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Life and Work with Shelley Kommers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shelley Kommers.

Shelley, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve been an artist — cutting up paper and painting — since I was a small child. I knew I’d be involved in the art world somehow, but wasn’t sure exactly where I’d land. I majored in Advertising at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, then went on to create an apparel line for kids, run a small hand-made greeting card company and design movie posters for film festivals.

It wasn’t until I started cutting up paper again about ten years ago that I hit my stride: I was creating art simply for myself and had accidentally found my true creative voice. Soon, I was getting emails requests to show my work in galleries and licensing my art, it was amazing! So, it’s been a long and unpredictable road, but a very interesting one. And I know there’s a lot more adventure to come.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I’ve definitely had struggles along the way and most of them stemmed from self-doubt and insecurity about my artistic abilities. For many years, there was a serious disconnect between what I saw in my head and what I was able to produce on paper. There is an amazing short video narrated by Ira Glass called “The Gap” that I recommend to any creative person starting out:

If I’d seen this earlier, I would have saved years of grief! I’ve built up my confidence by continually creating and pushing past my discomfort. This still is a daily thing, believe it or not: it’s a constant practice. Even today, my artwork doesn’t measure up to what I see in my head, but that’s okay because it’s pretty close. 🙂

My advice for other women beginning their creative careers: do the work, keep showing up, and keep sharing your work. Make art that you love and your audience will find you. It sounds simple, but 95% of the opportunities that have come my way is because I’ve done these things. Oh, and always be kind: business is about relationships and people want to work with people that they like.

Please tell us about your business.
I’m a fine artist, illustrator, designer and art teacher. I’m known for my quirky, happy collages and my mixed media mandalas. My work has been shown in galleries nationwide and my licensing partners and collectors include Pottery Barn Teen, Minted, Oopsy Daisy and the Kimpton Gray Hotel in Chicago.

My art has good juju and it comes from a place of joy. I’m a total kid with any type of art supplies and that’s why teaching art to children is perfect for me. My studio is in Agoura Hills and I teach there privately and in various locations around Malibu. I’ve also just finished an art book called, “The Saturday Art Project” that is in the hands of a great publisher: fingers crossed! It’s based on my art projects and classes.

I’m most proud of the moments when someone shares how much my artwork inspires them. There’s nothing better.

Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
I don’t feel that there are many barriers to female leadership in the art world; I see female leaders all around me. It’s part of what keeps me going and reaching for the bigger dream: knowing that it’s attainable. I’m thankful for my lady heroes and I hope I can be one someday.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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