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Conversations with the Inspiring Bethany Studnicky

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bethany Studnicky.

Bethany, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I began painting when I was 13 years old. I was bullied for the majority of my youth; I was too fat, my voice was too deep, my hair wasn’t the right kind of curly. I had very low self-esteem, but painting offered me a way to vent my emotions and assert my individuality. In 2007, I was nominated for a Gifted and Talented youth art program in Maryland. The program provided me with a wide breadth of knowledge in classical to contemporary art practices. I practiced for nine hours every Saturday for six years.

I quickly realized that spending time with my artwork provides time for me to spend with myself. As I paint, I spend hours ruminating over the things going on in my life. My paintings are inspired primarily by my reflections on my relationships. Between high school and college, my work evolved from realistic charcoal portraiture to bold, emotive abstract works.

In 2013, I moved to Atlanta to attend Emory University. To my dismay, Emory had removed their art department the year before. The lack of resources at Emory left me grappling with a void I had never anticipated. I didn’t realize how heavily I depended on someone telling me to create artwork. I had always had a mentor, but now I was alone. I decided to begin selling my work to make a little cash through college. So, B Stud Art was born on the floor of my freshman dorm room.

The support I received at Emory from students and faculty was pivotal in my choice to pursue my artwork as a career. I worked with various organizations to create student art showcases, craft markets, publications, and exhibitions. The students at Emory proved that art is valued, important, and necessary. I completed my career at Emory with an exhibition of my self-portraiture series in the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. The sensation of pride and vulnerability that came with the exhibition was intoxicating. I know I will never find fulfillment from anything else.

My brand has evolved to into Bethany’s Art & Design Co., encapsulating both visual artwork and digital design. My purpose remains the same: to tell stories.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I made my path more difficult than it needed to be. I fell into the notion that there was one way to achieve success–pursuing art as a career definitely wasn’t it. I ran from my artwork for years. I refused to go to art school. I planned to join the business school at Emory. I convinced myself that it would only ever be a side hustle. My mentors kept giving me the same confused look, asking, “why aren’t you focusing on your art?” Eventually, I ran out of excuses and realized that it simply is what makes me happy. It is what I am good at. So, it is what I am going to do.

For anyone enduring similar sensations of self-doubt, this is my advice to you:

1. Your portfolio is everything. Having a solid portfolio and just one person that will vouch for you changes your opportunity landscape. Get your portfolio together, create a website, and work on your branding (even if you aren’t a business, your brand matters). Land one really good client and do a really good job. With these two resources, introducing yourself (to anyone) becomes so much easier.

2. You do not have to have a full-time job to live. Sitting in an office dreaming about all the things you know you could do is a terrible feeling… seriously. Plan an exit strategy by creating a budget and a timeline of goals you need to hit in order to provide for yourself.

3. Know your worth. Creativity is often fetishized but rarely rewarded appropriately. You will constantly be asked to create work pro-bono. It is up to you to decide what “exposure” is worth your time, energy, and talent. At some point, you need to stand up for yourself and expect the pay you deserve. You also need to monitor the amount of time you budget for friend and family projects. It is okay to say no.

What should we know about Bethany’s Art & Design Co.? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
(I find categorizing my work can be limiting but…) I am a contemporary abstract artist. As an artist, I don’t make art for other artists. I make art to make people feel something. I am an extremely emotional person. Though I often feel my emotions control me, I have learned that this burden is also a gift. I find that the intangible sensations I share through my work are shared by many. Articulating these feelings visually exposes the often-hidden threads of commonality between people. I love how my work facilitates conversations that allow people from all walks of life to bond over shared experiences.

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
I find having a mentor imperative for growth and success. It can be difficult to provide direction for yourself when there are so many options out there for what you can do. A mentor can help you hone your craft, strategize your action plans, and introduce you to the right people to help actualize your visions. The best piece of advice I have is to find people who inspire you and show up to their events. Go to their exhibitions, their speaking events, and their openings. Introduce yourself and tell them not just that they inspire you, but why. Come prepared with thoughtful questions, send follow-ups, and ask them for guidance. People are so willing to mentor people that show initiative and potential, you simply need to build the bridge.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Gracelyn Belle Photography, Elizabeth Littlefield

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