Featured Artist Shirley Ann Aphrodite – revisited.
This week’s blog revisits a wonderful artist I first interviewed in May 2019. A link to that first interview is at the end of this blog if you would like to read that, too.
The reason for this second interview is to show you the reader that each of the artists I have interviewed have moved ahead with their practice in some way. A couple of them have moved away completely from what they were doing. Illness, family tragedy or simply discovering something different has mean that for some, art is no longer the path they wish to travel.
A couple have gone on to do really great things and being interviewed by me again is probably not something they will entertain as they are now being interviewed by broadcasters, national newspapers, and big galleries. They have moved way beyond me and my blog which is fabulous, and I applaud them. However, sharing their wins and how they have achieved them will hopefully inspire you, even in the darkest moments, to push ahead with your own work. There is no get rich quick scheme and you don’t become famous just because you want to. It is years of hard work and commitment to your craft which gets you there.
What is your name or the name you go by for your art?
My name is Shirley Ann Aphrodite. I am an incurable romantic with my head and heart floating in the clouds. I paint princesses, gowns, portraits, roses, and my dreams of olde world glamour and enchantment! I am also a portrait photographer turned rose photographer. Recently someone described my work as being bedroom and “fashionista closet” art. Initially I was offended, but after a while, I realised that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for my art to cohabit closets filled with all the luxury brands I adore! So now, I have embraced this idea wholeheartedly!
Please remind us of your background.
I was supposed to follow in my father’s footsteps as a diplomat, and so I have degrees in Economics, Languages, and International Relations. I tossed all of that to become a Fashion/Wedding Designer. After about 15 years, I returned to school for a Master of Fine Arts in Fashion Design/Fashion Business….and now, I’m an Artist! The truth is, I have ALWAYS been an artist. It’s just official now.
What does your work aim to say? How has this changed since we last spoke?
For a long time, this was a difficult question for me to answer. Then, not too long ago, I watched a movie about The Impressionists. I had watched documentaries, I had read all about them, but seeing them on the screen, their stories told in a movie, their excitement! Oh, their excitement! Monet and Renoir carrying their canvases to the riverbank, capturing “life” on their canvases! I finally understood my own work. I paint gowns, roses, princesses, gardens, chairs, all to seize life in the moment! To dream! To experience the beauty that I simply cannot get enough of. My art is about romanticising life. My work aims to say: ”There is so much beauty in the world! Let us enjoy it! Let us dream together!”
Does your work comment on current, social and political issues?
No, I don’t think so. I am a romantic old soul who seeks to find and express the beautiful things in life.
Has that focus changed and, if so, how?
My focus has not changed at all. I think I’ve become more unabashed about what I truly love!
Has your influence changed since we last spoke and how?
I don’t think so. I would say it’s become richer. I find myself more and more immersed in history, especially the history of many portrait artists and the stories of the women they painted.
How has your career changed? Please tell us what has changed?
Before now, I think I was only partially committed to my art. I created a Finishing School only to realise that I was not as passionate about it as I thought. So now, it’s Art, Art, Art!
Have you taken any courses which have changed the way you work?
In the past year I have studied with about 10 different oil painters. Prior to this I worked in watercolours and acrylics. Oil painting has become my point of no return! I’m so grateful for the access the internet has given me to teachers I probably would have never had the opportunity to study with.
Do you need to seek out opportunities or are they beginning to come to you?
I’m still at the stage of this journey where I have to seek out opportunities. I know the tide will turn soon and I’m looking forward to a time when opportunities will come to me. I think I feel confident about it because in my past career as a designer everything came to me, so there’s hope!
Have you sought out professional input for your art business? If so, what and how has that worked for you?
I have taken many business courses. At some point, I would like to have gallery representation. I am also in a couple of mastermind groups. These have been my saving grace, especially during this pandemic.
The momentum of being in a mastermind with a business coach who believes in me has been invaluable. Also, the relationships I have with my fellow artists like you, Alison, has been one of the greatest gifts on this journey.
How is your collector base increasing and what are you doing to cultivate it?
My strategy concerning my collector base has been quite ridiculous, but I think it’s working! I have created and curated several Instagrams according to themes/collections/colours, and I think it’s (very slowly) attracting the right people. I do my best to cultivate relationships with people who I find to be interested in these individual collections.
Has the way you navigate the world changed since we last spoke?
Apart from the connections I continue to make online, it hasn’t changed much, especially because of the pandemic.
What advice would you give to artists who are at the beginning of their journey? Can you offer some words of inspiration?
My advice to artists would be to paint and paint and paint! To paint things that are important to them. To paint things which make their hearts burst into a million rose petals! To always keep on improving, always keep on learning. To form and cultivate relationships, and finally, in today’s world, to create a meaningful and recognisable brand.
Has your pricing changed significantly, how have you dealt with this?
Yes. My pricing has definitely changed, significantly. This was not a random decision. I continue to find my place in the market by refining my style, identifying my peers, and pricing myself competitively.
Do you continue to follow current art world trends?
Yes and no. I don’t like trends per se, so I go by my own tune. However, for any business it’s important to observe consumer behaviour, especially in the art market, luxury, fashion, and interior industries, too.
How do you and your art cope with Covid-19?
Well, as a full time, stay at home mother, I was “home bound” before Covid-19 came along so I joke about the fact that the whole world joined me in isolation! Again, access to almost everything I can imagine online has enriched my life as an artist in ways I cannot even begin to express. I think Covid made so much more accessible online.
Do you have anything coming up?
Thank you so much for asking. I have three things I would love to share! First, I am now open to paint commissions of princess portraits! I haven’t offered commissions since I left my design business and now I’m excited to offer all of my experience as a custom wedding designer to the experiences of creating whimsical life-sized princess portraits!
Secondly, I will be launching a podcast in the new year. It’s called The Romantic Artist where I will be having conversations with artists, designers, writers and so many more. It will be about passion, romanticism, beauty, luxury, how our offerings make people feel special and why it’s important. Finally, also in the new year, I will be teaching my first art course. It will be an exploration of old masters, portrait masters specifically, and the women they painted. Their passions, their styles, their lives and of course, their art! The first artist on the list will be Giovanni Boldini and amongst others, the relationship he had with the mysterious courtesan, Marthe de Florian.
Everything is, and will be, available on my website:
Where can you be found on social media?
I mentioned earlier before a bevy of Instagram accounts; here are a few of them.
Thank you, my dear friend, for this opportunity. I adore you!
I admit the feeling is mutual, my life has truly been enriched by my friendship with this amazing lady.
You can read my original interview with Shirley Ann here: