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Meet Trailblazer Bri Simpson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bri Simpson.

Bri, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started painting right out of high school. Back then, it was more of a pass time. During undergrad, I picked up an art minor, so I could take courses and sharpen my skills. During my last semester of college in 2015, I got approached to be in a local art showcase. It sounded cool, I made a few paintings for the show’s theme. I got there and I was a bundle of nerves, but my work was well received. After that, shows kept coming up and I kept participating. The next few years, I started traveling for art shows. I’ve had a few in Houston, Brooklyn, Miami, and Philly. I didn’t start out with any intentions pursuing art professionally, but seeing how fast things changed I thought “Wow, I can really make a career out of being an artist.”

In summer 2017, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. After her birth, I took a year off from art shows to be home. During this time, I was able to reset and regroup my art brand. I started out so whimsically I didn’t have the business side of things all together (like a website and better social media management). So, I made a business plan, set some professional goals I want to make, and started over. And here we are now, it’s the start of my 5th year pursuing art and I’m ready to really push my work to new directions.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Throughout this journey, I’ve been learning on the fly. Not only with art but with the business of art, and the business of being in business for yourself. It’s a lot to balance at 20 something. You have to make art, which requires skills and constant practice. Not to mention the supplies. Once the art is made, you have to properly document your work, good photos, and scans for prints. Then, you have to do all the marketing for your art, updating your social media accounts and websites. What a lot of people don’t know or take into consideration is the entire process. I do everything on my own. I buy my own supplies, I photograph and scan my work. I make my prints. I built my website and manage all of the backend things for digital marketing (SEO, email newsletters, social media posts). I am my own boss and client all at once. Wearing multiple hats in ways takes the fun out of just creating, but it’s also necessary as far as business practices go. And for me, because I have so much knowledge in digital marketing, and print and design (thanks to my day job), my ego won’t let me cut corners and push out half baked things.

My advice for anyone who is serious about being an entrepreneur, is to do your research, learn as much as you can about your field and how to move in it. And most importantly, take your time. I know bills have to be paid, and looking at other people may make you feel like you’re missing out. You aren’t. Stay true to how you need to move, and do so with the best intentions for you.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am an acrylic based visual artist. I draw inspiration for my work from women, nature, and my interest in spirituality. I would describe my painting style as a contemporary hybrid of Afro-futurism, surrealism, and pop art.

You can usually tell my work from my bright color palettes and use of cloudscapes in a lot of my paintings.
I’m currently in the process of rebranding. I have a few projects and collections in the works for the year. Prior to now, my art was just “pretty”, many of the pieces didn’t have a back story. I just made them. However, my end goal is to combine my artwork with my creative writing (I actually went to school for Journalism). I want to share stories about personal growth and reflection, as well as balancing those things while being a young parent. As a black woman, I want to see more honest narratives in the art world, not just pretty things. It’s long overdue.

I am most proud that my work stays true to me. I have formal training but I don’t feel like studying art has limited or restricted my creativity. I love when someone sees something of mine and they go “Oh this is different!” At first, it used to get to me that my work looked so different from other people, but that’s the point. I am my own person, with my own experiences, and stories to tell, and my art reflects that.

Finding a mentor and building a network are often cited in studies as a major factor impacting one’s success. Do you have any advice or lessons to share regarding finding a mentor or networking in general?
I actually don’t have an art mentor. I would really like one. I’ve met a few artists who are older than me and I observe from afar how they move and do things. But I personally don’t have too many people in the know to call on and ask for advice. What works for me is that I like to learn and I’m pretty good at self-teaching. So, I YouTube tutorials, I watch time-lapse videos of people painting, I follow a few professional artists online, and I study them all. I write down the goals I want to accomplish and try to compile some sort of step by step plan to achieve them.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bri Simpson

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