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Rising Stars: Meet Katie Harlan-Thompson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Harlan-Thompson.

Hi Katie, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I’m a self-taught fine artist/ painter born and raised in and around the Houston area. I inherited my creativity from my grandma, who has always been my biggest support and inspiration. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to draw and paint. Creating something/ art out of nothing has always been a fascinating concept to me; it’s the closest thing to magic that’s actually tangible. Although, I’ve always had a strong passion for art, my journey to becoming a full time painter has not been a linear one. I had a lot of insecurities when it came to pursuing an art career, so I ended up on decade long detour working a variety of different jobs.

These jobs ranged from sales and retail management to administrative and insurance positions, with a few odd jobs here and there. I would learn quickly at each new endeavor, yet I always came to the same empty dead end on a personal level. The new skills and growing pay rate that job-hopping awarded me couldn’t drown out my desire to create. I had always heard phrases like, “art is a hobby, not a real job” and “you don’t want to be a starving artist” from people I admired and looked up to. I spent too many years caring about other people’s opinions, and trying to fit in a box I never belonged in.

I struggled greatly with my health, both mentally and physically, and I found myself at a lifestyle/ career crossroads; it was a “now or never” type of moment. I was recently married to my best friend and love of my life, working at the best job I had ever had, loaded with opportunity, and yet I felt stuck and depressed. I had been denying my art passion for so long that I felt paralyzed and unable to enjoy anything in life. I just remember thinking, “what’s wrong with me?” I had so much to be thankful for, yet I felt like I was under a dark cloud.

I decided with my husband’s amazing support, that it was finally time to take the leap into becoming a full time painter. That was 2 years ago and I couldn’t be happier with that decision. I’ve been able to connect with so many wonderful people, and share my art through painting commissions. I’m so thankful for the support and business I’ve received as my small art business has been growing.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s been a little rocky, but smooth roads don’t build character. Haha. Insecurity, or my inner critic to be specific, has probably been my biggest struggle. Being an artist definitely isn’t a straight and narrow path (as any artist will surely tell you), so there’s a lot of doubt that can occur. Not to say that others don’t experience doubt; it’s definitely a huge part of the human experience and any job… I would just say, in my personal experience, I have a different kind of doubt when sharing and selling my art than when I was selling someone else’s vision at companies I didn’t own. It’s vulnerable, and feels at times that my worth is wrapped up in my ability to create art that others will value as much as I do. I believe art is powerful, and it’s allowed me to express what I can’t in any other way; it’s also allowed me to accept myself in ways I never thought I could, imperfections and all.

I used to be afraid that no one would respect me or want to buy my art, but I found that when I do what I love, that resonates with people. I also fought with a perfectionist mindset, but I’ve grown to accept that “perfect” doesn’t exist; I would even go as far as to say that imperfections are a key component in what makes art so special and desirable. These things that I’ve learned have helped me with another insecurity-driven struggle, that is comparing myself to others. We all know comparing is a pointless and tiresome game, yet we all do it at some point. I used to fret over whether I was as good as other artists to be one myself. The truth is that all artists are valid (even myself), and we all deserve to hold space and share in our own unique way, equally. Comparing kills creativity.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a painter and my preferred medium is acrylic paint, but I dabble in other mediums from time to time. I specialize in painting dreamy and somewhat surreal art pieces. I paint bold and swirly abstract pieces, serene landscapes and occasional, sentimental animal and people portraits.

I enjoy and accept commissions, and do them often. I’m most proud of being honest enough with myself (even when I’m afraid of failing) to accept my true self, and pursue my passion as an artist. It means a lot to me to connect with people through art, and I believe that transfers through my work. I feel like I really get to know each subject and scene through the painting process. Blending colors, and an understanding of the importance of light and dark in life/ art are strengths of mine; I believe that, along with my care for detail are a few things that set me apart as an artist.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
BetterHelp and Instagram are a couple of my favorite apps. BetterHelp helps me by offering quality therapy to keep my mental health in check. Instagram has been a great app for art, inspiration, sharing and business.

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Robert Holdampf
Katie Harlan-Thompson

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