Creativity and artistry come naturally to those who are born with it. That certainly holds true for our Artist Spotlight featured artist of the week, Kristen Bruwalda. Let's find out more about her story and her discovery of chalkboard art, and how it grew from a mere hobby to a booming business.
What are 3 weird/interesting facts about yourself?
Some interesting facts about me are as follows:
1. I fell into what I do by accident. I do have a background in art, but never thought that I could do chalk art for a living — I was always more graphic design and fine art focused — but when I did chalk signs for my wedding, my caterer insisted that I should market the boards. I did, and here I am almost four years later considering hiring a helper!
2. In my "real" life, I work as the tasting room manager for Crater Lake Spirits here in Bend, OR. You wouldn't think that the two would compliment each other, but the number of clients I've gotten from just chatting with my tasting room customers would surprise you! And visa versa — I always tout the merits of our vodka, gin and whiskeys to restaurant clients of mine.
3. While most things in my life are extremely planned, the name "Chalked" and the logo was born in about three hours. When I was starting my business, the caterer mentioned above called me and said, "Are you serious about doing this as a business? Because if so we'll advertise you at this wedding show in two days if you do a board for us." So in two days, I did a couple boards and found a name and a logo for my business.
What inspired you to make what you did with @versachalk?
Most of what I do these days with any chalk is for clients, though occasionally I'll do pieces to inspire friends and family. These pieces were no exception. Every inspiration I draw is from pieces I see on Instagram, Google, and even places around me, though. Or just from my imagination. I was in the restroom at Marlowe's in San Francisco last week and they have a beautifully hand-drawn "Employees Must Wash Hands" sign that I took a picture of for later inspiration — my husband just laughed at me.
What’s your artistic process like? Are there any routines you stick to in order to stay/get inspired?
Typically, it depends on the piece. For example, a good client of mine is a local marijuana dispensary that lets me have a lot of artistic freedom and encourages color and creativity, but I'm limited to a 5"x7" board! Of course, boards for weddings can be up to 24"x48"! If I'm not immediately inspired by what I'm working on — either through client personality (or the title of the piece, as with the dispensary) or the event in question — I often flip through Instagram and Google until I've seen a couple type cases I want to recreate and flow that inspires me.
I never copy, but I'll get inspired by certain letter shapes and accents. Then I'll rough in my sketch with regular chalk and my rulers if necessary. Lastly, I'll go over with chalk pens. Once they're dry, I erase with a dry cloth!
What makes good art? How long did it take for you to get “good” at it?
Good art is qualities of balance, shape, and overall appeal to the audience. Just because Jackson Pollock appeals to me, doesn't mean he appeals to everyone, so truly good art is also in the eye of the beholder. I've been drawing my whole life and did my undergrad in Graphic Design.
I would say I am constantly evolving and growing in what I do, as well as constantly challenging myself with my font shapes in my chalk art. I look at the pieces I did for my wedding versus the pieces I'm doing for weddings this summer and I'm surprised someone thought I was marketable! So am I "good" at what I do? I'd like to think so, but I also hope that I never reach a point of hubris where I think I'm done learning, growing, and being challenged.
Words of advice for up-and-coming artists?
Practice. Constantly. And I don't necessarily mean what everyone else means, where you just sit and create page after page of letterforms. Because that's boring (to me) and may not get you where you want to be. If you are striving to be a calligrapher, yes, that is the only route to true success. For a hand lettering artist, the focus is more on the shapes, letterforms, and constantly trying new things. Don't get in a rut, because you will. I'll look at a string of pieces and go, "Okay, so I had a serious fern thing going that week."
When I say practice constantly, I mean draw daily. Whether that is practicing letter forms for you, or rough sketching words you see. I always get up in the morning and have work to do, whether it's responding to emails or sketching for clients or prepping boards, and usually, that involves drawing at least one line of text.
Also, never stop getting inspired — you are not the end all in what you do, take inspiration from artists around you and even signage around you. It will only improve your work.
Find more of Kristen's work and connect with her at Chalked Creative!
Are you an artist or entrepreneur who uses VersaChalk markers for your art or business? We would love to hear and share your story! Use #versachalk in your artwork created with VersaChalk markers for a chance to be featured!