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“Connecting with fellow artists and people that want to chat about art is medicinal as well. It’s always nice to be reminded that you’re not alone.”


How is your inspiration and purpose found and nurtured in the natural world?

I am a 33 year old, triple water sign, so emotionally stable is not my middle name – it’s Denise actually. I’m originally from Montreal, QC. I studied fine arts at Langara College and Emily Carr University in Vancouver. I lived there for about 9 years, then relocated to the Okanagan about 4 years ago. The natural world informs about every single creative endeavour I involve myself in, whether it was the old trees of Montreal, the mountains, moss and waters of Vancouver, or the semi-arid desert and buttery lakes of the Okanagan. Nature is something I’ve never been able to, nor have I wanted to ignore. The natural world is what we’ve got.

Fine Art by Nathalie Denise Coulombe - Feature Interview in Merrymen Magazine Volume 6

What kind of growth and healing do you get from expressing yourself?

I often take on commissions, which is my main source of income. The commissions are a collaboration between my client(s) and myself. Time and time again I am challenged, and experience some form of growth; whether it’s learning to communicate with people better or honing my painting and drawing techniques, or learning more about finances and budgeting, or managing the admin side of my biz. I do feel year in and year out that I am growing personally and professionally, it’s good to give yourself props sometimes.

As for healing, I feel like a great deal of it comes through connection: connection with people, connection with the natural world and connection with yourself. I spend a lot of time alone in the studio, alone with my animals, I guess, and that’s taken a long time to get used to, but there is healing in that solitude. Connecting with fellow artists and people that want to chat about art is medicinal as well. It’s always nice to be reminded that you’re not alone.

Do you believe that finding your life’s purpose is in your work?

All I know is that I’m never going to retire, that must say something about something.

Nathalie Denise Coulombe - Merrymen interview
Fine Art by Nathalie Denis Coulombe for Merrymen Magazine Volume 6

Why do you think compassion for artists and creatives is important?

I think there are a lot of people out in the world who don’t quite understand or appreciate what a career in the arts entails. I encounter a lot of confusion when people ask what I do. I guess it’s hard for them to fathom that a person can make a living as an artist and that’s probably because that’s what we’ve all been told our whole lives. I mean it’s tricky, but it’s by no means impossible. Art is involved in everything from the design of your coffee cup to the wall colours of hospital rooms.

What steps did you take in order to monetize your passion?

I have been building my career as an artist since I left Emily Carr, so going on 11 years. For roughly 9 of those years I have had to have a 2nd and even 3rd job and it was tiring but I stuck with it. It was always important to me, and I think a big part of how I got to where I am, was to treat my job as an artist as exactly that – a job. I put myself out there constantly applying for shows, galleries, artist residencies. Social media, Instagram specifically has been an insane tool as well. I did lots of research so I could understand how it worked and went for it. I built my mailing list and I send quarterly newsletters. I created a pricing matrix and stuck by it. I keep in touch with clients, so they don’t forget about me. For the past 3 or so years I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to only work as an artist and devote all of my professional time and energy to my practice. I am running my own business and I wear a lot of different hats professionally, but that’s what it takes and I am okay with that.

How do you measure success and have there been any road bumps along the way?

I feel successful because I get to do what I love and get paid for it. For the most part I feel very happy doing what I do for a living and that to me feels like success. In the past 11 years there have been plenty of times that I have wanted to quit, however, something always brought me back to my art. Rejection is an inevitable byproduct of putting yourself out there. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have been rejected in this business (sooo many times) but I can tell you it gets easier. It will always sting but we move on with our lives because that’s what we’ve got to do.

© 2021 Merrymen.

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