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Meet Stephanie Aguilar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Aguilar.

Hi Stephanie, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’ve always loved drawing and painting, and I enjoy having something to do. My story of creating a small business actually started when someone suggested I start an Etsy shop.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My journey has not been smooth at all. I have an education in art, but not marketing. Creating artwork is the easy part- getting sales is the hard part. Starting out, I didn’t have a great business name, no brand image, no focus.

Although I still have no focus, because I want to do all the things that pop into my head, I can now say I at least have found my perfect business name. “Expressions by Stephanie” entails all of my expressions- abstract, realistic, impressionistic art, as well as photography and writing.

I’ve had to learn by trial and error repeatedly. Honestly, it’s a good thing I am not afraid of failure because I’ve had lots of failures. We all start out with a dream of doing our own thing, but making a dream become reality is like building a Lego house- we have all the idea pieces, and an idea of what they are supposed to become, but execution includes a lot of work.

To create a business, you need a foundation, a design, and an idea of direction- if you try to build a Lego dream house you need to know what its purpose is, what the design will be like, what the foundation you’ll use to build it on.

It is very difficult to market without a niche, without understanding how Google searches work, or without a social media presence. I had to learn all of that by reading articles and listening to podcasts. A lot of the information out there is also contradicting. Marketing can be very frustrating, but talent alone does not bring success.

Eventually, I was able to start my own website. I followed other artists and found a platform I liked. Having my own site also keeps me from comparing myself and my sales to other creative types that are on places such as Etsy and eBay.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but you won’t get anywhere without trying.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I have no specialty – I create whatever I want at the moment. My oil paintings and charcoal drawings feel like natural expressions for me. Oil paints create beautiful, vibrant colors, with subtle blending or even actual texture.

Charcoal has a soulful depth to it- the darks are rich, and the whites where there’s no charcoal are bright. I love the simulated texture that charcoal gives as well- puffy clouds or crisp feathers work equally well in charcoal.

I’m most known for my landscape paintings, but I am most proud of my photography and writing. My photography skills have come a long way this past year. I especially love creating photographs with stark contrast; I have orchid photos that feel intimate.

The flowers are close-up shots, with darkness in the background that makes the flowers really stand out. I love sunset photography, but that’s so easy because the sky is already beautiful. Lately, I’ve fallen in love with shooting old buildings, especially in black and white, or from unusual angles.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
I actually wrote a blog about success once – I compared it to trying to catch a slippery fish.

We often chase after fish without noticing the world around us. Our goals in life may change, or we might miss an opportunity that we could only gain by stopping and considering the river around us.

To me, success is gaining a comfortable level of mastery in an area that is right for your life at the given moment. Sometimes we have to shift our focus, or roll with the punches life gives us.

Specifically, regarding my art, success is finishing a project I’ve been wanting to try. I cannot wrap my values around sales; there are so many factors that go into making a sale. I do not want to make any aspect of my life valuable based on someone else’s opinion.

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