We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie Hoopes and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Natalie, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I’ve always loved being able to verbalize my feelings through words or images. I’m a very shy person and I feel like I’ve always struggled to present my thoughts and feelings in a cohesive manner when face-to-face with someone. Painting and writing have been a great safety valve when I feel too socially or emotionally overwhelmed (which is, admittedly, quite often). I also honestly don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t create something in some way or another. Lately, painting with gouache has become such an essential part of my life and sanity. I don’t know how I’d function without it.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I mostly work in traditional media like gouache, watercolor and colored pencil (though I do dabble in digital once in a while). My main focus is children’s picture books although I’m very interested in Middle Grade chapter books as well. At the moment, I’m also working on writing and illustrating my own picture book with the help of my wonderful agent. Honestly, I feel like I’m just beginning my creative journey, even if it’s been a steady grind to get here. I’ve been making art in some form or another since I was a child. Eventually, I decided to see if I could actually make a living out of it. I would never call making art easy (and I’m pretty sure any artist will tell you the same) but I think any challenges, mistakes and frustrations have served as fuel, motivation or an opportunity to learn. My life right now (trying to pursue my dreams while raising a toddler during a pandemic) feels like one big battle. But I’d like to think I’m growing stronger every day. I also think that learning how to slow down and take care of myself has been a very important lesson for me. I deal with depression and anxiety, both of which have grown more difficult to tend to after the birth of my son. I literally cannot do everything I want to at any given moment. So I have to prioritize the most important things and then let go of all the other stuff. Easier said than done, of course. Still, I think creative individuals can benefit greatly from prioritizing their mental health and letting go of unrealistic expectations for themselves and their art. I’m trying my best to find that balance now!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I know this is about an hour from Phoenix, but I’m in love with the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It’s so beautiful and surprisingly lush! If you are a plant lover (and I am), this is definitely worth your time. I also think the Treasure Loop Trail in Lost Dutchman State Park is a great and relatively easy hiking trail for those that wish to experience the beauty of the Superstitions. I’d also probably drag them to the Musical Instrument Museum, the Plant Stand of Arizona (which is basically like Disneyland for plant people), and Comedor Guadalajara for some great Mexican food. Oh and we’d stop by Two Hands Seoul fresh corn dogs as well. If you’ve never had Korean street food before, this is a great introduction. Those corn dogs are so delicious!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband has been a huge support for me! Living with an artist can be a tumultuous ride for anyone and he’s been nothing but supportive about my art since day one. He’s also got a sharp and critical eye for design, which has been a great help to me as I’ve worked to cultivate my style. Plus, he brings me tacos whenever I need them. I have also felt a lot of love from other artists on Instagram! I know social media can be a negative and soul-sucking place, but I’ve tried to be mindful about who I follow and interact with. I’ve had a lot of other artists reach out to me and offer either compliments or words of encouragement. It’s very kind and makes me feel braver about putting my art out into the world.

Website: nataliehoopes.com

Instagram: @nataliehoopesart

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nataliehoopesillustration

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