Casey Virata is a hardworking, single mom who is happily living her dream of being a working artist. From big, bold prints to intricate word art, there's a sense of whimsy in everything she makes which is not surprising since she says she's inspired by music, nature and laughter.
Her store is called Luckii Arts (pronounced Lucky Eye) and is a tribute to both her father and her sister. This week, we asked her to swap out her paintbrushes for a keyboard so she could answer our burning questions about her art and her store.
Introducing Casey Virata:
What kinds of items do you make and sell?
Casey: I paint and draw. Currently painting tiles for home addresses and weddings, and the random canvas when I get time to play. I draw black and white illustrations of animals. My most popular thing I create, is what I call a "Memory Illustration" in which people send me lists of all their special memories, and I translate them into images and words and doodles to create a special piece of art that tells their story.
Why did you choose painting or did it choose you?
Just like every artist, I too have doodled since I was small. My family loved road trips, and I would sit in the back seat with a notebook or legal pad or sheets of loose paper- and doodle signs, trees, anything we drove past- listen to music and doodle lyrics. It just became a thing for me, and now I sell those doodles :)
Tell us about your favorite piece either currently in your store or in the past.
When I was in college, I drew a self portrait. It was an assigned piece made with acetone transfers, charcoal, pen and ink and some chalk. It was a very emotional piece for me, probably the first thing I drew that made me proud and gave me confidence that I was good at something- really good. It was ruined in a house flood many years ago, but it made a lasting impact on my self esteem as an artist. And we all know- believing in yourself as an artist is a constant struggle. I often think back to how I felt when I completed that piece- and it gives me a little push to keep going.
Talk about the decision to start selling your work? Was it a difficult decision to make? What, if anything, was holding you back?
I graduated with an art degree -- which was so much fun getting-- but proved pretty hard to get a job with an art degree post college. I tried the museum and gallery route, but ended up working in flower design to pay the bills. As far as being creative was concerned, it was a decent job for me.
Once my kids were born, I became a stay at home mom. All art was put on the back burner. It's amazing how much I missed that outlet, of doing something, anything creative! But as the kids grew up, I began exploring my options on the internet. In 2011, I opened my Etsy shop, LuckiiArts. It was a great starting point for me. I could be home with my boys and still be creative and actually make a little bit of money to help out the household. I then got my site with Indiemade, www.luckiiarts.com. It has been terrific having my own space. It is a decision I will never regret, believing in myself and giving a go at selling my work. Everyone should at least try if it's your passion.
How do you market your business?
I am learning the social media game. I recently read a great blog by Jen Carrington. The article that caught my eye was "Five Ways Creatives Can Share Their Work Online Without Feeling Self-Promotional." I have a hard time talking up how fantastic I am, and 'don't you want to buy my stuff', all over the internet, especially to friends or family. I am learning ways to promote without the bragging aspect. I am trying to blog more about my work with tutorials and insights of the "how" of my art. I think marketing your business is something you constantly have to work at and change to fit the times and your clientele.
What inspires you?
My kids for sure. We play with clay and watercolors, draw and build with legos often. I am forever amazed at their imagination. I try really hard to see things through their eyes, and appreciate nature, and critters, and the world as they do. I think, as adults, we let the pressures of everyday life clutter our heads. It's nice to relax sometimes and see the world for it's beauty and all that it really has to offer us.
What frustrates you?
Clients that want something for nothing. This is my life, what I feed my family with. How I pay my bills. It's my time and creativity and that is worth something. I am proud of my work and think I deliver a great product at a fair price. Please don't ask me to give you a deal. I am an artist, not a box store.
What’s something you’ve kept since you were a child?
My "Star Wars" bubble gum cards. They are from the first movie, and when you flip them over on the back they make a big movie poster. They were my pride and joy as a kid.
If you could get up tomorrow and do anything at all, what would you do?
Take my family to Europe, particularly Holland. I want to take my kids to the Kröller-Müller Museum. It's a museum and sculpture garden that you ride bikes through. It's one of my favorite places.
Your friend is going to sign up with IndieMade tomorrow (while you’re off doing whatever you wanted to do). What advice do you have that will help her be successful?
Get you tags and seo in good order. Price your work at it's true value, do not sell yourself short. Believe that it is hard work and will take time to get noticed, but it will happen. Just go for it. If I had never tried, I wouldn't be where I am today. You just have to be brave and take that leap!
Is there anything else you’d like to add or say to our audience of creative people? Feel free:
I hear too many friends/family complain about how unhappy they are in their jobs. I think you really do have to find something you love, and it will show in your work. It's scary and hard starting a business of YOU, but the payoff of being able to create and make something for someone that they love, appreciate and find joy in, that's the end result. The fact that you find a way to get paid for it, even better.
We should all follow our dreams...just try. If it doesn't work out, then move on...but if it does, how magical is that!
Visit Casey's shop by clicking this link: http://www.luckiiarts.com
You can also follow her on social: (looks like she's got this social media thing down!)