We had the good fortune of connecting with Miss Mindy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Miss Mindy, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Staying the course, despite all things… and listening to those whispers from the universe. You know, those gut feelings that we don’t always listen to? (wink) Taking risks and putting yourself out in front of the folks to find your audience… is also a huge part of it. It terrified me at first, but after getting a few art shows & comic cons under my belt, I started to build my confidence and hone my own style along the way. If you are an artist, you know what I mean… it’s no small task. You must create, listen, fight through those crappy drawing days, believe in yourself, and then start the process all over again to find what really makes your heart sing! Learning and loving your craft is everything. Putting my art heart on a plate on a gallery wall, painting live, or doing toy signings worldwide definitely took some getting used too. (Meaning, I had to grow some major cartoon balls to open myself up and get over the anxiety of being on ‘display’ and talking to large groups of people!) But now I enjoy it.. whew. Ha! For so long I undervalued my work, but was woken up by my main man, Rick O’Brien (who is an artist as well). He challenged me to do my best art, and respect, believe in, and ‘push’ the process to do so. Luckily, I also had the artistic support from my family, (as my mom and sister are artists as well) But had to rewire the ‘money’ part of my brain to whole-heartedly embrace that what I was creating, was monetarily worth it. If art was going to be my ‘business’ I had to get over the fact that ‘business’ felt like a four-letter word to my psyche. To do that, I had to put in the work. To earn that respect in myself, I also had to embrace that doing WELL is….GOOD! I had to hone my craft and own-the craftmanship and artistic value to be confident in it. THAT has been one of my grandest challenges to date and has helped me to succeed in my ‘brand’ (or as us wee-pixie-elves like to say) my current ‘realm’ of creativity.
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.
question: Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. MM: I’ve always loved to create in many different ways, and just plain adore sculpting, drawing, inking and painting. But I have to say… once I got the sculpting bug, I knew it was gonna change the game! Finding that passion is what helped launch me onto the world stage after years of being an underground artist and working in animation. I knew I wanted to be in cartoons in some way or another, but my path was not a cut and dry one. I had to forge my own. For example: Where do you showcase ‘cartoony’ fine art that isn’t IN an actual cartoon? It sounds funny to me ‘now’ because there are so many opportunities for it currently. But there really weren’t that many outlets in my early days. As time rolled on, more galleries and opportunities popped up. So I set on the path to create work that was cartoony, yet exquisitely hand crafted, thus my Cartoon Folk Art was born! I get so excited to create the miniatures within the figures or discover a new expression in Magic Sculpt ( my weapon of choice!) Some of my peers at Disney caught wind of my new sculptures and elaborate vinyl customs, and that’s when my career really took a turn. Disney’s Wonderground Gallery opened up shortly after my first custom toy showcase in Downtown Disney at D Street. The rest of my journey just steamrolled from there, and turned into: artist residencies, D23 dream Store showcases, painting demos on the high seas aboard the Disney cruise line, Haunted Mansion 50th anniversary sculptures, and oh so many more fabulous events. I then hooked up with Enesco and Disney consumer products to create vinyl and resins for worldwide distribution, THAT was the crazy hinge pin that shot me around the world, literally! For the last 3 years I’ve attended countless signings at comic cons in the UK and at Disneyland Paris. I’m gonna say it… It was downright MAGICAL! I’m longing for that fabulous year of 2019 right now… I miss traveling so much to sign toys and talk shop with aspiring artists. But until then…. to my art cave I go, to breath some new life into forthcoming dreams. question: How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? 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? MM: I was feverishly learning to draw at the local 839 cartoonist union at night in the 90’s. It was all about smokin’, drinkin’ and squeezing in cartoon design and life drawing wherever my pals and I could! Bars, zoo’s, nightclubs… you name it, we were there, people watching. Drawing all the unsuspecting passersby…little did they know that they’d be in my animation portfolio a week later. I was interning at The Emilie Kong Studio at the time ( an independent artist who worked at Hanna Barbara, worked on Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear, etc.…) She was a great help and showed how many directions there were for artists to take. My mind was blown ( I was 18 and more confused than ever! 😉) 1. There’s starting your own business, where you create freelance and illustrations for companies. 2. There’s fine art shows 3. product art land 4. In house design jobs in Animation like: Storyboarding, character design and the lot. ( very cool jobs if you are good at following style guides!) Hmmmmm, what to do? So I took a crack at animation first. Cartooning has always been in my blood, in fact my grandmother worked at Disney as an ink and paint girl in the 1930’s! But day after day in animation, I found that my deep-rooted style was making it a wee bit hard for me, and had to decide if following style guides was my jam before I lost my style all together by the sheer repetition and ‘the grind’ of it all. I continued to do underground art shows and comic cons while I was working in house and found that my personal art passion was just to fire-y NOT to follow! So I made the decision and left the comfy money I was making in animation to really find my true calling. ( That story is a lot grander and heartbreaking actually, involving a heap ton of sexism and bullroar in the work place.. but I don’t want to go into that at this time.) So off I went, in the wild world of comic cons and underground art shows, living off unemployment and food from the hubs and family. It all worked out, and now I’m here kicking some cartoon fine art and toy world ass! (insert some healthy confidence here…ha ha) But man, it definitely took all the ‘juice’ I had to come this far. It’s had some insane twists and turns along the way, but I’m so happy I got out my machete and carved a path through the woods. It’s was, and is… quite an interesting road that keeps you nimble. So what’s next? Well…. I’m honestly diving in deep right now, to get quiet…. and just WORK. I find that being on social media and running an art business can stretch an artist brain a bit thin, (especially in 2020!) and excited to take this winter for my personal work. I’m working on some fun ideas for NETFLIX, SIDESHOW COLLECTIBLES and some more glorious toys! I’ve been marinating on so many ideas during this pandemic, and the dragon seems like he finally wants to come out of the cave. Time to get out my sword and slay those ideas into reality!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I adore a day exploring the miracle mile! There’s nothing quite like running around the grounds of the La Brea Tar pits and LACMA. After a day of learning about the history of the earth, smelling tar, taking pictures with an animatronic saber tooth tiger.. we’d peak in and see LACMAS latest exhibit to end on an inspiring note. Then we’d hit Molly Malones or go to Tom Bergin’s for some ice cold GUINESS, Cider and fish and chips to talk it all out. I am an O’Brien after all, and no big day is complete without finishing it off at a proper Irish pub! 😉 Fun note: My husband Rick O’Brien used to live near La Brea when we first started dating, so that neighborhood holds some dear memories for both of us! *Don’t forget to swing by Nick’s coffee shop for breakfast if you’ve had a long night. (wink wink) Some other of my favorite spots are in Northeast LA. Rick and I live in Eagle Rock which is right on the crust of the ‘legit’ LA boarders, and there are so many fabulous home-grown brick and mortars around here. One favorite is Leanna Lins Wonderland ( who also happens to sell my art prints and vinyl toys!) During Covid times, Leanna and I teamed up with Popshop Live to create some fun signings and show just how BIG a small business can be online! We have to support our local stores, especially now, and I was so happy to be able to team up with her and spread a little toy joy to help drive folks her way. We also brought in some serious cash for all sorts of great causes that needed us this year. And last but not least! There are some of the most awesome eateries in my hometown as well… like Cindy’s diner, Four Café, Milkfarm, Penny Oven and a night out at Colombo’s for the best old school bar and Italian joint in town ( well, besides Casa Bianca!). These are such great small businesses run by some of the kindest people I know.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My awesome husband Rick O’Brien….. Thank you for believing in me ~ my love! A HUGE shout out to my amazing inspiring friends, my coven of lovin’! Brandi Milne, Christy Kane (@christykanefineart) , Stef Choi (stefchoi.com) and Brandy Trigueros brandytrigueros.com ~ you ladies are truly an inspiration to my art and natural life.~ More inspiring warlocks: Tony Candelaria (@tony_a_candelaria) and my @officialmacsabbath bud. You know who you are. One last shout-out-sling to the cartoonists union local 839 in NOHO! Thank you for having classes for us real human beings…. ones that I could afford…..so I could learn my craft in the 90’s….with little or no money…while being a waitress. I love you.
Website: www.missmindy.com (Fine Art Site) www.worldofmindy.com (sculpture and toy shop)
Instagram: @missmindyart @worldofmissmindy
Thank you Marie Astrid Gonzalez and Brandy Trigueros for taking such fabulous pictures of my studio.