A few of you may know my full life of art, I love talking about it. I love sharing my inspiration and about my grandfather who I looked up to for all things art. You might have seen me share pieces of myself throughout my posts or in other blogs. I have a small bio on my about tab sharing a little part of me and my journey.
If I learned anything this year in my business,
it’s that I am just as important to share about as my art.
People like learning about people. I thought this whole time it was about my art, sharing that to make sales and an income. The more I started opening up these last few months with pieces of me, the faster I saw my account grow with engagement and new followers. Not that quantity means anything to me, I’ve always leaned more towards quality, but it’s nice validation that I am doing something right.
So here it is, a story all about me.
I grew up in a house where I could be anything I wanted when I grew up, and that is the honest truth. Everything I was interested in was supported and I certainly tried it all. Every sport, every club, every hobby. I learned something really fast: I hate soccer and running, I rather be inside than outside always, and I really liked working with my hands.
I’ve always made art and never once did I hear that something else was more important to do instead. I joined summer art classes, got art supplies for every gift, watched my art get framed in my family’s homes, and was constantly praised for my skills. Skills that I had because I always made art. Skills that came from practice and practice and practice. Skills that came from watching YouTube videos of how to draw SpongeBob when I was 8. Skills that came from being so interested in something because that’s where I was validated. I was not born with a talent, I came from a family that had talent from skills and practicing their skills. I was supported by a mother who said be whoever you want to be and don’t stop because of the world around you.
I quickly learned that art was a safe place for me. I took every art class in school I could. I did my art homework before any other homework. I developed this identity as a young and learning artist. I was going to give that all up to go to school for something safe, a plan B to being an artist because being an artist was risky and unsustainable. Despite being raised in a home that supported me in all capacity, I did not believe that art could be a full time job. Then, I met a very special person who told me she went to art therapy.
Raechel, the quickest and most impactful relationship I have ever had. Art therapy, her favorite part of cancer treatment. My world changed in so many ways. I could practice both art and psychology, the plan B I was going to go to college for. From this day in my junior year of high school I knew this was the path I needed to go down. I knew I needed to be the part of a terrible and awful treatment to bring some happiness to people who deserve so much more than the life events they’ve been handed. I knew this was the way I was suppose to bring art into my life with a “safe” way to also be an adult.
I got my bachelors degree in studio art and psychology, pre art therapy. The journey didn’t end here but this was a major mile stone for someone who found a way to pay for her own college education. Another part of me, I’m stubborn and in these years when I was told there was no way I could afford to go to college and no one could help me, I did not stop. I knew I needed to help kids just like my Raechel in their darkest and hardest of days. This education pushed me to become an artist I never knew I could be. I still to this day am so beyond grateful for the opportunity that these hard years gave me.
After undergrad, I went on to graduate school for art therapy because you cannot practice as an art therapist until you obtain a masters degree. I completed 7 years of higher education after high school, found a way to make it work financially, had dozens of jobs and several all at the same time, and pushed until I could be an art therapist. Today, that is what I am. Victoria Mengel, MS ATR. I’m a registered art therapist with my masters in science. I have every ability to practice as the person I wish I could’ve been when I was 17.
Now, I’m shifting gears. I thought I would be working for a company for the rest of my life when I was 17. Finding my dream job in a hospital and giving art therapy to kids with cancer. But, I developed this identity as an artist that I can’t let go of. I find home in art, it’s my safe space that I need more of in the world we’re living in.
The privilege I have today to become a full time artist while running art therapy individual and group sessions on the side is something I am so appreciative of.
To all my art teachers who pushed me further, who got me to go deeper, who gave me the comfort when I needed it. To my family who constantly purchased my art without ever questioning me. To all the strangers who entrust me with every purchase to make them custom art. You all have no idea how much you have shaped me to be who I am today, to give me the confidence to do the scariest thing I have ever done.
Today, I am a full time self employed artist.
I took a hobby and I turned it into my career. Today, I am serving people in therapeutic art making sessions. Today, I am teaching our next generation how art does not need to be mastered to be able to do it and find comfort
in it. I am so excited and nervous and happy and scared to be making a shift into working for me and what I need. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
This is why you support local and small businesses. This is why you buy art from artists. This is why you reach out to your creative friends and family and pay for their services. Because of you all, I am able to make little Tori who thought art was the coolest thing in the world her full time job.
Because of you all, I am living my dream.