in the form of opportunity. One of my favorite quotes this year isn’t “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” It’s “Do what you love and you’ll work super fucking hard all the time with no separation or any boundaries and also take everything extremely personally” @adamjk. Word. I had to sacrifice a lot of stuff in order to hustle this year and also I am sensitive and take everything personally so be nice with your comments if you are even still reading. I am hoping to see even bigger things next year and just keep hustling. Hard. My goals for next year are to bring my art and my murals to other cities and, hopefully, other countries as well.

I have also learned that when I am constantly working towards the next thing, it’s really important to step back and breathe after each milestone and appreciate each opportunity, rather than looking at my career as “ok, that’s done, now onto the next project immediately”. I also very much am still just starting this career; I have gotten my foot in the door, and still have a whole lot to learn, and I better do it fast before we all sink into an actual pit or go underwater. This isn’t a post of me bragging about everything I’ve accomplished this year, it’s me reflecting on what I’ve done, and what I still want to do and, most importantly, why, because I think everyone needs to question themselves and their work. If you read it as bragging, sorry, that’s not my intention because I am aware that I am just painting.. in a really small part of the world. My intention with this is also just to encourage anyone, especially young women, that you can pursue a career like this and still support yourself and your dog or cat and not stress out completely if you have to go to the ER for, I don’t know, extreme (but still cute) gastroenteritis because you also can afford healthcare! (although we do desperately need a big reform in that department #Beto2020).

I would also really like to get better about blogging and actually posting more about my art and what my paintings/ murals mean and including exhibition statements on this page rather than just rants about stuff I did.

Ok, consider this my obnoxious holiday letter. See ya in 2019!