Interview: Ingrid Lee


Name: Ingrid H Lee (B.Education, Honours –Research, M.Education Research)

Where do you live: Melbourne, Australia.

Known for: International artist who paints and teaches contemporary styles on porcelain, canvas and mixed media. I travel internationally for exhibitions, art projects, creativity consulting, master classes and inspiration for art works, I blog and write books. I am a highly productive artist and creative entrepreneur.

Currently working with:
I work for my own company Ingrid Lee Enterprises Pty Ltd. I’m an Art Education consultant and trainer, blogger and writer for online and print media publications and author of art books and art and creativity education books.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area?
I have always been very creative, sewing embroidery, drawing, painting, researching fashion and recreating clothing to wear as a teenager; I entered local art competitions as a child too. I made a decision at 16 that I wanted to be an artist rather than a musician. I was studying flute and singing for a few years, I performed, and over time came to the realisation that I practiced art with ease, and music with a timetable. I was musical, but not a musician, and realised where my passion really came from thanks also to my uncle who was a professional musician. However, in saying that I still write and think through music, and use it as a muse for my art work.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
I would still choose to live in Australia because of the huge sense of freedom I have here, there are so many different natural environments to be inspired by across this vast country.

How would you describe your creativity?
I would describe my creativity as always in flow, it is iterate and flexible, a big adventure, it feels luscious and free. I am always creating what is possible. I truly believe that I am the gift to myself as an artist and those who I share my creativity with – it is realising that relationship early on which has formed the way I work and build my business too.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
I started to work as a professional artist at 18 when I opened my first business, and operated a private studio teaching fine and decorative arts, commissioned artwork, designing wholesale art work and gift ware for retail and corporate industries. I worked as a freelance art teacher to adult community groups while I attended university. I then got a job teaching art in a school, and after that opened my first company and retail gallery and teaching centre. I managed and trained 6 staff for teaching fine and decorative art, producing retail gift-ware, retail art supplies and commissioned artwork.

After that I wanted to further my studies into creativity and pursued a Masters in Education, researching effective ways to develop creative teaching and learning practices. At this time I was lecturing in Education and developing creative curriculum practices and worked as an Education consultant and HR trainer to education institutions and private industry. Once I started a family, I stopped painting and doing many other works, and trained to work as a marketing strategist, web designer, copywriter for online retail and private industries so that I could be at home with small children. Little did I think I would turn those skills within a short time, to establishing my company now.

What do you do at the moment?
Currently I am working on a number of projects and art works: The Nature of Truth and Subject matter. I started thinking about how to linking flowers to personal truth – transparency, intensity, relationship of space, searching and aspect, is an absolute luxury of nature. My question at the moment is: “What can I learn from the nature, existence, and life force of flowers? The Nature of truth?”

During my art trip to Sweden and St Petersburg in May 2014, I began researching my ideas in relation to space and freedom. Earlier in 2014, I was inspired by this quote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” by Viktor E. Frankl. The true understanding of this quote was sparked for me during my masterclasses in Sweden (May 2104) and the fact that it has taken time to connect all the ideas and emotions and start to synthesize the understandings. I love this process of being creative and painting…and it sometimes takes a little longer than you want. Then, while in St Petersburg (May 2014), I undertook two personal study trips at The Hermitage to collate ideas from various art works which would inspire the concepts of transparency, intensity….relationship of space.

I’m also working on a government art project between Thailand and my company, a mentorship program between Australian and Thai artists to produce an exhibition of luxury interiors and collectible art. I’m always forward planning, so I have other invitations in Asia and Europe for art collaborations and exhibitions which I’m in the process of completing applications for in the next few years, nothing is ever immediate.

Also, I’m developing my Art and Creativity Education programs which are online and in-person. The focus for all of my courses and webinars, is to develop the artist’s creative potential, focusing on how to unlock creativity; break the rules; change colour habits; venture into the unknown and most importantly connect with themselves their own truth and artistic expression. I focus on technical practice founded on art theory and my own unique applications, and creating new theories for creativity.

In the Creativity Collaboration with Jina Allen, we share ways to consciously create change and possibility across the whole wellness spectrum. Our business is about being the invitation to change for people who want more out of their lives. We focus on creativity and choice and stopping all the self-judging that keeps us from being where we want to be in any aspect of our reality through courses which are online and in-person retreats.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
I have been in business from the first sale of my art work at 16! And then, as I have discussed, I pursued many different business ventures, always growing and learning. My best advice for those wanting to be in a creative business is to understand your product and how to target your niche market. Develop accounting skills and business management skills and understand how to create your own brand online. All of these skills take time to develop, and it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded people in business – not only arts, but with people who have successful businesses. Understand and practice the value of a marketing and business plan.

Tell us how it all started.
My current company, Ingrid Lee Enterprises started its first steps as a blog site. In 2010 Ingrid Creates began as a simple blog sharing everyday creativity online, from my home studio in Melbourne, Australia. I shared all of the creative pursuits and interests I had or was exploring at that time, while I was at home with two small children: baking, decorating, embroidery, painting, my garden, flowers, porcelain painting, how to inspire creativity (based on my Masters Degree Research), music, nail art.

In the beginning, I really didn’t know exactly where this would all go – I really didn’t have concise marketing and business plans like I do now, but what I did know was that my readers and fans would help create how it would all work. While I wasn’t new to marketing or business in the online world, it was still a big learning curve as I was doing this for myself, not clients. So, I kept blogging, figuring out Facebook and started interviewing friends from my online networks who were also creative, and sharing their stories and passions with my readers.

I set up my YouTube channel and other social networks to share my creative world as much as I could. Almost a year later I started writing for my art blog Ingrid Lee Art, among other publications. I learned that life became more fulfilling and focused the more I shared, trusted in myself, and made big choices. By 2012 I started a new company, Ingrid Lee Enterprises, figured out what I was doing. continued painting with more passion, exploring my truth, thinking and started to travel overseas to exhibit and teach art with a new direction and create my career which keeps growing.

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
The most important thing in my studio is to have a tidy, organised workspace – I cannot create in clutter. I only work in a few mediums to make my practices cost effective. I have a set colour palette, and brushes I use, and I try to purchase in bulk where possible to reduce overhead costs. And lots of natural light is important!

What is your favorite film?
I have many favourites, but these two come to mind now: La Belle et la Bête, 1946 directed by Jean Cocteau and The Women, 1936 by George Cukor.

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
I would love to invite all my closest artist and creative friends from around the world to a dinner party, they make me feel at home everywhere I go, and I would love to reciprocate that generous spirit and share my home and Australia with them too.

How do you like to spoil yourself?
I like to spoil myself with glamorous high heel shoes, very dark bitter chocolate, French pastries.

What is luxury for you?
Luxury for me is having a beautiful soft large bed, with crisp white sheets, and not having to wake up to make breakfast and attend my home duties – just to relax, be in timely moment and someone else prepare my breakfast. This is what I experience when I travel for my work, so I am very lucky!

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom?
The nicest compliments I receive about my work is that it inspires someone to feel something deep within themselves, or think about something differently, or that they are inspired to create something for themselves – then I know my work is done!

What do you fear most?
I’m not sure if it’s a fear, but I often think I will not have enough time or good health to create everything I want.

What is a happy life to you?
I do not think about life being happy or not, it is purely a point of view for that moment. I am in my deepest happiness when I’m vulnerable to my heart and creativity and living in the moment. This for me is the ultimate freedom, and that brings about happiness, at that moment.

What does a regular day look like for you?
I have an organised day because I have family and business to operate. Typically my day starts at 6.30, I cook breakfast and get my family ready to start their day, take the kids to school. Check all of my social media and emails and attend to other administrative duties. I have a weekly planner to complete tasks and appointments. During the week I will work on an art work, and juggle my other projects. I make out of office (home studio/office) appointments once per week. I have to finish my work day, pick up my kids from school, prepare them food, take them to their after school activities, work on their homework, I fit in another hour or so of my work, then prepare dinner. I try to balance my work, creativity and my family’s creative pursuits and work by being organised.

Tell us about your dream project.
My projects do not usually stay as dreams, I make them happen. I am always looking for new adventures and artists to create with, places to travel and be inspired by, so I focus on what I want and implement the strategies to make it come to life – that can take time, and for the most part they happen.

Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
I am inspired by the following people, whose memoirs, writings or biography have influenced me: Helena Rubenstein, Coco Chanel, Raine Maria Rilke, Vige le Brun, Kandinsky, Jane Sutherland, Chagall.

Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
I can’t live without the ability to create, even observing the play of light on water or a flower is powerfully inspiring and tells a story.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by many things, I think it would be more fair to say that I keep away from people who are not so inspirational and who hold negative points of view or are emotional vampires. I try not to get caught up in distractions or drama, so I don’t watch TV or read newspapers etc. I like to keep focused so that I can find many things inspiring. I would also say my children are very inspiring to me. It is a wonderful experience to watch and relearn creativity with them.

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
A book which has inspired my creative journey is Vigee-LeBrun, Elisabeth Louise in Strachey, Lionel (trans) 1903. Memoirs of Madame Vigee-Lebrun, Illustrated Edition, Dodo Press, UK.

Madame Vigee-Lebrun, a beautiful portrait painter and woman. I started reading her book just prior to my first art trip to St Petersburg Russia. Her journey as an artist breathed an air of familiarity to my own life and inspired me greatly. I was particularly enthused by her chapter on her initial journey and seven year stay in St Petersburg – a total surprise to me, as I initially wanted to read her memoirs to get a greater feel for the rococo time from a female artist’s perspective. Reading these memoirs was wonderful in that much of what Madame Vigee-Lebrun experienced upon her journey to SPb and her stay there, paralleled many of my own experiences some 300 years later – it was a feeling I cannot convey through words, but I hope to express in my collection or paintings inspired by that visit. I described on my blog, about visiting Catherine’s Palace in the same rooms as Catherine II (similarly described by VigeeLeBrun), but now to know that I have walked in both of these women’s footsteps is a feeling beyond words.

Connect with Ingrid on Twitter @IngridLeeArt & Instagram @ingridleeart & Pinterest
Visit her Facebook pages here, here & here
Check out her websites here, here & here
E-mail her here

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