So what’s Okey’s Promise? It’s an initiative that brings awareness to the links between animal abuse and child abuse and domestic violence through public artwork.
BZ Tat says, “There seems to be a disconnect between advocates for animals and for people in need, when truthfully, the issues of both intersect. When animals are suffering in society, children are too. When there is violence to animals, there is likely violence to children and others who may be defenseless. My goal is to raise awareness so that both groups of advocates can help our communities better serve animals and people who are mutually suffering.
“I use public art as a way to heighten awareness and move people towards change. It is easy to ignore a fact sheet; less easy to ignore a large mural that you pass on the street everyday.
“So far, I have completed one mural in Canton, OH and I am about halfway through my second project. The second project is an exhibit of 10 paintings that is designed to travel to different communities.
“I have just launched the fund raising campaign for the 3rd project, which I hope to begin in October after completing project 2. This will be a very fun project! A business owner is allowing me to use her currently nondescript building as a canvas and we plan to transform the façade with colorful images. The focus on this project will be on the plight of animals who are homeless, cast offs from our society, who often fall victim to abuse in our communities. I will be creating an ebook to go along with the project.”
Want to help? Go to Okey’s Promise Fund Raising Page.
So if that’s not enough, BZ Tat also assists her cat Brewski Butt in writing a blog–or maybe she doesn’t. Apparently he got online one day without her knowing and just started tweeting. Now that is my kind of cat! According to BZ Tat, “He is a comical cat with lots of character, and he seemed to have lots of appeal the minute he got online. He is also very photogenic and fun to draw and paint. Developing his character artistically just sorta evolved as his online presence did.”
Brewskie took an “I’ll show you!” and decided to virtually travel around the world to the various places he had online friends. “I drew a picture each day for each place he traveled. Those drawings became our first book, ‘Where in the World is Brewskie Butt Meowin’ Today?‘” I think that she should help me go places too!
BZ Tat’s credentials are long and impressive. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking. She spent 20 years as a social worker (another degree) while doing art as a passion. It wasn’t a hobby, because she absolutely needed that outlet. Now, she is a full-time artist. She does custom pet portraits as well as selling artwork that she creates on her site, BZ Tat Studios.
We asked about her process in creating a custom pet portrait. She said, “When people commission a custom pet portrait, I like to take them along for the adventure through the process of creating it. I post images of each stage of the process in social media, so that the patron can come “into the studio” with me. It takes several hours to paint a portrait, and I work on different projects at the same time, so it can take 3-4 months to complete a work, depending on my waiting list”
“I am not an illustrator, so I do not allow people to script the outcome of the piece. They have hired an artist to articulate the artist’s vision, and to a certain extent, they must trust my process. There are plenty of examples of my work to view in advance to see if my vision is what you want. Although I try to accommodate special requests, I am not articulating YOUR idea. I am a fine artist who has been hired to express her own.”
Last week, on her blog, there was a great article on what it means to be an artist. We were struck by the comment that Vicki had to get clear that her work as an artist was every bit as much of an essential service as her work as a counselor. She continues, “I think we all have to determine what feels right about our careers and our purposes in life. As I was completing my graduate degree in art, I asked my painting professor what kind of career options I would have as an artist. She told me that most artists waited tables or did other low paying jobs while being a slave to their art. I was given no skills for finding ways to market my art, in fact I was discouraged from doing that, as it would be “selling out”.”
“That was totally unacceptable to me. I knew I had talent, but it did not seem worth slaving over in minimum wage jobs with 2 degrees! As I said before, . I felt a need to contribute to the world on a more“essential” level, doing things that affected the outcomes of other people’s lives who were in need. I also wanted a career that had some hope of a paycheck.”
“My advice to artists is to: 1) get some business skills along the way; 2) Learn to create simply for the purpose of articulating your vision, then learn to find people who like your vision and are willing to buy it once you have developed your style and “brand”; live a life full of purpose and many varied experiences that will guide your vision.”
Wow! This is one amazing woman. What can you aspiring artists out there accomplish?