We had the good fortune of connecting with Briana Veytia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Briana, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
I couldn’t even try to count the number of times I have given up, started over, kept going, given up again. Many of us have been taught to never give up on our dreams in an inspiring, motivational kind of way, but no one one really teaches us how to recognize all of the red flags that present themselves when pursuing our dreams is doing more harm than good. Something I’ve learned to do over the years is to consult my best self about whether or not to continue a project, a path, or take on a new pursuit. Consulting my best self is a form of meditation where I imagine my ideal future self in as much detail as possible- a badass business boss with a career in art and an obscene collection of yarn- and imagine how she would handle the situation I find myself in. Would she be willing to take a risk on a new, promising venture? Or would she take a step back to ensure she’s not spreading herself too thin across too many platforms? It’s hard to know for sure if the decision I’ve made is the “right” one, but this technique allows me to feel confident that whether I decide to give up or keep going, I’m doing it for me and my best self.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have always loved working with fiber – fabric, yarn, felt, clothes, whatever. One of the first crafts I truly learned was crochet, which I just learned in my early 20’s via Youtube tutorials when I needed a break from that college life. I fell in love with crocheting my own winter accessories which led me into doing other random DIY fashion-related projects for myself for a while. Soon after, I decided to try my hand at embroidery, because what’s cooler than your own custom embroidered patches and details on your clothes? Right after college, I started working for the county, so adding these unique embroidered touches to my office ensembles made me feel like I could still maintain my identity and showcase my creativity. One of my favorite forms of fiber art I’ve picked up lately is punch needle rug hooking. I learned of it during San Diego Yarn Crawl a few years ago when I saw Christie Beniston of PUNCH! doing a demonstration at A Simpler Time Alpaca Farm in El Cajon. I was immediately enamored and bought a rug hooking kit at the next stop on my crawl. With this craft, I’ve created patches for clothing, wall hangings, placemats, portrait pillows, and have so much more planned for the future. When it comes to illustration, I’ve always been a chronic doodler, but only really took myself seriously in the past year. I could acknowledge that I was good at churning out simple doodles of lips, leaves, and letters, but I always told myself anything beyond that was too difficult. My husband, Omar, was the one to snap me out of that small mindset and remind me that my talent only spans as far as my self-image will allow. While I’m still shy at defining myself as an illustrator, it is what I do. I try to practice illustrating every day, whether it’s digital or analog. When I’m struggling for inspiration, one of my favorite practices is to illustrate a photo received from a friend because they wanted me to see something cool, or they were feeling cute so they took a selfie, or they caught their cat at the perfect angle to make her look like a demon. It makes me laugh to draw the sillier photos and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to draw the more meaningful ones. When I’m drawing from photos of people, it feels like an act of love, spending so much time and energy studying the lines of their face and the curvature of their body and making sure each stroke of the pencil is justified by their character. It’s important to me that if/when they see my illustrated interpretation of them, they are seeing a version of themselves that makes them excited to be who they are, just as I’m excited to know them as they are. Staying out of that small mindset is still a daily struggle, especially with social media being a normalized part of everyday life, even more so for creative businesspeople. One of my biggest challenges is actually using social media to my advantage in my business and general creative networking. Speaking to my audience through a photo that I take, edit, caption, and send off into the matrix isn’t intuitive or ideal for me. This is where the small mindset starts creeping back in. Feeling inadequate online, where my presence and interactions are vital to growing my business, immediately leads to the c-word: comparison. Comparison is the killer of creativity. As soon as I start scrolling, it takes all of my mental energy to keep from comparing my work, my followers, my will to live with so many other amazing artists and full time small business owners. The more I scroll, the sadder I get and suddenly the pride I once had in my latest post is pocket-sized. Trying to stay relevant while keeping my eyes on my own paper is obscenely challenging, but I also try to acknowledge how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come in the years since deciding to become an entrepreneur. BEV.MADE was born in a panic one rainy night in April of 2016 when I found out one of my best friends/bonus dad was given a few weeks to live. I always shared my crafts with him and he’d tell me how much skill and patience it must take to make such a thing. I could have wrapped yarn around a rock and he’d be amazed. He encouraged me to market my craft, and I would talk endlessly about my future small business that would undoubtedly free me from the monotony of a 9-5 job. I was all talk until he was dying. So I quickly opened an Etsy shop and filled it with products I felt very half-heartedly about. I just made things I thought people would buy. (Spoiler: People didn’t buy them.) He died a month later seeing me as a small business owner and artist, but I was left lost. My business didn’t thrive and I didn’t understand why. To this day, I am still discovering what I want my business to be and the best way for me to make it so, but now I create from the heart for people who share the same interests, insecurities, and mental illnesses as me. It’s hard to not look at my number of followers or sales and feel like it’s not enough and think it means that I’m not enough, but it becomes easier to ignore these thoughts when I remember how empowered and ecstatic my art makes me feel. Maintaining a mindset fit for a queen is reliant on appreciating the moments when creating itself brings me joy or when a friend rocks one of my beanies out in the wild. I try not to let comparison kill my creativity anymore – it’s too valuable to lose. I honestly could not have learned these lessons in the time that I did without accessing my intuition. You know when you have a “gut feeling” about a thing you’re doing or you’re immediately creeped out by someone who seems like a creep? That’s your intuition screaming at you, and only recently did I learn to actually listen to mine. I started reading tarot cards a few years ago when my friend, Lara, read my cards for the first time. Once I understood how much a tarot practice can open the mind and challenge the soul, I was hooked. Since then, I’ve begun to offer readings for others and incorporate the lessons and lore of tarot into my art as well. I appreciate the intimacy and vulnerability a tarot reading inspires and how the art on the cards elicits different reactions and impressions from people. It’s through tarot that I’ve studied the energy of colors and take that into consideration when I am creating anything. When I’m using the color yellow, it’s not just for aesthetic appeal, but it’s because I want myself and those who see it to feel the joy, positivity, and optimism it can evoke. It often feels like my creative interests are sporadic and unrelated, but in staying true to what inspires me, I’ve found where I feel most alive. A project that incorporates almost all of these crafts, which I am currently working on, is a tarot blanket of my own design. Each day I pull a tarot card and crochet a row of a blanket based on the suit from which the card came (major arcana-red; swords-pink; pentacles-green; wands-yellow; cups-blue). By the end of the year, I will have a complete and colorful blanket that will depict the energy of the last 365 days based on my own tarot readings. I’ve never done such a thing! The challenge of a big and gradual project is inspiring and the crossover between crafts is really exciting. I’m still learning but, honestly, I’m just stoked to be here making stuff.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
On a friend’s week long trip to San Diego, each morning would begin with some home brewed coffee with beans from one of my favorite local roasters, Steady State in Carlsbad, Revolution Roasters in Oceanside, etc. Days spent close to my home base would include breakfast at Mom’s Kitchen (formerly Allen’s Alley) in Vista for a delicious diner style meal, and a stroll through the shops in the area, including Standards record store, Metaphor boutique, and a visit to the Backfence Society Clubhouse to see any art on display or projects in progress. Dinner would be had at La Casa de Los Alambres Mexico City Cuisine for some amazing Mexican food and their delicious mango chamoy margarita. Since Vista is a hub for craft beer, a visit to my favorite breweries makes it on to the itinerary. For those who love a chill environment and seeing some art by locals on the walls, Booze Brothers Brewing Co. is the perfect spot and for those who appreciate tabletop games and general fantasy-style nerdiness, Battlemage Brewing company is my all-time favorite. Ideally, in a world without COVID-19, I’d love to take a friend to a live show at the North Park Observatory, probably one of my favorite local venues. While in the area, a stroll through Balboa Park and a visit to the Natural History Museum or the Museum of Man would be next, being sure to admire the magical sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalle throughout the park. Overall, visiting the local small businesses in San Diego County is the best way to get to know the area and its diverse population.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost, I wouldn’t be who I am today without my husband/muse/creative-director-when-I-need-a-second-opinion, Omar, who initially awakened my inner artist, and who believes in my limitless vision even when l don’t. I never would have discovered my gift of divination, which in turn opened up a whole new creative portal for me, if it hadn’t been for my best friend/better half/boss babe inspiration, Lara, who also happens to be my biggest cheerleader. I’m also grateful to have someone like my Leo brother/twin flame/fellow film critic, Jet, who pushes my creative boundaries by reminding me: the weirder the better. Of course I wouldn’t be the tortured artist I am today had it not been for my parents – my mom who spent hours with me as a toddler coloring, drawing, scrapbooking and my dad who, to this day, still shares with me the sculptures he’s made from junk around the house or landscapes he’s drawn from photos he took on his travels. Lastly, I need to recognize Sarah Spinks and the Backfence Society Clubhouse of Vista, for doing the work and consistently showing up for our community, inspiring artists to connect and create while paving a path for the next generation of artists to rise up. To these people, and many more, I owe my success and identity as an artist. I love and respect each of them immensely and often wonder what good deeds I must have done in a past life to deserve them now.