We had the good fortune of connecting with Hope Olson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hope, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Like most artists, I have had the desire to create since I was a young child. But it’s luck that I live in a time when I could turn those creative interests into a business. I imagine that in the past, it took much more than simply having an affinity for painting for someone to actually make a career for herself in the arts. But in our modern age, the Internet allows creatives to successfully market themselves easily and inexpensively. I would have been a fool if I had not tried.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In my last semester of college, when I was three courses away from being handed a diploma for a B.S. Interior Design, I realized I did not actually want to work as an interior designer. I wanted to be a fine artist. After a few nerve-wracking conversations with my design professors and parents, I determined I should still finish my degree’s coursework but upon graduation, I would instead begin working as a studio artist. I would give it a try. That was now seven years ago. As I type right now, my wrists and hands ache from long, lovely days in my studio this month. The easel was where I felt compelled to be seven years ago and it is still right where I want to be. As an artist, I tell stories about the world around me through color and shape. If I am not working on a custom painting for a client, I get to paint whatever it is that I want to paint, and then I find people who connect with it. Most of my work features traditional subject matter like still lives and landscapes interpreted in a more contemporary style. I am inspired by things like folk art, antiques, small town lore, Irish music, and chinoiserie. I am a color fiend, so much of my creative brain power is expended on tedious experimenting and recording notes about interesting color schemes. If you keep showing up everyday, you make a high volume of work. And when you make high volume of work, you naturally start to lose interest in what you made last month or last year. You’re itching for unfamiliar territory but are equally terrified of it. Steven Pressfield writes in his book, The War Of Art, “the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” Each calendar year, there are always about 2 weeks out of every 52 that I panic and think “What on earth am I doing? I should go get a real career. This is too scary!” But the other 50 weeks, I keep showing up at the easel. There’s reward in the creative habit.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am based in Holland, Michigan, and although totally biased, I think this is one of the most fun little towns around! A vacation here would have to include an afternoon at Tunnel Park beach on Lake Michigan, a hike in Riley Trails, shopping at Downtown Antiques, and happy hour at The Brew Merchant. After your IPA, hop across the street to the Washington Square Galleria and visit the collective of art studios where I paint! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate my shoutout to Professor William Greiner, my art professor at Olivet Nazarene University, who encouraged me to seriously pursue a career as a painter.
Hope Olson Rachel Cox