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Check Out Becky Phelps’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Becky Phelps.

Hi Becky, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
As someone who was born and raised in the south, I have often found myself on the fringe of my southern upbringing. Over the years, I have always been the one to question what was popular, what everyone else was doing- or how I was supposed to dress or look. If it is wildly popular, I tend to rebel against that trend or thing. I have always wanted to “march to the beat of my own drum.”

I have a deep love for the south, but I believe we can do much better for our artists. We need to accept expression, art-making, and creative minds in a way that breaks down the barriers of highly traditional art. We need to elevate artists, support art communities, and better educate our children in the arts- all the arts.

So I became a version of myself that I could express myself freely as not only an artist- but as someone who can teach the next generation how to be uniquely themselves and not what society tells them they have to be. I have pink hair and tattoos. I spray paint stuff. I make art that looks like graffiti, or a tattoo. I use wording in my art. I try to uplift the viewer, give them a moment to think. Experience. Feel, Something.

I have my barriers- I am incredibly two people at once. I am guarded and depressed at times. I am quiet, tired, and an introvert. Then- the other part of me is there too… living in tune with my other-self. I am extroverted, happy, passionate. I once read a book that made me realize that highly creative people are a lot of times both an introvert and extrovert. This was an “a-ha” moment for me- so I’m not crazy! We are like this. It’s okay.

My most dangerous trait- the one that kills my creativity- is numbness. Author Glennon Doyle often talks about being allowed to “feel all your feelings.” That is what my creativity runs on- pure emotion. I have to be very careful about being too guarded. It’s the big feelings that fuel my fire. And society often tells us that only happiness is okay to feel. The rest you hide in shame. I often tell my high school art students that it’s okay to feel all your feelings- and put those into your art. But don’t unpack and live in the heavy ones. Life is all about a healthy balance.

Speaking of healthy balance- one major blow to my life was being diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) in my early 20s. With that diagnosis has come years of yo-yo weight gains and losses, infertility, depression, anxiety, and hormonal issues. I do my best to maintain a balanced lifestyle in order to control the symptoms. I have come to terms with never being able to have children. My students are my kids and I love them dearly.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
My greatest challenge as an artist is finding what I call “my people.” My style isn’t for everyone- my murals, paintings, and illustrations are unapologetically me. When I go to shows, or hang in a gallery, or create a mural- I realize my work is far from traditional. Sometimes it is flat to the wrong audience.

Social media has become tough for me. The negative, hateful, divisive nature of certain social media platforms makes me want to delete it all and live in a beach shack unplugged. But I begrudgingly (sometimes), post and hope my work reaches someone. I fully admit I do love TikTok. And maybe someday I’ll get to the beach and live.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a painter and illustrator. I create work that I call “unrefined.” I use spray paint, paint pens, sharpies, and more traditional materials like acrylics, alcohol markers, and colored pencils.

I create canvas art, murals, illustrations, and I love to paint clothing and guitars. My proudest and most favorite art I create is my hand-painted guitars. Each one takes hours to complete. I’ve been thinking about painting some skateboard decks as well. I’m always looking for a new and unusual surface to paint on.

What does success mean to you?
I do not care to be rich or famous, but I do want to share my art with the world. I want to impact people.

I am also a high school art teacher. I want to reach my students and impact their lives for the better.

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