ElizabethMae
Career Profile

11 Questions with Nancy Valentine, Multi-Disciplinary Artist

Name: Nancy XiáoRong Valentine  //  Age: 25  //  Location: Dalton, MN  //  Education: BA Communication – UMD 2013  //  Current Title: Communication Assistant – Springboard for the Arts, Artist – NXV Artwork

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You are currently a Communications Assistant for Springboard for the Arts. How did you become involved with that and what have been the biggest takeaways from being part of that environment?

I became involved with Springboard for the Arts in the fall of 2014. I had moved back to my hometown of Fergus Falls and was looking for avenues to dive into the creative community when I met the Rural Director at a few local events. My relationship with the non-profit began as one where I sought them out as a connection to artist resources, but because they were so helpful and all around cool people, I eventually became friends with the Lake Region staff! Fast forward to the fall of 2017, Springboard had an opening in my field, so I took the dive and applied and was hired.

My biggest takeaways from being a part of Springboard is that this organization is an agent of change for creatives, not only in the work that we do, but also in the culture of our offices. Yes, Springboard has a ton of programming designed to help artists thrive, but beyond that, the entire staff has such a willingness to inconveniences themselves in order to accommodate the needs of artists that reach out.

What has your journey to being an artist been like?

Unconventional! I pursued communication in college thinking that I wanted to go into marketing or public relations, but even after working in that field for 5 years, I never lost my affinity for creating. I always thought of art as something that I just did for fun, but after I moved into the Kaddatz Artist Lofts in downtown Fergus Falls at the beginning of 2016, I started to take part in a figure drawing collective on Friday nights that really changed that perspective. I started to look at my sketches and paintings with a critical eye and decided to apply for a grant to keep this “hobby” alive. I was awarded the Career Development grant from the Lake Region Arts Council in the spring of 2017 and took that as a reality check that my creative outlet was one that could translate into an actual career.

What does a typical day (or week) look like for you, with work and personal commitments/responsibilities?

A typical week in my life consists of 20+ hours dedicated to communication work with Springboard (whether that’s scheduling social media posts, writing the newsletter or going into the St. Paul office for meetings) and spending my afternoons painting. I typically paint 3-5 days a week for about 4 hours at a time depending on what series I’m working on.

Because of the internet-linked nature of my position at Springboard, I have the flexibility of working from home, so I prioritize leaving my house at least once a day. Outside of work and art, my week fills up quickly with quality time with my partner, Andrew, and brother, Bin, a handful of close friends and few volunteering opportunities throughout my community.

How do you achieve work–life balance in your own life? How do you live intentionally?

I’m lucky. My “hobby” also fills the role of “work,” so the balance between the two come pretty easily. Because of the flexibility I have with Springboard and NXV Artwork, I find that many of my mundane life-needs (grocery shopping, post office visits, doctor appointments, etc.) can be accomplished throughout my day, so long as I’m scheduling everything strategically.

I live intentionally by prioritizing my creative career. Almost daily, I am scouring the internet for Open Calls, residency opportunities, open grant applications and art-related events. Andrew also enjoys the creative community, so we often integrate gallery exhibits or art events into our “date nights.” And, more often than not, there will be an artist at an event that I’ll interact with and end up connecting them with some Springboard related programming or resources!

“Look at how you’re spending your chosen time. If you have a list full of things you “wish you could spend more time doing,” then restructure your chosen time to be filled with those things.”

Do you have a specific project or accomplishment that you consider your most significant in your education/career?

Until now, I would say the Career Development Grant from the Lake Region Arts Council. But I recently accepted an invitation to take part in an international artist residency in Japan this April, and I’m very excited to see how that transforms and impacts my career.

What tools do you implement into your day to help you stay productive and on–track?

I’m a pen and paper type of person. I have a Moleskin notebook that I religiously keep my everyday ideas, lists, doodles, musings, scribble and receipts in. But accompanying that is also a pocket planner with deadlines and meetings.

What advice would you give to those who are struggling to find their passion in life?

Look at how you’re spending your chosen time. If you have a list full of things you “wish you could spend more time doing,” then restructure your chosen time to be filled with those things.

Does creativity come easily to you or is it something you feel you have to work at?

It depends. There are times where I’ll be driving and creative ideas for new projects or series seem to pop into my head out of nowhere, but then there are times where I hit a creative block. A lot of it has to do with how chaotic life is during that season.

Book recommendations?

The entire Harry Potter series, obviously. But also, You’re more powerful than you think you are by Eric Liu.

“I live intentionally by prioritizing my creative career.”

Most played song(s) on your Pandora/Spotfiy/Apple Music?

This is embarrassing, but I JUST discovered The Flaming Lips less than a year ago, so my most played song on all platformsis: “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt 1.”

If you could have lunch with one women (living or dead) who would it be and why?

Stina Persson. Stina is is my favorite artist. She is an illustrator based in Stockholm, Sweden, and it would be a total dream to glean anything from her life story and creative journey.

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