Today we’d like to introduce you to Liz Flores.
Liz, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
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 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 kept diving 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 – still all while working my corporate job.
I began renting out an art studio in the West Loop and going there after work to paint and draw. I would stay until 1 am 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 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.
All these experiences built on each other and brought the right people into my life that inspired me to reach higher and gave me the courage to really pursue my art. I left my corporate job three years ago and have been creating things ever since.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t know if it’s ever a smooth road. It’s definitely been bumpy, there have been intense twists and turns and super high highs and low lows. It honestly feels like every day you are learning something new and facing a whole new challenge. Some of the struggles revolved around feeling like I wasn’t good enough and comparing myself to people who had been in the industry much longer. Instagram especially can be a catalyst for comparison. The other huge obstacle is money. There have been some great financial gains but also times when projects were scarce. Learning how to manage my money and get through those sparse times was an intense learning curve and really tested my resilience.
Liz Flores Art – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m an artist, and I paint and create from my apartment turned art studio in Chicago with my Blue Heeler pup Indie. All my work is inspired by the human condition – people going through everyday life. 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. 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 and providing a new view of the traditional human form.
Overall, I think I’m most proud of the connection I’ve built with people through my art and writing. Along with painting and posting my work online, I love writing and blogging about the journey of living a creative life and being honest about the highs and lows. I’ve gained a real connection to people online and in turn, my artwork feels even more connected to the people looking at it and buying it.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I think presenting my TEDx talk “Made for More” is still a huge highlight for me especially since I naturally gravitate towards being more introverted. My talk documented my journey of finding myself through art, and it was the first time I really told my story.
Professor Doan Winkel, who was my entrepreneurship professor at ISU, sought me out for that 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!”