We had the good fortune of connecting with Vicki Speck and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vicki, how do you think about risk?
I used to think of risk with a negative connotation, like it was something unwise and that I should only be afraid of. But some risks are dangerous and scary, it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of the biggest decisions we take in life are risky and demand a step of faith. As someone who deals with anxiety and struggles with mental health, risk is something that I always “see” in everything I do. The fear that comes from it can be paralyzing. I had to learn to give this pain unto Jesus and have faith that God is always there for me. Thanks to Him I have been able to use that weakness and turn it into something that strengthens me. By making big decisions and taking risks, I have come to realize I am stronger than what I thought and I don’t break as easily as I thought. Risk is something that has definitely shaped my current life. I made the big decision of moving to another country and getting married. I moved form Chile to the US in 2018 and I was so scared because of this huge change in my life of leaving everything that was familiar to me behind. But this experience showed me that a risk is a new opportunity to stand out and it’s a chance to make the best out of the situation. After making the decision of moving and marrying the love of my life, I have realized how important it is to not give into the fear that is involved in risk but to embrace it and learn to overcome it. My life has changed so much in the last two years and I don’t regret it. It has made me strong, more kind, confident and I found myself during this process: I found art and the outdoors. Now I am grateful for being a full time artist. There are days where I wish I had a more stable life with a steady income, but this is what I love to do and it’s one of the things that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning. It’s risky, but it’s good. If I don’t try it I will never know and not knowing is something that I couldn’t live with.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Growing up in a big city can be hard sometimes. I always felt very disconnected from nature and the natural process of things. My grandparents had a house close to the ocean that we called “Papoplatz” near the town of Puchuncaví. When I went there to visit, that was really the only time I got to spend outside, watching the birds, the magical sunsets and all the beautiful creatures that inhabited that place. I remember how while the others would stay in the house playing, I had this always existing urge of going exploring to find animals and observe the way they interacted with the environment. I could spend hours watching them, staying still and enjoying being present in the moment. Those were some of the happiest moments of my childhood. But then I always had to come back to the big city and immerse myself in the chaos and fast paced life of it. Soon I discovered that painting the animals and landscapes I saw at “Papoplatz” kept me closer to nature and made me feel more alive. I kept doing this until I was 18. Then I started college and afterwards working as an elementary teacher and didn’t have much time for painting and unfortunately buried that part of myself. In June 2018 I moved from Santiago, Chile to the USA to get married to my amazing husband. But it was hard to be away from home and I was going through hard times in which I felt I couldn’t control much of my own life. Anxiety and depression started being more pronounced but I also started developing a big urge to create again and go outdoors more. I discovered I could combine both activities and I could express through colors, lines and beauty the way I felt on the inside every time I got outside. I have noticed that most of the other outdoor artists grew up enjoying the outdoors. They are used to being outside and are avid hikers and enjoy outdoor sports. For me enjoying the outdoors is more about taking a walk among mountains and into the woods, listening to every bird, observing all creatures behaviors, watching the landscapes and being amazed by the spectacular mountains. Enjoying the outdoors for me is about being present and understanding that everything in this world is connected and we need to give back to nature more than what we take. My art is based on this concept of connection and I think that is something which makes my art unique and I would like to share it with the world. Once in the US, it came a point in my life where I had to decide who I wanted to be and what I wanted to accomplish in life. Moving here gave me the unique opportunity of starting all over and reinvent myself. I promised myself I wouldn’t stop creating and painting because I needed it and also because the world outside sought a creative voice. With that in my mind, I started painting 8 hours a day for 8 months until I got my Greencard. Then I kept painting part time and also tried many different full time jobs. It worked for a year but then it started draining me and my husband encouraged me to believe in my dreams and quit my job and dedicate all my passion and energy into being a full time artist. It has been a road of ups and downs. Something that I find very challenging is that there is not “a way” of doing it. You figure it out as you go. In comparison with a traditional job where your tasks are lined up clearly in front of you, being an artist is quite the opposite of that. A big lesson I have learned is that mistakes are part of the process. Being an artist can be tremendously frustrating. People imagine sometimes that as an artist you only paint for hours and then magically you get sales. But it’s nothing like that. As an independent artist you do the actual work of painting but also you have to manage social platforms, stay on a budget, work on marketing aspects, connect with people, learn new techniques and maybe even take courses. I have noticed that the creative part of being an artist comes more naturally for me but the most challenging aspect of it is the marketing and selling aspect. Being your own manager and boss is hard and it takes a lot of discipline. Something that has helped me a lot is to come up with a regular schedule where I set aside specific moments of the day to do specific things, like working on my website, handling social media, e-mails and keeping up to date with my online shops. This has allowed me to separate the creative aspect of the selling aspect of being an independent artist and thanks to this I have been able to accomplish more. Being disciplined has allowed me to push myself more and get amazing opportunities of collaborating with companies and people all around the globe. Something that I am really proud of and excited is that my designs are now being sold on shirts and mugs in the biggest outdoor company of Chile, Andesgear. And recently I also was able to team up with Free Range Equipment (Oregon) to make gear with my artwork on them.
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.
I love where I live, outside of Logan in Northern Utah. There are amazing places all around Cache Valley to go fishing, camping, hiking, swimming and in winter skiing, snowshoeing and sledding. My brother is here for visit and I have been showing him around a lot. We have been going snowshoeing deep in Logan Canyon. We have enjoyed beautiful trails and views. One of the most fun ones is Tony Grove and White Pine Lake. Since this is also a farm town, we have gone to different ranches and we have enjoyed the quiet and calm life that comes when living in a smaller city. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow! Where to start. There are a lot of amazing humans that have supported me in my journey of becoming a full time artist. First I want to mention the amazing man I get to call my husband! Zach has supported me since the beginning, encouraging me of not being afraid of perusing my dreams. He believes in me and that means so much, specially in the days where I don’t believe in myself and feel discouraged and lost. I am also so grateful for my sister who has helped me with connections and exposure since the first post I posted on Instagram back in 2018. She is my biggest fan and her support means more than words can describe. Of course there is always my mom who is only a call away from when I need a word of wisdom and encouragement. I have also collaborated with different people and organizations around the globe like Mountain Straps, Andesgear, Free Range Equipment and more. The fact that they trust in my work makes me believe in myself and believe in the process. I have also met amazing artists along the way, like Marley Seifert and Shelby Thayne. Their friendship and support has helped me a lot. It can get lonely sometimes when you try to build your own business. You wonder how others are doing it and how they started. It’s good to connect and it helps you realize that everyone is on the same boat. Friendship is important. I am grateful for theirs.
Marley Seifert Kelly Lambert