We had the good fortune of connecting with Luz Helena Thompson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Luz Helena, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
The single most important decision I made that I believe contributed to my success as a professional glass mosaic artist was to convert my garage into a fully functional art studio. This decision took a lot of planning and I custom built tables and storage for my glasswork that were capable of holding the weight of many sheets of glass as well as individual pieces of art I am working on. Having a studio at home has given me the opportunity to set my own hours and really dive into my craft while maintaining other responsibilities at home. Looking back, I am very glad I decided to work from home and I love the way the studio is customized to my needs as a glass artist.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The artwork I create is called “Glass Mosaic”. Most people imagine pieces of ceramic tile work when I tell them I am a mosaic artist. However, I used stained glass and not ceramic tile to do my artwork. I am not a stained glass artist which is a different medium all together. Instead, I use pieces of stained glass and adhere it onto a cement board which is then backed by plywood and custom framed in my studio. All the work is done by hand to include the design, cutting, shaping and construction of each mosaic piece.

The glass I use consists of transparent glass, stained glass, fusible glass and colored mirror. Each individual color I select begins as a large sheet of glass. It is then cut down to size, and each piece is shaped using tools such as glass cutters, nippers and a grinder to add curved edges to the glass. Once a piece is fully glassed, I then build a custom frame using pine wood. After framing and sanding, I grout the glass which is what helps the piece come to life and fills in all the spaces in-between the glass. The framing is then primed, painted and the final step is to brand the back of each piece with my logo.

I believe the style of my mosaics is what sets me apart from others. I opt for clean lines and minimal space in-between the glass to retain the overall shape and design I am creating. I am most proud of the fact that I am a self-taught artist and I did not have any formal art instruction or training to learn this craft. I credit Dr. Chagala for giving me an incredible opportunity to work as glass mosaic instructor at VIDA which is what led me to eventually pursue a professional career as an artist. It was not easy and I learned much of what I know today from making mistakes and constantly reinventing new methods to perfect my craft. I overcame the many challenges artists face by never giving up and applying the principle of learning to F.A.I.L (First Attempt In Learning) without becoming discouraged. I would like the world to know more than anything that I do this art thing not so much for profit but, because it’s therapeutic. Working with broken pieces of glass and creating something beautiful in the end has paved a road of healing and given me a new sense of purpose. I am a disabled veteran of the United States Marine Corps and art has not only given me a healthy outlet, it has also helped to redefine what it means to be, beautifully broken.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend Maureen (Moe) was visiting from New York there are a few places in Southern California I would take her. As a surfer, I would start off at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point to catch a few waves together! I would also stop by my other favorite surf spot in San Clemente called “Church”. I would then visit 101 Bagels in Oceanside for breakfast, walk around downtown Oceanside and visit the pier. For dinner I’d take my friend to KVNS Bar which is a local hangout in Oceanside for some amazing food, drinks and local artwork featured throughout. Last stop would be to the Oceanside Museum of Art to view my glasswork titled “Free Bird” which is featured in “Pop Smoke: A Veteran Art Exhibition” that is open through Jan 15, 2023.

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 would like to dedicate this shoutout to my Grandmother Irene for teaching me about art and encouraging me to create as a young child. I spent many years writing poetry as a creative outlet and it wasn’t until my Grandmother passed away in 2011 that I began expressing myself through visual art. Although she never got to see the evolution of my artwork, I regard her with being the most influential person in my life in regards to unlocking my full potential as an artist.

As for working with stained glass as a mosaic artist, I would like to thank my friend and mentor, Dr. Eric Chagala for believing in me and sharing a vision for what is possible when you think outside the box. Eric taught me how to apply the Design Thinking Process to education and expand it into creative expression. Dr. Chagala is the founding principal of the Vista Innovation & Design Academy (VIDA) where I was employed as a Glass Mosaic Instructor for middle school students during the first two years that VIDA opened its doors in 2014. He continues to be a friend and mentor and I am lucky to have worked with him and all the students at VIDA.

Website: www.ImageryArtworks.com

Instagram: @ImageryArtworks

Facebook: @ImageryArtworks

Youtube: Imagery Artworks –https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS-WZS3dw_BDKWb3JQ-OmgQ

Other: TikTok – @ImageryArtworks

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