Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Alleluia Agbuya.
Karen, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Art was always something I’ve gravitated towards for as long as I can remember, but it was also something I spent most of my life avoiding as a career.
I pursued Nursing because I was fascinated with the human body — its structure, how it moves, and how it literally encapsulates a life. But after seven years working in the field, shining in school, and yet somehow still being rejected by countless programs, I realized that maybe this wasn’t where I was supposed to be. In all the time I had been waiting on nursing programs to accept me, I was working on improving my art skills for fun, and I excelled in Design and Illustration with many recognitions, awards, and scholarships. As I dived deeper into this field, I realized that the sole reason why I avoided being an artist was because I was afraid. I didn’t want to starve.
Then I lost my home and my car. I spent months asking for rides, living in a gym, only eating fast food, and working two jobs. But you know what I looked forward to every day? Drawing. On nights when I had the energy, I’d stay up and draw. I knew, then, that if I wanted a fulfilling life, it was this.
Ironically, I got a call from a CSU to have a nursing interview with me, and, to my surprise, I felt immediate dread. Not long after, I was notified by a planner company that they wanted to interview me, and I made the decision to become a full-time employee as a Creative. Since then, I’ve been able to move into a nice home, grow my creativity and art skills at work, and open up my very own art business. All I know now is that I am truly living (and definitely not starving).
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am an illustrator and pin maker. I enjoy creating pieces with watercolor and alcohol-based markers, but will oftentimes find ways to cut and fold paper to go beyond its two-dimensional purposes. Some of my most prized pieces were created to confront social injustices in America.
Lately, I’ve been illustrating my two dogs, Bandit and Fatboy, and depicting their adventures as they travel the world and experience alternate universes together as brothers. Although my stories have yet to be revealed to the public, I want viewers to understand the importance of kin, what it means to help one another, and the beauty of going beyond our own bubbles. It has always been a dream of mine to create a children’s book and I believe these illustrations will help me get there.
Have things improved for artists? What should cities do to empower artists?
Social media has made it both easier and harder for artists to be seen. It’s rough because we need to rely on platforms, such as Instagram, that will give small, local artists less exposure, and because our generation wants artists to produce more content at a faster pace. It is its own beast, constantly fluctuating in algorithms and trends, but it’s something us artists need to deal with in order to get exposure.
The time it takes to tackle social media is hard work, but I think that if artists aspire to be known and rely on their work as their primary source of income, they need to reach out to the readily accessible audience online. In essence, this potential audience makes it easier for us to reach them at the click of a button. I also believe that in order to be a better artist, we need to fall in love with the process.
No artist creates a perfect stroke the first time, and no artist ever truly improves by not practicing. When a product doesn’t look how you want it to, that’s totally okay. Obsess over it, make a ridiculous amount of sketches, actively think about how it can improve, and then try again. After all, how many times did Van Gogh paint sunflowers before he was satisfied with it?
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
You can follow along with my journey by visiting my Instagram account, check out my website, or by liking my Facebook page (all links seen below). In general, sharing my content and including my name, or literally just telling me if you like my work, will help me grow as an artist and a business.
Every pin, print, and sticker purchase made from my shop allows me to continue creating what I love and also help me take good care of my dogs.
- Website: www.karenalleluia.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/karenalleluia
- Facebook: facebook.com/k.alleluia