Victoria Mlady, Artist/Photographer
In a faraway place called Minnesota, a little 4th grader Named Victoria Mlady did a report on the arctic fox and caught the bug. The drawing bug that is. She had to draw the arctic fox as part of the project. It turned out pretty well, and another artist was born. “I drew all the way through college while taking art-related courses here and there,” said Mlady. “My maternal grandmother was instrumental in teaching me the ways of the sewing machine, knitting, crocheting and quilting, too. Her hands were never still and she made beautiful things by hand. As an adult, I have experimented with woodworking, painting, more quilting, and interior renovations of kitchens and bathrooms. Going all the way down to the studs in a room is one of the most exciting things for me - to understand a space you need to see how it is put together. I can get lost for months when designing a project like that. I once did a large kitchen without a plan in hand. We gutted it and then I slowly pieced it back together in a completely new configuration, just following intuition. Getting lost in a process and following your inner compass is what I love best about art and design.”
For the past ten years, Mlady has used a Canon DSLR and Adobe Photoshop to express her creative side. “Picking up a camera was one of the best decisions I ever made. It is an incredible tool in that you can solely concentrate on what material is held within the viewfinder and nothing else, unless of course you happen to be standing on a cliff while shooting, said Mlady. “I learned composition through trial and error through many many hours behind the lens. I occasionally use acrylic paints in my work, creating paintings, photographing them or parts of them, and then continuing to work in Photoshop.”
While Mlady does not have an art degree, she was trained in biomedical science She later went back to grad school and finished a masters in counseling psychology. According to Mlady, she discovered that helping her coworkers in the laboratory settings with their personal problems was much more fun than working with cell cultures. However, art ran a continuous buzz behind the scenes. “Then one day I looked up and said, wait a minute. I think I know what I really should be doing! Having had some terrific art teachers in elementary and high school who encouraged me and the classes I took in college just spurred me on to keep learning about whatever I was interested in. I went looking for resources in books and classes and dove in and have continued to do so,” said Mlady.
Color is important to Mlady. “Color is powerful stuff. It taps into our emotions and influences our well being. My goal as a therapist was to help people problem solve and work on self care mechanisms to decrease stress and live more proactively within relationships and within themselves. Our direct living and working environments impact us in dramatic ways; they either feed us or drain us. I think it is so important to pay attention to what you place around yourself. Color is one of the strongest influencers in our world. Just look at nature and how color is used so cleverly. I have quite a bit of color in our home and in my husband’s office. It stimulates us and provides a cheerful foundation from which we can go out into the world and try to do good things,” she said.
A full-time artist, Mlady just started a company called Victoria Bright where she is designing and manufacturing products for the interior design industry. “I am shifting my design work to wallcovering, textiles, rugs, and other substrates for the residential and hospitality design markets. I hope to launch at High Point Market in North Carolina in October, if not earlier. I am ridiculously excited about all of it and am working out collaborations with manufacturers and other designers on the East Coast.”
While photography has been Mlady’s main focus, she is also an accomplished painter. When asked about other mediums she dabbles in, she responded, “I do enjoy messing with all kinds of techniques and media. Life is short, so I’ve decided to try to improve in just a few areas instead of trying out all sorts of new things. Lately, Illustrator and Photoshop skills are important to the daily work flow, so I try to keep working on skills within these programs.
Learning marketing and marketing techniques is important in getting your art “out there.” Mlady has worked with a marketing coach in the past and also utilized some of the offerings at WESST for women starting their own businesses. “I pay attention to what others are doing and what seems to be working for them. I have also done some online marketing classes with people I admire, and follow various blogs and newsletters for continued learning. It’s very challenging to try to stay on top of all of it, but I don’t think we need to be overwhelmed by it. Instagram is where I place most of my marketing efforts now. Facebook has kind of fallen by the wayside for me because I don’t enjoy that platform as much. LinkedIn can be beneficial, too. I do believe having a handle on or having someone help you with social media is important, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. Being genuinely kind to everyone you meet helps establish good relationships and those relationships can be mutually supportive in various degrees when trying to market yourself or what you produce.
Mlady also believes that showing interest in what others are doing is important. “You will learn a lot by listening. The best take away I have discovered is to get comfortable with being yourself. If you have a sense of humor, tap into when you market! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Try things and see what works. Above all, never give up and keep going if you are still enjoying making the art you are making. Success can be defined in all kinds of ways; just figure out what it might look like to you and go for it.