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Meet Kimberly Gracian of Kiwikoko Art in Long Beach

 

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly Gracian.

Kimberly, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I guess I’ve always known I’ve liked art, but it all began in 5th grade when my teacher at the time had dedicated art time, it was my favorite time of the day and the teacher always complimented my work. At the time, I had no concept of what art even was I just knew I liked to doodle. When I was in 7th grade that’s when I realized I was pretty good at it, and mainly because other classmates would compliment my drawings and tell me they could never draw anything.

I didn’t take my first art class until I was in High School and then I knew I loved art and I was meant to be creating. Art was my happy place, my mom would try punish me by taking the TV away or games but I would just take out a piece of paper and pencil and start sketching away. When I was in High School, I wanted my career to involve art but I was scared I wouldn’t make money so I stopped pursuing it and kept it more like a hobby. It was hard to decide what to study in college so I took a break from school and when I came back I took different subjects to explore. After years I decided art was my passion and I decided to work towards that. When I went back to college, I got involved in hosting local live music shows where local bands played, and local upcoming artists were invited to display their artwork and sell their creations. Family members and friends would always ask why I didn’t display my art and I started to wonder why I hadn’t. It was scary to show my work, I had never done it and I didn’t know what to expect. Finally, I was asked to be part of a local show and I displayed my art for the first time. My first thought was, why didn’t I do this sooner, I loved all the people I met and all the support I got from everyone. After that, I knew I wanted to continue sharing my art and continue connecting with other artists. I now have been part of a couple of different local galleries and started selling my artwork at vendor events. Being in the art community is so empowering and I love all the positive things I’ve experienced because of it.

Great, 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?
My life has definitely not been easy. I was born in Los Angeles and moved to Mexico when I was only three months old and moved back to LA when I was about nine years old. I was raised by my grandmother in Mexico while my mom worked in the US to send money back home so my grandma could raise me.

My first challenge was when I turned nine, I finally came to live with my mom in LA. It was very scary for me, I was only nine and I was in a new country, new home, new food, everything was different, and I couldn’t understand English at the time. My whole world changed and I had to learn to adapt very fast. I had to learn English as soon as possible so I wouldn’t fall behind in school.

To make things harder my family moved constantly, I went from Van Nuys to San Bernardino and back to LA, so I had to make new friends and do it everything all over, I never felt I was actually home. My mother was a single mother raising two kids so I never had luxuries and I had to see my mother work very hard to provide us with as much as she could. Being an immigrant, it was hard for her to get a stable job but she always made sure my sister and I never needed anything.

I know it was hard for my mother to work so many long hours and being away from her kids, but all of her hard work tough me so many valuable lessons. She made me into a very honest person who values the little things in life. I know I’ve missed out on a lot of things because of my social and financial status but that’s made the person I am now. The struggles I went through have made me a stronger and better person so I embrace my rocky road.

Please tell us more about your art.
My business and company is my artwork. I draw and paint. I am a traditional artist but I’ve recently started trying out digital artwork. When I make traditional artwork, I love to use watercolor, gouache, ink, and acrylic and I love to portray women in my artwork. The things I’m most proud of is the fact that I’ve been part of vendor events and touched so many people with my art.

What sets me apart from others is that I don’t just want to create art, I also want host my own events for other artists to have a platform to express themselves. Empowering people by giving them an opportunity to showcase their artwork is something I love doing.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I believe the most important characteristic for success is hard work, dedication but also belief in yourself. Your mind is a powerful thing and you can do anything you set your mind to but you have to work hard and make sacrifices to get to where you want to be. Get inspired by others and strive to inspire other is my motto.

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