We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Loyacono and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rachel, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
There have been countless moments that I have wanted to give up on pursuing painting as a career. I graduated with a BFA in painting in 2014, and while that felt like an accomplishment, I also hadn’t the slightest clue of what to do next. I hadn’t taken any business classes in college, and really felt overwhelmed at the thought of taking something I loved so much and attempting to make a career out of it. I knew when I chose my major that I wasn’t doing it for all the profitable career options that lie ahead. So right from the start, it seemed like such a daunting endeavor that I wanted to give up. Initially I tried art markets and tried reaching out to coffee shops about displaying paintings. I also began teaching children’s art, but always kept my hand in painting, working in the evenings. And though I’ve definitely had bouts of burnout and times when I’ve questioned if I was the kind of person that was cut out for entrepreneurship, I resolved to never fully give up on it. I’ve always admired anyone who could continue to pursue their aspirations for years, even when they become more obscure each day. So I’ve allowed my goals to adapt and change and accept that having a career in the arts could look different than the picture I’d painted in my head many years ago. And so I started to utilize social media as a tool to build my business and tried to connect more with artists and entrepreneurs in my community. And the response to and support for my work really grew. I’m naturally a private person and promoting myself on social media and reaching out to strangers was really out of my comfort zone. However, collaborating with others and being inspired by the work of other artists has really made the most impact on my career.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have always been drawn to depicting the figure in my work. My paintings and drawings of myself, my friends and family in scenes of the everyday are not merely diaristic, but work to convey intimacy and closeness as a subject matter. I make paintings about the people and relationships that enrich my life, Identity and purpose. My intention is that creating these pieces with a sense of care and empathy for the subject, whether it is a a still life or a person I love, gives meaning to the work and that the viewer will recognize that and connect with a painting. Right now, I sell my paintings and drawings through galleries and shops in New Orleans as well as through instagram. I also recently began accepting commissions for murals, which has been really fulfilling. It’s been exciting and challenging to make work on scale that my current studio can’t accommodate. And I also enjoy seeing these large projects, that I’ve meticulously planned and prepared for, progress and unfold and become a reality. It’s my goal that mural work continues be a catalyst for my professional development.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d probably start with a bike ride down Esplanade admiring the architecture and the oaks to the sculpture garden at city park or to lounge by Bayou St John and grab a beer at Pal’s Lounge. Lunch at Coco Hut on Bayou Road for the best Caribbean food. And then to St Germain for a glass of wine before dinner. There’s really too many delicious dinner spots to choose from…Seaworthy to sample oysters, N7 if the weather is nice and we want to sit outside, oh and Margie’s Grill is another favorite of mine. And then we’d find a place to hear some live music or dance at Hi Ho Lounge.

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?
The list of people who’ve helped me and continue to help me along the way is endless. My parents are my biggest fans and their work ethic has always motivated me. Sometimes it still blows my mind that they are so encouraging of my pursuit of painting. Especially in the beginning, I relied on the support of friends who showed up at my exhibits and celebrated my accomplishments no matter how small. I’d also love to give a shoutout to Saint Claude Social Club who gave me my first solo exhibition of paintings in New Orleans a few years ago. They were really lovely to work with and I gained so much exposure from that.

Website: Rachel-loyacono.com

Instagram: @rachelloyacono

Image Credits
Hannah McSwain Simone Henault

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