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

Hi Carleen, how do you think about risk?
During my adult journey I’ve often found myself in search of my life’s purpose. I’ve reflected on where I’ve been at different challenges, the risks taken over the years, and where to go next? Why do so many artists/creatives always seem to stay on the straight path to making a living and career from their gifted craft? I admire them and wonder how life delivered different roads for everyone? Then in 2014, I experienced a massive corporate restructure layoff. I had always pursued the office management careers to survive and climbed the corporate ladders too many times, while never fulfilling my artistic drive that was still stirring deep inside since my youth. Was it too late to take risks as an adult? The layoff provided a small severance check, and I thought, “This is it! Why not?! Take the risk that is now presenting itself as the answer!” Within the week I signed up and returned to college full-time for two majors; Digital Media Arts – Graphic Design and a second major in Commercial Art – Narrative Illustration. I gave myself 1 – 2 years to make this goal happen and start a new career. I was waking up to give myself permission to create art after being dormant for 35 years. While returning to drawing and painting classes, I was inspired by Professor/Artist Tom Dowling to soul search once again. When did I originally start to have an artistic drive? I remembered as a child, opening my first color illustrated fable book and falling in love with the beautifully illustrated pages. I started drawing at age 5, just wanting to capture everything in sight. My love for art grew as I experimented with different mediums. I even remember taking a risk in the 4th grade when I turned in my book report assignment with an illustration cover that surprised my teacher. I majored in art during high school and college, until I was 22 when suddenly my mother died of 1 month with cancer; just 8 years after my dad died the same way. Both of my parents were in their 40’s; leaving a family of 5 children. Life responsibilities then interrupted all creative plans for the future, and over time opportunities seemed to fade farther away from my reach. Risks? Yes, in 2014 when that career door closed, it was the best risk taken to believe in my abilities and forgotten skills to allow this chance to reinvent myself. Going back to college brought a new discovery of my talent in watercolors and acrylics. Professor/Artist, Tom Dowling, encouraged his students to paint their life story and so it began. I created “My Life in Trees”, an acrylic painting series, which was exhibited at a local gallery several times and other artworks were published; thus acknowledging to myself that I could do this! And I did. Within days of graduating I received an employment offer; the first of many contract jobs as a Graphic Designer. I could finally call myself an Artist and I will never leave it again. Art is a blessed gift to share. I am truly blessed and grateful to share my art and inspire others to do the same. Risks? They aren’t really risks if it means an opportunity to make positive changes in one’s life. This was definitely the best risk taken to change my career and my life. I finally arrived as an Artist, and my creative passion is no longer silent or ignored.   

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been busy with Marketing Graphic Design opportunities for repetitive clients and new contract graphic design opportunities, while expanding my graphic skills with a new certificate in UX/UI Design. Concurrently, I’m focusing on expanding and developing opportunities as an Illustrating Artist; that is my artistic passion and niche. Behind the scenes, I am illustrating narrative stories through drawings and paintings for either stand alone images, or storyboard illustrations for various themed books. Within the next 6 months, I plan on developing a Freelance Business in Illustration with a new website to showcase additional artworks in illustration. This will open more opportunities while creating additional products for sale from the website, or in teaching young adults or children to find their own skills and style. Recently, I took a different perspective of printing my illustrations and paintings on blank note cards with envelopes (sold in packaged sets), from images of “My Life In Trees” series of paintings (as shown in the feature photo). These are custom note cards which have been received quite well in that market. What makes my art different from the rest, is that each piece is created with a hidden message in the titles; as a story told with each painting. However, I also select the images carefully so that the viewer will take away their own feeling and interpretation. Due to the colors and presentation, I’ve received positive feedback from viewers that my artwork speaks to them personally. That is a blessing and success to an artist if I can reach the viewers of what is personally dear to them. I’ve been fortunate to have my artwork acknowledged in various art exhibits and publications, and I am excited to see where my art journey takes me next. My online portfolio can be seen at https://www.carleencarrasco. Inquiries? Please feel free to contact me at: carleencarrasco.designs@gmail.com for your business or commission needs.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Huntington Beach is known as “Surf City”; for its elegant spa hotels, the surfers and a long Huntington Beach Pier. There is always plenty to do. Every Tuesday 5pm to 9pm, you can find the Farmer’s Market that closes the street traffic and is open to local farmers selling seasonal fruits, vegetables, baked goods, flowers and more, while the Artisans are selling crafts and art works at the Art-A-Faire weekends. You can take great long walks on the pier leading up to Ruby’s Cafe at the end. From the pier, you can see people fishing, walking, or the local lifeguard teams in training while swimming against the waves around the pier. During the summer, there are volleyball tournaments and the week long US Open Surf Competitions, beachfront concert venues, bike rentals, whale watching, or to visit the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve of wetlands and dunes that shelters hundreds of bird species. You can take your cameras to the wetlands and capture these amazing birds. The new Pacific City Shopping Center towers downtown Main Street which is filled with plenty of entertaining bars, restaurants and live concerts each weekend. My favorite breakfast place is at the Sugar Shack. There are plenty of shops welcoming visitors year round and at the end of Main Street, you will find the Huntington Beach Art Center, with great art exhibits and art lessons are held. Huntington Central Park is nearby that features fields, gardens and lakes, plus an equestrian center. You can always end the day at the beach with fire pits and marshmallow s’mores!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Growing up, my father was my biggest supporter and mentor. I have memories of his encouragements: I was a shy little girl, and he asked me to read the newspaper “out loud” because he “forgot where he placed his glasses”. He brought me out of my shell. By the 5th grade, I auditioned for my 1st play; loved it and continued performing later through college in theater and singing semi-professional while drawing and painting. I was amazed watching him create mini “doodle’ drawings on a desk pad, while he sat at his desk on a business call. I was in awe, just watching him draw. Could I ever draw like him? A few years ago, I found his pencil sketches of house floor plans left in an old note pad. Did he know I would someday study architectural drawings with an interest in perspective renderings? Our home was alive with his love for big band music and eventually my brothers and I performed in a family band; recorded an album, and performed on a tv show for 6 years. Those were my fondest memories with my love for being a creative artist, actor and singer. Although my father, Anthony G. Carrasco, was age 44 when he died from 1 month of cancer, he was my biggest mentor. I was 14 then, but I remember him saying; “Never let a day go by without learning something new.” I made a promise to make him proud and I followed that advice. He encouraged me in so many ways while alive for the short time I knew him. To this day I feel he is still encouraging me, but now in spirit. Thank you Dad.

Website: https://www.carleencarrasco.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carleencarrasco.designs
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/carleen-carrasco

Image Credits
Carleen Carrasco

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.