Judith Sallador is a 33 year old mixed media artist and color aficionado wrecking havoc in her beloved city of Detroit. Well let’s get more technical.. she’s an abstract expressionist mixed media artist and she’s pioneering her own path. How do you become one of… those? In this exclusive interview she dives into the gritty part of her every day life, and art, at the Dandelion Hustle.
What is it that you do? I am an artist. (that feels so good to say!)
What is your business/projects? The Dandelion Hustle… keep reading and I’ll explain the name.
What is the purpose or mission behind The Dandelion Hustle? My purpose is for my art to convey resilience, hope, courage, and freedom. Images are powerful, and we are designed to be visual creatures. As an artist, I believe that who I am is being reproduced in my pieces. My job is to bring my viewers into an experience of what I created.
Do you do this full-time? Not yet. I have a 9-5 job to help pay the bills, along with being an art and photography instructor to high school students.
What did you do before this? Growing up I was naturally creative. I was either drawing, making videos, acting in plays, playing instruments, or designing websites. Yet pursuing art as a career never crossed my mind. At the time, it didn’t sound practical. I graduated with a degree in sociology with a plans to get my master’s in social work. I wanted to change the world. After investing 40 credit hours immersed in research of societal problems, the 7 credits I took in art during my last semester completely overhauled my social work aspirations. It was a very disorienting time, but it was essential in discovering and embracing who I really am. Instead of seeking out jobs that matched up with my degree, the summer after graduation. I launched my business as a freelance artist and photographer. My passion was always painting, yet I found that photography aided in producing the necessary funds to buy more art supplies. Photography positioned me in a place of connecting with other creatives and opportunities which soon led me to teaching my craft to 2nd-12th graders at four different public schools. It was during this season that I grew as an artist and witnessed firsthand the relationship between internal belief systems and creativity, not only with my students, but with myself especially.
Why did you start it? The Dandelion Hustle came to be at the end of 2015. For years I was focused on my photography business but was feeling burnt out and uninspired. The tension of being an artist who owns a business became overwhelming and stressful. Creating was no longer expressing who I was internally, but became an external pressure in order to please clients. That’s when I knew something had to change. Towards the end of 2015 I challenged myself to paint every day for 90 days. It was then that I returned to my first love of painting and creating from a place of knowing who I am. I was created to create.
One of my dreams was to sell my art successfully online, but I did not feel like I was ready. The name The Dandelion Hustle kept ruminating inside of me. The name was catchy and after further research realized it described my journey in embracing my identity as a creative. Dandelions represent resilience and perseverance, and whenever you think you have gotten rid of them, they end up multiplying.
With this vision in my heart, I began posting my work on social media and was surprised at the reception. Aside from the two art classes I took in college, I lacked in the technical training and felt vulnerable and insecure about putting it out there. One photo in particular was a work in progress, and I expressed that I had been staring at the painting for a week and didn’t know where to go next. Comments flooded in from others interested in purchasing the piece as it is. Not only was it an encouragement, but it was the beginning of defining my aesthetic. That one painting launched my #whatsyourflavorseries and my online shop The Dandelion Hustle was born a week after that.
Where do you get your inspiration? My main inspiration is my faith in Jesus Christ. It is so integrated into who I am that it’s only natural to produce what I am experiencing in the moment. Just like photography documents a moment in time, my paintings document what’s been bubbling up and established in me (ie, courage, freedom, joy, tenacity).
I have synesthesia so I am always seeing colors when I hear words or sounds which is a major reason why colors play a huge role in my work. The more vibrant the better. There is a mural here in Detrot called the Illuminated Mural. This was the first time I experienced an art piece physically move me out of my chair, get in my car and drive 15 minutes to find it. The colors drew me in, and I was in awe. This type of experience is what I desire people to have when viewing my work: movement forward.
The community of artists on Instagram are huge motivators and inspiration makers. I have been able to connect with artists from all over the world who understand the ebb and flow of the creative process and are more than willing to share their experiences and techniques. They have been a helpful resource in this last year.
What does a normal day for you look like? On a normal day I get up at 5am to go to the gym. Come back home, eat, and get ready for work. When I get home I give myself 30 minutes to decompress. What that looks like is either reading a book, an article I bookmarked, or scrolling through my social media feed to see what my artist friends are up to and gain inspiration. I then take out my planner and tackle the business to-do list for The Dandelion Hustle; whether it is packaging and shipping to updating the shop with new pieces. Afterwards I get my hands messy with paint.
I give myself permission to experiment and go there,
regardless of what I’m feeling.
I keep going until that moment strikes and I know I found my groove. It can take anywhere from 10-60 minutes. It’s in this place of diligence and discovery that creativity happens. People look at abstract art and think the spontaneity “just happens” but the truth is, it requires a day to day discipline to get there. When I am done painting, I take time to respond to emails from clients and also interact with my followers on Instagram. I am adamant about the importance of genuine interaction with my audience and gauging their experiences from my latest work. I end the night praying, reading my Bible, and journaling. Then, it’s lights out!
How important is community in regards to what you do? I would not be where I am without my community. A few years ago as I struggled with embracing my creative call, a friend of mine who worked in the entertainment industry gave me some wise words, saying “I know a lot of artists who aren’t healthy. They are depressed and isolated and need coping mechanisms, yet they are successful. You have an awesome support system around you, and you are emotionally stable. You have every resource available and you can surpass their success.” I couldn’t grasp the magnitude of his statement at the time, but now I understand.
My community is comprised of people who love me and support me. Love me enough to tell the truth when I am out of line and to cover me when I feel weak. This time last year I was in a place of hopelessness and despair. I felt so defeated. If it wasn’t for my community pulling me out of the ashes and pushing me forward, I have no idea where I would be.
As an artist, it’s easy to feel isolated and alone
and think no one would understand.
That’s how I felt, but it was so false. Though many of my friends aren’t “artists” they offer up to me their time, talents, and love to help me succeed. Though I am the artist and face of The Dandelion Hustle, it is comprised of my friends who make sure my info structure is sound in order to take me to the next level. They are my biggest cheerleaders and I am forever grateful!
What will life look like through the next year or two for you? I am in the application process to get my MFA in painting. I know I don’t need a degree to qualify me as an artist, but I know grad school is the next step in order for me to mature my knowledge and skillsets as an artist. I also plan on expanding The Dandelion Hustle in offering art workshops for children and adults in unlocking their creativity.
How can people follow you or see your work?
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to start their dream job or project? Right at the beginning, treat it like it’s your job and show up! Make space for it in your day and work on it whether you feel like it or not. The foundation of your business or project should not be based on the instability of your emotions, but on discipline and diligence. That’s the way to growth. Carry a notebook at all times or use an app like Evernote to capture ideas or notes. I have been an avid fan of Evernote since 2011 and it has been a lifesaver.
Seek out mentors and others who have gone ahead. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Questions get the answers you are needing, not assumptions!
What does being a pioneer mean to you?
A pioneer sees the bigger picture, even if it’s just a glimpse and moves forward. They embrace the challenge of change, the fear of the unknown, and the pain of sacrifice and discipline. They know that their life can have a significant impact in their spheres and beyond.
A pioneer is one who accepts the call and
responsibility of creating tomorrow.