We had the good fortune of connecting with Tracy Kiggen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tracy, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Branding! I consistently have my business name all over the internet. Wherever I create an account that is not personal I use the name ARTovator. I make sure that everyone knows the name, and that it has become synonymous with party entertainment. I also make a point of mentioning what I do for a living whenever I meet new people. For example, when I am at the grocery store and someone asks how I am doing then I steer the conversation towards my art, and ask them if they want to see what I have done. Then I show them one of my faces that I painted and give them a business card. When I am on social media I make a point of hash-tagging my company name on all my photos that I submit. I also use watermarks of my company name on all my photos. That way if they are “stolen” off the internet then my business will be promoted by whoever uses them. Throughout the eleven years that I have been face painting at events I have seen many entertainers. Most of them have been satisfactory and very few have been outstanding. I make a point of contacting the outstanding performers and refer them to my clients. I will never send an artist to an event that is not at the same level as me. This helps my clients know that they are always in good hands when my company is being represented to them. At the end of the day though all the branding in the world doesn’t matter unless you have a good product, and that’s also where I stand out. I have made sure to provide excellent service to my clients. My art is neat, professional, and high quality. This is the reason I have won awards and have high end clientele hiring me for their parties. I dress professionally and always wear all black to events so that way the focus is on my art, and not on me. I speak politely to my clients and have a great sense of humor, which makes the children feel comfortable around me. Of course it is a major benefit that I also speak with a British accent. All these little things factor into making ARTovator a prestigious company that goes above and beyond to make every event a stunning success!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
We are all shaped by our life’s experiences and once we learn the story behind every artist we begin to understand more of their thought processes. In my case it has been a spiritual journey to get to where I am today. The death of my youngest sister in 2002 definitely opened up a lot of creative expression for me. The poetry flowed, as did the tears, after that experience and I started to paint for the first time with oils. It was then that I got married as well. But always felt stifled by my partner, and it wasn’t until the birth of my daughter, five years later, that I was able to recognize that I was in an abusive relationship. I then completely changed my paradigm and moved into my parent’s house with my 2 year old daughter. Shortly thereafter I started my face painting business, ARTovator. It has been a struggle living as a single mother, a lifestyle that I never wanted, but have learned to embrace and fulfill through art. My art has been a life saver for me and has become a steady source of income throughout the years. I think the reason my art stands out is because of my story behind it. It was pain that helped me to begin creating, it was desperation that drove me to persevere, and it has been love that rewards me at the end. The love I receive from my clients, their children, and the art is more than enough to survive. People praise me for my neat work. They sometimes can’t believe that I hand painted some works and often think that it is a stencil. I have always been recognized for my steady hand, and at school they would call me the “typewriter” due to my impeccable hand writing. When I create paintings I like to put personal touches in for the buyer. I like to know about their favorite animals, colors, etc. I especially love creating apotropaic art pieces so that it is not just something that sits on the wall. I want my art to bring positive energy to their surroundings. I want their homes to be blessed with good fortune, health and prosperity. I want my art to be alive!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It is very fortunate that we live in one of the most sought after areas in the world. When we receive visitors I get butterflies in my tummy thinking about all the places I can show them. One of my favorite restaurants is called Finch. The atmosphere inside is like a happy Tim Burton feel, and with books glued on the wall one can have the impression that they went down the rabbit hole at some point. Above the bar is an Impala buck head mounted over bright green wallpaper covered in birds. The menu rightfully compliments the decor with unique dishes such as Fried Chicken Curry with a maple drizzle, or Braised Short Ribs on an eggplant puree. Every time I eat here I am blown away by the creative efforts of the chef and owner of this place. We also enjoying visiting The Lab in Costa Mesa. It is an outdoor industrial style mall with a modern day look way before it’s time. With rusted metal walls containing unique outrageous stores, and graffiti art passageways you can enjoy this mall simply for the Instagram memories you will create.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mom! Isn’t it always the mom? It most definitely is in this case. My mother, Delita, has been my biggest fan and encourager my whole life. She even still holds onto my very first painting that I did when I was only five years old. Thanks Mom! Thanks for suggesting to me that I start a face painting business over 11 years ago. Thanks for always sharing my work on your Facebook page. Thanks for constantly telling me I can do it. You are the reason I do, and I love you for that.