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Meet Missy Reitner Cameron

Today we’d like to introduce you to Missy Reitner Cameron.

Missy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born in Los Angeles in the early 70’s, a time when you could still ride in the back of an open truck, get across town in 20 minutes and play on the streets well after dark. There was of course real threats like the hillside strangler, smog, and the gas crisis, but overall, as a kid, it was a great place to grow up.

My parents said I was always arty, like my grandma who, after getting a bug up her ass, decided to paint all the trash cans and ashtrays in her house gold in the 60’s. She was always up to something like that and I guess it just rubbed off. She was a hoot and a half.

I grew up not sure how to apply this artiness to my life. I thought maybe architecture but math was never easy for me and I figured my building would collapse or at least tilt unintentionally. My parents were awesome in helping me get into an art-focused high school and then I went on to study at Cal Arts in Valencia. All of these experiences helped me grow in both skill and voice and I am beyond thankful. I studied photography and had an interest in graphic design which turned out to be a great combo for me. I turned that graphic design interest into a 25+ year career. I started my own firm in San Luis Obispo, CA (where I still live part-time), raised a smart and savvy kiddo and even won a Webby award. It was a good run but I knew something was missing. I was losing touch with my genuinely creative side. The part of me that always made me happiest kept me grounded and helped me feel complete. I knew it was time for change.

So I started painting again. Just like that. It felt amazing. I started to feel whole again. Around the same time, my kiddo got into a great public high school in LA so I packed up and moved back to the city I always loved. Being here has helped my art in so many ways. The art scene here is so vibrant, the murals, the galleries, the pop-ups, it’s inspiring. Untethering myself from the day to day of the graphic design business allowed me to not only start painting but to also create a space in San Luis Obispo for other artist. The BUNKER SLO is a working artist studio space with nine artists under its roof. There is a jeweler, some painters, mixed media artists, and even a marionette maker. I really had to let go of some stuff to get back to feeling more like me and creating, making, painting is the key to my happiness.

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?
I don’t think any of us has a smooth road, it just depends on how you work with those obstacles. I was a single mother for many years and that alone was rough. I had to make my business work for the kiddo and I to eat and pay rent. I busted my ass to make it happen and for that I am proud but those struggles kept me from creating art for myself. That was the hardest part, having ideas for others is awesome and how I was able to keep going but after a while it is a drain.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I have started and run the graphic design business for 15 years and let me tell you that is a business. I’m not sure that for me painting is a business. I’m just trying to paint stuff that helps me quiet my mind and eyes. I am fortunate enough to sell some work and do shows out of state, I am happy having started the BUNKER SLO so others can find a place to work and I enjoy being a part of that creative type of energy.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Without luck I’d be nowhere. I was lucky enough to have an amazing kiddo and that pushed me to succeed in ways I didn’t think possible. I was lucky enough to surround myself with creative people who inspired me. I was lucky enough to get to live in two cities that I love, and that inspire and shape my work.

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