Today we’d like to introduce you to Sevda Koci.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I have wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. My first and most vivid memory was when I was five years old. In pre-k, we put on a show for all of our parents and we had to dress up as what we wanted to be when we grew up. While most of the students dressed up as doctors, astronauts or firefighters, I knew instantly I wanted to be an artist. So I nervously walked onto the stage wearing a black beret, holding a paintbrush in one hand and a wooden palette in the other, and told the audience I wanted to be an artist. Throughout school, I always chose art classes as my electives and was always drawing in my free time as an escape like most young artists. When it came time to pick a college, a few ideas tossed around in my head as I doubted if art would sustain me as a career. But naturally, I chose to go to art school. I graduated from the School of Visual Arts in NYC with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. In my early college days, my artwork was mostly pen and ink drawings with some watercolors. I had not fallen in love with the painting until I took a foundation oil painting class where we would paint for 6 hours straight every class. While I now use acrylics rather than oils, landscape painting has evolved to be my favorite form of art. Although I think you can still see some of that illustrative, impressionistic style that I have had from the beginning. I definitely did not find my artistic style until after I graduated from college. When you are surrounded by so many creative people and so many different mediums, I think it is important to immerse yourself in it all and try everything until you find what it is you’re best at and what sparks a fire in you. For me, it took a lot of traveling and experimenting with every subject matter possible to find what I enjoyed the most.
Please tell us about your art.
In the summer of 2015, going into my junior year of art school, I took a trip to Southern California and fell in love with ocean and surf photography. Waking up at sunrise and walking down to the beach to take pictures of the surfers made me so happy and at peace. I had always loved photography but never found a subject matter that felt “me” and that I felt passionate about enough to continue shooting. Then in January of 2016 I went to Oahu, Hawaii and fell in love with it even more. Then went to SoCal again the summer of 2016. The ocean and the beach were my greatest muse. It was around this time that I really found a greater appreciation for the environment. During my fourth and final year at SVA we had to chose a senior project and mine was to design surfboard art and posters to promote ocean conservation. That is when I would say I found my calling but it took about a year for me to figure out how to make artwork that matched the love that I had for the ocean. In 2017 I went on a trip to Rincon, Puerto Rico in the winter and Costa Rica in the summer. By then my photography skills were getting better and I had saved for a new DSLR. Before that, I was using a hand me down the camera from my mom. When I got back home with all of these beautiful photos, I decided to paint some of them onto canvas. I wanted to convey that same feeling of peace that I got from being on the beach and taking those photos, while also encouraging people to care about the ocean and the earth as much as I do. After I finished a collection of about 10 paintings I uploaded them to Instagram and my website and decided to sell them and donate 10% of the proceeds to ocean conservation. I felt the need to donate some of the proceeds because this planet is in dire need of help right now. There is trillions of pieces of plastic in the ocean, it’s killing animals, and there is only a few years left until the damage cannot be undone. We all need to do our part in protecting this planet we call home and if I could give back to my biggest source of inspiration it only seems right. That’s how I started Made Out Of Water, my current business, where I sell art and promote ocean conservation.
As an artist, how do you define success and what quality or characteristic do you feel is essential to success as an artist?
I think success as an artist depends on your intention behind making art. My intention with making art is to make myself feel something and also to make the viewer feel something. So whenever someone looks at a piece of art, I’ve created and says something like “that makes me feel relaxed” or “that gives me a sense of peace,” I feel successful. And whenever I get lost in a painting for hours and get that magical feeling of “wow I made that” when it’s finished, I feel successful. Sales are unpredictable, so you can’t judge your success as an artist off of money unless that is your intention behind making art. Sales do not define my success as an artist, but rather my success as an entrepreneur. What I think is essential to success as an artist just remembers why you fell in love with art in the first place. There will be many days where you wake up and don’t want to work on a piece or don’t even know where to begin. Having self-discipline and being able to motivate yourself to go for it anyway will separate you from the rest.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I have an online shop www.madeoutofwater.com where I sell original paintings, art prints, and photography prints. I also attend local art fairs every few months, which you can stay up to date on my Instagram @madeoutofwater.