Dianna Love and Art

I’ve often said, “I fell out of the womb an artist,” but that didn’t mean it was always easy. Just like most artists, I had my fair share of “That’s a nice hobby, but art won’t support you...You can’t make a living as an artist...You need a ‘real job’ so you’ll have something to fall back on.”

To keep peace in the household, I took mechanical drawing in high school – and aced it – because my father wanted me to be an architect. I have friends who are architects and admire their talent, but I didn’t want to be one. I don’t even like to decorate a house. My mother was always proud of my accomplishments and the competitions I placed in or won, so I had her encouragement, but it only lasted until she passed away when I was seventeen. By then I knew if I wanted to make a living as an artist, I would have to do it on my own.

That’s why I’ve always been so determined to encourage other people in their pursuit of whatever it is they’re passionate about. Art contests played a role in my life from third grade on, and gave me a reason to push hard in high school for the chance to achieve something. Even if I didn’t win, I learned a lot about myself and my art during each endeavor.

Before I became an adult, the only times I earned any respect for being an artist were when I placed in art competitions. I always wanted to give that chance for recognition to other artists, which is why I created the My Feenix™ Art Contest. This is a way to combine my love of writing with my love of art and my desire to reach artists, young and old.

I believe in a message I share everywhere I go: “If you’re passionate about something, nurture and support that passion if you want to see your dreams succeed.”

*NOTE – Dianna will not be judging any phase of the contest. She feels every artist has his or her vision of what they plan to create and an unbiased panel of judges who have read Blood Trinity is the most fair way to choose the renderings of Feenix that best fit the character introduced in Blood Trinity.

• When did you first earn money as an artist?
• What people in your life were most encouraging or influential in your pursuit of art?
• Was your first job as an artist?
• How did you finally make your art support you?
• A lot of people in your circumstances might have let discouragement from other people cause them to give up. What advice can you share from your experiences?
• How did your philosophy lead you to writing?
• Why did you create this contest?

Dianna is on the scaffold on the far right.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a pic of her painting the wall.

When did you first earn money as an artist?

I was in middle school. We had a big family and not much money, so things like blank paper had to be saved for school and were not to be wasted on silly stuff like drawing. I wanted art supplies, so I started drawing pencil or charcoal portraits of anyone who would pay me $5. I earned enough doing this to buy my sketchbooks and art pencils.

What people in your life were most encouraging or influential in your pursuit of art?

My mother was a wonderful woman who trotted her children to church every Sunday, determined to raise us to be good people. But more than that, she believed in her children. When I was in sixth grade I placed third in a national contest (behind two high school seniors) and they wanted to interview me on television. My father said “No.” He thought anything other than studying for school was a waste of time. But my mother, who had never defied him, put her foot down and took me to that interview. I can only wish for every artist out there, that someone, somewhere stands up for you at an important point in your life. The other people who played a huge role in starting me on a journey towards making a living as an artist were my middle school and high school teachers. I could fill pages with the things I learned from them. I’m still humbled when I think back on their passion for art and their determination to groom the talent that passed through their classes.

Dianna when she was in
Brandon High School in Brandon, FL

Was your first job as an artist?

No. Due to circumstances when my mother passed away, I moved out to live on my own at 17, as soon as I graduated from high school. I waited tables in restaurants, worked in offices, and started painting signs on the side. I worked three jobs to pay my bills and began building a reputation as a sign painter and mural artist. It was during that time I realized how much I needed everything I’d learned in high school. I used everything from English to Math to Science and Art in my jobs. I was mostly an A-student, and I had enough credits for college when I graduated but couldn’t afford it. Thankfully, my teachers had already taught me the skills that would take me a long way. I remember thinking in school “When am I ever going to use this math equation or this research on history or this English exercise?” I’ve used those things throughout my life and as I became more successful, I said a huge thank you every day to those teachers.

Dianna painting a corporate mural for the reception area. (before & after)

How did you finally make your art support you?

I was determined to use my art skills no matter what. I painted signs, portraits, murals – anything that supported me and allowed me to pursue my passion. By the time I reached my early twenties, I realized I had to make a choice between all the jobs if I wanted to make a go of my sign business so I shifted into painting full time. Did that mean I had reached my dream? No, not exactly. I worked 18 hour days seven days a week (because sleep was overrated at that age) painting for many years as I built my business and my reputation. But that was okay because a hard day painting was better than a good day doing something I didn’t love. By the mid 1990’s I had a company with a Fortune 500 client list. We created massive outdoor painting and three-dimensional projects for companies like Coca-Cola.

Dianna painting a wall in Plains, GA
for the Coca-Cola Company.

Dianna painting one of many
30' long 3-D Coca Cola bottles
she built for the 1996 Olympics®
A lot of people in your circumstances might have let discouragement from other people cause them to give up. What advice can you share from your experiences?

I know I was born with this ability, because we’re all born with a gift. That gift isn’t always as obvious as painting a portrait or playing Beethoven on the piano. Nurturing is a gift as is teaching or understanding rocket science. But no gift thrives unless you respect it and are willing to develop it. No one is going to believe in you any more than you believe in yourself. No one is going to push you to reach your goals. No one is going to care if you fail or succeed at being an artist...as much as you do. That belief took me from drawing portraits for art supplies to feeding myself as a teen to building a company that created projects for Olympic® sponsors...to becoming an author.

How did your philosophy lead you to writing?

After spending several decades painting and creating large outdoor marketing projects, I sat down to write and found a new joy in creating stories. At its core, my philosophy is exactly the same. If I pursue something, it’s because I have a passion for it. I wouldn’t have continued writing past the first month or two if I’d only had casual interest. I’d started making up stories while I was dangling sometimes a hundred feet up in the air painting walls and billboards for long hours. When I started writing down the ideas, I fell in love with storytelling in the same way I’d always loved art. It was a new challenge, and one I quickly became passionate about. I’ve been very fortunate to work with amazing people in both art and writing, and I truly believe that following your passion for anything, and backing it up with hard work, is what brings those opportunities to light.

Dianna speaks at reader events, writing conferences and schools across the country.

Why did you create this contest?

I wanted to encourage reading and art, especially among high school students. The idea started out of something simple – Feenix™. He’s an adorable gargoyle who is protected from a dangerous world by a young woman with unusual powers. I had designed the triquetra Belador™ emblem (the one in the header next to My Feenix™) and thanks to my fabulous artist Andrew LoVuolo, had it translated into electronic format, but I hadn’t found the time to bring my vision of Feenix™ to life on paper or as a sculpture or stuffed animal. That’s when I thought it would be great to have an art competition to create Feenix™. Because my high school teachers and the art contests I entered had such a huge influence on my success, I always want to do something for high school students so that was first in the plan, then I thought about all the adult artists out there. I didn’t want one overall Grand Prize winner because having been a realistic portrait artist I wouldn’t want to compete with a computer whiz or someone who could make a stuffed animal. That’s when I thought it would be nice to have six Grand Prize winners
(3 categories for each the adult and high school divisions) plus a second and third place. I wanted to offer a contest for high school artists that I would have liked to enter. I wanted a contest that would combine some reading, research and art, so a student could see how what they are learning today will help them tomorrow.

You can learn more about Dianna, see more of her art, and read about her career path HERE.

My Feenix, Blood Trinity, Beladors and all related elements are ™ and © Dianna Love.
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