We had the good fortune of connecting with Chelsea Paulus and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chelsea, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
A few years ago my work-life balance was close to non-existent. When I was working as a freelance web designer, part-time artist and waitress, I made the mistake of not setting hours for myself and worked over 70 hours a week. It felt like I was always in fast forward mode. After about two years, I realized how much my mental health was suffering and affecting all aspects of my life. I began to crave routine. Yes, I yearned for the boring 9-5 that most people dreaded. I ended up making the decision to go back to my full-time corporate job, and I have been happy ever since. I now clock in and out, leaving work at work, and have plenty of time to explore my passions and create my own art on the side. Although I always get offers for side projects and art commissions now, I am very selective so I am always maintaining a healthy work-life balance. While it is important to work towards dreams, passions, and careers, if you are always pursuing, the present might pass you by. You absolutely have to make time for your health, experiences, and people in your life.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
My art journey to where I am at now first unfolded as I developed a passion at a young age, filling up my first sketchbooks at the age of ten. Although I loved drawing, it was always just there, almost as a hidden talent I had, all through my adolescents. I would sketch when I was feeling the urge or when I was bored at work, but never really did much more than simply sketch. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that my interest sparked in exploring new mediums and I was opened up to a world of artists and talent I could never have imagined. I was naturally drawn to watercolor the most and that is where I started. I owe so much of my art career to social media enabling me to be self-taught. I explored online tutorials, other artists’ methods, and I hit the ground running in creating portraits of women, wildlife, and pets. In hindsight, I think one of the biggest challenges is that I didn’t allow myself enough time to really learn before I started taking on commissions and wanting to create as much as I could as fast as I could. It was the pressure of commission and print requests that, even though I loved being able to make money from, I went into fast forward business mode without allowing myself to really grow. Although I could see myself progressing with every piece in the beginning, I think that kind of leveled off and I got burnt out from business and the passion began to fade for watercolor. Once I stopped commissions, I was really able to get back to developing as an artist and I enrolled in classes at a local university. This was one of the best decisions I could have made. It was back to basics drawing and the animal illustration class I took introduced me to my first scratchboard. The first few marks on the scratchboard assignment, I was hooked and I knew it was a medium I wanted to pursue. My biggest passion for scratchboard rests within the ability to make subjects appear that they are rising from or fading into dark. It is a dramatic effect. The medium is unique in itself. A majority of people have never heard of it. The idea that you use sharp tools like XACTO blades, tattoo needles, and fiberglass brushes to create these dramatic pieces is sometimes hard to believe. As for my subject matter, my goal as an artist has not just been to mirror the images I am creating from, but to re-create them in such a way that ignites emotion in everyone who views my art.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting for a week, I would take them to Balboa Park to walk around the Spanish colonial buildings and eat at the Prado. We would absolutely have to tackle some of my favorite hikes like Iron Mountain and some around Julian. We would visit Julian for some apple pie and crafty souvenirs for them to take home. Since my husband and I are both paragliding pilots, we would also try and get them to take a tandem paragliding flight at Torrey Pines. If it was not during COVID, we would eat at one of my favorite restaurants Buona Forchetta, Tribute Pizza, URBN North Park, or Zia Gourmet Pizza – Otherwise, we would of course still order takeout! Last but not least, we would of course need to go for a beach day and it would most likely be La Jolla Shores and the Cove.
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?
I owe a majority of my art career to several other artists. So many of them from all different mediums, styles, and walks of life. Starting from when I was 10 years old, I owe my initial interest in art to those artists whose books I learned to sketch from as well as movie and show illustrators for who I was able to re-create their scenes in my sketchbooks. When I picked up art again in my adult life, an artist, Laovaan, inspired me to get into watercolor and his style will always ignite a big inspiration in me when it comes to painting. For my primary medium now, Lori Mitchell (my art instructor at UCSD), is who introduced me to my first scratchboard, and it was all downhill from there. I will always be forever grateful for that last assignment. For my first art shows, the support of Cayce Hanalei with Hanalei Artworks, was immense in helping launch my business and I can’t thank her enough for all the hard work she put in to helping emerging artists. As for other artists who continue to have a huge impact on my art career, and who I take inspiration from, are Lily Adele, Kaetlyn Able, Polina Bright, Amy Stauffer, Tori Ratcliff, and Rachel Altschuler to name a few. I also can’t leave out my friend, Marissa Raskind, who begged me for a pet portrait when I first started painting, and that launched my pet portrait commissions. Lastly, along with the continued support from my family and friends, my husband has been my biggest fan and advocate.