Artist Alli K Is "Embracing The Imperfections"
Alli K joins us on episode 29 of the A.U. Podcast! Alli K is a Dallas-based artist, author, and lover of all things black and white. Inspiring confidence through art, she dives deeper into turning her creativity and passion into a full-time, self-made career that has gained her national notoriety in the art world. Cabus kicks off the episode by asking Alli about her first creative inspirations.
photo provided by artist
Growing up, Alli gleaned creative inspiration from her dad's architectural company. She began drawing sketches of houses on the drafting board he made for her, which then evolved into other kinds of doodles and a continual interest in art classes in school.
Although her parents were always supportive of Alli's creative passions, the starving artist mentality was so strong for her that she only thought of her art as a hobby and never considered that it could become her full-time profession. She didn't have examples of creative entrepreneurs to look to who were making a living from their artwork.
As a natural extension of her drawings and architectural influence, Alli began college at the University of North Texas as an Interior Design major. She says she later "chickened out" and switched to a Marketing major because she thought it would lead to a more viable career. She ended up disliking school and struggling to find a marketing job after graduation because it simply wasn't her passion.
To the awe of her friends, Alli's creativity reemerged when she began painting original art pieces for her post-college apartment. Although she was willing to give her paintings away for free, her friends offered to pay her for them and were a major part in encouraging her to pursue a career as an artist. Once Alli saw that she was successfully selling her creations and that it was catching on, she began believing that a career in art was possible.
At this point on her journey, Alli decided to intentionally take 6 months off from interviewing and seeking other jobs to see if she could gain traction as a professional artist. Her husband, who had also inherited the belief that creative hobbies couldn't turn into "real" jobs, was skeptical, but Alli was determined to prove him wrong. She's grateful for his initial doubt because it fueled her dedication to really make it work.
As fate would have it, Alli landed big clients like Kendra Scott during this time, which she describes as a moment where she felt like she had "made it" and would never have to seek a traditional 9-5 job again. Her husband has since quit his corporate job and now works alongside her, as well.
Painting murals and creating calligraphy under the name "Alli K" then turned into an unexpected venture into book writing. Alli says she was "in the right place at the right time" when she was approached by a publisher, who she still works with today, to create a modernized floral drawing book. "Why me?" was her initial reaction as they praised her unique floral drawing style. She was comparing herself, at the time, to more established floral drawing artists. But, it was her heart for teaching that landed her the gig.
"That was the moment that I knew that my purpose in my art career was to help build confidence in others. That's what sets me on fire, when I'm able to help another person build confidence and see the spark in their eye. I could do that all day long."
Alli says she continues to look up to her dad, Tony, as someone she wants to model as a mentor. Her and her dad started their podcast, Breakfast With Sis, as an extension of their Saturday morning daddy-daughter breakfast tradition, which has been going strong since she was 13 years old. These breakfast conversations, usually at their local Chick-fil-A, were formative to her development as a young woman and an artist. She covets these episodes as a time capsule of special mentoring moments from her dad.
Alli then describes the unexpected balance between art and business that she has had to take on as a result of launching her creative career. While people assume that she must be painting all day every day, she says that creating actually only takes up about 20% of her schedule. Sometimes, she wears the problem-solver hat for her clients, and other times, she gets to wear the artist hat by creating original works.
"I think a lot of artists don't realize that to have an art career or an art business, it is heavily business."
When asked what's on the horizon for the future of Alli K, she says she doesn't like to keep herself in too much of a box. She prefers to keep an open mind about future opportunities like her spontaneous creation of a flower print basketball recently.
As for advice for those who want to launch their own art career, Alli says you just have to go for it. She suggests giving yourself an intentional timeline, like her 6 months, to really focus on it and give it your all.
Because Alli considers herself a perfectionist, her favorite phrase over the years has been "If it was perfect, it wouldn't look handmade." She has decided to embrace the imperfections of her handmade creations because that's what people hire and love her for.
photo provided by artist
Check out the Artist Uprising podcast to listen to the full conversation with Alli and other interviews with creatives from across the globe. You can find Alli K online on her website, Instagram, or YouTube.