What motivated you to pursue your passion?
I was teaching art at a secondary school in Trinidad and thought that I would do that till I retired. I loved it and it did not feel like a job as art for me is never work. Loved sharing with my students and seeing their work unfold! However, it did not afford me the opportunity to create, as I wanted to. I got into a car accident and as a result of that the pain level of the condition I suffer with got worse and I had to leave my job. As I recouped in the U.S, my daughter encouraged me to paint again and I began tentatively. As I started to be excited about painting again I began to explore various techniques and next thing I knew I had created enough paintings to hold a private showing with some friends of my daughter. The encouragement I got from those who attended fanned the idea of doing this full time and so I returned to Trinidad and registered my company Art de Joulie and began to do what I always wanted to do since my childhood, make art and share it with the world!
Who inspires you the most?
Hmmmm… I am very drawn to the Spanish/indigenous influence and so Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are two artists that I am inspired by for different reasons. Some of Rivera’s work resonated with me because of the person whom I admired greatly, my grandmother on my father’s side. She was of Indian descent and mostly had her hair combed in a single long plait. So I was drawn to Diego’s paintings of women with their back towards the viewer and I used the symbolism to tell my own story of why I paint women like that. Frida inspired me because of her tenacity and her determination to continue painting despite her tremendous physical challenges after her accident. She continued to tell her story and so whenever I get frustrated or its too physically challenging I am encouraged to go beyond and find other creative ways to do what I live for!
How do you handle the various challenges surrounding what you do?
Much prayer and talking to God and asking for help from Him and the grace to continue! The challenges just do not let up! As soon as I think ok great, we finally have this figured out, something goes wrong for example a manufacturer will say they are not producing anymore, or cannot fill orders on time and I have to seek out another or printing of work is not consistent and countless other challenges! Sometimes I feel frustrated especially when things are so close to becoming a reality, but don’t know what happens inside of me, the more I’m challenged the more I’m driven and determined to succeed! This is my dream that after so many years has not become a reality! There is no turning back now! I am also grateful for my friends and family who support and encourage me and who I ask for opinions/suggestions. I spend many long days and nights working and trying to find ways to address the challenges, network, research, brainstorm and ask others who are experts in the various fields that challenge. For me each time a challenge presents itself the focus is on finding solutions or alternatives.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would like to have by then a successful business that also has a successful online presence and a set up that affords me the staff to aid in the running of it so that I can concentrate more on the creative aspect and giving my time to causes, which are dear to my heart. (For me Art de Joulie is great about giving back.) These are special needs children and young adult females and older women who are in need of not just training but motivation to be inspired to go after their dreams. I also love working with the elderly. Expressing myself creatively through art, songwriting and poetry has helped me over the years out of depression, coping with illness from a young age, broken relationships, coping with loss and other crises which arose and it was and continues to be not only therapeutic but it helps me to gain confidence, build self-esteem and learn about me. I have grown stronger and resilient as a result of understanding my worth.
When I am creating, somehow subconsciously, things work out in my mind and I find ways to settle and cope. I don’t quite know how to explain it. A sense of well being, calm fills me even through the challenges. I feel a deep sense of gratitude contentment and joy! I want others to experience that and find a way to be at peace, to be happy and to understand that they are enough.
I will like that Art de Joulie be recognized globally, especially breaking through to European Markets, Miami, the Caribbean and Latin countries and have as well licensed contracts by companies for my line. My idea is to have my designs printed on fabrics that can be used in interior designs, furniture, footwear, the fashion industry, utilitarian etc. and to have products in large hotel shops such as Sandals. Would love to have my own storefront with only art and products from Art de Joulie!
What advice will you give someone up and coming?
Love what you do! Focus on your dream and do not be deterred by negative comments! Do the work and be committed every day. You are your brand! Be confident and don’t be afraid of failure! Get up and go again! If you truly believe in what you are doing and are passionate about it your attitude will win over others and lead you to success! Most important acknowledge God and let Him guide your every decision. You are not an island! Network and share ideas and give back to society.