We had the good fortune of connecting with Liz Sanders and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Liz, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk taking has played a huge role in bringing me to exactly where I am today.
For a long time, I was stuck – stuck following what I “should” be doing; stuck in others’ version of success; stuck in prioritizing a sense of safety and security – all over what I really wanted. In order to break free from that mindset, I had to start to take risks like following my intuition, betting on myself and sharing vulnerably. And now, I’m embarking on one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken, but before I go into that, you have to understand what led me here.
Ten years ago, I came to LA to study art at USC with the plan to find a way to use my creativity and make a decent living. Since then, I spent the last 6 years working in marketing and design because it fulfilled an idea about how I could be successful, but the truth was it never really fit. I was always chasing after the idea that the job will be better when x happens. I followed that for a while and then the thing (the dream that would make the job perfect and right and good) happened and it still wasn’t right.
A couple years into my design career, I began to feel the full effects of being stuck. I fell into depression, fear began to take control and I lost my connection to a personal art practice. It was then that I realized that I needed something to change and I began my journey back to my art.
Through this time, I took risk after risk putting myself out there despite fear. I started an Instagram account to share my art as well as my thoughts and feelings. I had an intimate relationship with my mental health. Depression and anxiety has plagued me since I was young (and I actually found out in 2020 that I’ve been living with PTSD). Art has always helped me to process. It was a risk to not keep it a secret that I struggled with mental health, but from the start of my account, it was my desire to be a voice that helped others feel less alone and to end the stigma around mental health. Eventually these reflections turned into my blog, Consciously Transforming.
All of this is happening on the side as I continued to work in marketing and design. I was building and growing my career and I got to be very good at what I did. So good that last year, I finally achieved the huge dream of mine – to run my own marketing and design agency for wellness brands. It was the pinnacle of everything that I thought I wanted, and yet it didn’t fulfill me like I thought it would. In the end, all I really wanted was more time to work on my blog and my art.
Earlier this year, as I parted ways with my biggest client, I was at a crossroads. I could choose to continue down a path of “sure” success and work with a new brand at the recommendation from my client. But, when I thought about moving forward the same as last year, I cringed. It didn’t make me feel full or excited.
I was free to go in whatever direction I wanted, so as scary as it was, I listened to what my body was telling me through that cringe and knew that it was finally time to let go of my career in design.
And now here I am, walking away from a successful business and career that I spent years building and embarking on something entirely new. I’m following my passion for art and mental health and currently developing a coaching-style business to help others create lives that are creative and fulfilling. I couldn’t be more excited!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m probably most known for my collages, but I work in a variety of mediums including painting, and hand drawn type. I love to use bright vibrant colors and joyful imagery like fruit, animals, and space.
Art has always been a safe place for me to sort through my thoughts, process my feelings and release them into whatever I am creating.
Growing up in a chaotic environment, I was drawn to art from an early age. It grounded me and brought me solace. In college, art became a place to explore my identity and feelings of fragmentation from unacknowledged childhood trauma. After college, when I stopped making art – I felt very lost.
Since then, I spent years coming back to my art (and myself). It was not easy, unlike before, when making art brought me peace and time for reflection, then it brought up fear and caused anxiety. The thought that I had lost my connection to art scared me. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find it again, but through a lot of compassion and dedicated practice, my creative flow returned.
Through all of it, I’ve learned that play and joy are key ingredients to inspiration and creation.
Following my joy rekindled my art practice. Playing allowed me to let go of judgements, lowering the stakes, and lead to my Collage Doodle series (the project I’m most excited about developing!).
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.
We would start by walking down the street from my apartment in Koreatown to get a super delish breakfast sandwich from Egg Tuck. Then, I’d take them on one of the amazing hikes around LA, probably in Griffith Park so we can see the Observatory and the Hollywood Sign. You can’t beat the views of the city up there! Next, we’d hit up Silverlake/Echo Park area to get some lunch and walk around. I absolutely love that area and the vibes. Eventually, we would head downtown to The Broad museum to see the dope architecture, inspiring rotating exhibit, and my favorite piece from the permanent collection, Under the Table by Robert Therrien. For dinner, we’d definitely fill up on all-you-can-eat KBBQ. The trip wouldn’t be complete without a night dancing at the Hollywood Bowl ending in fireworks. I’d also absolutely have to take them on a trip outside of LA to Joshua Tree. It is one of my all-time favorite places – so magical and mystical and so many stars!
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?
Growth and community go hand in hand. When you’re expanding and stepping into purpose – the most crucial ingredient is a community that will love you, accept you, laugh with you, grow with you, support you and cheer you on. Some people lead the way and show you new ways to live and what you want. Some people show you exactly what you don’t want. Everyone that has come in and out of my journey has played an important role. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them. There are literally too many people to name, but thank you to everyone who has been along on the journey with me and thank you to everyone who has helped shape my path.
Kari Dirksen and Nenah Bondi