We had the good fortune of connecting with Christian Belton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christian, why did you pursue a creative career?
I pursued a creative career because I felt the unwavering desire to share my creativity with as many people as possible. Being creative isn’t second nature for me, it’s first nature. It is really who I am. I have always been creative. And as my relationship with creativity grew I began to understand its power. I decided that the power of creativity was not just something for me to keep to myself but something that was meant to be shared. My career in art and graphic design is my way of sharing the power of creativity with the world. I believe that there is something that I can offer this field to help bring awareness to the benefits of art and creativity.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is an expression of my inner thoughts and feelings. It is the way in which I celebrate, protest, and heal. I use it to celebrate my culture, people, and special moments in my life. I use it to protest against the injustices that I see. I also use my art to heal from past hurts and trauma. What sets me apart is that my art is uniquely me. In every piece it is my own style even as I explore different styles and techniques I can see me and hear my voice through it all.
How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges?
Honestly, it started with a series of thoughts. I kept asking myself, “What if I could just do what I love for a living?” When I relocated to Maryland from Philadelphia, I worked in a local graphic design shop owned by an African American woman like me. Though the idea was already in my mind, this experience gave me an actual example that I could look up to. I continued working different jobs throughout the years but started doing graphic design work on the side. I worked my graphic design business part time until I was able to make it full time. After doing graphic design full time for a few years, I slowly started painting again. After going to a few art shows, networking, and researching I realized I was becoming a professional artist. It’s kind of funny to me when I think about it. Because I would do it on a smaller scale and then as time went on and I dedicated more time to it, I was able to gain more interest, support, and art collectors.
It definitely was not easy but I absolutely love the journey. I am enjoying the journey because it makes it mean so much more to me. I would say that I overcame the challenges by not being afraid to try something new and by reaching out for help. There were times where what I was doing just was not bringing the results that I had hoped for. I had to learn that there are several different ways to accomplish your goal. Also, when I was faced with certain challenges I would reach out and discover that there were resources in place to help me. I soon began to understand that every challenge is an opportunity to learn something new.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
There are so many lessons that I have learned along the way. One of the main ones is to be myself. The ideas, creativity, and art flows so much easier when it comes from your true self. Look around for inspiration but not for duplication. Be you because there is a story that only I can tell through my art. Another important lesson I learned is to never stop learning. There is always a new technique, software, platform, or tool that can help me become better. Be open to the various ways that you will receive new information and knowledge.
What I want the world to know about me, my brand, and story is that I not only enjoy what I do but I believe in what I do. I truly believe in the power of creativity. I create art from my heart. Creating has helped me out of dark moments in my life. So when you see a painting from me know that it comes from a genuine place. I always say that I am just a girl with a brush and a dream. And with every paint stroke, my dream is coming true.
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.
If my best friend was visiting the area that visit would have to include art, good food, fun, and some relaxation. I would have to take them to the National African American Art Museum in Washington, DC. Because of all of the amazing things that the museum contains we would probably have to visit twice in a week in order to see everything. I would see if there were any art shows taking place that week. There is usually a good show with live music happening somewhere in the city that we could enjoy. We would definitely have to stop by Montpelier Arts Center and of course the Graffiti Alley in Baltimore, MD to enjoy the beautiful raw talent. This area is also known for good food. Throughout the week I would have to make sure that we went to some of my favorite places like Milk & Honey, Jerry’s Seafood, and The Uncaged Chefs. I also enjoy some adventure and having fun so we would definitely have to find some time to either go horseback riding, axe throwing, laser tag, go-karting, or maybe we could try and do it all. Finally, we would have to find some time to relax and regroup. I love being around water to meditate and be restored, so we would drive down to North Beach and walk around. And before the week is over we would have to visit the spa for a nice full body massage as we reflect on the good time that we had.
I love meeting and learning about new people. I feel like you can find fun and exciting people everywhere you go. The world is available for us to discover, enjoy, and be inspired.
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?
When it comes to my success and where I am in life my family and close friends have truly been my greatest asset. It has been their encouragement and support that laid a strong foundation for me to build upon. With every idea I have I usually mention it to either my Mom, Dad, one of my sisters (Dannielle or Pearline), or my best friend, Jennifer. And with every idea that I shared it was met with positive responses. Even when the feedback was to consider another angle, method, or timing it was always shared in a positive way. I don’t think they ever told me I couldn’t do something or that they didn’t believe in me. It was always about making my ideas better and them seeing how they can support my ideas even if it was just to be a sounding board. At critical moments in my career they have each become the encouragement that I needed to not give up. Everything that I do is possible because of the wealth of love that I receive from all of my family. The way that they respect my business and supported me by using my services and purchasing my products has been so inspirational. The level of support that they give helps me to understand that my efforts are not in vain. Having them in my corner is like a secret weapon. Because of them I have accomplished and will continue to accomplish great things.
Bill Lee (First 2 Photos)