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Meet Lili Arnold

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lili Arnold.

Lili, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m an artist based in Santa Cruz, CA. My journey has been a long one, but each part of it has been full of learning and growing. I started creating art as a child; both my parents are visual artists, so inevitably, I was exposed to the arts in many forms. I never imagined I would become an artist myself. I had so many doubts and no clear path of action to pursue my creative dreams. So, I ended up going into graphic design when I graduated with a Studio Arts degree from UCSC. I thought graphic design was the perfect bridge between financial stability and creativity, and it was for the most part; however, after a few years in the field, I was craving experimentation, individuality, and the hands-on satisfaction that fine arts gave me in the past. At the time, it wasn’t realistic for me to quit my full-time job and pursue my own artistic path, so I began creating art on the weekends, or on quiet evenings during the weeks. I experimented with everything from watercolor, to handmade clay pots, to fine line illustration, to acrylic painting.

When I brought my old printmaking tools & materials out from a dusty cardboard box, that’s when things really started to click. I carved my first piece in many years. It was a sperm whale, very small & simple, but it sparked an eventual entire body of work which led to my very first art show. The satisfaction I was getting from carving and printing blocks was unlike anything I had experienced before. I continued on and eventually discovered my love of cacti and other captivating flora. I ended up taking a leap and leaving my full-time graphic design job to pursue my small block print business which gave me so much more time to print, develop new works, network with shops, create an online presence, and participate in all kinds of artist/maker events. It was scary to leave a steady job and have to figure out all the intricacies of running a business, but it’s been the best decision of my life yet. It’s been three years now since I’ve been creating my art full time, and I am so grateful every day for the people who have supported me along the way.

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 journey as an artist has been like a cobblestone street; there’s been constant little bumps along the way but it’s been an overall solid ride. I feel lucky to be where I’m at now and I try to not take any of it for granted. That said, it’s taken so much hard work, long days, and plenty of creative lulls to achieve growth.

In the beginning, many of my struggles came from my lack of business knowledge and not having a clue about materials I needed, technology that would help me, or resources to help guide me. Everything from sourcing shipping supplies, to managing online orders, to seeking out art fairs & events…it was overwhelming at first. I started chipping away at each hurdle one by one and eventually figured out what worked for me. I’m still super open to improving my process, so chatting with other artists & business owners and learning from them has been a huge help even at this stage in the game.

Alright so let’s talk business.  What else should we know about your artwork and what you are most proud of?
The primary part of my art business is creating block prints, also known as linocut prints, relief prints, or woodblock prints. My inspiration for each piece comes from being exposed to something beautiful in the natural world. For the past couple of years, I have been intrigued by cacti and all the intricate textures & colors that come with them. I am also obsessed with other types of exotic plants and I’m constantly researching new botanicals to translate into prints.

What I’m most proud of is that this business and entire journey started from somewhere genuine. When I began block printing, I was doing it purely for fun and personal enjoyment and eventually it morphed into what it is today. I have tried my best not to compromise authenticity (although I do stage a photo here and there for the insta). I strive to maintain a path of truth and transparency in my work because I believe brands that do so are the most admirable, timeless, and relatable.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My most proud moment yet was creating a block-printed poster for my favorite musician of all time, Gillian Welch. I have been so inspired by her music for many years, so having an opportunity to collaborate was truly special. I really connect with the visual narratives that her music evokes, so of course, I enjoyed every minute of sketching, planning, carving, and printing the piece.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal Photo – Sun & Life Photography, Painting blue tapestry w/ white line art: Crystal Birns, All other photos: Lili Arnold

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