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

Hi Viktoriia, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
For more than 10 years I’ve been working for different companies: few years teaching in University in Russia, Guiding in Butterfly Wonderland, cooking and serving in a restaurant in US and everywhere I’ve faced the same issues: I was constanly under preasure, no chances to grow and learn something new and my schedule was so busy that I simply didn’t have time to do art or any other things I love so much with very little vacation opportunities. So one day I realized that I want to become a captain of my life, to be able to control my schedule, to be able to take vacations and travel with my family when I want it, not when it’s more convenient for my employer. I knew it was a risk to quit a stable job and start my own business but it’s so much worth it! I’m so happy to do what I love every day, I have a total control of my schedule and I feel like I grew my wings back and enjoy my freedom.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve always loved painting. Since I was 3 years old and finally stopped eating paints I was provided with a huge art tools set and I would spend all day long creating art. It’s funny but when I was 5 my mom wanted to sign me to the art school but I wasn’t accepted due to “a lack of art talent” (the art teachers said). But it didn’t bother me I just loved art and decided to do it for myself, cause my heart, soul and spirit desired it so much! And the more you do something, the better you are getting in it and one day I’ve started to get comissions from my family and friends and then their friends and etc. Soon after I’ve met an owner of Russian Traditions store in California and I’ve started making Custom nesting dolls for them along with souvenirs for Arboretum in Flagstaff and gift shop in Santa Rita Lidge. From time to time I would get comissions but it couldn’t really pay my bills untill 2021, when I’ve decided to take a risk and start my own art business, painting murals, custom pet portraits on Xmas ornaments and arranging imstructor lead fun painting parties. It took me long 7 years to get to the point when I don’t even have to look for customers and spend a long time doing marketing- THEY are looking for me now. Within one year of work I’ve created 84 murals all over Arozona state, became one of 3 top pro muralists on Thumbtack and has got a star status on Etsy. The lesson I’ve learnt is to never give up your passions and the things that you love, you need to be patient and try to stay around people who inspires you, believes in you, in your success and supports you in any situation and stay away from those who tries to bring you down by saying that you don’t have a talent or you you are doing this wrong or it’s impossible to success in it, just listen to your heart and soul cause they know it better.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
1) Moth story slam at Crescent ballroom – explosion of emotions, great people, lots of fun and good energy:) 2) Grand Canyon and Sedona hikes (just must to do in Arizona)
3) Leaf peeping and hike in Ash Creek in the beginning of November
4) Have dinner at Persian room (amazing food and atmosphere)
5) Tubing on the Salt river
6) Wine tour and tasting at Su Vino in Scottsdale
7) party bike and pedaling boats at Tempe town Lake
8) Cuddling with awesome creatures at Funny Foot Farm in Tempe
9) Have an amazing Ephiopian food at Zumam’s in Tucson
10) Camping in Santa Rita Lodge and hiking there, birdwatching surrounded by wild turkeys
11) visiting ghost towns and watching shows there

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are few people who has been always so supportive, carying and ecouraging during the first steps in my artist career. First of all I’m grateful to my mother and my amazing husband who has always believed in me, shared ups and downs and supported me during my journey. Another person, who has changed my whole direction of life towards art and design was the manager of Art of Merlot studio Audra Simpson who has hired me during the hardest time in my life. I will always be grateful that she gave me a chance to express myself as an artist and an art teacher and in the beginning of your career it’s very hard but very important to find someone who will trust you and give you a freedom to uncork your creativity and hire you when your portfolio is not very developed yet. She is an exceptional person: the kindest an sweetest I’ve ever met and I will always be grateful for all wonderful things she has done to me.

Website: Viktoriasart.com

Instagram: Vikita_kalinina

Image Credits
Photos made by me and my husband Adam Stein

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.