Artist Feature: Natalie Reece

by Nisha Btesh June 02, 2019

Artist Feature: Natalie Reece

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 was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio with my 4 siblings. For the most part, I was raised by a single mom. My Dad passed away when I was five of Lung Cancer. 13 years later, my Mom also passed away in a car accident. I had just turned 18 and was about 6 weeks into my freshman year of college at Ohio University. Obviously, losing my parents young has really influenced my life and who I am today. Beyond that though, I’ve been influenced and shaped by a thousand beautiful moments, too. I was shaped by my Mom and the way she found humor in everything. How she introduced us to Saturday Night Live really young and listened to Mitch Hedberg CDs on road trips. I was influenced by her selflessness, her slip-ups, the way she treated people, everything. 

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

About 3 years ago, when I was working in a sales role in San Francisco, the same time I created Words Meet Walls, is when it started to hit me. I remember thinking about what job I wanted next and all I could hear in my head was, “I just want to create”. I really had no idea what that meant, and am still learning. I just knew that some of the happiest moments I had in the past few years had been when I was in my apartment just playing around, creating flat lay mock photoshoots, or creating Words Meet Walls. I just wanted to see things come to life from my hands. 

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

Sitting somewhere sunny.

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 was mutual. :) I started Words Meet Walls as a part of The 100 Day Project, a project that encourages people to do 1 creative act a day for 100 days straight. It’s hard to explain, but I had seen Words Meet Walls in my head before this. I don’t remember when, maybe a year or two before, but when it came to me, I didn’t really feel the need or urge to act on it. When I was deciding what to do for The 100 Day Project, it came back to me. I felt like I had pretty good handwriting at the time, I loved quotes, and now, I was living in one of the most colorful cities - San Francisco. It all just seemed to come together when I walked into the Blick art store and has grown ever since.

 

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 did not have a formal education in art or calligraphy. I’ve learned by doing it over and over until I found the way that feels right for me. People tell me that I should teach calligraphy, but to be honest, I don’t do “proper calligraphy”, the kind that is taught through books or courses. I think a lot of times, it’s about finding a medium that you enjoy but learning how to do it your way. I do think classes can be useful, not necessarily a degree that costs thousands of dollars but going to meet-ups or buying books. I’ve done a few of those and have always enjoyed it. I learn best by being in an in-person environment, and also by just doing it. 

I joke that one day I’m going to be the opposite of those parents that tell you to become a doctor, lawyer, accountant. I’m going to be pushing my kids to be artists. I do sometimes wish I could go back in time when I was in school and choose more creative classes.

 

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

Words Meet Walls, and any other creative efforts I partake in are for the time being all side hustles. I’ve played around with different options, but right now this is the right avenue for me. Recently, I decided to go from full-time at my social media manager job to part-time so that I could see if I could transition into a more full-time creative and yoga teacher (I also recently got certified). I ultimately decided that I wanted to continue working full-time work outside of Words Meet Walls and yoga. I went back and forth in that decision thinking things like “am I just being afraid?”. But at the end of the day, I also need to be aware of what will make me feel less stressed and strapped. I live in New York City - this place ain’t cheap. If I’m feeling strapped on cash to live then ultimately it might affect my work, and maybe even make me resentful of my choices.

I can’t say where I’ll end up - if my creative pursuits will one day take hold as their own full-time gig. I’m rooting for that to happen, but I know it’s all a process. Things don’t just happen overnight. You have to give yourself time.

 

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

The message I’m sending to the universe is that I want to live a life of inspiration, vividness, exploration, and continuous growth. I believe my message to the people who interact with Words Meet Walls is that you have to keep going to get better and that you can find beauty in unexpected places. Of course, Words Meet Walls is also a little bit of inspiration and motivation for their days.

 Finish this sentence. I never leave home without my… 

Journal and pen(s)! 

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

Oh, man. Well, honestly, the time I quit my sales job in San Francisco. At first, it all seemed magical. I woke up one Friday morning with the thought, “I’m going to quit my job on Tuesday” (It was labor day weekend). I had been thinking about it for a few months, but when I heard it that it day it felt so certain. So, I was like, “Okay, let’s think about it this weekend”. I also heard that day, “Maybe you should get that tattoo today”. So after work, I went on a walk in a park in Haight Ashbury. While in the park, I randomly started talking to these two guys and they asked me if I lived in SF. I said yes, and asked them where they were from. I knew before it even came out of their mouths that they were going to say Columbus, Ohio, which is where I’m from. And then they said it, “Columbus, Ohio”. And I just felt like, “okay, yeah… this is a sign. I should go get that tattoo.” When I was leaving the park, I saw a sign that said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” and I was like “HELL YEAH! I’m going to get this tattoo and then I’m going to quit my job on Tuesday”. So, I did, I went and got the tattoo at a place called “Mom’s” which felt like another sign. I had brought letters from my mom with me on my walk because they had her handwriting which is what I wanted. Anyway, flash forward to Tuesday, I walk into work with my new tattoo, wearing a real “chic” outfit, and I quit. All of this felt really effing good.
 
Here’s the other part of the story though. I had just started interviewing at a small clothing company based in San Francisco. I was interviewing for a part-time contract role that may not last more than a couple of months, but I didn’t care because I really didn’t want to be in my current job and I loved what they were doing. I really thought I was going to get the job. I was so sure of it. I quit my job with the thought of “I’m going to have this other gig lined up”. I wasn’t worried. Then Friday came and I’m working from home. I get a call from the woman I was interviewing with, and I’m thinking “Yes, this is it!”. But then she says something like, “We know you’re coming from a large company where you have great pay and great benefits. We don’t think this is the right choice for you to quit your job to do this job with us for 2 months with no guarantee that we can hire you after.” So they decided not to hire me. I was stunned, I said back, “Oh, okay, but um… I just quit my job on Tuesday,” and then she was stunned. She said something supportive, but they had already chosen someone else. I remember getting off the phone with her and immediately crashing to the floor. I was sobbing. What the f*ck did I just do? I quit my job without another job, without an income lined up. Again, something inside me said, “You’re going to travel and you’re going to move”. So I texted my roommate who was out of town all of my updates, and then I called my sister to ask if I could sleep on her couch in Chicago for a little. Over the next few weeks, moving chaos ensued. The day before I was supposed to move the girl who was meant to take over my lease, backed out. Again, complete sobbing on the floor. But somehow, within a few hours, the angel of a bro came to the apartment and signed there on the spot.
 
I look back on this month of September 2016 and think “Holy shit”. It was complete and utter chaos, but it was also the start of a shift. Like the sign said, it really was the first day of the rest of my life.

  

Name 3 of your guilty pleasures. 

Wheat Thins (or the knock off version from TJ’s). Red wine. Dark chocolate. 

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?

Well, I’m actually about to start a new full-time job in the near future, so one of my biggest foci is on the change, adjustment, and growth that this role will bring. In 5 years, I want to be doing my own thing. Whether that’s owning a company, or doing my creative work full time. I’m not exactly sure what yet, but I’m trusting I’ll find it along the way.

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

As mentioned, I currently have a full-time job to be able to support myself and also my interests. I haven’t put a lot of focus on turning Words Meet Walls into a big moneymaker for me just yet. I have revenue coming in from different places - selling prints, doing custom commissions - but overall, not enough yet to live a stable life off of it. I am looking to start finding more ways that Words Meet Walls can be more profitable, but I did stray away from it out of fear of losing interest in it once it became something that was tied to money. 

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

I’m obsessed with the song “Out Loud” by ScaryPoolParty aka Alejandro Aranda from American Idol. I just finished and loved The Moth Presents Occasional Magic. And I can’t fail to mention, Queer Eye. I love them.

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

“If you wanna be my lover” - Spice Girls

To learn more about Natalie Reece, please visit www.wordsmeetwalls.com

 

 

 
 




Nisha Btesh
Nisha Btesh

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