This post is part of a series in which we interview successful creatives about how they built their business. Today we are interviewing professional artists, Jennifer Ou.
Jennifer Ou is a landscape painting artist whose work is based on her careful observation of the natural world. Based in Norfolk, Virginia, Ou started painting at a young age and derives inspiration from travel and getting a sense of place that she then applies to her oil paintings.
What is your name?
Where are you from?
From here and there. Most recently Ohio, but as of the last 2 years I have been in Virginia.
What kind of art do you create? How would you describe it?
I create oil paintings, mostly of landscapes and coastals. Once in a while I will do an abstract. My work is mainly in an impressionistic style as I use multiple layers of vibrant colors to create depth. I have a classical approach as I use traditional compositions to explore the subtleties of color and absolutely love taking what is familiar to our eyes and infusing a fresh look and perspective through art.
When did you discover your love of art?
I discovered my love for art at a young age. My grandfather is an artist, and my mother always supported me in my creative endeavors. I grew up around a lot of structured exposure to the arts, so to speak — from taking courses at museums to private art lessons. I loved all of it and thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in another world while having something beautiful as a result.
Did you always know this would become your career?
Art is not my full time career. Of course I always debated it, but I was wary of taking something I love so much and putting deadlines on it, and making it a way for me to make a living. I was hesitant in that it would turn something I loved into something I would dread. I do well with deadlines and projects, and with definitive things in my life that would cause it to grow-like making it my career-but in the end the downsides weighed out to be a greater risk then the upsides. It’s a very personal decision.
When did you begin selling your artwork?
I sold my first piece the summer after I graduated high school, on eBay (yes, we all start somewhere). That was years ago. Since then it went to Etsy and now currently I sell with a local gallery and online directly to my collectors.
How did you find your first few customers?
Online – via eBay then etsy.
What do you hope the not-too-distant future holds for your art career; Do you have any exciting, upcoming plans that you would like to share with us?
I have lots of thoughts, dreams, and plans for the future. Otherwise there would never be growth. I would love to attend a plein air workshop this summer. I also envision myself working with local galleries more, participating at least in an art festival or having my own booth where I could meet people in person rather than just online. I hope to do more larger work and not be afraid to have more series of works in progress.
Are you interested in learning how you can start building your career as a professional artist? Jennifer is teaching an hour-long session during our online workshop, Starting Your Career as an Artist. Class starts this week! Sign up here!