We had the good fortune of connecting with Liz Brown and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Liz, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Art has always had a big influence on my life. When I was young, I had a vivid imagination and loved drawing, painting, and writing stories to document the imaginary worlds I created. Throughout my life, art has been the easiest and most effective way to express myself and examine the world around me. My interest in pursing creative projects continued through primary school and into college where I majored in Studio Art. After college there was a long stretch of time where I struggled to find a career where I was able to make a decent living and still fulfill my creative needs. After six years and a series of jobs that seemed to lead nowhere I was hired for an administrative position at a co-working space. It was through that co-working space that I met other artists, designers, and fabricators who had successfully started their own businesses. Soon I was taking on design and fabrication projects of my own and I realized that I could start my own business and have a successful, creative career. After a few years of taking on side projects, I had built up enough of a client base to quit my administrative job and create MonkeyCat Studio. My journey to create MonkeyCat was long and had its share of ups and downs. There were so many times where I would panic and go interview for a “safe”, corporate job with a salary and benefits- but once the interview was over I knew that the security of a salary and 401(k) wouldn’t ultimately make me happy. I’m glad that I listened to the inner voice that kept pushing me towards creative endeavors and led me to where I am today.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
MonkeyCat Studio is unique because it offers a wide range of design and fabrication services where we work with clients from the beginning concept all the way to project completion. Our designs are often mixed media and include a combination of traditional art/craft with more modern tools like laser cutters and CNC routers. I get most excited when I get to transform a space for my clients- whether it be a backdrop for an event, creative signage for a business, custom artwork, or window displays. Every day in the shop is different and every project is a unique opportunity and challenge to showcase my skillset as an artist and fabricator. The road leading up to MonkeyCat wasn’t easy- I spent a lot of time working for other people in jobs that lead to dead-ends. But once I decided to take on my own projects and clients, things started to fall into place. My artistic focus became more clear and I was able to execute my own designs on my own terms. There were (and still are) many challenges to starting your own business but the creative fulfillment I receive after a successfully completing a project keeps me motivated.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Whenever family or friends come to visit San Diego most of our activities are centered around the beach. Whether it be hike at Torrey Pines, bike ride along the Pacific Beach boardwalk, snorkeling with leopard sharks at La Jolla Shores, or sunset happy hour. I find that being out in nature energizes and revitalizes my spirit and I love sharing that with others.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My business wouldn’t be where it is today if it hadn’t been for MakerPlace, a San Diego co-working space where I first started working as an administrative assistant and eventually started MonkeyCat. The network of small business owners and entrepreneurs that I met there are still some of my closest colleagues to this day. I was able to grow my business so much because of the collective knowledge and expertise of the people who worked there. Unfortunately, MakerPlace closed its doors in March 2020 but I’m now a part of a new co-working space, Maketory. I feel so fortunate to be able to continue my work alongside some of my old colleagues and also meet a whole new group of small business owners and entrepreneurs that I can learn from and be inspired by. I also need to give a shoutout to my parents, Scott and Sara, who supported my creative journey for years even if it wasn’t clear what the end goal was. They have always understood what an important role art and creativity play in my life and never pressured me to take a different career path because it was the easier route to take.
Some of the photos were taken by Blue Welsey Phtotography.