My art habit has gone by a number of different names over the years.
It went by “my art” or “my photography” for the longest time. From when I first picked up a camera in 1997 until I started grad school in 2008.
In my first critique seminar, I started hearing everyone refer to their art habits as “my practice” or “my art practice.” My classmates and I also had “art studio spaces.”
Using words such as “practice” and “studio” had a profound effect on how I looked at my relationship to art making. Having quit my day job to be a full time art student was a blessing and a curse, which changed my relationship to art making.
I was now on a marathon to produce art. There were detours into mundane tasks that were necessary, but nowhere near as glamorous as making a piece of art. There was a lot that I understood better, but there are places I still need help with to this day.
After graduation, and all my tools and materials had come home from my art studio, a feeling of being stuck set in. I was struggling to find a day job. I wanted to make more of the art I had been making, but I was struggling with ideas and space to make it.
So, I started to pivot from photography into painting. I was focused on surfacing 3-dimensional objects. My understanding of light often informs how I apply the paint to a surface. It was a means to get the creative energy out.
After going up in size with a Xenomorph bust, followed by painting Sparkle, (the first Unicorn I ever painted), there was a shift happening in my practice. I didn’t think much of it simply because I was enjoying how things were expanding, and I was enjoying the response my work was getting on Instagram.
It wasn’t until the spring and summer of 2019 that the next big shift had happened.
I had completed 3 unicorns: Sparkle, Crimson, and Izar. They had all been completed and with their caretakers by fall of 2018. The Unicorns had gone quiet in my studio, and I’ve come to learn that can be a good and bad thing.
As much as I do need breaks, and different projects to keep me engaged and excited to work on my art, the break came with a price. A Unicorn stampede was about to begin, and it hasn’t really let up since.
I had initially planned to get a tiger bust to paint as a gift for a friend who had her first child. When I went to order it, it was no longer available. The next day, I woke up to a link to a ThinkGeek Unicorn with a light up LED color shifting horn shared by Izar’s caretaker on Facebook. I ordered one shortly after seeing it. The unicorn was transformed into Skylar.
Then I got private messaged from a painter and worked out an art trade on a very slow burn project for both of us.
I started chatting with another friend and we worked out an art trade for Luna.
As each Unicorn project entered my studio, my sighting of Unicorns in my daily life increased. Friends started sharing links and photos. I started to buy random unicorn t-shirts from TeeTurtle and other places.
I had booked a trip to Anaheim for 8 days. I was going to spend some “vacation time” at Disneyland, and some “art time” at Coast Airbrush, my favorite art supply store.
While at Disneyland, the Unicorn struck in many different ways. Prior to going, I had ben asked to pick up the Rainbow Unicorn Funko Pop! character for a couple friends, and proceeded to find other Unicorns of the same Disney character in various places throughout both parts of the park. Then it happened. Not one, but two commissions hit my plate while standing in line for rides.
The first day of the class I was taking at Coast Airbrush, a friend walked in and sat down next to me. She said “I have something for you…”
After a brief interlude while she ran back to her car to get it, she returned and said “Here you go. His name’s Steve.” Steve the Unicorn entered my life.
Before the last day of classes, I had ordered what I needed for Unicorn busts, and a couple of new designs I had yet to work with, so I would be waiting for everything to arrive once I got home.
In the evenings in the hotel room for the duration of the trip, I used it as time to perform research on the history of Unicorns, and accept that I was beginning to get known for my take on the mythical creature.
By the end of the trip, I had amassed about 3 to 4 dozen ideas to paint some day.
After I got home, and everything arrived, I got down to work. A minor accident lead me to creating my take on Steve the Unicorn.
At some point as I worked my way through the herd of unicorns in the shop a post on Instagram got a comment from a friend.
“The Awesome Never Stops At The Unicorn Shop.”
So in an instant with a single comment, my art practice became known as “The Unicorn Shop.”