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Meet Latisha Baker

Today we’d like to introduce you to Latisha Baker.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
My creative journey started when I was a pre-teen. I created a colony for my dolls using found objects and repurposed fabric from my grandmother’s house. It was amazing and I remember people being in awe of the space I created when they would come over and visit. Later on, after taking a sewing class, I sewed my first outfit and made socks to match with my outfit. I dabbled in making clothes until I started making jewelry. What intrigued me about this process was the hunt for found treasures. I remember finding old trade beads and aged amber that I purchased for a few dollars. I started making assembly jewelry in my mid-twenties and continue to sell those wares until I starting experimenting with pyrography in the late ’80s.

Please tell us about your work.
I came upon this pyrography when I saw an interesting piece of pyroetched artwork and was curious about the process. I bought a wood burning and began etching small crafts, such as keepsake boxes and small scale artworks. I eventually begin creating large scale artworks at the encouragement of established visual artists who saw the potential of what I was doing on a grander scale. I eventually transitioned into large scale art, primarily working on reclaimed wood. While it was cheap or free, I began to appreciate the imperfections of this grade of wood, because the flaws added beauty and character to the work. In 2008, the stock market crash and selling original work became a challenge. So, I diversified my work and introduced pyroetched earrings and stationery lines, which have become very popular over the years and remain my best sellers. My current challenge stepping back and revisiting the large scale artwork that started it all.

The theme is “art for the healing soul!” My focus is telling a story creating primarily women in a state of rest or self-reflection. There is an intersection of meditation in the practice and process of creating my work. I am committed to creating what I consider for the medium “slow or no tech etching” because there is no laser involved. Also, for my process and practice, it is important to create with intention and that requires mindfulness because there is a spiritual element to what I do.

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
I was working on my art business part-time, until I quit my non-profit job in May 2018. My husband and I agreed that I would increase participating in these spaces until I found something that fits. I also needed a mental health break. Remembering, I still needed to maintain my share of the household expenses, I took a 14-week business development intensive. They helped me look at my finances by developing an 18-month plan of what I needed to do, how much I needed to make and the number of units I needed to sell to sustain my career as a full-time working artist. My advice to other artists is:

1) Get support whenever possible, especially if you are considering transitioning into your art or practice full-time or putting more energy and resources in if is part-time. If I had discovered earlier that I could sustain myself with my artwork, I probably would have transitioned much earlier.
2) Outsource when you can. Through I use Quickbooks, we just hired an accountant to do our tax returns and I look forward to outsourcing elements of production and marketing.
3) Take care of your mental health, if you can not afford therapy, look into programs that offer low- or no cost community program support. I have generalized anxiety and there are times I question my worth, especially if sales are slow or I get caught up in the curated theater on social media. All of the amazing work that I have accomplished since transitioning becomes an echo, but I have learned tools to redirect the distorted thinking.
4) Hold space for yourself and pour it into yourself more than ever before. I create something from nothing. In order to live what I consider my right livelihood it is essential that I have the capacity and emotional space to create at the level I need to. This means learning to say “no” and distance myself from people and situations that can’t, won’t and don’t serve my greater good.
5) If you are planning on taking the leap, begin/learn to have a detached perspective on matters that don’t impact you directly and redirect that energy into something that you are passionate about.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I live in the East Bay in Oakland and I participate in local arts and crafts shows. People can also visit my website at: www.latishabakerartworks.com, I also have a presence in local farmer’s markets in the artisan section. People can support my work by coming to one of these venues and checking out what I do. I encourage people to come and experience my work, rather than feeling pressured to buy something, My booth space is welcoming with a noticeably ocean blue display of my popular Ear Cookies and other wearable art, stationery and art prints. My original work is on display at a co-working and gallery boutique called RBA Creative in the Laurel District in Oakland.

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Image Credit:

Kimberly Scott, Eric Murphy

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