Today we’d like to introduce you to CM Addams.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was born and raised in the swamps of Alabama. Even as a youngling, I was a weird kid with a love for the surreal and strange. I developed a little later than most children, so I learned to non-verbally express myself in various ways: My main one being art and storytelling.
I learned right away that art was my life’s calling. It was in my blood. It’s what came naturally to me. But living in such a small, conservative state that clutches their pearls at anything that doesn’t fit into their cozy little mold of normality, I knew my journey would not be easy. Impossible even.
So throughout most of my youth, I kept to myself. I was always the quiet “weird” kid in the back of the classroom, nose deep in a novel or my sketchbook. My only real friends were online on an art website called DeviantArt; A place where artistic people could find like-minded individuals to befriend and even network with. I think being on that website is what truly lit that fire under me to really pursue art as my main goal in life.
At one point in my life, I traded my art supplies to be an alternative model. It was fun and opened a lot of doors but quickly began to feel like a chore, especially with how shallow and handsy clients can be.
I got back in with the art community when I got back into college and got accepted into their art program. It felt just like how I did when I was a teen on DeviantArt, being surrounded by like-minded creatives. But even when I was studying for that much-coveted degree, I was restless. I knew I had to do something NOW. So I started my art business early. I would do research on local art gigs, most being in the Atlanta area. I did everything in my power to get my name and work out there as much as I could.
I graduated with my BFA in December 2019. To most, that seemed like me crossing the finish line, but to me, that was just completing level one of this big game of life. A few months later, I moved across the country to Los Angeles to have more of a fighting chance with my art. Now that I was out in the real world, I had to make people see me in a vast ocean of many others hoping for the same thing.
Now I specialize in all things spooky and sell anything from original works to buttons, patches, stickers, and enamel pins. I am going into my 4th year as a freelance artist, and I can say truthfully that I have never been more content and true to myself than I am today.
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?
Absolutely not! It’s one thing to try and start a business on your own, but it felt like a whole ordeal trying to pursue art in a city that viewed it as “a waste of time” and “not a real job”.
Growing up, unless you were lucky enough to afford fancy schooling, there were no real art outlets unless you were in music. Most of what I learned was on my own, from experimenting to online tutorials from my favorite artists. If there were any art opportunities, they still were very limited and HAD to fit in a certain box in order to be “valued”. I did not vibe with this at all, so I started looking elsewhere for where my kind of art would belong.
I started studying my favorite successful underground artists. What were their business tactics? How did they get their work out there? How could I adapt that to my business? I took notes, highlighted things, studied algorithms, figured out local shows and pop ups. All while still finishing school and working a regular day job. It was hard. I was stretched out super thin. There were days I’d have to wake up at the crack of dawn after a long night doing a pop up art show, get to my job, then study for an exam, running on 2 hours of sleep and Monster Javas. There were even days I wanted to drop everything and quit. But that’s the beauty of chasing your dreams. When you want it, you run and run and run until you catch it! And even when you do got it, you keep running. You value it, you nurture it. Even when you’re tired.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
To me, my art embraces the darker and creepier aspects of life. To give them a home, knowing that they are loved and accepted as they are. Even on their bad days.
Growing up watching Phantom of the Opera and even Creature of the Black Lagoon, characters that were deemed grotesque, outcasts, and monsters, were simply touch starved individuals who were wanting to find love and acceptance. To be told that they mattered and were understood. Something that many who are privileged to get their whole lives take for granted.
It’s human nature to fear the unknown and what we don’t understand. This message still holds strong even today. Especially to those who are mentally ill. Struggling with depression and anxiety, I was always told to smile through it, to fake it ’til you make it, and even to “Pray the sadness away”. I tried and tried, but none of those methods worked. During this time, I wrote a poem called “The Darkness Spoke to Me”. It expressed my love for the dark and how I felt comforted by it. When I stayed true to myself, let my authentic feelings flow instead of repressing them for other’s comfort.
In my art, we embrace all things creepy, mysterious, horrific, spooky and strange. Instead of fearing and shaming, we are fascinated and even celebrated by these qualities. And that’s my biggest goal with my work. To celebrate the dark instead of fearing it. To bring in childish curiosity instead of irrational fear. For when we put our fears to the side and allow ourselves to be educated on what we don’t understand is when we get true answers. To truly be understood.
I say this with the full awareness that my work is not for everyone. Not everyone is brave enough to go into that dark forest or peak over that dark corner. Some people even bask in blissful ignorance. But we don’t do that here. We crave answers. We satisfy curiosity. There’s just such a sense of thrill that comes with that–and that’s really the goal I want for my artwork. That with every brushstroke, every silly button or sticker I make, that I’m personally welcoming in an outcast into my little witchy hut for a cup of brew. To let them know they have a safe place here to be freaky, weird, and let loose. That they’re not alone. That being different is just fine.
If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
Authenticity and drive, in my opinion, is the most important thing to my success. Once I let go of everyone’s expectations of me and what I “should” be drawing versus what I wanted to, the doors flew open for me. Drawing what you actually like and want to see not only brings in like-minded people, but you’re nurturing your soul. I wasn’t put on this earth to fit into someone else’s mold or ride the coattails of some already successful dead artist. I was put here to follow my own path, to discover and honor my own truth.
Being driven is another important thing. I have so many ideas in my head that it almost gets intimidating to start. But I know no one else can get these ideas out except me. In the end, when I’m old and writing my memoirs, I’d rather it be filled to the brim with all these ideas I got out, even if they weren’t the best. That beats having a one pager saying, “I wish I had the confidence to do what I wanted, instead of worrying about what others thought of me.”
- Original Work: $150
- 8×11 Prints: $20
- Enamel Pins: $12
- Stickers: $5
- Hand Painted Magnets: $20
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: cmaddams.com
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/cmaddams
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/cmaddamsofficial
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/cm_addams
- YouTube: http://youtube.com/spookycrypt
- Etsy: etsy.com/shop/cmaddams