I’d like to introduce you to my wonderfully talented and long time friend, Angielina Grass! We met during our time in the painting department at the Kansas City Art Institute, during the late 1990s. I’ve always loved Angie’s work, for as long as I’ve known her because of the way she uses colour and line to suggest a narrative in her work which always ensures my curiosity for the juicy backstory! Her beadwork is exquisite and compliments her drawings and paintings very well. They are rich in colour and so intricate and I feel so connected to nature and intrigued by her rich heritage when looking at her beadwork. Her regular posts of her work on instagram keeps my inspiration to create flowing. Since beginning the idea of starting a blog, Angie has been my first choice to ask for an interview because I’m so intrigued and inspired by her work and her work ethic!
So luckily Angie agreed to let me interview her about her work and this is the result of a series of questions to delve deeper into her work and her life as an artist and to learn more about her creative process. Enjoy:
Franceska: When did you know you would follow a career in the Arts? How old were you and what inspired you?
Angielina: i was a teenager (17) in high school when i wanted to become an artist professionally. i was constantly drawing and my bedroom wall was covered with my early works. my paternal grandmother was my early influence since her oil paintings hung in our house; she would gift us these paintings, mostly landscapes or still lifes.
Franceska: Where did you study and how has it helped your career now?
Angielina: i studied in college both in Oklahoma (Bacone College) and at the Kansas City Art Institute. they gave me the resources to constantly learn more about both my subject matter, various mediums to learn about and to constantly create something, good or bad. i’ve also learned how to self-promote online over the years since art galleries are not always in areas close to me these days.
Franceska: What are your absolute favourite materials to use in your creative processes?
Angielina: Beads, cell phone cameras, ballpoint pen & paper, and digital paint programs are my basic mediums.
Franceska: Were there any artists who you feel had a big impact on who you are today and how did they impact you and your practice?
Angielina: Frida Kahlo and Dorothy Sullivan has always influenced my drawings to a certain extent. Frida was always pushing the harsh realities to the surface of her work, which my own early works in college were attempting to do. whereas Dorothy was more about celebrating the Cherokee life of our ancestors through visual storytelling. i try to keep utilizing both of these aspects when creating any kind of artwork.
Franceska: Do you have a favourite colour and has it changed over the years?
Angielina: Purple is still my all time favorite color to work with, both in drawings and beadwork. in beads it’s a hard color to come by, especially when there are so many different shades of purple that often get discontinued by the manufacturer. it’s only varied slightly over the years since i usually compliment it with orange & red.
Franceska: What is a typical studio day like for you?
Angielina: typical studio day: make coffee & breakfast; eat while looking over the previous day’s work, then pick up where i left off if its incomplete or start a new project; check my etsy shop & FB page for sales/inquiries; photograph & upload new completed works to shop & Pages; keep working & drinking coffee until dinner time. if my eyes & hands are still able to keep working i may keep going until midnight. i have fallen asleep with artwork or beadwork in my hands a few times.
Franceska: What are your biggest struggles right now as an artist?
Angielina: my biggest struggles is a steady income through art/beadwork sales. i usually have to work a part time job to support myself as an artist; vendor fees and travel expenses to Native festivals do add up and if you’re lucky you break even on these events. one year i needed new glasses ($120) so my goal was to sell enough beadwork to pay for my glasses; i made $140 at that one event, got my glasses and used the rest for gas to get home from the festival.
Franceska: How do you come up with your ideas?
Angielina: believe it or not my fellow bead-smiths on FB and Pinterest inspire me to create something different than what’s already out there. sometimes i try their patterns to see if i can improve on it in some way. but for the most part i’m creating and designing what isn’t typical. i will draw out my designs either on paper or computer; it's easier and faster to edit the design before beginning the beadwork.
Franceska: Where do you do your work? Do you have a good space to work in?
Angielina: i work from home, both my living room and bedroom are my workspaces. it's very comfortable to work from home, keeps my creativity flowing.
Franceska: How have your ambitions changed since you graduated from university or have they changed?
Angielina: i no longer care about being part of the gallery scene like i did in college; it's too elitist for me now. the culture is very different among tribal festivals and native art shows compared to galleries, which i feel more at home with. it's more akin to folk art but in a different medium and tradition. plus online sites and promotions help me reach a wider audience along with the festivals which are peppered throughout the year.
Franceska: What are your goals for the future of your practice?
Angielina: eventually i would like to create beadwork full-time, including teaching locally to the next generation that wants to learn. that’s still in the developing stages. local bead suppliers are in high demand so i may look into becoming a supplier myself someday. i would also like to publish a book of my works eventually.
Franceska: If you could go back in time to talk to your younger self, when you were first starting your artistic life, what advice would you give, knowing what you know now?
Angielina: i would advise my younger self to practice more on my art; develop that strong work ethic sooner. and to come up with a business plan to market my work more efficiently.
Franceska: Thank you for taking the time, Angie to share your artwork and your artistic lifestyle with me and my followers. I know I’m still inspired and feel that your responses and your work will continue to inspire others especially those young artists just starting out!
Check out Angielina’s drawings here.
Support Angielina’s beadwork by visiting her Etsy Shop here.
Follow Angielina on Instagram here.
*If you would like to be introduced to more interesting artists then follow this blog for regular artist articles every Friday.
My name is Franceska McCullough and I'm the owner and artist of Toothpickmoon. I'm interested in blogging about art materials, art events and conducting artist interviews.
*Disclosure: The links I'm using on this blog will only ever relate to the products I myself use in my own practice.