Meet the Artist, Cristi B. ..And the Story of How Cristi B. Fine Art Got Started.
“My artwork is not about me, but it’s about being of service to people and sharing your gifts. It’s about creating something beautiful for someone else to live with and feel at peace. It’s about creating art for a bigger purpose than yourself. One of my favorite Buddhist sayings is, “Many hands make little work.”
- Cristi B.
Born and raised in both, Los Angeles and a small, “one street light town” in New Mexico, I’m both a big city and small town girl in one. According to my mom, I’ve been painting since I was 3 yrs old, smearing melted Hershey’s on the wall! (sorry mom, but it was for the greater good) Since childhood, my favorite thing to do would be to retreat to my room and just color and be. I could color and draw for hours. I loved to be by myself and just lay on the front lawn and stare up into the clouds, feeling the big giant earth ball underneath me.
In high school, a recruiter for The Art Institute of Colorado came in and i was just fascinated with this guy, “Biff” and all the possibilities of making money as an artist! What?..Make money as an artist? YES! And being the ambitious go getter that I am, when they offered me a partial academic scholarship for Industrial Design Technology, I grabbed that sucker and was in class a month later. Thanks to great teachers and a great family who believed in me, I graduating top of my class with the Portfolio Par Excellence Award.
After graduating, I found myself stuck in the middle of the internet boom (..what the heck is email and why don’t people just put a stamp on it already? Yahoo? What the heck is Yahoo and what a dumb name!) I didn’t even have an email address until 2 months out of college. My computer software knowledge was pretty much outdated by the time I printed a resume. I found myself struggling to get a job in Industrial Design without the newest latest in demand skills on the horizon. Oh boy, what now? Ladies and gentlemen, I waited on many a tables and served many a cocktails in night clubs and casinos to pay the bills while I figured it out.
I had fun hanging out in my moms flower shop in the mountains and she did her mom thing by setting up a little paint table for me to paint flower pots that she would plant and sell in the shop. I would paint and then go deliver flowers for her up these crazy mountain roads to homes with no addresses. Fun! Painting was just always fun for me and mom was always feeding me projects to bring it out.
(insert flower shop pic)
I became more and more interested in art and less and less interested in AutoCad and drafting up prototype designs. I took on freelance product design gigs, even made a prototype skydiving helmet with video capability for GoFast before anyone knew who GoFast was. I scooped up freelance gigs fed to me from The Art Institute for product development for the home, lighting and furniture design industry. And I kept making appearances back in my old workshop at The Art Institute just to say hi to my instructors and thank them for teaching me so much. They were all so encouraging of my entrepreneur spirit. The guys rooted me on. And our first female college dean rooted me on even more.
One of the most valuable pieces of advice I learned from one of my design shop teachers, Gene, was “When someone asks you if you can do that, SAY YES and then go ask questions and figure it out.” So when offered a freelance gig to build a 12 foot tall crescent moon for a photo shoot, and paint that sucker too, I SAID YES and then took off to figure it out. This big moon project would be the first “professional” painting gig for “Cristi B.”
We all know how one thing leads to another. After the giant crescent moon, and nice paycheck for it, I was excited. I started marketing to theatre companies and photographers looking for fun props. And you cant build an awesome prop without painting it, right? So here we go…
One day, cutting business cards at Kinkos, wearing jeans splattered with plaster and every color of paint imaginable, an Interior Designer asked me if I was an artist and if I could paint a mural for her and maybe do a little faux finishing on some walls. And even though I had no idea what faux finishing was, guess what I said… YES! I went to some paint stores, checked out some library books on decorative wall finishes and figured it out. That job led to others and led to some pretty big grand effect wall transformations, but being a smaller, petite chick, it wasn’t easy for me to set up scaffolding and lug around 16 foot extension ladders. My body was roughin’ it. I started thinking long term and how can I work smarter than harder. And especially after I had my daughter in 2006, I really needed to work smarter than harder to be a single parent. I stopped messin’ around and really started educating myself on the profession of fine art and how to really be of service rather than just paint what I wanted to paint and hang it in a gallery until the right person came along to buy it.
My good ol’ hard workin, once a Marine, ALWAYS a Marine dad has always said that his life’s purpose is to be of service. I take that to heart, because I can relate. Whenever I’ve helped people and put others first, is when I’ve felt the happiest and most fulfilled. I feel so good when I know I’m helping people. From day one, my art business focus has come from a mindset of “How can I and my natural talents be of service to you?” “..Let me help you make things easier for you.” This mindset has opened so many doors for me. I see how hard my home owners and interior designers work and how limited their time is, I like to think of myself as a wall decor solution angel that makes things a little easier for people when they have other things to think about and don’t have the time to visit galleries and art studios. And quite frankly, some of my favorite fellow artisans out there aren’t even in galleries anymore because of the commission cuts and restrictions that come with them. Just like musicians, Artists are opening up shops like this and selling their own stuff directly from their studios just like me. This is how artists can now make a living and really connect with their fans who want to buy from them again and again.
How do I stand out from other artists, you ask?
I do something a little extra that a lot of my fellow friendly competition doesn’t. I go digital, ya’ll ! Yes, my art is created with these two hands. And yes, it takes me months to complete a painting now, because I’m not crankin’ em out like a machine to pay my bills. I’m embracing technology to make things easier in my life and easier for you too. I’m taking my time and devoting my creative juices when I feel inspired, rested, and at peace. I paint in my Uggs in the middle of the night when my daughter is in dreamland and the world is quiet. I might turn on some 1920′s music from a simpler era that reminds me of my Grandma Helen’s beautiful singing voice and her never without lipstick lips. …or I might shake it up with some good ol Chelsea Lately and Seinfeld on demand. (I challenge anyone to a Seinfeld trivia game. Happy Festivus.)
Or quite often, I like to tie up my mind so my hands can do what they do and “I” don’t get in the way. So I LISTEN n’ LEARN quite a bit. Some of my fave inspirational cheerleaders don’t even know I exist (yet) like Marie Forleo’s MarieTV channel where its a Q and A of ALL the things I wish I had a life coach to ask before and now I do! We all do. Thanks Marie and people like Gabrielle Bernstein, Lisa Nichols, Rickie Byars Beckwith, and Rev Cynthia James tellin’ it how it is right here in Denver. I feed myself with all these amazing women who inspire me to step into my own greatness, accept it, say YES, and stop messin’ around. I got big dreams ya’ll. As my cousin, Trisha says, “make a whole people, comin’ through!”
When I’m happy, laughing, relaxed, in alignment with myself and my calling, I feel it. When I’m feeling grateful for each and every teacher and lesson learned and each and every customers that has been a stepping stone along this path, is when I do my best work. When I allow my mind to drift and let my hands be in motion without my ego or intellectual thoughts kicking in, is when I do my best work. Just like yoga, painting is my meditation in motion and I know it comes through in my art. There have been so many times where I’ll finish a painting, go to bed and wake up not remembering painting that at all. (and yes, sober, haha) But that’s the power of the subconscious mind that I’m learning to tap into and allow to come forth more and more, with less and less resistance. My subconscious self is a much cooler creator than my physical mental self ever could be.
So after it’s created by these two hands and the “Powers That Be,” it goes digital.
I embrace the gift of technology to convert my original artwork into digital files. This way, myself and my amazing production teammates can tweek colors and sizes to create a one of a kind piece designed exactly for you and your personal creative vision. Don’t feel like you have creative vision? Send me an email of your sad wall and we can help with suggestions, no problem.
I love what I do. I love being a strong creative example for my fellow artists out there. I love being a working single momma with a tremendously supportive team of mom friends and family around us. We have major pit crew support and don’t I know it! I’m so grateful for every single one of you that helps us make progress and keep it together everyday. I love being a good example to my daughter, now seven, who will grow up seeing me embracing my passion to help serve others and uplift my fellow artists with the gifts I’ve been given and now know what to do with. Even as I right this, tears come to my eyes because I’m so happy and so blessed in this lifetime to realize this purpose and have the resources to act on it. And I’m sooooooooo excited to see my vision to go bigger and support my fellow artists locally and around the world. To be of service to my artsy friends out there, we will be opening up the online gallery of CristiB.com to artists around the world, creating ZEN, Feng Shui, and peaceful images to sooth the soul. I believe the home is our sanctuary, so lets dress it like one.
God blesses all of us with gifts to be valued, utilized, and shared. Thank you for reading my story and if you’d like to keep in the know and see some fun art installations and big project pics, Opt in to our email updates and Social Media shout outs.
“My artwork is not about me, but it’s about being of service to people and sharing your gifts. It’s about creating something beautiful for someone else to live with and feel at peace. It’s about creating art for a bigger purpose than yourself. One of my favorite Buddhist sayings I learned in Thailand is, “Many hands make little work.”
- Cristi B.