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Meet Alli Conrad

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alli Conrad.

Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. You can include as little or as much detail as you’d like.
Yeah! My name is Alli Conrad and I am a Chinese-American artist and muralist with a preferred media of acrylic, based in Los Angeles. I’m an expat at heart with a cultured background. I was born in the United States and was raised in multiple cities like Singapore, Houston, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles.

Till this day, I am still trying to put a finger on how I began painting. It came out of nowhere. Growing up, I was always more on the “creative” side of things. I excelled in music and competitive sports teams, always landing first chair at every school I attended and playing on varsity teams. I had good grades and was a perfect little student, but deep down I always hated the lack of freedom inside classrooms. I’ve never been fond of rulebooks, guidelines, and instructions. If there is an instruction manual, I’ll usually never read it and end up throwing it away (which is probably not smart when building a bed). I’ve always been a “figure it out” kind of gal. It’s also my motto that I live by – “you’ll figure it out”. It’s the challenge of figuring it out that really gets my blood flowing. Who doesn’t love a good challenge?

Nevertheless, if I had to try and pin point a time that started my path into painting, it was after my summer trip in Israel. When I came back, there was this sense of freedom, lightness, and ease. I had never felt so “free.” I had no idea what was going on in my head, but I just started painting. It was so liberating. I finished my first piece, “Leo” in August of 2018 and questioned how I even did the piece. As corny as it sounds, it just came to me. I don’t necessarily give credit to Israel alone for discovering my inner artist, but the timing of where I was in my life and the aspect of traveling changed my perspective on what I wanted out of life. I was two years out of college and was still in the ruts of trying to figure it out. I had worked previously at several corporate fashion jobs doing product development and production, but it never felt right. It was the million-dollar question of, “so what do you want to do?” I always had a bullshit answer to respond to family and friends such as, supply chain management, logistics, fashion design, and marketing. I returned from my trip in Israel and networked a bit and finally landed a job at a marketing agency doing business development. During my time working there, I continued to paint on the side – simply for the love of it. But soon enough, people started to ask for my works. Commissions came through the door one by one and eventually it started gaining more momentum. Opportunities kept flowing in at the right time and place.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Nothing worth having comes easy. But if you want it badly enough, you soon become numb to the struggles. The transition from the corporate world to working for myself has been quite a bumpy road. When I started to make art full time, the first few months were full of anxiety and stress. Every day I questioned myself, “what the fuck are you doing?” and “how are you going to do this?”. I filled my mind up with a million questions, but it was then that I surrendered and followed my life motto, “you’ll figure it out.” I wanted this so bad, that I knew I would find a way no matter what. I surrendered to the unknown and I absolutely love it. I’ve set goals for the year and dropped the preconceived notions of societal norms. I treat every day as if it is a “9-5pm job”, even on the weekends. The best part about doing what you love is that there are no “work days.” Every day is like living in paradise. I basically work in my sleep (literally). There are nights where I start dreaming of a painting or idea and I wake up to sketch it out.

Even though I’m still at the beginning of this journey, if I had to start over, I would have told myself three things. Drop the ego, stop comparing yourself to other artists, and patience. Ego and envy – it’s quite a blinding pair. It will eat your natural gut and mind alive. Envy starts to deteriorate your inner mind, leaving you with such little room for personal and organic development. You just gotta grow a pair and get to work! I’ve begun to let go of the idea of being “good”. I believe prizing vulnerability and failing/rejection is essential to growth. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. I know sitting with the uncomfortable absolutely sucks. It hurts, it stings, and makes you go crazy, but with time, you eventually find yourself comfortable and realizing you can get through it. Art is a form of knowing yourself. As Jerry Saltz said, “art is no more or less important than philosophy, religion, economics, or psychology.” Art is about doing and experiencing. I just do. Even if I end up creating the ugliest piece or something that is not understood, it is the simple act of doing. And sometimes doing means baby steps. Patience.

Tell us more about your art.
My business is myself! As mentioned above, I am an artist and muralist with a preferred media of acrylic. Most of work is on canvas, but I’ve recently executed a large-scale mural in the Arts District of DTLA and have a few other projects in the works in Koreatown, Venice and Texas.

What I am most proud of recently was having the honor of being a part of a group exhibition amongst 20+ other talented artists, the relationships I’ve been building with a few art dealers & curators, and my studio space I just moved in to a month or so ago.

The art world is an extremely competitive market. I’ve had moments of losing the self to envy and ego, but I always remind myself of what my dad taught me growing up, which is, “to thine own self be true.” As an artist, I don’t like to see other artists as competition. I have artists that I admire and learn from, but never envy (which I used to do and that was a horrible hole I dug myself out of). Apart from painting every day, I’ve also taken up reading books and articles on the art market, aka “an economy of belief”.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I think it is all about, “the right place, at the right time.” Given that I am quite a superstitious person, there have been several coincidences throughout my life that sometimes shake me to my core. The things on our minds just seem to bleed out into the world around us. Luck has played a huge factor in my life with an addition to hard work and most importantly, perseverance. I believe these factors go hand in hand – luck is the result of hard work.

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Image Credit:

Lea Rossi, Andy Harris

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