We had the good fortune of connecting with Judi Bagnato and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Judi, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The first thing that popped into my mind from that question is “authenticity”. So, I actually just looked up the official definition and found it described as “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself” and that is definitely a concept I have embraced. In the early days I was encouraged by some to follow popular trends, stick to the “colors of the year”, to paint with sales in mind. But that just didn’t work for me and was not something I wanted to do. Being authentic allows me to create work that is personal and meaningful to me. I’ve often described my work as “painting what I feel” (or sometimes what I want to feel!) and I’d never be able to do that if I could not find my own voice through my art. When I paint, I feel a sense of tranquility, openess and a kind of surrender to the process. Those are qualities that I personally value in my life in general, so I have always tried to bring quiet, and peace and beauty into a living or work space through my artwork. But, besides being authentic with the artwork itself, I also think being authentic is crucial to the running of the business side as well. My decisions for my career are based on whether or not something aligns with my vision and my truth. Part of authenticity is cultivating the courage to be open, to be imperfect and to live in the moment with the confidence to stay true to myself.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
When I started out I used to think that being a good artist meant having the ability to portray something accurately, to be able to paint or draw exactly what you see. And though there is value in that, I came to realize (at least for me) it’s all about painting what I feel, more than what I see. Although many of my paintings are inspired by nature, I don’t try for a literal interpretation, instead choosing to work from my emotions, memory, prayerful intention and imagination. I work intuitively and abstractly and my intention is to evoke an awareness and appreciation for the everyday miracles of nature, and the quiet beauty that surrounds us. I think of my paintings as a visual reminder to slow down…look more closely, observe details which we sometimes overlook. We all react to art in unique ways, but I hope to create artwork that helps set a mood that can soothe, inspire, restore. I think now more than ever, we all need that in our living or work spaces. I’m especially excited by the reaction I’m getting from my faith based art. When I realized that hand-lettered bible verses and paintings of Jesus were the only faith based art widely offered, it occured to me there are people out there who may appreciate being inspired by the Word or want to see a visual reminder of their faith but still might want stylish, contemporary painting for their room, so it was the next logical step for me to create faith based art in my own style. As with all my paintings, this artwork reflects my personal faith and my response to a connection to the Creator. But these paintings are more directly inspired by particular scripture which sometimes is visible in the paintings, and sometimes is more subtle. I’m thrilled with the response I’ve gotten and will definitely be continuing to paint more faith based art. I’m also excited about my work with custom made paintings. I’m lucky to have worked with wonderful interior designers and other trade professionals , as well as with individuals and it’s so much fun to work with them to customize their paintings to fulfill their own vision for their space. For many years I concentrated on creating artwork for licensing and publishing and I’ve been very lucky that my artwork has been out in the public. But now that I’m focused on original paintings directly from my studio/website, I’m enjoying it immensely!
One thing I have learned along the way is to approach every day life the same way I do my painting. I’ve learned to stay present in the moment, to try to just let life unfold and trust the way it’s going.
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.
The first place all visitors want to go is a trip to Sedona, and it never disappoints, so that’s a definite. Back in town, a hike at Pinnacle Peak for sure (assuming this visit is not mid summer!). Living in Scottsdale there are tons of restaurants to choose from and I’d visit Scottsdale Quarter/Keirland and choose any one of them and enjoy the patio dining and people watching. On the weekend we’d go for brunch at the best vegan restaurant in town, Verdura on 7th St. in Phoenix. I live right near Fairmont Princess and a visit there to spa and pools for a relaxing day.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There’s no way I would have been able to have a successful career without the love, encouragement and support from my husband and the rest of my family. I am blessed in having a support system behind me, cheering me on and praying for me every step of the way. Being surrounded by family and good friends that believe in me has allowed me to pursue my passion. I know no matter what I woud have been painting all these years, but the encouragement and supportive actions I’ve gotten from my husband has allowed me to dedicate myself to a career doing something I love.