Can you share a bit about your business and what you do?
My name is Monica, and I’m an artist and illustrator born and raised in San Diego, CA. I currently create portraits on my iPad, so most of my work is digital. What’s special about my artwork is that my portraits are made entirely out of numbers. I mainly draw portraits of rappers or R&B singers, and I use the area code of the city they were born and/or raised in. It’s difficult to explain with words, so I feel like you have to see my artwork to understand. I sell my artwork as prints and stickers. Most recently, I compiled my portraits’ special collections into a limited edition calendar.
When and why did you decide to start your new business?
I started my business back in 2010 (officially), but I started freelancing in 2008/2009. I’ve been painting since I was 10, so I think creating my own business was something that would happen naturally. Once I graduated college in 2012, I started freelancing as a graphic designer as well. Now I mainly focus on my own artwork.
What do you love most about running your own business?
So many things. I love being able to call all of the shots and curate how I want everything presented. I’m not going to lie, it can get lonely sometimes, and there have definitely been times where I just wanted to quit. It’s so important to have people around you who genuinely support you. Seeing people with your product is always the best part. My Instagram followers especially have such a special place in my heart. I owe them all the success I’ve had in the past few years. It’s also connected me with amazing creators.
What are your overall goals for your business?
This year I decided to close my commissions until further notice to focus on turning my business into a brand. I’ve been freelancing since I started back in 2008, and I just feel like I need a break to get better and experiment with new things. I also want to have more collaborations with other artists. I think COVID-19 made me realize how important it is to have a network of people to connect with who understand what it’s really like to run a business. I also feel like I need to expand on my products and audience, and I feel like collaborations are the best way to do that.
Currently, what’s your favorite piece of work you’ve created… ever?
Last year I started a series called Double Exposure (DBL EXPSR), a collection of portraits that combine a digital portrait with a handmade portrait. The first set included Mac Miller, A$AP Rocky, and Logic. I also made videos to go with each piece that mixed music video footage of each rapper and timelapse footage of me creating the final result. It wasn’t my most profitable collection, but it’s my best work by far. As an artist and a business owner, I find that I always have to keep a balance between what I like and what my audience would like. The Double Exposure collection was 100% me, and I’m looking forward to making some more portraits this year.
Besides that, I recently collaborated with Kristina Manuzon (@manuzon.co) on a special earring collection that includes an earring set, print, and sticker. The entire experience has been so refreshing and exciting. It truly has been a dream to collaborate with another creator who loves art and music as much as I do. I am so proud of what we’ve made together. The response has been beyond what any of us ever expected. I feel like I’ve known Kristina for years, and I am truly so grateful to have met her and now call her my friend.
What services do you provide for anyone who may want to reach out to you/work with you?
Although I’m not open for commissions at the moment, I am interested in connecting with other creators. I’m not sure what I have in mind as far as future collaborations, but at the moment, I’m open to anything!