We had the good fortune of connecting with Alyssa Black and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alyssa, how do you think about risk?
Risk-taking isn’t really about risk, in my opinion. We make decisions every day, small ones that only affect that day and big ones that can affect months and years of our lives. But the question is, is it really a risk? or is it presenting itself as a risk but is it really fear? The other personal aspect to risk-taking is how much of your decision-making process is steered by past trauma in your life? I know the question is about risk-taking but so much of what I have learned about it and decision-making is rooted in the experiences we have had across our entire lives. Here is the example I go back to whenever I am making a decision in my life and business. I have two degrees in Landscape Architecture. I was working at a firm in the field I loved and thought I would be doing for the rest of my life. A big life event came up, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I lived 3,000 miles away and couldn’t take the time off that I needed in order to be with her. Now, the next step may seem risky to some, or appear as if I am a big risk taker striking out on my own but really the decision came down to am I willing to stay in this job and miss out on being with my loved one when she needed me the most? When i realized that not taking the risk of working for myself meant that I was saying no to being there for my mom, it quickly became the right decision and not risky at all. The decision was from the heart and I was trusting my intuition. Now, as I share this I want to emphasize that it is risky to start your own business, there are no guarantees in life and the decision shouldn’t be made without a lot of thought but in my experience when the risk is made by trusting your intuition and knowing the difference between a risk and something that is just a fear it makes being a risk-taking a whole lot easier!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I wasn’t anticipating ever becoming a science communicator and artist, I am self-taught, I never imagined having my own art business. Science communication has allowed me to create work where I can learn and connect science and art. That allows me to help agencies and non-profits explain responsible recreation to visitors and that teaches people about the places they recreate. Art has allowed me to create from my purpose that part of my soul where I can make a positive impact on the world. It allowed me to let go of expectations, of what I should be doing, and take a risk to fully live. It equally has helped me with my mental health, moving through anxiety, depression, and most recently grief. I had no idea back in 2008/2009 when I would be introduced to stippling as a texture in a drafting class, that it would lead to Drawn to Ecology, to me illustrating landscapes, and using it to process difficult emotions. Somehow stippling dots, turned into marks and trees, helping me release through the repetitive motion of dot after dot and line after line all of my worries, frustrations, sadness, and doubt. Last year I finally figured out that I had been using stippling and mark making to help me move through my depression and anxiety. It seems obvious now but it took me losing my best friend to suicide and my art becoming my escape, a place for me to bury all of my emotions, intertwined amongst the branches of my own little forest to figure out that I had been using art for mental well being my entire life. Art has become the way I share the parts usually hidden, to connect with others in meaningful ways, and to help people learn about the natural world.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Mom, for giving me a reason to jump into this wild adventure of discovering and trusting myself, dreaming bigger than I ever thought imaginable, and to creating my own trail. I am so glad you are still on this adventure with me!