We had the good fortune of connecting with Carla Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Carla, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I think a creative path chose me rather than the other way around. I was surrounded by the arts and creativity for as long as I can remember. As a child, there was always music in the house, lots of books, drawings and paintings; and my mother encouraged me to engage in crafts and art making at an early age. I loved going to see plays and reading books with my father, who studied and taught Literature. I’ve kept journals my entire life. I loved to sing in choirs, and perform on stage throughout middle and High School, so the arts came naturally, and were constantly in my life. It took a long time to realize that my inclination towards the arts was a gift that could be pursued professionally: the arts for me weren’t just pursuable as hobbies, they reflected who I am deep down! I can’t explain the pull, to pursue the arts but I don’t think I made a conscious choice about it, if that makes sense.

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.
As a writer first, I am most proud of my published books. These took many years of study, long hours of writing, rewriting, research and hard work in general.

Writing comes naturally to me, but crafting a book into a resolved narrative or a piece of conceptual artwork continues to be a great challenge. I’d like to think all writers are artists, but not all artists can be writers! To learn to do both well probably takes a lifetime.

My road to “success” has been a long and twisted one, and I would say it is still very much incomplete! I have worked very hard most of my life working “traditional” jobs within artistic environments, or higher education. I still work in Higher Education and pursue my art and writing in my spare time.

My first jobs in my teens and twenties were working in coffee shops where I was surrounded by artists, musicians, actors, writers, and teachers of all kinds.
I worked at the Pannikin Coffee & Tea in La Jolla for many years and eventually became the assistant manager, having learned how to manage the accounting side of things.
The pressure to “become an adult” rather than following my artistic inclinations also led me to work in a bank for a while and later, returned to  school at UC San Diego, where I completed my undergraduate degree in Communications, worked at KSDT College Radio, and held an internship at KUSI TV.I was too unsure of my future to stick with a media and television-related job, so I found a job on the UCSD student job bulletin and worked as a student employee at Scripps Institution of Oceanography for several years, helping with administrative tasks. Eventually found my way back to the Arts yet again when I found a job in the Division of Arts and Humanities. My last thirteen years at UCSD I managed funds for the University Art Gallery, the Basic Writing Program, and the Center for Humanities, among other things.

While working with the UCSD Art Gallery the desire to “become an artist” pulled at me yet again, and I found myself in a Master’s Program, studying art history, literature, and film, ultimately deciding upon an MFA program in creative writing, which I had always loved in High School. I graduated with an MFA in fiction (with emphasis on art and film) and with the help of mentors I completed two books of fiction surrounding artists and filmmakers. These are both available on Amazon, on my website, or directly from the publishers. While studying for my degree, I worked full time, interned at SDSU’s Fiction International, wrote book reviews; helped with proofreading and editing of various texts, and published various essays, including fiction and non-fiction. The past few years I have also been working on a third book, a mystery!

The Pandemic and other life changes brought a lot of the momentum in my writing career to a halt and I found myself drawn to painting, something I had always loved since childhood. I took some fine art classes along my path, including drawing and painting, as well as art history, but had always been afraid to paint. I began by making digital artworks using apps on my phone, and even exhibited those in a gallery show in 2017, but I still yearned to use “real paint”!

Eventually, I joined some artist groups online and did some impromptu art-works before finally taking a class with Tracy Verdugo online called “Abstract Mojo.” I became so enamored with the different inks we were using and the vibrant colors that I was hooked. I couldn’t stop and I wanted to learn as much as possible about painting and color, so I continued researching other artists and taking other courses. The creative community online is very supportive, and I believe our enthusiasm for what we do is contagious.

“Studio C Gallerie” as a concept is meant to encompass aspects of both my art and my writing. I believe what stands out most in my art work is my love of nature, form, color and abstraction. My background in literature and writing allows me to draw conceptual narratives from many colorful stories, while the influence of my husband’s background in architecture, helps strengthen my understanding of design. My history of hard work within Higher Education has given me the structure to understand business and details, and my love of nature, including the ocean and the desert has given me a wonderful yin-yang palette to draw upon. People who know me well know I love travel and walking in nature. During the pandemic, I wasn’t able to travel, but my walks in nature have been consistent. I constantly pick up my camera to document the colors and the composition that nature offers. I hope my work can inspire others to pay attention and appreciate the gifts of nature and the colors and forms of the world around us.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I was born and raised in San Diego, so there will be a long list. Of course, we have the coastline, which is stunning, so I would definitely drive them all along the coast, from one end to the other. We would visit Cabrillo National Monument, Sunset Cliffs, Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, La Jolla Shores, Torrey Pines, Del Mar, Encinitas, Leucadia, Solana Beach, Oceanside, Carlsbad, and all the little beach communities along the way.

Downtown, and all little urban communities such as Golden Hill, South Park, North Park, Hillcrest, Normal Heights, Kensington, Mission Hills, Old Town, etc are also a must.

If you are into coffee, definite MUSTS would be Cafe Moto in Barrio Logan and Influx Cafe. It has locations in Little Italy, North Park, and on Broadway. If you’re looking for books, I would suggest Verbatim Books. They are independent and community-minded. They promote the arts and have a local authors section. My books have sold nicely there!

If you’re looking to get away from the city, we have the mountains and the deserts, so, depending on the season, I would suggest visiting Borrego Springs, Pine Valley, Desert Tower, and Julian, of course, for the apple pie.

If you are a nature lover, or love walking and want to stay local, San Diego has several trails and lakes to explore, which include Mission Bay, Lake Murray, South Bay Estuary, Torrey Pines, Point Loma, and North County. Notice, I’m not giving too many specific names, but you can also walk long stretches of beach, all up and down the coast.

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?
So many people have supported me throughout my creative life. My entire family is creative, so I’d thank them, first and foremost! My husband (Al Wilson) is also a creative genius in my opinion, and it was he who inspired me to push beyond my comfort zone in all things. He had a great career as a professional cyclist, and later he was a project manager in architecture for many years, having studied design-build at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles. 

When I went to graduate school for my MFA at SDSU I had several wonderful teachers and mentors. During this time, I became acquainted with Derek Pell (aka Norman Conquest) of Black Scat Books, who later published two of my short fiction collections, along with some of my artwork and other short texts in his experimental journals, Eckhard Gerdes of the Journal of Experimental Fiction also mentored me and published my work. He wrote a wonderful book review of my first book, Impossible Conversations, which appeared in the American Book Review, a well-known publication for experimental writers, edited by Jeffrey Di Leo. Hal Jaffe also mentored me for several years, and was a great influence on my writing. I’d also thank Theresa Ann Aleshire Williams, an amazing and inspiring professor of art and literature in Ohio, who corresponded with me via email and social media for many years, and I learned so much from her. She takes art and writing to another level!

If you haven’t read it already, I’d recommend Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way” as a starting point for anyone who has any doubts about the stigma of being an artist. So many artists cite her series of books as a way of finding courage and the inspiration to begin.

As for painting, and fine arts, I would highlight Australian artist Tracy Verdugo, Robert Burridge, Sandi Hester, and Nicholas Wilton as the incredible art teachers and artists from whom I continue to learn. There are a million people to thank, but we’d be here all day!

Website: carlamwilson.info/

Instagram: @carlamwilson.art

Other: msha.ke/carlamwilson/

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