We had the good fortune of connecting with Dany Paragouteva and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dany, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Now or never…It’s been seven years since I quit my full-time job and dedicated my time to fine art and illustration. It was not without much hesitation on my part. I liked earning money and I didn’t want my husband to be the sole provider in our home. But he was the one to encourage me to pursue a dream I’ve had for most of my life. Without his support I would not have been able to do it. It’s a leap of faith and it was quite literally a now or never decision. I didn’t want to one day look back on my life and wonder what could have been. Art is very much a business. I work more than I’ve worked at any other job. I do everything myself, which at times is overwhelming and I look forward to a day when I can have at least an assistant. But at the same time, because I do everything, I get to learn so much, and that is the true enjoyment of my small art business.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Simply put, I paint paintings of things I love – I love surrealism, adventure, European looking buildings, anything that reminds me of the feel of fairy tales. I grew up reading fairy tales from around the world, and I think that has influenced my art the most. I also do commissioned work, although I tend to pick what I would enjoy vs. taking on everything that comes my way. I show my work at art fairs and throughout the years, I’ve shown and continue to show my work in galleries as part of group exhibits. I loved puzzles as a child, and I was fortunate enough to have two of my paintings turned into puzzles. A dream come true. One of them is a floor puzzle for the very young called “Circus Above the City” produced by Pomegranate Inc. The other one is “Magic Carpet” produced by Artifact Puzzles. Most recently, I completed two coloring books – illustrated alphabets – one for the English Alphabet, the other one for the Bulgarian Alphabet. I credit the Covid-19 pandemic for inspiring me to get on with this project. It started as a way to entertain and educate my nieces and it became two books, available on Amazon, and on my Etsy store as digital download. I’m also very proud of the fact that I’ve been able to cultivate collectors of my work. It’s truly one of the biggest compliments I can get, when people spend their hard earned money on a painting, a print, a book, anything I make. I wouldn’t say that what I do is easy, or that the business side has been easy. But I would say that it’s an immense privilege to be able to do what I love and that is what keeps me going even when things get difficult, or disappointments come along the way. I also appreciate the fact that with art one is never done learning. There is always technique to be improved or a new one to be mastered, drawing skill to be polished, business knowledge to be gained, etc. I look forward to getting better at what I do, to growing my audience, and to more opportunities to come my way. I’m very grateful to everyone who has put their trust in my work by commissioning paintings, portraits, illustrations. Currently, my focus is to gain more exposure of my art by getting into gallery shows, and to everyone who has given me that opportunity – thank you! And I have to say that treating people with kindness goes a long way in life and in business.
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.
It depends on the friend and what their interests are. When it comes to LA, there is a little bit of everything. If they are into the entertainment culture, I’ve taken them to Hollywood, the Kodak theatre, the Griffith Observatory, Burbank with all the studios around. And for those coming from out of the country an American diner is an experience – Mel’s Diner, Norm’s, Bob’s Big Boy. If they like nature, then a stop at my favorite beach is a must – Manhattan Beach. We’ve also taken friends and family to San Pedro Fish Market. Mount Wilson is another favorite of mine, because I love astronomy. The Hollywood Bowl is another experience that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting. This is just scratching the surface of what this great city has to offer.
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?
As I mentioned before, my husband deserves the credit for encouraging me to pursue art full-time. Before him and still today, my mom, dad, sister, grandma, have all nurtured my love of art – from getting enormous amounts of art supplies when I was growing up, critiquing my work, finding teachers, to supporting me through art school. I would not have been able to do any of this without them. And of course, I credit the many teachers I’ve had who shared their knowledge and let me find my own voice along the way.