We had the good fortune of connecting with Monica Maldonado and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Monica, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Taking risks is one of my favorite things to do. It never use to be though. As a kid, I was terrified of my own shadow. I was scared of traveling too far. I worried about what people thought of me. I was scared of failing and not having the approval of my classmates, mentors, and grown-ups. All this anxiety stopped me from taking risks and exploring more of my creative side and who I was as a person overall. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I realized that nobody cares, and nobody knows what on earth they’re doing. So why not be brave and do something for me for once? My whole art business was a risk I took when I quit a post-grad program two weeks before it ended. One month after I quit I bought tickets to travel internationally for the first time in my life, which inspired a whole new idea of creativity for me and my art business. Each risk taken led to a new idea that would help my business, creativity, and most importantly, myself grow in huge ways. Challenges and failures will always be a part of life. They’re vital in shaping who you are and helping you reach your “final form,” if you will. They’ll always be there whether you take risks or not. So just do it. Do it when you’re scared. Do it when you’re brave. Take a risk and do the thing.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What excites me the most about being an artist is that there really are no rules in art. I truly believe that art is for the rule-breakers. We are free to express our voices and true rebellious selves onto the canvas without needing to feel empowered by the approval of others. We are to be non-conformists and dreamers, which is what I strive to convey in my works.
A huge lesson I’ve learned in my art journey is to not be in the studio all the time. For me, experiences outside of the studio are what brought about more inspiration and ideas to paint. Art now pushes me to travel as much as I can. There’s something about experiencing different towns, cultures, nature, and scenery that can really spark creativity. These experiences can be as little as going for a walk around the neighborhood, or as big as backpacking Nepal. You’ll be surprised at how much stepping outside and stepping out of your comfort zone will spark your creativity.
The one hurdle that kept preventing me from being an artist today was myself. I thought I had to “follow the rules” and pursue that 9-5 so that I could have the security I needed to then maybe someday pursue being an artist. Although there is nothing wrong with this idea, I knew deep down that it wasn’t for me and I was only doing it because it seemed safest. This only made me feel trapped and anxious. You really don’t need to have a lot of money, expensive art supplies, a private studio space, or a degree in art to become an artist. The day I quit doing what I thought was the “right” thing to do was the day I broke the rules and became the artist I wanted to be. With dedication, and the right mindset and strategy, eventually, all those good things will come into place.
A key to overcoming the hurdles and obstacles we face when pursuing creative dreams is knowing why you want to in the first place. Do you want to use your art to inspire? To teach? To start a revolution? Knowing why you want to be creative and where your drive is coming from will help tackle those negative thoughts.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would definitely start with lunch at the most “Boulder” restaurant that exists: Thrive. It’s a cute and cozy space on the corner of 15th and Arapahoe that’s super health-focused and vegan. Everything about it is colorful and welcoming, so even if you don’t go in for the food, at least go in for the chill vibes. My next stop in Boulder would be Boulder Book Store at Pearl Street Mall. There’s just something special about locally-owned bookstores. With three whole floors of books, there’s seriously something for anyone at this bookstore. I’ve never walked out without at least three new books to add to my library.
Finally, I would end with a hike at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs to get those red rock views and some Colorado fresh air in before dinner at Skirted Heifer. What better way to earn those burgers, sweet potato fries, and frozen custard.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents have always supported my passion for the arts. They paid for all of those music and art classes when I was a kid. Not because they thought it would be my main vocation as an adult, but because they saw how happy music and art made me. Without their appreciation for the arts, I probably would not be the creative that I am today. My spouse, Corey, has also supported my art since day one. Corey has more faith in my pursuits than I ever do, and I’m grateful for his constant support and investment in my goals. I don’t deserve any of my family or friends’ support, but I’m so thankful for it and hope what I do gives value and encouragement to all.