Today we’d like to introduce you to Claudia Pardo.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Picture a girl, staring at two tall stacks of carefully cut and folded paper into postcard-size booklets. These paper booklets are covered from cover to cover with detailed drawings and writings that she created over the years. She is pondering whether to pack them in her suitcase as she gets ready to move.
As a child and young teen growing up in Lima, Perú, I never thought that I was pursuing my passion when I created art. Art was a respite, an escape and most definitely a pleasure to do. I simply knew that I had to create because it felt right. I spent innumerable hours drawing in my room or at the kitchen table. I would steal my dad’s high-quality Bond paper, measure it, cut it, fold it, and collate it into little booklets. I filled these blank pages with hundreds of drawings, each telling a different story. I created dozens and dozens of illustrated booklets about far-away places, courageous rescues, underwater treasure hunts, eternal love, and rags-to-riches stories. I was free to fearlessly explore topics that resonated with me: love, loss, desire, fear, joy, pain and the constant aspiration for something better.
When the time came to leave my country, I was burdened with the task of having to choose what to take with me. In one suitcase. Unfortunately, I chose to leave my little books behind when I moved to the U.S. They were forever lost. Fortunately, I knew that whatever prompted me to create those stories resided within me and that I could create more.
I was so lucky to have the creative drive to visually express the constructs of my experiences as a young woman: the breaking and healing, the falling and the rising, the chaos and the beauty. It protected me from what was happening around me. To this day, it is a privilege to draw and paint my life experiences. It makes whatever unfavorable exploits I am going through worthwhile stories to tell with all sorts of potential happy endings.
Art has evolved alongside my own evolution. During the initial culture shock of a new life, I experimented with graphic design and collage because life at the time was messy and confusing; my college and grad school years saw an increase in conceptual art with feminist undertones because I was kinda angry and had a lot to say; as a college professor and because academia has its own set of expectations, I mainly painted the figure which has always intrigued me. After I discovered the link between creativity and healing, I created my brand Everyday Buddha, which features beautiful illustrations with empowering messages.
I clearly remember the day I was confronted with the choice to take my paper books with me or leave them. Ultimately, it came down to practicality and logistics. More important, however, was that at a young age, I had an internal knowing that my creativity wasn’t separate from me. I knew that I carried the fire within me, and as an artist, this is an invaluable and beautiful story to own. My brand, Everyday Buddha celebrates this inner fire in all of us. It affirms our inherent worthiness and goodness through beautiful imagery and empowering words. Everyday Buddha exemplifies our ability to overcome, to let go, to grow and to break through.
Today, I take full advantage of the freedom I have to create art liberally and unbound by trends. I unapologetically create art in direct response to my life experiences. We each have a contribution to make–an impact. I’m learning that it’s OK to own your stories (even when you leave them behind), especially when they become catalysts for personal transformation. Today, I use my skills to create art that empowers, heals, and validates.
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?
This is what’s true for me: all challenges in my life have always–always–come with blessings.
I don’t usually think of my life as hard, but when I look at my personal trajectory, it certainly has not been gentle navigating, all of the time. This is not to say that it hasn’t been rich with a multitude of gifts and magic, because it has.
It is great to pursue your passion and we shouldn’t be cynical about it. There is purpose in following your calling, and if there’s a fire, you should kindle it. In my experience, I shortchange the pursuit of my passion when I reduce it to something that isn’t essential to my well being. In this case, it is easy to de-prioritize it, especially since I have so many other–more important–responsibilities to tend to. However, as I get older, I have learned that it takes a great amount of courage to honor your passion, and infinite grace to own your story in front of others.
I’d like to think that any difficulties I’ve lived through have contributed to a much richer life experience. Perhaps, it was growing up in a household where it was customary to hear the “because-I-say-so” disciplining techniques of Latin parents. Maybe it was living through the stark realities of political turmoil and terrorism in Perú in the ’80s, which at the time felt like the norm. Or perhaps it was when I moved to the U.S. at the age of 15 with my mother and brothers. Certainly, being a first-generation immigrant was one of the most pivotal experiences of my life. It equipped me with grit, compassion, and the fight to turn challenges into opportunities. It practically made me into an alchemist! It taught me to turn scarcity, nostalgia, fear, and uncertainty into acceptance, adaptability, focused purpose and fortitude.
I tend to apply this alchemy to the curve balls that life throws at me: divorce, single parenthood, death, misunderstanding, heartache, loss, pain, personal shortcomings, and most definitely art. Art isn’t separate from life. All my struggles have and will always be opportunities to create more authentic art. I believe that life-changing moments are born out of our deepest pain and suffering, and some of the best art is a reflection of the growth inherent in pain…if we’re courageous enough to create it.
If there’s a legacy I’d like to leave behind for my children, is that their mom had the courage to pursue her passion.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Everyday Buddha – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
365 days of affirmations and art: The practice that changed my life.
Everyday Buddha was born out of a self-imposed exercise to create one drawing with one positive message every single day for one year, no matter what. I intentionally created this challenge for myself as a healing practice through a very traumatic period of my life. I was looking for my breakthrough moment in the perceived brokenness of my circumstances. As an artist, I knew, viscerally, that my creativity and a conscious shift in perspective were the conduits to my healing.
To make myself accountable, I created an Instagram account and began posting one drawing and one positive message every day. One drawing a day may not seem like much, but it was tough, especially on days when the demands of work, kids, and the responsibilities of running a household stretched me too thin. Plus, I was feeling pretty crappy. But I kept on.
In the process of this exercise, something truly remarkable happened: the continued positive reinforcement paired with disciplined creativity changed my life, redirected my thoughts and filled me with confidence and intention. Not only did I reconnect with my creativity, but the consistent validation of goodness and gratitude transformed my life. I became lighter, happier and began experiencing a peace of mind like never before. My children sensed a new harmony and in turn, were lighter and happier themselves. By the time I completed the challenge of 365 posts, Everyday Buddha had come to represent a catalyst for something bigger.
The Affirmation cards for Women came as a result of this experiment. I wanted to create something that would become part of someone’s spiritual practicing–a nurturing of the soul, in the way that worked for me. The deck contains empowering musings and beautiful art intended to nurture a woman’s spirit. If used as a daily devotional practice for gratitude, meditation, yoga or inspiration, I know it can have empowering effects.
Art isn’t separate from life. I have had many artistic revolutions, rebelling against trends and consciously creating artwork that spoke to my soul. Rather than sticking to expectations, I enjoy creating art that’s immersive and puts me “in the zone.” It often results in my best creations and resonates with my audience more viscerally. This is what Everyday Buddha is all about.
It’s a brand founded on the importance of cultivating connection to our hearts and our minds on a daily basis despite our circumstances. It’s about showing up as the best version of ourselves every day.
Everyday Buddha is art and life with intention.
Claudia Pardo is a multidisciplinary artist and educator living in Ventura, CA. Her work expands across diverse media, including oils, acrylics, collage, and digital painting. A former Art History and Art Appreciation college professor, she has mentored many students and young artists, exhibited her work nationally and internationally and served on the Public Arts Commission in her community. Claudia is also the creator of Everyday Buddha, a brand which uses creativity as a force for good. Under Everyday Buddha, Claudia creates products with hand-drawn illustrations and uplifting messages as well as holds creative workshops that infuse creativity into the everyday work life.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plans for the future include:
Loving on my kids.
Focusing my energy on my art.
Laughing a lot.
Continuing to build my brand, Everyday Buddha.
Releasing a new set of affirmation cards before the end of the 2019.
Living with purpose.
Following my gut.
Keeping a strong backbone, a soft heart, and a wild spirit.
- Affirmation Cards for Women are $36 per deck including shipping
- Website: www.everydaybuddhaart.com
- Phone: 8057010550
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org