Pratiksha Muir, an artist from Austin, Texas, shares her unique piece on why art should be meaningful and why she creates her art.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from New Jersey, and I’m a middle child. I went to school at the University of Pittsburgh, where I studied psychology and communication. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was in school. At first, I took one semester of pre-dental classes and I was like, this isn’t for me. After I graduated, I got a phone sales job at a tech company.
When I got into phone sales, I started to learn skills I didn’t realize I wanted to develop. I ended up growing with that job, moving to a management role. Then I went to help them build an office in Chicago, from 300 people to 1000 people. Even though I was on a promising career path in sales, I quit because there was something inside me that told me, you got what you needed from this experience and now it’s time for you to do something else. And then I ended up doing art.
2. What is your favorite part about being an artist?
When I was working in the corporate world, there was a lot that I learned from the structure. When I was working for a tech company, there can be so much that is structured for their employees— this is how we do things, these are the milestones you need to hit, this is how you’re going to progress, and this is how you’re going to grow. And the more that you rank up in those companies, the more that you realize wow I took away so much from this experience.
After a few years, I started to ask myself, am I really doing as much as I can to impact people. Yes, part of what I’m doing right now is painting, but I’m also figuring out how to do marketing, design, PR, and maintain client relationships. For me, being able to figure all that out on my own and having nobody else to blame can be scary. The best reward is being able to see results for the work I put into each part of the process.
3. How do you hope to make an impact on the world as an artist?
When I was a senior in high school, my dad went to the hospital because he wasn’t feeling well. He ended up staying in the hospital for the next three years. He was diagnosed with ALS and passed away from it. But when my family was going through that for those three years that was a lot of rehab centers and hospitals and facilities that we were going into.
My experience walking into a lot of hospitals was that they felt barren and cold. And that’s hard, especially when your family is going through something and you walk into a facility and it doesn’t feel welcoming. So the impact that I want to make is to fill white walls with color and life. I want to have people feel comfort in art when or if they go through something like that.
4. What is your artistic style and what brought you to that style?
I actually have no formal education in art. It’s all self-taught. So, I would describe myself as a little bit of a hobby hopper, as I would get into drawing, and then I would leave that. Then I would get into felting and then I left that. And then I was knitting, but they were all just like hobbies, like what I would do in my spare time when I was watching a movie. So I picked up a new hobby while I was in Chicago, which was painting at the time.
When I first started, I was watching all these YouTube videos. I found myself just getting pulled into abstract art, and getting pulled into pop art, and I started emulating that. I don’t really know if anything, in particular, pulled me into it. Maybe I just can’t describe it but like unconsciously I was pulled in those directions. Art that isn’t always subtle and blends into the background is refreshing, I like making art to bring personality or character or feeling to a room. Sometimes that is pop art. Other times, that takes me down a more abstract path.
5. Which piece are you most proud of?
Viper is the first large Canvas artwork I completed. I remember when I was painting her. I designed the picture first, but I made the background abstract based off of what I was feeling at the time. After I made Viper, I remember standing back from that painting and being like holy shit like I could make this work. And she is what triggered the first series that I made that was called the Serpent Series. Viper is still very near and dear to my heart because of that.
6. What does your work aim to say?
My end goal with my art is to make other people feel something when they walk into a room. I love the feeling of when clients share their story with me. One client told me that his mother passed away, and he wanted to get a Bob Marley painting. When she passed away, his dad and his brother really connected over the song Everything’s gonna be alright.
The art that I make for my clients isn’t just meant to be cool or dope. It means a lot to the people who custom order a painting–whether that’s a $500 piece or a $50,000 piece. I like to believe that people connect to art in a different way similar to how they connect to music or how they connect to characters in a movie. For me, taking a canvas and being able to elevate it so a person can feel something from it is why I do what I do.
7. What is a piece of advice you would give to an aspiring artist?
Number one- don’t expect it to just be painting. Each artist may feel different about this, but I truly believe that if you want to take art to the next level and you want to have a career around it, you have to put yourself out there. Make new connections and get out of your comfort zone, just like you would in a difficult class in school or like you would if you were trying to earn a promotion in a corporate job.
Playing different roles is an important part of becoming an artist. When you become an artist, yes you’re painting, but you are also going to be managing so many other parts of your business. It isn’t as simple as just painting and posting pictures, and it’s important to embrace that 98% of the time, you will get rejected. However, those 2% of wins is what all artists thrive on regardless of how big they are. I truly believe that during this time, there’s more opportunity and an even playing field for new artists to emerge, especially through social media.
A note from Pratiksha Muir:
I understand what it’s like to be a first generation Indian American. It’s okay to take a step against following a path to become a doctor or engineer. Follow where you feel like you were meant to be. I feel that creating art is the best way I could live a life that outlives me. Beauty will always age. You could be beautiful and you could spend all your energy in being beautiful.
Or you could spend your time becoming brilliant and creating something that’s beautiful.
I think this stems from the messaging I got from my mom growing up. My mom never made me focus on my looks. She always highlighted my smarts, my capabilities, my growth, and my progress. And that’s something that is never going to age. I believe if you focus on developing those parts of your character, you will only continue to become stronger.