We had the good fortune of connecting with Barbi Niblick and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Barbi, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve worked in the corporate environment since I was 19. I wanted the opportunity to set my own schedule and not feel badly about doing things in the daytime if it was a weekday. Working in the corporate environment is so constricting for me and after a lot of thought and support from my husband, I decided to get serious about my hobby and become a professional artist.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Art is a journey. I’m definitely in a different place today than when I started – I would say I’m even in a different place than I was just a year ago. I began it all by taking a challenge from an art teacher in college who dared those who thought so little of abstract art to try it themselves. I found out a few things – first, it’s HARD! There is so much more to abstract painting than one can guess from observing it. But, the second thing I found is that despite the learning curve, I absolutely fell in love with painting. Honestly, I’m most proud of sticking it out. My art really has gone through so many stages, many of them “ugly” stages, of experimentation to finally land me where I thrive. It has not been easy to build a business as an independent artist. Visibility is probably the most difficult thing to achieve. I have found social media to be the outlet that enables me to get my work seen, but the trick is to get it in front of the audience that is actually in the market to purchase fine art. I’m still not there, but I’ve grown and I’m happy with the progress. I have also engaged the marketing expertise of Art Storefronts, who I feel like are my own personal marketing team. One of the lessons I’ve learned is that art is personal. It is so personal and it is not easy to invest in a piece unless you really connect with it. It has made it clear to me that I really need to be transparent with my audience. This was a huge challenge for me as I always want people to think I’m a put together, always professional, “curated” artist. This year, I have begun to break down those barriers and am sharing more about mental health. Many people struggle with mental health-related issues and it is such an overlooked and stigmatized area of healthcare that it can become difficult for those people to pursue professional care. I am now dedicated to using and promoting art as a tool in mental health wellness. Some days I struggle to engage with the world. My anxiety wells up and weighs me down so much so that all I can do is sit, curled up in a ball, on the couch under a giant pillow or blanket. Painting is my solace. The act of painting allows me to focus my mind while the color play allows me to work through underlying emotion that I may or may not know is there. This is what I call emotive painting. Sometimes these pieces start out very dark, or chaotic but they help me offload the heaviness that is holding me down. As my anxiety lifts or my panic subsides, and my mind clears, I am at peace and able to re-engage with the world. I am also then able to paint the pieces that I bring to my collector base. I always use these emotive pieces as a base for other paintings as well. My emotive paintings are not always beautiful to look at, and that’s okay. When I use them as a base, I am reminded of how painting saves me and helps bring me back to who I am. Using these paintings to create my final pieces, also allows me to share a piece of my soul with my collectors. I am so passionate about emotive painting and mental health awareness because it has helped me tremendously. I have encouraged my audience to email me or private message me if they are ever in a dark place and want to try emotive painting to see if it works for them. I offer to be an advocate for them and I offer private, virtual sessions for emotive painting. These 1-on-1 sessions are open to absolutely anyone. No prior requirements, training, or artistic experience is necessary., It means so much to me to be able to share my journey and help others get the emotions and feelings they can’t verbalize from their head onto the canvas.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My mind always goes to the arts first (go figure). I would definitely take them to the Scottsdale Arts District and the Main Street Galleries. Of course we would visit On The Edge Gallery as that is where my work is currently hanging. I would also have to take them to Xanadu and David Bonner for sure. I would also want to visit the Phoenix Art Museum. Outside of that, I think we would visit the Botanical Garden. Definietly the Fountain Hills park to see the fountain, and grab an amazing latte at the Mountain View Thai Cafe while there. Catch lunch or dinner at the Saddle Bronc Grill. We would also venture down to South Mountain Park to drink in the amazing views, and then catch a great Philly meal at the Philadelphia Sandwhich Co in Scottsdale.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow, so many people deserve a shoutout here… Drew Shermick is the first artist contact I had in Phoenix. He encouraged me to be confident and start looking at galleries for representation. Jed Cracco has been my mentor and “sensei” for several years. His tutoring enabled me to really expand my practice and understand more about the science of painting. It was through his guidance that I learned about oil paints, how they work, and how I could use them in my style of painting. His teaching really enabled me to take my art to the next level. Susan Feder is the artist, and now friend, who suggested and encouraged me to apply to On The Edge Gallery where my art is now hanging in Scottsdale, AZ. The one who deserves the biggest shoutout of all is my husband. He is the one who constantly encourages me to pursue my dream, the one who puts up with my sudden bursts of “I need to paint now”, the one who tolerates my art and my art supplies creeping out of my studio and “mysteriously” ending up in the living room for weeks on end.
All photos taken by me 🙂