I am beyond thrilled to spotlight artist Pamela Enriquez-Courts! I met her when she taught at the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s ¡HAH! Happy Arte Hour. I was captivated by her paintings – the subject matter, the detail, the beauty. I was then in a craft show with her at the NHCC and was excited to see she also makes incredibly cool jewelry! I had to have a pair of her earrings.
The biography on her Facebook page says:
My “arte” is influenced by my Mexican roots and heritage. But I also have a very contemporary view of the world around me. I was raised in a large family and always surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins and the smell of frijoles, chile y tortillas on the old iron stove outside that my grandmother cooked on every weekend. I have been surrounded by strong women all of my life and they strongly influence my artwork. I hope to one day focus on working with border issues and helping out those in need and who come to this country looking for a better quality of life.
Our world needs strong female artists and Pamela fits that description. Read what she has to say about her artistic journey. Follow her artist page on Facebook. Buy her art!
1. Have you always made art?
Yes. I have enjoyed all forms of art and crafts. In my early 20’s I was a single parent on welfare so I didn’t have much time for art. But my Aunt gifted me a sewing machine and I was able to make things like curtains and chair covers for my home. I also made my own clothing along with special occasion dresses for my kids. I sewed costumes for Halloween and made elaborate cloth dolls to sell along with hand sewn ornaments and other items for Christmas. Sewing was a huge creative and sensible outlet for me.
2. When did you start painting?
I spent a lot of time in my room as a teenager with a drawing pad, pencil and a huge collection of Walter Foster art books that my Aunt had gifted me.
I did not start painting until I was 45 years old when my kids were grown. My husband and I were at a point in our lives where there was a little financial stability and my husband told me to take a break from work. I had been in the work force for over 25 years and I was happy to oblige. But I quickly became restless and that was when I picked up some cheap paints and a brush and started painting on some home décor to keep myself busy. I quickly realized that I was pretty good at painting. And it took off from there.
3. Are you self-taught?
Yes. College is great, but I never liked it. I tried to attend twice in my lifetime and found that both times I was unhappy in the classroom. Things just didn’t seem to stick. The only class I ever actually finished in college was life-drawing. I loved having a live model. It was always exciting to me to see the exposed human form. Drawing the human form was always a challenge to me and I loved that class.
4. Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in everything. Sometimes somebody will tell me a story or share a personal experience and I will immediately envision it in my mind as a painting. Sometimes a song will propel me into a visual for a painting. But in the past three years I’ve become very active in protest against social injustices that have been ongoing here in the borderlands for many years. These injustices have accelerated at an alarming rate since 2017 and I feel strongly that it if I don’t express what I see and what I hear and what I know to be the truth, then this gift that God has gifted me will be wasted. As an artist I feel that I have a responsibility to record what I have seen. And as a human being, I am compelled to record what I witness.
5. Is this a full-time business for you?
Absolutely. It did not start out that way. I started selling little decoupaged plaques at our farmer’s market on Saturdays. And within three years I was jurying into the prestigious Contemporary Hispanic Market in Santa Fe and also dozens of other art markets throughout the Southwest.
6. How hard was it to get started and were there hurdles you had to overcome?
The hurdles can be heartbreaking. And the only way to overcome them is to persist. Just don’t quit. You’re going to cry. Somebody is going to say something horrible. Somebody is going to get angry with you for something ridiculous. But that’s when you lift your head and plan your next step. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned were from the worst shows I’ve attended.
7. What part of making and selling your work has been easy?
Nothing is easy. Absolutely nothing. I work harder than I’ve ever worked before. I don’t have weekends or holidays. I work longer hours than at any job in my past. But I love going to work. I love waking up in the morning and thinking about what I have to work on today. Whether it’s creating a new painting or packing up for an out of state art exhibit or packing up orders from my online sales. I love it. Being a full time artist is not easy. But the rewards are priceless.
8. What advice would you give to someone starting out?
My advice would be to practice. Practice every single day. Practice makes proficient. Do it every day. I wish I had a photo of my first painting for farmer’s market. It was bad. Lolol
If you are looking to make a living from selling your art, the best advice I could give is to pay attention to people. Watch what they say and what they are drawn to. Look to successful selling artists. Chances are they’ve already done the leg work so just follow their lead. Keep your set-up clean and always looking filled, but not cluttered. Don’t spend thousands of dollars on your tent and display. Let your art sell itself. And stay humble. Pretentiousness is unpleasant and unlikeable, and you’ll see that a lot in the art world. When it comes right down to it, we’re all just trying to make a living and there is enough to go around for everybody.
9. What has been your biggest achievement?
Two of my original paintings were purchased by the National Hispanic Cultural Center for their permanent collection and two of my original paintings were recently displayed at Chicago’s Museum of Mexican Art.
All of those acquired works were created in with the message that no matter how badly you beat us down, you will never, ever break us and we will not be silenced.
10. Do you have any great marketing suggestions?
Just get yourself out there. With hard work and persistence you can be a huge success online but you should still make the effort to meet your people in person. Go vend/exhibit at art shows and events where you can meet your collectors and introduce yourself to future collectors. Meeting people in person is often a wonderful and rewarding experience. Your collectors are the ones who will support you so that you can continue doing what you love. I think that should never be forgotten. It keeps one grounded.
11. Where do you sell your art?