Artist, Dawn Okoro’s, childhood passion is quickly manifesting into a promising career as she settles into New York City–a sojourn from Houston, Texas “in the name of art.” Her work is spectacular, to say the least, as it is intimate, fun, modern and what Okoro calls, “inspired by fashion in popular culture.” Her work has been featured in exhibits in Boston, Houston, Austin, Chicago and Brooklyn in less than a year alone, and she’s not stopping there. Having an obviously amazing work ethic enlivened the recent Juris Doctorate to pursue her art professionally in the city made for artists. Clutch caught up with Dawn Okoro to discuss her life now as an artist and the steps she’s taking to make painting her full time gig.
Clutch: How long have you been painting?
Dawn: I have been painting for about thirteen years, but I have been drawing since I was a child.
Clutch: Did you grow up in a creative environment/family?
Dawn: I was the visual artist in the household, but my mother wrote music. I also have a sister who enjoys singing and another sister who enjoys creative writing.
Clutch: I see that you got your Bachelors Degree from UT Austin and finished your JD this year…how did you manage to find time to create?
Dawn: It was difficult to focus on my artwork while in school studying other subjects. I tried to make time for art on evenings and weekends.
Clutch: Obviously you take your artistic work very seriously, are you or do you plan to practice law, too?
Dawn: At this time, I plan on focusing on my art career. However, if I ever did decide to practice law, I am interested in art law, which involves contracts and intellectual property issues.
Clutch: I ask because I’m amazed at how you can accomplish doing two very different yet great things, earning your JD and becoming a professional artist. Are they both your passion, is law your safety or will you do both?
Dawn: I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but I didn’t want to starve. I went to law school as a back up plan, but it was a lot more demanding than I expected. I am fortunately able to focus on my art now. The back up plan was interfering with my true calling.
Clutch: Your work is incredible! It’s the kind of art I’d love to have in my home and the kind of art I wish I could make! What inspires you?
Dawn: I am inspired by fashion in popular culture. I draw a lot of inspiration from fashion advertising– images you would find in a magazine.
Clutch: Where do you hope to see yourself and your art in five years?
Dawn: I hope to see my work as part of museum collections. I also hope to branch out into other art mediums such as film.
Clutch: Tell us how you felt when you sold your first painting? Similarly, how did you feel during your first solo exhibition?
Dawn: When I sold my first painting, I was very flattered that someone wanted to buy my work. I feel great knowing that there are people who are enjoying my work everyday in their homes. When I had my first solo exhibition, I was very nervous at first, because I was afraid that no one would come! Fortunately, there was a great turn out, and I also raised money for a great cause (Thoughtful House Center for Children).
Clutch: How long does it take for you to finish a painting? Do you become obsessed until completion or do you find that you have to keep returning to your projects?
Dawn: The amount of time it takes to complete a painting depends on the size and level of detail involved. Most of my work takes one or two weeks to complete. I prefer to work on one painting at a time although that is not always practical. I often have a couple of paintings going at a time, while I wait on bits to dry here and there.
Clutch: I’ve checked out your blog, “Life Of An Artist,” and I see you’re blogging about life of an artist, essentially. How is your life as an artist?
Dawn: So far, my life as an artist is exciting because I have reached a turning point. It seems that there are so many interesting opportunities waiting around the corner.
Clutch: You moved to NYC–the home for artists, I see. How has that transition been?
Dawn: The transition is going very smoothly because I am surrounded by very supportive people.
Clutch: You say your “day job” takes away from your art. What are the steps you take to get exhibits and to get your work out there when you work a 9-5?
Dawn: Being an artist never stops– even while working a 9-5. I am constantly thinking of new ideas. When the mouse stops clicking in the cubicle, I go home and put those ideas on canvas. There isn’t much downtime because evenings and weekends are used for networking and creating art.
Clutch: Do you hope to become a famous modern artist, and who are your customers/buyers?
Dawn: There are many successful living modern artists such as David LaChapelle, Jeff Koons, and Kehinde Wiley. I don’t plan to follow in their footsteps exactly, but looking at their business models has been a good starting point for me. My goal isn’t necessarily to become famous, but I will be happy if people continue to purchase and appreciate my work.
My collectors are from all across the spectrum– from young artists like myself, to people that are on national TV everyday.
For more information about Dawn Okoro please visit www.dawnokoro.com.