Artist Feature: Cori Maass

by Nisha Btesh March 06, 2019

Artist Feature: Cori Maass

Cori's Artistic journey, like her work esthetic, will leave you feeling effortlessly free and magnetically charged at the exact same time. Sooo maybe that's why total strangers started getting her artwork tattooed on them only 8 months after launching her art IG account @coralmonday. So it comes as no surprise that the notorious doodle-filled feed, now 390 posts strong, has garnered a cult-like following of 21.1 K. Talk about #artistgoals. BUT Cori is not only talented (&wildly popular!) she is now bringing to light a very important behind the scenes look at her business by sharing her favorite tips, apps & advice with us. Read on to learn how this business-minded Artist tackles tax season, stays motivated by travel and advises that learning how to speak confidently about money will be a win for both you AND your potential clients. 

Tell us about how you became the woman you are today. Where did you grow up? What moments in life have influenced your character most?

I grew up in a suburb in SoCal called Thousand Oaks, traveled around a lot, lived in Atlanta for six months in 2017 and now I live in Los Angeles permanently but am trying out a bicoastal living situation (ATL/LA). I had been doing design and marketing, but when I moved to Atlanta originally, but I finally discovered myself as an artist during that time. I think it was so valuable for me to move to a new city where no one knew me and have the time to establish who I was to set my career as an artist up well.   

Tell us about the exact moment or period in time when you realized you were born to create.

I have always loved creating anything I could, however, I always focused my energies on business strategy and created from that place. It wasn’t until I had the Coral Monday account up for about 8 months and people around the world started getting my work as tattoos or telling me that it impacted them in some way that I realized that I had a voice that was making an impact. Now, I am so grateful that I get to create from a place of personal exploration and that is connecting with others. It drives me on a personal level to keep creating for myself and from my experience, the fact that I can sustain myself with it financially and have a small place in people’s lives is the icing on the cake.

 

Tell us a little bit about what drew you to your medium. Did you choose to work with said medium or did it choose you?

It chose me in a lot of ways! I start a lot of my work out digitally. I bought the iPad originally for a design aid, but it was a great tool that allowed me to sharpen my skills and create every single day. Since it worked from a functional standpoint, it became the thing that first of all allowed me to have a distinct style but also was something that I could build bigger pieces from in a way that made sense to me.

Finish this sentence. I find myself most inspired to create when I am…

In a new place!

 A lot of women believe they need formal training in order to succeed as a female Artist. What’s your take? Did you have a formal education or are you self taught?

I don’t have formal training as an artist! My take on it is that if you want to create and “succeed”, you’ll have to have discipline and work on refining your craft and perspective. There is natural talent, but if you don’t foster it and put in the work, it won’t be able to be fully developed. What I appreciate about formal training, is that it allows you to learn in a structured environment if that will be what allows you to create. For me, although I haven’t had formal training, I spend time creating every day, ask a lot of questions and have to put time into learning and growing. 

What do you want the younger female artists coming up behind you to know about you, your journey, and the art industry in general?

The art industry is changing, the whole world is changing! Honestly, no one will believe in your vision if you don’t believe in it. If you are waiting for someone to do the work for you, nothing will happen. Just say yes, push through fear, and do what you know is in your soul to do. I think that there is no failing if you are learning and growing, and everything is part of a journey. I think it is refreshing to see people creating from a place of honesty and that will separate you from people who are creating just to gain something.

 How do you define your creative gig? Full-time career or side hustle? Explain why you’ve chosen one over the other.

It is full-time! I have owned my own business or done freelance in some capacity for years (even in high-school) so it feels very natural for me. It isn’t easy at all, but I like that can put all of my time and energy into my career and that I feel like I have a sense of ownership over it.

What is the message you're sending into the universe with your work? Why do you feel so strongly about said message?

I want to tell a story of freedom. The freedom to create without shame. The freedom to be honest. The freedom to be in process. The freedom to be yourself and love yourself. The freedom to exist in awkward tension. I love processing my own human journey and emotions through my art and my hope is that it is a unifying message. I feel strongly about this because I think I was always so self-monitored and the journey of freedom is scary and uncomfortable but it is the way that I want to exist.

Name 3 of your guilty pleasures.

Memes, toast, cheese boards.

What is the biggest challenge you've faced as a female artist?

Back in my design days, it was harder because I had to work harder to prove my perspective and motives because I don’t think people (rich older men lol) took me seriously. It is still a practice in learning how to present myself in a non-threatening way but staying in my core strength. I have a kind temperament, but it is learning how to be kind but not let myself be taken advantage of.  I think it has to start with believing in your own credibility, perspective, needs and choosing not to give your power away and assume that everyone somehow knows more than you. Once I realized that I had a voice and what kind of projects I wanted to be on, I have been able to say yes to projects that are more synergistic. It is still a challenge though and daily practice to keep that balance! 

If you had to give a 30 min. speech without preparing to an audience of 1,000 what would it be on?

Anxiety.

Share an experience that started out as a complete disaster but looking back turned out to be a magical opportunity.

I was working with a startup company when I first started designing and gave a year to branding and marketing for them. It didn’t end how I wanted it to at all, but that experience, first of all, freed me to focus on myself and my own career. I realized that I had spent so much time building something that I really didn’t have any control over and made me have an internal fight for myself and my own career. Also, it led me to connections and other design opportunities that basically financed my time in Atlanta and gave me the time to build Coral Monday into what it is. Again, there is no failure just chapters of a journey!

Finish this sentence. I never leave home without my…

Phone? Haha 

How do you stay motivated? What does your daily routine look like?

Instagram is actually a great tool for motivation for me! Even on days I am feeling drained, it gives me a sense of connection and purpose to at least create something or remember that I am in a building process. I also need to go to new places in order to stay inspired and motivated without getting weighed down by the mundane of day-to-day living. I work from coffee shops a lot which gets me out and have focused work time while not being isolated in my home. Just getting out and getting ready every day helps me stay motivated! 

My daily routine always includes work time, coffee, running (great for anxiety and time away from a screen and in the outdoors) and time at the end of the day to just breathe and meditate on what I am grateful for.

What is your biggest focus and/or goal in your career right now? What plans do you have for yourself 1,3,5 years from now?

This year, I want to do at least 12 murals, expand my wholesale accounts, continue the tattoo tour, and work with more brands that I love!  I also want to release a book by the end of the year! For 3 and 5 years, I want to be completely financially established and continue expanding nationally and globally. 

 

What’s the most difficult financial hurdle you’ve had to overcome while running your business? Get specific!

Business is expensive. Last year, before I officially incorporated, I had projects billed under my SSN instead of my EIN (to my business) so I was taxed as “self-employed” which is 15% instead of as a business. Taxes and improper bookkeeping at first have caused me to pay more penalties and fees than necessary. It’s part of the process of starting a business! But I would recommend getting a good tax person who will be in your corner and someone who can keep track of your expenses if it isn’t your forte (it’s not mine at all!!).

A genie grants you three wishes. What do you wish for?

Michael Scott to have stayed in The Office through season 9. For bread and pasta to be as healthy as vegetables. Endless budget at Trader Joes.

Big or small, what’s the single best money making tip or piece of advice you can share with up and coming artists?

Charge what will make you feel compensated.

What tools, apps, websites, blogs, books, or podcasts help you the most when it comes to financials?

The Tim Ferriss Show podcast has helped me think about money and work differently. I use Chase ink to keep track of my receipts! I use QuickBooks for invoices and bookkeeping.

What specifically gives you the most anxiety when it comes to talking about money? Explain.

Money gives me anxiety when I think about coming up short. But, I think it is valuable to change the way you think about it. If you get anxiety about charging, people will have anxiety about paying. I think it is better to come at everything from a perspective of mutual value add not that one party is doing a “favor” for another party. 

 What do you know for sure?

That I don’t know anything for sure haha.

Give us three of your favorite/ most inspiring things right now. Could be a book, a food, a destination, a song, a person, etc.

The Office is my favorite show (I know way too much trivia about it tbh), Brené Brown’s books have changed my life (read Gifts of Imperfection or Daring Greatly), my most listened to song of 2018 was “Find the Light” by David Ramirez.  

It’s karaoke night and your up. What song do you sing?

Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson

 

To learn more about Cori Maass please visit coralmonday.com

 



Nisha Btesh
Nisha Btesh

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