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Conversations with Mika Denny

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mika Denny.

Hi Mika, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I have always wanted to be an artist in one way or another. Growing up with creative parents in the city of Laguna Beach was inspirational. The city itself thrives on artists, art festivals and galleries. Back then, even our high school mascot was an Artist. That being said, as I decided what direction to take in college, my fear of the term “starving artist” steered me to pursue a degree in graphic design rather than fine arts.

Even though I was awarded with a four-year scholarship from the Festival or Arts in Laguna Beach, my self-confidence and practicality led me to think a 9-to-5 desk job with insurance benefits and a 401k plan were better than starving! So off I went, earned my degree and worked my way up through an in-house art department to eventually be the Creative Director. It was a wonderful career and definitely was creative but also very demanding and draining. We worked on producing magazines and trade show graphics and all of the promotional items that go along with that. Publishing deadlines are no joke! Eventually, I had the opportunity and made the decision to be an at-home mom. During that time, I started up my own freelance design business and did a lot of non-profit work as well. As my kids got older and less dependent on me for time (and car rides), I slowly started exploring my creative work again. I painted, crafted, made jewelry, joined a ceramics studio… but in the last few years, I have really focused on my true love…drawing.

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?
As a fine artist, sometimes the most difficult challenges come from within. It’s easy to have self-doubt and sink to comparing yourself to others, especially when you are building a following on social media. I follow a ton of artists and creatives and there are so many that are unbelievably talented and have a zillion followers. Like most, I have had my share of rejections. Thinking back to the time I gave a friend a piece of artwork as a gift, only to have them say “I don’t really like it” and give it back! Art is subjective and not everyone is going to love your work. Over time, I’ve learned to just keep putting myself and my work out there and not be too critical of myself.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
As my confidence in my own work has increased over the past few years, I decided to start submitting work to juried exhibitions. It’s always a long shot that you will get selected, but it’s fun to hope that you will be recognized by the juror(s). This year my boldness has been rewarded. I had a drawing selected for inclusion in the juried exhibition “Women Artists Making Their Mark” at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts. My work was one of 80 selected for the show from 750 entries. Two weeks ago, I was notified that my drawing “Night Cook in New York” was selected out of 1,300 entries to be one of 60 shown at the All Media 2021 exhibition at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. And just last week my drawing “Flower Girl” was invited to a juried exhibition at Chemer’s Gallery in Tustin! I am beyond excited and honored to be invited.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Growing up in Laguna Beach was such a gift. Year after year, my family always went to the annual Festival of the Arts and the Sawdust Festival. Seeing booth after booth of creative work was an education in itself. Being exposed to so much creativity at a young age surely imprinted on my soul. Back in the 70’s my mom and her friends had a booth in the Sawdust Festival selling handmade quilts. I remember falling asleep in the back of her booth enveloped in the scent of sawdust. The grounds are covered with sawdust (hence the name) and the smell was so earthy and warm. Even though I no longer live in Laguna, I still visit the festivals every year and when that smell of sawdust hits, I am instantly transported to my childhood.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Mika Denny, Darrell Denny

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1 Comment

  1. Chela

    June 24, 2021 at 18:27

    What an inspirational story…. life! Even though I do not draw, Mika’s story of creativity filled my heart with appreciation of true talent!

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