Dina Wakley Artist Interview
Artist Dina Wakely compares teaching online art classes with in-person workshops and the value of publishing instructional art books.
Dina Wakley Bio
Dina is a mixed-media artist and teacher. She loves everything about art: creating it, thinking about it, looking at it, and teaching it. She has been scrapbooking since 1995, stamping since 1996, and art journaling since 2004. She believes in writing yourself down, expressing yourself, and making your mark on the world. As a Ranger Signature Designer, Dina designs a line of mixed-media art supplies that includes acrylic paints, mediums, brushes, rubber stamps, stencils, and more. Dina’s two books Art Journal Freedom and Art Journal Courage are available now.
Dina lives in Arizona with her husband and 3 boys (affectionately
termed “the fellas”). With a love of teaching and traveling, Dina travels the world to teach and share her art passion with students on every continent.
Please tell us about your art business?
My website is dinawakley.com. I design products for Ranger, Ink. My line is called Dina Wakley Media, and includes stamps, stencils, journals, acrylic paints and mediums, brushes, collage tissues, tapes, and more. I travel all over the world and teach classes with my weird art (I call it art that everyone can do). I also have online courses on my
Dina Wakley’s Art Background
I am self-taught. I come from a very creative family and we grew up having lots of creative pursuits. I started scrapbooking in 1995 and stamping in 1996. Then, I discovered mixed media and art journaling. I have kept a personal journal since I was 9 years old, so art journaling was a logical and easy fit for me. I started art journaling in earnest in 2004.
When did you get started with your business?
I always say my business is accidental, backed up by TONS of hard work. Basically I had my head down, working hard, and people took notice and some great opportunities came my way. I was scrapbooking for several product manufacturers (as their token “artsy” scrapbooker). That helped me get published in the scrapbooking magazines occasionally. Then I was blogging about my art journaling, and Somerset contacted me and asked me to send in my journals. So, I got published a few times there. Then someone asked me if I ever teach art journaling, and I said “sure.” I started teaching classes, and that grew over time by word of mouth. I started off doing two or three
locations a year, and then that grew to two or three times a month. I enjoy teaching a lot. I like people, I like art, and it’s a privilege to be in a place to witness art being born.
Please tell us about your art products on Ranger,
I have been with Ranger about 5 years. That came about because I knew Dyan Reaveley, who was first the European educator and then later a signature designer with Ranger. I had taught at her store in England in 2009, and we became fast friends. So Ranger really noticed me because we were hanging out together and supporting each other.
I talked with them about what I thought my line would contain, and they thought about it and then later offered me a contract. Working with them is definitely a privilege, and I am very grateful. I come to them with ideas of what I would like to use personally in my art, and then they develop/source and help make the dreams a reality. Sometimes ideas get shelved or some things aren’t possible, but we do our best to make things happen. Product development has lots of facets, from concept to sourcing/chemistry to testing to revision, and then eventually release to the market.
You have many teaching workshops around
the world, please tell us about that side of your
I teach workshops that center around art journaling, mixed media, abstract painting (both non-representational and representational), very basic drawing, and beeswax collage. I always say that anyone can do the kind of art I do. Some people have a god-given gift, and the rest of us can learn. All levels and abilities are welcome in my classes.
What advice do you have for artists who want to
create a business around their passions?
I think online courses are important, and they help bring you to a wider audience. However, there is no substitute for in-person teaching. Try to find a store or venue and teach some classes. You will quickly learn how to design a class and how best to pass on your process to others (how did your students respond, can they duplicate what you do? are they happy? did you run out of time?). Doing that will make your online classes better, too. The bottom line, though is 1) have a unique artistic voice (don’t be a copy of someone else), and 2) meet your obligations. If you get a chance to do something (a blog tutorial, magazine article, etc), don’t be a flake.
How did you become such a sought-after teacher?
Hmm…honestly, hard work and designing classes that strike a balance between being doable but that also help you learn and stretch. It helps that I genuinely enjoy people, too.
How do in-person workshops compare with your
My online classes are sorely neglected right now. I desperately need to do new ones. The nice thing about online classes is that you do the work once and can sell it in perpetuity. The downside is there is less personal interaction, feedback, and sense of community. I definitely prefer the in-person format, but have lots off new online classes
planned…I just need more time in the day.
Is it getting more difficult for artists to successfully
offer courses and workshops?
I think students are more discerning than they used to be and expect a higher level of production value. But a slick video will never make up for crappy teaching. Regarding competition, I think a rising tide raises all ships. I am not competitive in the least, I think there is room for everyone. If you have a class to offer, go for it. It doesn’t threaten me… in fact, it helps. Hopefully they’ll take your class and get infected by the art bug, and maybe they’ll take my class next.
Please tell us about your book?
I have two books. Art Journal Freedom came first. It iis about how color theory and design principles can help you make better art journal pages. My second book, Art Journal Courage, is about all the art things you are afraid to do (like draw faces), but that I know you can do. Both books were fun to do. Lots of work, but fun. If I ever do another, I will probably self-publish it and offer it on a small scale. Books haven’t a been a big money maker, when you compare the time it takes to make one to what you get. They’re cool, though. It’s not always about the money.
With so much information online now, do you think
it’s still a good idea for artists to publish books?
You know, that is the golden question. Especially since yesterday F&W Media filed bankruptcy (they are the parent company for North Light, which published my books). People are reticent to pay for content, since so much is free online. I still buy books, though, of all kinds. Art books, novels, you name it. I hope artists still publish. We all need to adapt and learn how to live in this digital age, though.
Dina Wakley Links
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