We had the good fortune of connecting with Hilary Dufour and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hilary, how do you think about risk?
Artists have to be their own advocates, whether it’s experimenting with a new style, sharing their work on social media, reaching out to a gallery, or pricing pieces. We’re facing risk of rejection every time we share our art, and it’s a vulnerable place. But I think every time we put ourselves out there, it becomes easier and we become more resilient; it’s like a muscle we can strengthen. Half of the time I’m in communication with someone about a commission, it falls through. But, I’ve gained more confidence and am more willing to take on risk. In turn, exciting artistic opportunities have developed over the last year. Outside of your comfort zone is where the fun happens!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a multidisciplinary artist and work full-time as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist. I went to UC Davis for Studio Art & Art History, later pursued a career in GIS and recently finished grad school. I appreciate being able to balance a technical career with being an artist.
I started doing commissioned work by painting and drawing pet portraits. It’s an honor to bring joy to people’s lives with art. Someone I did a memorial dog portrait for years ago told me with tears in his eyes he talks to the painting nightly. That feedback really stuck with me.
More recently for the first time in my life, I’ve actually been able to produce a series that includes more than a couple pieces. It’s always been a challenge because I get excited about a style, create at most 5 pieces then become disinterested or face a creative blockage. In my recent series I illustrate the intricate and surprising relationships that exist among plants, animals and fungi within ecosystems. It’s an opportunity to dig deeper, to learn more about the buzzing world around us, the natural systems at play maintaining equilibrium, including the more macabre parts that are often glossed over. I received a lot of positive feedback on this series but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is “never play to the gallery”, advice David Bowie offered. I will continue to do things my own way, but hope that this body of work inspires others to learn more about their environment and feel a greater sense of connection with all living creatures.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There is so much you can pack into a week, let alone a day in San Diego! I’d start the day off at Coffee Cycle in PB, where I also painted a mural. You can explore arts and culture in different neighborhoods, like Barrio Logan or Balboa Park, or head into nature for more solitude. If you’re looking for unique gifts and art, Vervor Shop in Ocean Beach has it all. It probably comes as no surprise after viewing my art, but my favorite places are the quieter ones that require a hike, bike ride or 4WD. Anza Borrego has countless places to explore and camp. Mission Bay Park is great for a variety of outdoor activities or to just hang out. After watching the sunset, I’d stop by North Park Beer Co. or SD TapRoom.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This list could be never-ending! Big shoutout to my parents who supported me in pursuing an arts education. Thank you to Mollie and Ivan who are inspired by the outdoors as much as I am. Thanks to friends and fellow artists Tia, Nicole, Scarlett. We have a group chat where we can bounce ideas back and forth and offer feedback. They point out specific things I missed and offer new perspectives. A big shoutout to Thumbprint Gallery for my first solo show coming up in April. Lastly, I want to give a shoutout to all friends & strangers that have offered support. I’m very grateful for all of them!