We had the good fortune of connecting with Christine Rasmussen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christine, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
As an artist running my own business, I’m challenged with this a lot, and it’s never easy. Looking back on past situations, I realize that I’ve asked myself lots of questions and then made the decision to keep going or give up based on my answers. I check my gut about why I’m doing this thing – is it to prove something, to fit into some kind of societal expectation, or because I’m actually passionate and excited about it? If I give up, what would that free me up to do instead? Would that other thing be more, or less, fulfilling than to keep going? I also have a few trusted confidantes who I bounce my pros and cons list off of, which is great because sometimes saying it out loud helps you know for yourself what the right course is. If the decision is to keep going, it takes work to cultivate the courage and stamina to push through challenges to make it out the other end. Recently, this quote has been helping me to focus on the long game: “People overestimate what can be done in one year, and underestimate what can be done in ten.” — J. C. R. Licklider
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I became a working artist in a roundabout way. By which I mean that I didn’t go to art school (I did study art as one of my majors at UC Berkeley), do not have an MFA and hence was not in the traditional pipeline for gallery representation. Instead, I’ve invested my time and money into honing my craft, put in the hard work of being a solopreneur (with a couple of detours along the way), built a network of trusted peers and am really proud of the opportunities I’ve created for myself. In the last 5 years, I’ve grown from my showing my art in coffee shops and hair salons to having my paintings selected for juried shows in multiple galleries across the state, a solo show at Launch LA, paintings in public collections in California (Hilbert Museum of Art and Imagery Estate Winery) and private collections worldwide, and have even curated some shows, including most recently at the Brand Art Center. || A few lessons I’ve learned along the way: DEFINE YOUR OWN SUCCESS – One of my biggest internal struggles is comparing myself to others, to see if I’m on track to becoming “successful.” But success is a fluid term and it’s important to create one’s own measure of it. I’ve been advised to not only set goals, but also to assign a feeling to each so that I will know when I’ve attained it. Even as your goals change over time, it’s helpful to have some idea where you’re headed, on your own terms. BE PATIENT – We live in an era of immediate gratification, and sometimes I feel like I’ve been slogging along and nothing is happening! Then, seemingly out of the blue, several wonderful opportunities will come along and I’ll realize that all the groundwork I’ve been laying – both for my business and in my paintings – was working, it was just taking time. So I’m humbled yet again and reminded that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. IF IT’S NOT WORKING, TRY SOMETHING NEW – One of my challenges has been moving to different cities and having to start all over again, but the advantage to this is that I’ve learned to re-make myself every time. If what I’m doing isn’t yielding the results I want, this mindset allows me to change course, shake it up, or find a different model. It’s essentially about using some of my creativity in my business, not just in my paintings. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU GROW – Being self-employed and kind of an outlier in terms of traditional careers, over the years I’ve joined various groups and communities in order to assuage my loneliness or insecurities. However, some of these groups have not been the right fit. It doesn’t serve me to be surrounded by naysayers, nor to be the smartest person in the room; having trusted people in my life who challenge me to up my game without tearing me down has been key. || Currently, I’m being tested big time (as are we all), with the disappointment of shows being postponed (my solo show at Keystone Gallery has been moved to 2021), art-viewing and community being moved online, and anxiety caused by all the uncertainty around what will be the “new normal.” I’m trying to pivot with the times – allowing myself to slow down and consider this a year about reflection and creation (and online shows – I currently have 3 paintings in a group show on Artsy with BG Gallery). My paintings are oddly prescient of our current times; my imagery of desolate urban landscapes devoid of people is now the reality due to shelter-in-place orders creating eerily empty streets in urban centers. I’ve been exploring themes of emptiness, aloneness and boundaries for years, but intend my paintings to be uplifting too – they invite viewers to make connections through shared experience. There’s always a moment, some detail that catches the eye and reminds the viewer of something they’ve seen before. So I’ll keep painting, and reflecting on if my paintings are really about connection after all. Hope to see you on the flip side.
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?
As someone whose impression of Los Angeles prior to moving here was that it was all freeways and strip malls, I like to show visitors the things I’ve come to love about this city. So I try to take people to less well-known landmarks and to give them a taste of different neighborhood pockets, each with their own flare. My interests include history, architecture, art, food & beautiful outdoor spaces. DAY 1: Tour the Adamson House in Malibu. For $7, you’ll get a history of the house & the region, plus stunning views of the ocean. DAY 2: Wander DTLA to take in the Art Deco facades and murals. Stop into The Last Bookstore and Clifton’s, and find food in either The Arcade between Broadway & Spring (my fave = Guisado’s Tacos) or somewhere in Grand Central Market. If the latter, you can also continue up to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, for a different style of architecture. Tip: take Metro! DAY 3: Visit Brand Art Center in Glendale – this historical property is free and offers something for everyone: a museum-quality gallery with rotating art shows, a stunning library with the largest Arts & Music collection in the county, a concert hall with live performances (in summertime, they do events outside on the patio), hiking trails on the back of the property, Japanese gardens…and some great spots for selfies. If you get hungry, pick up delicious Mediterranean food from Café Bravo just down the street. DAY 4: Take a hike in Ernest E. Debs Regional Park – the turtle pond at the top of the hill from the parking lot offers both killer views & a serene oasis. DAY 5: In summertime, the Hollywood Bowl is a MUST. You can do this on a budget – even the cheap seats are good, and half the fun is bringing in your own picnic. Food suggestion: pick up Pakistani food from Biriyani Kabob House (3rd & Vermont) – because some of the best food in LA really IS in a plaza.
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?
My Shoutout goes to my studio building Keystone Art Space & its Director, Melanie Mandl. I’ve had an art studio at Keystone for almost 3 years, and I feel so blessed for the combination of professional workspace and the community of artists who help me up my game through observing their dedication to their craft. My studio allows me to work on multiple, large-scale paintings & host studio visits with art world professionals. My fellow studio artists have generously shared resources and opportunities that have helped me with my business, and have given me honest, critical feedback that has improved my painting practice. The icing on the cake is the gallery space where I’ve been able to showcase new work to the public, and try my hand at curating exhibitions. Our bi-annual Open Studios draw hundreds of visitors into our workspaces, and this has also yielded new collectors and opportunities for me. The reason that I get to be in such good company is because of Melanie Mandl, who screens each application and decides who would be a good fit for this unique community. I am awed by her grit, commitment and hard work that she puts into keeping this studio space running smoothly so that we artists can concentrate on our work, knowing that logistics are covered. In addition, Melanie’s talent in seeing the potential in a new applicant is remarkable – she knows her space helps grow artists into better versions of themselves, but how she saw that in me I still don’t know. Looking back on the paintings I submitted on my application and what I’m making now, I’m both flabbergasted and eternally grateful.
Christine Rasmussen, Mark Harvey, Elon Schoenholz