Hello lovely people,
How are you doing? Hope all is well at your end!! Resuming back to the series that we started earlier this year… Sorry for not posting in so long!
“Be tough, be ready, because your life is about to change!”
An email showing these words changed someone’s life. Would you like to know who sent the email and who received it? Whose life changed? These words were sent by Starbucks to our next amazing artist, Brita Lynn Thompson. Brita, our next artist in the artist series, is a full-time creative and passionate artist located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She founded Zenspire Designs where she showcases her amazing doodle art. Would like to know more her, her artwork and her journey so far? Then come along with us!
Brita’s Journey So Far….
Her doodling began when she was in 2nd grade. She would doodle all over her school papers during her classes in elementary school. According to Brita, she was never a student who would simply sit in a classroom and stare at the teacher and the blackboard for an hour or more. In order to keep her attention and stay awake in the class, she would doodle. At times, she would get in trouble for not paying attention. Hence, her doodling journey began, and it continued all through elementary school, middle school and high school. The troubles that Brita would get in would be getting points taken off her homework and complaints to her parents. But the best part was that they wouldn’t get upset. Why would they get upset? Brita would finish her work in time. Due to so many complaints, there had to be a solution. Hence, her parents decided to gift Brita a sketchbook so she doesn’t doodle on her homework. Her sketchbook is a combination of all of her doodles into one location in which she would draw every day. These doodles got better and better day by day. Yes, definitely at that time, during her childhood days, who knew that artwork was called as doodling, but it was definitely creativity.
According to Brita, creating doodles is her way to cope up with stress. Handling stress at such a young age and that too in a creative way, is so commendable! Kudos to Brita😊 Also, it is important to note that her parents supported her art. Even though there were complaints from school, they never stopped her from doodling. Instead, they channeled her creativity towards the right direction and that support deserves equal respect and appreciation as much as her artwork. Through this journey, one important aspect that Brita shared with us is that the doodling back 2nd grade was not as intricate as it is today; hence, it takes years and years for every artist to develop their style and niche. She spent all her school years to develop her style. I agree with her that originality takes time!
In the beginning, people would ask her what type of art do you do? What do you create? What style? As mentioned earlier, the word doodling was not common. Also, Brita was still figuring out what to call it. Her response to those questions would be, “I create black and white sharpie designs.” She would have to show her work in order to make people understand her style. Then about 4 years ago, she came across “zentangle” and felt that opened a door to a new adventurous and creative world. Coming across this platform, she finally found her community and a name to recognize her designs and creativity and something that would identify her and most importantly her designs. What is Zentangle? It is basically a way to create beautiful creative images with the help of drawing structured patterns and these patterns are called as tangles. These could be in the form of dots, lines, curves, orbs or simply a combination of all of these. You can find out more about Zentangle here – https://zentangle.com/pages/what-is-the-zentangle-method
With the help of Zentangle and various artists on this platform, Brita developed her own style which was called “Zenspire Designs”. She created her own style in her own self-taught way. Afterwards, whenever someone asked about her designs, she replies, “Zentangle, but my version of Zentangle.” I am completely mesmerized by her version of Zentangle! Technically, she didn’t have a book that gave her instructions on how to create such designs. It was all in her head and in her surroundings. She would see a pattern on the floor, in a building, on someone’s shirt, and then she could add a little new design to her style. That’s the real characteristic of a dedicated artist – to be observant! This shows how focused Brita is. Besides this, she believes that she is developing her style everyday with additions of new designs, new structures, new combinations of colors and shapes. She never wants to settle with the designs that she currently has. In other words, she always wants to create continuously. That’s the real definition of passion, creativity and dedication towards your work.
So here comes the story of how all of this started –
Brita believes she started her beautiful journey in 2014, when she first participated in the Starbucks White Cup Contest. Before that everyone believed that she is artistic and she likes to doodle. At that time, she had around 700 followers on Instagram. Her Instagram game would involve her posting her drawings and she would get so excited and happy when she would receive 20 likes. As of current date, she has more than 91,000 followers and roughly she gets over 2000 likes every time she posts her drawing. How did all of this happen? In June 2014, she found out that she won the Starbucks Contest. She didn’t expect that to happen. She was simply speechless. This is so cool that out of 4,000+ entries, she won! Starbucks loved her design and tagged it as the best one! She stills considers this as her dream and believes that everyday is an additional day in that dream! Brita’s life completely changed on the day Starbucks announced her as the winner on their Instagram page.
Imagine the traffic of 16 million followers of Starbucks coming to the Zenspire Designs account, her Instagram handle. In a single minute, thousands of people simply became a fan of her artwork and creative designs. On the same day, she launched her Etsy store. She thought that if so many people are going to visit her Instagram page, they were coming because they want to see more of her art and there should be a page where people can simply purchase her designs. This is simply an amazing strategy! Brita even remembers the first person who bought her unique artwork. The first purchase was made by Linda who was the lady at the Starbucks who notified Brita about her wining the contest. This is really amazing that the person who told her about her win was the first one to buy her artwork off her Etsy store.
After the contest, her life completely changed. She started designing for herself. She simply turned her passion into her business, which she is all hers. She is a self-made individual, full of passion, determined to accomplish her dreams and turn them into a reality. By winning the contest, she launched her dream and became her own boss. GIRL BOSS! Yes, she gets paid to create for people all around the world, but Brita believes in a saying – “If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.” She never calls her creativity, her designs, her business as her “work” because she loves what is she doing, creating for everyone, creating for herself and she wants to continue that for the rest of her life. Seeing Brita’s passion, creativity and dedication, I am 100% sure Brita will continue to accomplish her dreams. The journey just began, keep up the hard work and everything will fall in place😊
Moving on, Brita talks about her biggest influencers. She mentions how they influenced her life –
From her amazing and unique story, the Starbucks contest was definitely very inspiring to her. The whole incident helped Brita take her passion and her hobby to the next level. Since then, her actions include how to turn this hobby into a career. Brita even shared her dream with us which she has been dreaming about since childhood. In Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), there is an arts festival called the “Three Rivers Arts Festival.” This festival is held for 10 days; the entire period is filled with music, food and art. In this festival, hundreds of artists come together and participate in this fun-filled event. But the real part is that, people used to tell her that it is very hard to get accepted into this festival. Since the beginning, that is, since her childhood, her dream is to participate in that event. She worked harder every day by creating more unique works of art, new designs, more inventory and every possible step that could help her expand her business. So, in 2014, she applied for the first time and she was accepted. This was meant to happen! Hard work and dedication always lead to a reward! She had no mentor to help her. She completely did all of this by herself. A real salute to your art, to your passion, to your spirit and to your go-getter attitude. She participated in that festival in 2014 and considers that as one of the greatest events she has ever been part of. Since that festival in 2014, she has never looked back and was accepted at that event in 2015, 2016 and 2017. She even got accepted this year (2018). This has been a rewarding and amazing experience since 2014. Hence, this event also inspires her every year to work harder and come up with great designs that people will love to have. Last but not least, her followers and their words of encouragement, kindness and appreciation inspire her. Whether on a social media platform or through her shop, she feels connected with each and every follower, even if she has not met them in person. Her follower family encourages her to become a better person and a better artist every single day. Brita feels like “she owes it to them to be creative and share her life through videos and photos online.”
So, now we know about Brita’s artwork. We have seen her unique colorful designs. After seeing her designs and following her artwork for so long, I always wondered how she knows when her artwork is finished. Like for instance, at what point of time, does she feel satisfied with what she has created? Hence, I asked this question and here’s her answer –
According to her, it all depends on the piece she is working on. If she has a set vision for a artwork, then she will know exactly when it is finished. But if she is working on a artwork with more flexibility, more freedom, no deadline, no level for detailing or no description in mind, then she feels like those types of artworks are never finished. She feels like she can always add more to them. But in a normal scenario, she takes a few steps back and simply stares at the artwork for a couple of minutes. This exercise and process helps her decide whether the artwork is finished or not. As an artist, I completely relate with you, Brita! There are some artworks which we think are always incomplete. There is always this feeling that something is missing and sometimes, in a few minutes, there is an inner voice which will tell us that this is complete; the artwork is ready!
Next question asked to Brita was – “Has your practice changed over time?”
According to Brita, since her childhood days, all she did was doodle and still continues to do that. In the beginning, there was no structure to her designs. It was all about what she felt was right or good. She further added, “If I made a mistake, I would make something greater out of that mistake.” But in the current time, she still doodles, but the difference is that there is more structure added to her artworks. She begins with an idea of what she wants to create. Next, timelines are attached to her work. Also, there are some expectations of people involved and she thinks that it is an important part to her work. The love, support and feedback from her followers also matters in this process. Lastly, her tools have evolved too. Previously, she used to work only with the sharpies and paper, but this past year, she started working on iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. She works with a lot more materials, which we will discuss about this soon. But one thing that has not changed, all of her work is still free-hand.
One aspect that Brita loves about her work
The one thing that she loves about her work is the beginning of an art piece. She enjoys when she starts an artwork and with that, she begins to think how this artwork going to look like. By now, you all know Brita is dedicated and passionate towards her work and according to her, about 75% of the time, the art piece turns out way better than she expects. Seeing her work, I cannot imagine a single instance when an artwork doesn’t turn out great. Another amazing aspect of her work is that all of the patterns are unpredictable, and it seems like these patterns had a mind of their own. In other words, sometimes within a pattern, another pattern is formed without even her trying. This is real art!
One aspect that Brita would like to change about her work
The one thing she would like to change is “how long it takes to create these pieces.” Honestly, as an artist, we always like to deliver the artwork on time (as quickly as possible!), but the longer we take to create the artwork, we tend to put more hard work and effort into it, which will cause the artwork to be better each time. Brita loves what she does, and she wouldn’t change the remaining pieces for the world.
As an artist, even as a normal person, we all experience creative blocks. Some call it thought block while some call it mental block. So, let’s find out how Brita overcomes creative blocks –
When she encounters a creative block, she likes to look back at her previous pieces that she has created. Among all of her artwork, she likes to look at those pieces that she created a long time ago. She likes to see how the patterns have evolved throughout the years, which gives a fresh feeling to her eyes. Furthermore, as she looks back at the old artwork, she takes those patterns and tries bringing those patterns back in the current period with a new twist. This reminds me of a great quote by Maya Angelou – “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Definitely, looking at your own work inspires oneself and sometimes, it is the feeling of inspiration that helps one remove the creative block.
I am already feeling so motivated and inspired with her work, her dedication, her passion, her thoughts and creativity. Let’s find out what her advice is for other artists. How should other artists motivate themselves if they are feeling low or are not inspired?
Her advice is – “to create something big or small every single day. Take about 5 or 10 mins to work on your own style. Whether it’s doodling, sketching, or anything! Find something you love and try to draw it! You will be inspired to finish it to see how it turns out!”
Amazing advice! Definitely working on the skill is very important. It is an important and basic part of growing. This syncs with what Brita follows for herself. She used to doodle every day and that dedication continues to pay her off till today! Thank you, Brita, for sharing this wonderful advice.
Let’s find out what is her artistic outlook on life –
Her artistic outlook on life is represented through a quote by Les Brown – “I want you to make your dream become a reality because if you don’t, you will be working for someone else to make their dreams become a reality.” In addition to that, she says – “No matter what you dream, no matter what your goals are, you are the only one that will get you there. Yes, you can have help, but you are truly the one at the beginning of the day and at the end. From the start to the end, it’s up to you if your dreams come true, it’s up to you on how hard you work for what you want.”
Very well said, Brita! It is our hard work and our dedication that will help us achieve our targets. If someone is thirsty, they have to get up, fill up the glass and drink the water. No one else can do that on their behalf. It is as simple as that!
We saw Brita’s artwork and her designs. We also came to know and understand her creative process. Now’s let’s find out about her tools. What is the most important tool without which she cannot work in her studio?
In the current stage of her business, her iPad and Apple Pencil are the most important tools because she has been creating with them a lot these days. Also, since the time she purchased the iPad, her eyes have opened up to so many different ways to create and play around with various apps. But honestly speaking, she cannot work in her studio without her sketchbook and pencil. They are also a very important part of her life.
Let’s talk about Brita’s hobbies and favorites –
Her hobbies – She works non-stop. She doesn’t really have much time for anything else. She likes to workout and be active. Basically, she believes that she needs another hobby to get her body moving. Besides this, she likes to watch movies 😊
Her favorite color – Turquoise
Her favorite book – “Things are what you make them. Life advice for creatives” by Adam J. Kurtz
Her favorite song – Anything by James Bay (as of this current moment 😊)
Her favorite food – Pasta
Favorite quote – As mentioned earlier, the quote by Les Brown “I want you to make your dream become a reality because if you don’t, you will be working for someone else to make their dreams a reality”
One superpower that she would love to have and why – She wishes that she could be able to teleport. She would then travel the world and meet the amazing people who support her and always encourage her. She wants to be able to hug them and tell them thank you in person.
Her dream project and goals – Her dream project would be to work with a well-known renowned company. Basically, she wants to design different products for them such as coffee cups, shop look, etc. After seeing her design on the Starbucks cup, she would really like to design more products for them or companies similar to them. Her main goal is to get to a point in her business where she could afford her own art studio where she can put all of her art materials into one area and simply call that place her own, which would also be a place where her creative mind would just flow and she can continue to create new designs and new artwork. And guess what, she has her own studio!! She opened her Art Studio on February 1st, 2018. Her hard work, dedication, positive attitude and of course, creativity made this possible. Congratulations and hats off to you girl!! You deserve every bit of it. We pray that your success continues to grow like this! All the best for your future endeavors.
Here are some of her artworks –
Customized wall artworks
After you saw all of the amazing artwork by Brita, you must be wondering where you can buy them. Please take a look at all of the links below and show your love and support to Zenspire Designs.
Etsy Shop: www.zenspiredesignsetsy.com
Also, Brita would like to mention that besides all of the prints, stickers, and other artwork on her shop, she takes custom requests as well. She does a lot of commissioned custom work. For any custom orders, please send her an email and she will work with you.
Hope you enjoyed this inspiring story of a passionate artist. I learned a lot from Brita. Thank you so much Brita for sharing your wonderful story. We hope that all of your dreams come true and may your creativity as well as dedication and passion continue to grow every day! Thank you for participating in this series.
Also, let us know how you liked this article. Are you enjoying the series? Please do let us know. Apologies again for the long break! We will continue to share more awesome stories and amazing artists like Brita. If you would like to know about an artist in particular, either leave a comment below, email us, or leave a comment on our Instagram page! We will really appreciate your feedback.
Stay tuned for more fun blog posts, more creativity, more artwork…. till then adios 😊