RAW turns 8 on March 12th! It’s been an incredible 8 years of discovering the most beautiful and brilliant art all around the world and giving those artists a platform to share their art with their community and beyond.
We are celebrating 8 years of RAW by sharing 8 success stories from our artists. Each day leading up to our 8th anniversary we are sharing a new story on our social media and in a blog post! Each story is so unique and epic, so we hope you enjoy reading each of them and are inspired by their creativity, hard work and persistence.
Today we get to catch up with incredible visual artist and visionary Gel Jamlang! Gel goes in depth about her artistic journey and tells the story of how RAW helped her realize the powerful voice she has through her paintings when redicovereing her career in art.
1. What’s your story? Where did you begin and where are you now?
I am a fine arts graduate and I worked in the industry of home design for years, painting large scale flower murals. Eventually, the work burnt me out and I began to question if I was capable to painting anything more than pretty flowers. Fast forward to getting married and having to move to Baltimore. This was my restart button. I began painting for myself and not for clients. I took up watercolors and painted every day. I was rediscovering who I was as an artist and it was exciting and fulfilling. My mother-in-law sent me a link to RAW’s website for a chance to show my watercolors. The same day I sent in pictures of my work, I got a call from RAW’s Baltimore director to join a show. I went from doing a show for RAW to participating in local art shows in Baltimore. This led me to a career in illustration. I am currently working as a freelance illustrator. My clients include The New Republic Magazine, Lenny Letter, Graphic Audio Audiobook covers, etc. It also led to teach a couple to semesters at Maryland Institute College of Art. What being a part of RAW cemented for me was the push to try a career in art for the second time, in a different way.
2. When/how did you get involved with the RAW community? What was your first RAW show and how many shows have you done?
My first show was Mixology in Baltimore 2012. I also participated in the RAWawards Semi Finals Show in Baltimore 2012, RAWawards Jan 2013, RAW San Francisco 2013.
3. What was the hardest part of your journey and how did you overcome it?
It’s hard to continue pursuing a career in art because it’s a very emotional and fluctuating journey. It’s always a question mark whether or not you should continue doing art for a living. Overcoming it is just deciding that this is what I want to do forever and I will do everything to keep doing this forever.
Find your artistic voice by knowing yourself more, but at the same time be open to learn things from anyone.
4. How do you define success?
I still don’t know how to define success. I guess it’s this idea that you’ve reached your goal and everyone around you can see it. My goal is to be able to live a life where I can keep creating art that excites me.
5. What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew 5 years ago or something that you think everyone pursuing a successful art career should hear?
The most important thing RAW did for me was giving me a platform where I showed strangers my art and got the feedback I needed. It was more than just encouraging words. It was realizing that I had something to say with my paintings and that I want to keep doing art. Usually, it’s my inner voice telling me that this is a foolish dream…but there’s also that other voice that’s telling me, there’s more to do. What I’m saying is that if I were to give myself advice when it comes to an art career, I would say: Find your artistic voice by knowing yourself more, but at the same time be open to learn things from anyone. I say treat art like it’s a job that you show up for everyday and eventually, something will come out of it.
We are so thrilled that you got to re-discover art and your career totally blossomed because you allowed yourself to hit that "restart button". We really admire your persistance and the fact that you realized that sometimes you need to let go of a chapter in your art career in order to find a new way that is exciting and sparks your love for art all over again. We have loved having you as a RAW artist as you have added so much color and life to each of the showcases you've been in. It's so amazing to see how you've inspired other artists through Baltimore and beyond while continuing to grow as an artist allowing yourself to change and explore.
Thank you Gel for sharing your story with us all.
See many more of her incredible artworks on her website http://geljamlang.com