Introducing: {OH MAI!} art creations

First of all, I am so excited to finally share this post!

My dear friend, Jill, launched her website, {OH MAI!} art creations, several months ago–run, do not walk, and click the link to check it out NOW–and to celebrate, I interviewed her about all the lovely details and more!

Chances are you’ve come across OMAC on social media (see #365DaysOfHandType), and perhaps Pinterest.  But it’s time to you know more about this kickass creative, whom I love greatly.  I think a lot of you can relate to different parts of her story, like graduating in a crashing economy, surviving to pay the bills and maybe even rediscovering what you love in the midst of regular work.  Enter the side hustle.  For Jill, it’s art – sketching, painting, calligraphy and creating custom pieces.  I’m so grateful she picked up the paintbrush again (even though it was after my wannabe DIY wedding ;) ) because we all need her work in our lives.

You graduated from SCAD with a degree in interior design.  How did you become interested in that and what led your decision to get an art degree?

I have always loved art as a child. It was my favorite subject and I looked forward to art class all the time in grade school.  As a teenager, I worked many summers and holiday breaks with my dad doing construction and “handyman” work. I helped him with hanging up sheet rock, painting interior walls & trim, laying down ceramic tiles, installing windows & cabinets, and other small construction tasks. I really enjoyed it and realized I had a knack for design. I soon realized my love for colors, aesthetics, functionality and how it all came together to create a space. I was very logical when deciding about college. I knew creating art as a living was extremely challenging professionally and financially.  I wanted a flourishing career that was stable, structured, enjoyable, and fun. Interior Designers were ranked in the “Top 20” at the time, and I thought, ‘what a great combination of what I love to do and can make a living doing,’ so I majored in Interior Design.

And then eventually you moved to San Diego.  What inspired you to take that leap across the country?

I met my bestie, Hana, at SCAD. We were both in the Interior Design department and graduated together in 2008. It was the worst year to graduate due to the economy and hiring freeze. While waiting tables for a year, we profusely sent out hundreds of cover letters and resumes to all the interior design firms of our top 10 cities where we wanted to live. No luck. So many rejection letters. One day, Hana came into my room and said she was moving to San Diego to be with her twin sister and asked if I wanted to go. I said, “Sure. I don’t have anything here (in Savannah) holding me back. I need a change. A big change. Let’s go!” We looked at a calendar, decided on a moving date, packed all our stuff, and road tripped it across the country in like 10 days. I’ve been living in SD ever since. It will be 7 years this July. I love it here!

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 9.48.05 PMHow did you evolve from interior design to the custom art/design work you do today?  Is there a moment or experience you can point to that influenced you?

After the big move to San Diego, I started to contact all the architect and interior design firms trying to get a job. Any job related to the design industry. Again, no luck. I finally landed a job with a high-end furniture manufacturer in Chula Vista as an office/design assistant. It wasn’t ideal but it was a foot in the door. However, the economy was still struggling and soon my hours were cut back. I only worked 3 days a week. It was awful. I had bills and student loans to pay back. I didn’t know what to do, so I cried… A lot. LOL.

Around this time, I started to sketch again–doing what I love the most. I hadn’t picked up a pen to draw in months, probably since graduating from college. Terrible, I know.  I realized how much I missed being creative and artistic, so I got back into it. I was sketching, painting, doodling, and eventually it took me to calligraphy and lettering, which I really forgot how much I love. I thought to myself, “How can I make this work for me? How can I make a living doing what I’m most passionate about? Is there a target for what I do?” The “wheels” in my head started turning… but at this point, I haven’t figured how exactly what yet.

Does being in California, versus the South, change your aesthetic perspective or how you work?

Yes and no. Growing up in the south,  I have an appreciation for traditional and old school techniques.  I prefer drawing on paper than sketching on an iPad or tablet. I have a love for calligraphy lettering using a nib with a pen holder then dipping into the pigment. I feel like there is more charm and character than using technology to create art. However, being in SoCal, I feel people greatly appreciate my craftsmanship and are more willing to be open to a variety of flair and style. The whole thing is kinda ironic if you think about it!

What kinds of challenges have you faced as a young professional, and specifically as an artist?

EVERYTHING! Lol It is extremely challenging to balance a full-time job while pursuing my passion as a creative individual. After a long day at work, I put in more hours late at night and on weekends, too. Another challenge is learning to stay true to my aesthetics and not compare myself to other artists and designers. I have to constantly remind myself that on a daily basis.

How did Oh Mai Art Creations start?

My very dear friend, Shea (aka Modern Housewife), was engaged and needed help with her Save the Date. She asked me, and I was more than happy to create a special custom design for her and her fiance. Then, another friend of mine asked me to help with their invitations, and then another, and before I knew it, I was designing invitations and creating custom artwork. I figured the opportunity was “knocking” and I should answer my “calling.” [laughs]

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 9.47.35 PMCan you explain your inspiration and goals for the look/design of the new website?  

With my artwork and designs being very vibrant and colorful, I wanted a clean and modern website to highlight the work. It was also important for people to easily navigate through the categories. I did not want a lot of text, which I think can be distracting. Lastly, I wanted people to have a feel of the artist and designer that I am.

What is your favorite part about what you do?

I love it when I can bring my client’s vision to life and exceed their expectations when they see the final product.

I know that you’re juggling a full-time job with your freelance work.  How do you make time to do both well, and what helps you keep up the energy?

I don’t know if I’m doing it both well. [laughs] But I am trying. I love being creative! It’s innate in me, so I have to make time for it. I get very agitated if I don’t get to release the creative ideas. Also, I am a very disciplined, structured and determined person.  I will put in very long hours perfecting my craft. I have an amazing group of family and friends who are constantly cheering me on. Their faith in me keeps me going.    

What keeps you inspired and motivated?

I make an effort to go on hikes and be outdoors as there is so much inspiration in Mother Nature. I follow other calligraphers, letters, illustrators and artists to inspire me and keep me motivated. I feel that there is so much we can learn from each other, and one should never stop learning and growing. Also, my clients inspire me with their visions and ideas.

What are your goals for 2016 – personally and professionally?

I want to travel more nationally and internationally. Some of my best memories were the 2 months I studied abroad in the South of France.  I mean, talk about being inspired on every corner and building! There’s so much to see and learn. I’m making it a goal to take smaller weekend trips. Ideally, I’d like to teach workshops like lettering and watercolor painting in different cities (stay tuned, y’all!). Then I would be killing two birds with one stone. I might be ambitious making it a goal for this year, but if not, maybe in 2017. However, my goals for OMAC are to offer my original paintings as prints on Etsy and maybe include one-of-a-kind items like hand-lettered quotes on wood planks or on ornaments. My niche is custom artwork but I’d like to have my pieces more available to everyone.

Visit to learn more and swoon!

xo, mh

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