Discovering the joy of the journey liberated Mako to become a better water color artist, gaining enough confidence to not only share her art with the world, but to guide others in finding their own confident joy through creating. Reaching out to others via her You Tube channel helped Mako find her own authentic voice. With a new book release, she continues to create art she loves while helping others do the same.
How did you get started making art? Why do you do it?
For as long as I can remember, I was always drawing or crafting something. So there was no conscious decision to get started; it was always somehow part of my life. And I loved creating things with my own hands and discovering what else I can create! But I think because art was one of my main subjects in school, I was surrounded by it all the time and kept pursuing it without knowing that it could turn into my career later on in my life!
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Who or what has inspired/influenced/empowered you?
What inspired and empowered me was seeing other female artists outside my little bubble that played a bigger game and contributed to the world in a bigger way! I’ve seen what they were able to create in the world and for themselves, and I wanted to do the same!
It was quite a leap to start a YouTube channel while you were still in school. What made you want to do it, and how did you find the time?
I always felt like an outsider during school and that my ideas or opinions didn’t really matter. So right after I graduated high school and went to university, I started my YouTube channel because I felt like I needed a place to share my ideas. And this was a place where no one knew me yet, so I could just be myself. And it really helped me find my own voice and create a community of like-minded people. Because I realized it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. Your ideas and voice matter, and if you share them with the world, the right people will come and stay with you!
So when I started to upload more regularly, I committed to showing up every week. So whenever I had time during the week, I would plan out my content, test out ideas. And on the weekend I would film and edit my videos. I believe if you commit to something, you will always make the time and find ways to make it happen!
Another thing that helped me was to batch my process. So I would do the planning on one day, film as much as I could on the other day, and then edit the videos that I made on another day. So I always tried to work around my university schedule and pick days that work best for a particular part of the creation process.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your new book, No Fail Watercolor: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Painting with Confidence?
I want the readers to know that there are no failures! Everything is SUCH a valuable experience that allows you to learn and grow, even if you don’t see it immediately. It’s so easy to attach ourselves to the outcome and feel frustrated at the end that you want to quit. But that’s just part of the process! And as cheesy as it sounds, and even if you have heard this a million times, it is the journey that matters most. Not the outcome, but the person you become on the other end! So have fun on your journey!
Do you plan your work out ahead of time, or do you just dive in with your materials and start playing?
I used to just dive in and start playing, but often I discovered the topics or references I chose for my art didn’t really bring me joy to paint. Or I didn’t really make the time to think about what I want to say with my art. So nowadays, I try to be more intentional with what I’m doing, even when it comes to my art. I ask questions like, what do I like to paint? What brings me joy? What do I want to focus on in this painting? Planning ahead, focusing on joy, and making the time to create the art without rushing the process, were game-changers!
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
Currently, I don’t have a fully dedicated space for creating, but I would love to have a proper studio one day where I have lots of room to paint! Right now, I’m on the sunny side of my apartment inside the living room. Here is where I create at my big desk next to the window and keep all my art supplies close. I like to keep everything organized and easy to access. If it’s too cluttered or I have to walk across the room to pick a brush, I likely would feel less inspired to paint!
What are the indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
It’s not really a tool, but it definitely improves my work! And that’s my big window next to my desk! I used to live in a dark shoebox apartment that made me feel unmotivated and uninspired all the time. I like to be able to look outside the window and see the beautiful sunny sky as it gives me energy!
How has your creativity evolved over the years? What triggered the evolution to new media/kinds of work/ways of working?
When I was just starting out, I always created just for myself. There was no Instagram or a way to share my art or to see what others were doing. But when IG became a normal thing, it was easy to start comparing yourself to others and feeling like you’re not good enough and that you could be so much better.
You can easily fall into the trap of tying your self-worth or what you should create to how many likes or views your creation receives. When you see something doesn’t perform well according to an algorithm, you stop doing it because you start feeling like maybe it wasn’t that great, after all. If you see something performs well, you do it again. So you feel like you can’t just be creative, and your style doesn’t evolve either. So I had to make a conscious decision to take the time to just create art for myself again without the goal of sharing it. Doing so allowed me to go on a journey again of discovering what type of art brings me joy and what art I would like to create.
I also started investing in my skills by purchasing various courses and learning from other people. I realized you don’t have to figure out everything by yourself. You can level up your own skills in a more profound way by not only investing in yourself but also supporting other artists and business owners.
What was the biggest challenge that you encountered on your creative journey? What did you learn from it?
I think the biggest challenge for me was to start doing new things by thinking outside the box. Sometimes we don’t realize the limits of our own little bubbles and how important it is to widen our horizons. I was not aware of the fact that the reason I didn’t make any progress in areas that I wanted was that I kept doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.
So, for example, I wanted to help people get more confident in themselves through watercolor painting, and there was only so much I could do with my YouTube channel. That’s why I had to be courageous and start working on new ways to share my art and help people in a bigger way by creating things outside of YouTube. So I created my watercolor book and watercolor courses. That really showed me what I was capable of if I’m committed and that I can do hard things.
Because while creating it, I realized how our brains and inner dialogues make our lives so much more difficult! It was a constant roller coaster between “this is amazing!” and “who do you think you are?” to “I can’t paint at all!” and “this is the best piece of art I have ever created!”
I realized that having artistic skills, the right tools and knowing all the techniques are not enough to create anything in the world! It’s more about having the right mindset and being committed to the person you want to be!
What advice would you give to emerging artists?
Be very clear about your why. You don’t have to have everything figured out yet because it can change or evolve over time. But having a strong why and being able to come back to it when you feel lost on your journey will help you stay committed to whatever you want to do as an artist! And there will be people telling you that your dreams and goals are not possible – that things will be tough. But at the end of the day, you know yourself best. You know whether or not you’re willing to chase your dreams, no matter what!
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people? Or do you think creativity is a skill that people can learn?
I believe everyone is creative! As kids, we happily painted whatever we wanted, as long as we had fun! It didn’t matter if we painted outside the lines or if the sky was purple. But the older we get, the more we ask other people whether or not what we do is good enough. Our creative voice gets quieter because we become afraid of what others might say about us and our work. It’s even worse with all the social media nowadays!
So I believe that the skill we need to learn now is to actually just create art and have fun. Set aside the fear of failure, judgment or anything else that is outside of our control! To detach ourselves from the outcome and allow ourselves to get back to our creative side!
What do you learn about who you are through your creative endeavors?
I constantly witness that the only way to grow and create change is by doing things that scare you! You can’t discover your full potential if you stay in your comfort zone! Even if you doubt yourself and are afraid of what’s waiting for you on the finish line, stick through the messy and ugly middle part! Just like in a painting! Because beauty and a new, improved version of yourself are waiting for you! That’s what this whole journey is all about!
Interview posted February 2021
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