Since weeks I’m so excited about this interview and now is finally the time to show it to you! Just a while ago I wrote a little post about Zentangle Inspired Art (ZIA) and the artist I interviewed fits also into this category. Her name is Brita Lynn Thompson and she is like my idol for Zentangle Inspired Art. I’m so impressed by all the things she does and accomplished like an own art booth. The interview will give you a great overview of what she does and why I like her that much as an artist – I just loved her answers. I just can recommend you to take a look to her Instagram account or her Etsy!
So enjoy the interview and I would be happy to get to know you thoughts in the comment section – so enjoy!
Could you give an introduction of yourself a little bit?
My name is Brita Lynn Thompson, and I was born in Pittsburgh, Pa on March 12, 1994 (21 years old). I have lived in Mt. Lebanon for my entire life. I grew up with two older brothers and an older sister, with two supportive parents. I guess you could say our family is creative but mostly in the engineering and technology area, expect me. I am kind of the odd one out of my family. I am the only lefty and I am only one who is completely artistic. My mom has somewhat of a creative past, she went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for fashion design. So that is the extent of my family’s creative past.
But now about your wonderful art. How did everything start? Also did you started with traditional art or right away with Zentangle inspired art?
How did everything start? I am asked this question all the time, and I’m terrible at answering so I will try my best! When I was in elementary school I would doodle all over my school papers during class. Due to me paying more attention to my doodles than to the teacher, I would get in trouble a lot, for “not paying attention.” But the type of student I am, is not a student that can just sit in a classroom and stare at the teacher for an hour. My attention span doesn’t work with the schools system at all. So to keep me from falling asleep in class, I would doodle. This all started in 2nd grade. Throughout the years of elementary school, middle school, and high school, I would doodle still all over my school papers and yes, I would still get in trouble every time. I would even get points off of my homework because it had doodles on it. My teachers would call my parents and they wouldn’t be upset. It wasn’t like I didn’t do the work, I just didn’t pay attention the same way the other students did. After the many many many calls home and teacher parent conferences, my parents suggested me to get a sketchbook and draw in there, instead on my school work. And the rest is history! Just kidding! But once I started to draw in a sketchbook, I began to combine all my little doodles into one. Which then developed into my own style. I would then do a full sheet of doodles every single day. It was a way to relax, because school always stressed me out, and still does. But at a young age, I found a way to cope with my stress in a creative way. Back then, I never ever ever thought it would be what it is today. It’s hard to grasp it all sometimes. But I couldn’t be happier that even when I got in trouble and was told to stop, I didn’t, because if had stopped I would have never developed this style I have now.
How did your art develope with the time?
Obviously, when I was in 2nd grade, my designs were not as intricate as they are now. It takes years and years for an artist to develop their own style. It takes years and years to become an original. So all throughout school, until I graduated in 2012, I was working on developing my own style. When people would ask me, what type of art do you do? What style do you have? And my answer would be so unprofessional everytime. Because at that time, I didn’t know what my style was called. I would say black and white sharpie designs. Then I would show people my work and then they understood what I was talking about. So about 2 or 3 years ago, I came across “zentangle” it opened a new world for me. After 10 years of developing my own style, I finally found a name for it, a community for it. It was amazing that I discovered that others created similar styles as mine. It was nice to be part of community that did what I did. So now when someone asks me what type of art do i do, i say “Zentangle, but my version of Zentangle.” By that meaning, since i self-taught my own style, I didn’t have book that told me how to create the designs that i do. It was all in my head and in my surroundings. I would see a pattern on floor, in a building, on someones shirt, anything and right then I could add a little new design to my style. Every day I am developing my style more and more, with new designs, new structures, and new shapes. I never want to settle with the designs i have now, i always want to create more.
Is there anything you like the most about your art? The work it self or working with costumes for a commission?
The best thing about my art is, it is a stress reliever. I used to get stressed almost every single day about anything and everything and it’s just nice to know that I can control my stress and create something at the same time. I love how every single piece I create may look the same, but it is almost impossible for me to replicate a drawing because I don’t like to plan out the designs. I will just let them flow and design themselves. I really do love creating custom drawings for people, because at times it’s a challenge. They tell me what they want and how they want it, so I go from not planning my drawings at all, to 100% planning them exactly how the customer wants it to be. But I still love it, because some of my favorite pieces I have done have been custom orders, that I never even imagined creating. Which is so awesome to me, to be able to work with a complete stranger on a piece that could be better than we both planned. Also, my favorite part about custom orders is the final reaction from the customer once they see the final piece. Their reaction means everything to me. It makes me feel accomplished, I was able to take someones ideas and make it come alive. That is a very cool feeling.
With the Starbucks contest you won there changed for sure something. How did the contest influenced you and your art?
When I first entered the contest last summer, no one really truly cared about what i created. They just knew that i was artistic and i liked to doodle. I had maybe 700 followers on Instagram. I would post drawings of mine and i would get so excited when i got 20 likes. Now i have 26,900 thousand followers and my posts get over 2,000 likes. Last June when i found that I had won the contest, i was speechless. I didn’t even know how to handle it. It amazed me that out of 4,000 + entries, Starbucks chose me. They chose my design over 3,999 other amazing designs. Still to do this day, it doesn’t seem real and I dont think it ever will. The day that Starbucks announced that I was the winner on their Instagram (5 million followers) my life completely changed. They tagged me in the post, which led their 5 million people to my instagram page and thats when I gained thousands of followers in minutes. My phone was blowing up more than I ever thought it could. That same day, I launched my Etsy store. I figured if that many people were going to see my page, I should probably have some sort of store where people can purchase my drawings. The first purchase was made by a lady named Linda. Linda works for Starbucks and was the lady who told me I won. So it was cool that she was the first to buy something off my etsy. But ever since I won, my world has been surround around creating a career for myself. Becoming my own boss, creating a business that is all mine. By winning this contest, It launched my dream. My dream to create for people all over the world and have people see what I love to do. And getting payed is just a perk. There is saying, “If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.” A saying something like that. I never call what i do “work” yes i get payed and yes i create for hours, but its not work, its what i love to do and hope to do the rest of my life.
Since a while you also sell your art at your Etsy store and on markets in your little booth. You were also on a art festival just a few weeks ago, right? How did you organize everything and did you enjoy it? Because I really wish to do that one day too.
Ever since I was little, growing up in Pittsburgh, i would go down to the arts festival every single summer. I would never miss it. I would always say, one day I will have my very own booth. It seemed like such a pipe dream. Like it was such a large goal, and at times it didn’t feel realistic. So once I finally developed my own style, created my own little business, I thought why not this year I apply and see what happens. I got the email back saying i was accepted. The first time i applied and i was accepted. I cried out of happiness because I was never a star student. I was never the best student. I was a B’s C’s and D’s kind of student. But this time, i really proved to myself that I could do it, that i could accomplish something this significant. And when i was accepted, it was the second best news I had. First was obviously winning the Starbucks contest but this one definitely comes second. I had about 3 months to prepare. At that moment I have never been in any type of arts festival. So the first one that I apply for is that 2nd best Arts festival to be in, in the US. So go big or go home right? There was a lot to prepare because I had no one to tell me how to do it. How to set up a booth and how much inventory i should have and just everything. I was completely clueless. But I brainstormed and my parents helped me very very much. My friend and I made a wooden display for my prints. I bought all new frames, and framed my originals that hung on the walls that i rented. I sketched out how i wanted my booth to look like and when the day came, it was exactly how i wanted to be. All my family and friends came down to visit and it was such an awesome experience. Almost the entire time my booth was so crowded, there was line to just look at my booth. People from instagram came and were so excited to meet me in person. They were acting as if i was this famous person that they were meeting. They asked for my autograph and picture. It was amazing to me that strangers cared that much about me. I suggest every single artist to apply for an arts festival that significant, because it really got my work out there to people all over the city and overall it was just an amazing experience.
After you realized your dream of having your own booth – what is your next goal? Do have something specific already in mind or any plans?
Right now, I am working on creating a whole website that is just mine. Where you can go and see everything that i do, and my store will be on their and also just for people to get to know me as an artist more. But my next big goal is to get into apparel. I really want to design a clothing line with my designs. But that goal might take a bit longer. But i am determined to achieve it and also every goal that i have after that.
Brita Lynn Thompson