Artist Profile: Liz Flores - Chicago
Hi Liz! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m 27 years old and I’m an artist and content creator. I paint, create and work from my one bedroom apartment turned art studio in Chicago with my Blue Heeler pup Indie. I had a corporate job for about three years when I realized I didn’t recognize who I was anymore. The only time when things felt right was when I was making things, so I started little by little to tip toe into creative work and eventually I quit my corporate job to live a more creative life permanently. I left my job nearly 3 years ago and have been painting ever since then.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
I went to business school with a focus in entrepreneurship at Illinois State University. I never in my wildest dreams thought art would be in my future, even though as a kid I was always drawing and painting. After I graduated I started my climb up the corporate ladder as an Operations Analyst working for a company in the Loop. When I started to feel like “this is not my life!” I started to look for other projects and communities to be a part of. I joined Under30Experiences, a travel company for young adults, and became a community manager for their Chicago base while also traveling and leading trips abroad. This was where I started to meet other like-minded individuals who believed in me and pushed me to start asking and answering serious questions in my life.
As I dove inward, my exterior world began to reflect more of what I loved. I became the Community Catalyst for The World We Want, and co-created an art installation on Michigan Avenue.
These experiences over three years all built on each other and brought the right people into my life that inspired me to reach higher.
What was your transition like from leaving a corporate job to creating a life of making art? When did you know it was time to make the change?
The transition was exciting and scary hard. Telling my parents that I was leaving everything I knew to create art and live a creative life was one of the scariest things.
But I knew the time had come to leave my job when all I could think about was creating things, and I was getting burnt out living two different lives. While I was at my corporate job, I was renting out an art studio in the West Loop and going there after work to paint and draw. I would stay until 1am and then drive home to the suburbs and wake up early the next day to go to work in the city. The lifestyle was unsustainable. When I was at work all I could think about was my studio and the millions of painting ideas I had that I wanted to try. Eventually I just couldn’t take it anymore and I knew the time had come.
I honestly didn’t have much saved up but right after I quit I started lining up freelance work that would enable me to work remote i.e. from my art studio so I could focus on my artwork.
What is your creation process?
I like taking stories and memories and bringing them to life using lines and shapes, paring things down to the essentials. Not what transpired or who was there, but how it felt. I journal a lot and so often my process starts on paper not canvas. I work through a story or a memory or an event and eventually I reach a point when I’m ready to share that feeling through color and figures.
How do you feel when you are creating?
Like I’ve arrived home
You have a Tedx Talk called "Made for More"; how did you end up speaking at that event? Is public speaking comfortable or scary for you?
Professor Doan Winkel, who was my entrepreneurship professor at ISU, sought me out for that Tedx opportunity. He was putting together the event, and at the time I was getting ready to quit my job and I had been blogging and sharing my art online for a while. He was following my journey and asked me if I wanted to share my story at Tedx. I remember being in a boardroom for a meeting when I read the message from him and typed “Yes!”
Public speaking is definitely uncomfortable and scary for me, but I really love connecting and sharing stories with people. I’m naturally introverted and shy, so what helps me is practicing a lot. For my Tedx Talk for example, I walked around the West Loop neighborhood reciting my talk out loud while walking my dog. I believe it was Elizabeth Gilbert that said this helps “walk the talk into your bones”.
Could you tell us more about The World We Want movement?
The World We Want is a global movement created by artist and author Amber Rae. Her mission was to bring self-reflection to the masses through two questions “I want to live in a world where” “to create this world I will”. She wanted to bring the project to other cities, which is where myself and two other local artists - Jenny Vyas and Crystal Shuller - came in. We brought the project to Chicago in the form of 3 cube structures on Michigan Avenue where hundreds of people walked by and recorded their answers to the two questions using chalk. It was my first time creating an art installation, and to have it be on Michigan Avenue was kind of unreal.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
The human condition - people going through everyday life. The female form especially inspires me – many of the figures I draw are women. You’ll also notice all my figures lack things like clothes, hair, skin tone and sometimes even faces. I love taking a story and stripping it bare to shapes and lines.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
It feels like it’s exactly what I should be doing. Art feels like breathing. It’s not a question of if and when. It’s a life force. So it’s easy to be passionate about it.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face in your work?
I think right now I have two main setbacks – comparison and time. I find myself comparing my work and process to other artists a lot, especially on Instagram and I’m pretty hard on myself in regards to how much time it takes for me to complete a painting. Then time, I always feel like I don’t have enough, like I should be working harder and faster.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
I wouldn’t be where I am without a lot of inspiring women believing in me and helping me along. In the creative space, and in particular with women, there’s a serious problem with scarcity mindset or feeling like there isn’t enough to go around and I just don’t believe that’s true. Now more than ever is our time to lift each other.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
Elle Luna – her artwork and writing was what helped me believe in myself as an artist
Heather Day - her ability to walk you through her painting process is so special
Kayla Gale – she captures motherhood in the most beautiful and simple forms
Vivian Nunez – such a prolific writer. I also love her podcast that focuses on Latina entrepreneurs
Maja Dlugolecki – her paintings and process shots are some of my favorite
What have you learned from creating your own artwork and business that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
You can’t make this journey alone, and you’re not meant to. Creative endeavors often mean lots of solitude that’s important to the creation process. But it doesn’t stop there. There’s a whole other side of the creative world and business that’s getting your work out into the world, talking to people about your work, connecting with people who are going to lift you, push you and move you to new heights. I’m very much a person who hates asking for help. I always try and do everything myself, and that can make the journey long and arduous. Asking for help is ok. In fact it’s mandatory.
How do you manage your time?
This is always a work in progress for me as I balance freelance projects with artwork, but two recent game changers have been getting rid of my television. I don’t have a TV in my apartment/art studio, and setting a timer. When I really need to be intentional with my time, I set a timer on my phone, which I find motivates me and makes me more conscious of where my time is going.
How do you deal with moments of self-doubt?
I have a black Moleskin notebook where I write thoughts and morning pages. It’s my place to be really honest. So I write down exactly what I’m feeling doubtful about, what I’m scared of, and clarity comes from feeling like those thoughts are no longer bottled up inside me.
What are you trying to learn right now?
How to practice more self compassionate and allow myself to make “bad art”
What are some of your favorite places in Chicago?
The West Loop area of Chicago – my first art studio was in this area so it’s near and dear to me. I live really close to the lake path and have a very active dog so I love walking along the lakefront and taking photos because yes my dog has his own Instagram. Also, 3 Arts Café, Corona Café for their Mexican skillet, Violet Hour and open studio events at Zhou B Art Center and Bridgeport Art Center.