We had the good fortune of connecting with Jamie Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jamie, what do you attribute your success to?
When I decided to leave my full time teaching job to pursue my dream of being a professional artist I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had only been taught that to be an artist was to be a “starving artist”, that the competition between artists was fierce and that it was hard path. And yes some of these ideas hold some truths but what I learned was we each have a choice as creatives of how we want to navigate and participate in the art world. I went at it alone for a few years and then realized there had to be another way. As a former educator I saw the value in community learning, sharing ideas and how quickly individuals can grow together. I realized I had to create my own path and find my people.
So in 2015, I started a group called THRIVE out of my art studio and hosted monthly meetups for fellow womxn artists in Vancouver. The community has grown from a group of 6 artists meeting monthly to now an online community of over 200 working artists from around the globe. I believe the reason my dream of creating a supportive community of working artists learning and supporting one another worked because we created a community values. As a group we choose community over competition and value positivity, creativity and continuously learning.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Running THRIVE has been a huge source of inspiration and learning for my own art practice and business. I spend half my week running THRIVE and the rest drawing and painting in my little studio. It took me a long time to find my voice and style as an artist. It was only a few years ago when I really let go of trying to be a certain “type” of artist and instead leaned into what I actually love. I love flowers, patterns, ink, landscapes, pools, reflections, columns, abandoned places, magic… the list goes on. I stopped being afraid of not being good enough and instead just enjoying drawing flowers over and over again and eventually I found my voice and my own themes and concepts. And ultimately became the type of artist I wanted to be from the beginning- uniquely me. By embracing myself I have pushed my work so much further. I recently did an art residency and started painting my work on wooden shapes I design as an homage to folk art painting that I grew up doing with my mom. By allowing my art to flow and be more “me” it has spilled into my community building life too. I had always tried to push aside my past teacher life feeling like I needed to commit to my art and my artist life fully. But the truth is teaching is very natural to me and very important to me. This year with everything being online I allowed myself to teach Tuesday Zoom sessions on the THRIVE Network for my community called Tea Time focusing on the business side of being an artist. I enjoyed this so much the sessions continue now and I have just launched a class on Skillshare called “The Creative Business Plan” to help creatives with the business side of art making which is so important. Maybe it is an age thing but the last couple years have been all about allowing myself to be me rather than trying to be all the things. No more pushing, more flowing.
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?
I live in Kitsilano in Vancouver, Canada and on a sunny day there is no where I would rather be. I hope my bestie in New York can actually come visit me soon and the best thing to do is to grab bikes and head to the beach. We have a bike path all along the ocean called the Sea Wall and in the summer is so lively and wonderful. After a leisurely bike ride, we would head to Main Street to the brewery district and enjoy some summer beverages! The best part about Vancouver is that it is a city built to take in nature so we would enjoy the mountains and ocean views until the sun goes down!
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 am only here because of the solid and amazing community of THRIVE’s womxn artists. My leadership team and members have stuck with this community and helped build it from the ground up! A special thanks to my first ever leader and dear friend artist- April Lacheur for all her support and time over the years.
Instagram: @jamiesmithstudio. @thriveartstudio.
Other: You can try Jamie’s “Creative Business Plan” class on Skillshare for free using this link: https://skl.sh/35xwA4V
Images by Vancouver photographer Britney Berrner- @britneyvb