Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Kelly Rae Roberts ... California, USA

Artist: Kelly Rae Roberts
Business: Kelly Rae Roberts
Location: Oakland, California
Web site: www.KellyRaeRoberts.com

What do you make?
I make mixed media paintings. Most of them are quite colorful and almost all of them have girly imagery mixed in with words. I sell originals, prints, and cards.

Where and when do you do your creative work?
I have an in-house studio, so I create at all hours. Mornings, afternoons, late night. Maintaining balance can be difficult.

Do you have another "day job"?
Right now, I have a part-time medical social work job while I transition my way to full time artist. In some ways, it’s a good balance. The art can be very healing and the social work provides a sort of practicality that my mind craves sometimes.

Where and what did you study?
I received my Master’s degree in Social Work at Florida State University in 1998. Like so many others, it didn’t occur to me to pursue a creative career. I had attended a high school that was pretty intense academically, so when I went to college, I focused on choosing a path that was both practical and socially inspiring: social work. I wanted to join the Peace Corps and help people. I’m realizing now that my art and my social work are intertwined. The message, the inspiration of my art comes from all that I’ve learned by being a social worker. It’s all connected.

What inspires you and what motivates you?
I am inspired by people, their stories – especially the stories of women. I feel a kindred connection to these stories as I walk my own journey in life. It fills me with a powerful sense of community. Music inspires me. Walks on the beach & my newfound obsession with searching for sea glass inspire me. Conversations, the moment you connect with another person, are deeply inspiring to me. And the feeling of providence, relishing every step of an incredible journey, one that has been unexpected and life-changing, have been huge inspirations and motivators for me.

When did you start doing this?
I started to explore my general creativity in late fall 2005. I had discovered the works of Sabrina Ward Harrison, and felt a powerful shift when I saw her words mixed in with her messy, colorful art. I wanted to see what I could do. By early 2006, I began experimenting with painting. Once I started, I couldn’t stop.

What memories to you have of getting into art as a kid?
Very few. I don’t remember creating, painting, or drawing very much as a child. I did take an art class in junior high, but other than that, I have few memories of being artistic. I will say, however, that I’ve always felt creative, whether that meant hand-making various gifts, or decorating the house. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I began to feel the compulsion to really explore my creativity, though.

When and why did you decide to start your own business?
I started my own business last summer. I started selling my work on Etsy, then eventually made my own website. I was smitten with painting and was hopeful other people would want to buy my creations!

How did you choose the name for your business?
I thought choosing my name was the easiest way to do it, though I used to write down idea names for my future business all of the time. In the end, I went with my name.

What do you love most about doing this work?
I love the process of painting, of getting in the studio, hands in the paint, music on, windows open, and just being in the moment with whatever it is I’m creating. Time seems to stand still and before I know it, I have created another painting, another step in my journey. I feel quite connected to the process. I also love the community that all of this has brought me. Meeting like-minded people, being exposed to their work, their friendships, it all means the world to me.

What's the most fascinating place you've been?
Italy. I could live there. The people, the spirit, the food, the gelato, the art, all of it.

A book you love:
Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was fascinated with her transformation in this book. It was inspiring to read.

What's the most interesting thing about you?
Oh, this is a hard question! I really don’t kow. I’ve moved a million times. I feel most connected with the Northwest, specifically Portland. I have a hemophilliac dog. I moved out West with someone I had just started dating 12 weeks before. We have been married for 5.5 years now. I lost a parent to a car accident when I was 8.5 years old. I always come out even on the various personality tests, never strongly indentified with one type or another. I could talk to elderly people all day long and love it. I’m not very fond of vegetables. I ran a half-marathon once. I can be quite absent-minded and professional all at once. My husband and I bought a house once, then sold it one year later when we put everything in storage and traveled for several months.

What achievement are you most proud of?
Oh this is another hard one. I guess I would have to say that I’m most proud of changing my life around from someone who was working at a job that they weren’t totally in love with to someone who decided to make a living doing what they love – making art. It is possible. And what is so wonderful is how everything shifts in your life when you make this sort of decision, in a good way.

What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Do the research. Take your time. But do it. Follow the whispers in your life telling you to go for it.

What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Finding balance. If I’m not careful, I find myself always working, whether it’s actually creating, or online researching, or planning, or getting orders together. Even though I’m living my dream, I still think it’s important to rest.

What do you love to do in your free time?
Walk the streets of San Francisco, travel, walk on the beach, search for sea glass, read creative magazines, talk on the phone with my friends and family, daydream, snuggle with my husband, rest, plan, eat Italian food, shop, dinner and lunch dates, and the occasional nap.

What are you working on right now?
I am working on a book that I’m writing for North Light Books titled Taking Flight: Projects and Inspiration that will make your Spirit Soar. The book will be in stores Aug/Sept 2008 and will showcase a variety of mixed media art which all relate to the “finding your wings” theme.

What do you hope to achieve next?
I hope to just continue along this path of making an artful living. I hope
to remain open to the possibilities and just see where all of this leads.


  1. Wonderful Kelly! I love your art, I love your spirit, I am proud of you beyond words. Your journey continues to delight me!

  2. Wonderful interview! I enjoyed reading more about you!


  3. Intuitive CreativityApril 22, 2007 at 5:38 PM

    This is a wonderful interview. Kelly you sound like a very grounded creator and it is fascinating to me how you have burst forward in such a short time and how your life sounds both creative and balanced in your approach to making a living with your art.

    Good Luck with your book!


  4. You abolutely rock! I love your work and wish i'll be as good as you one day!
    Lauren AGE 15