How To Make It As An Artist: Kristin Gaudio Endsley & Abigail Yentis

Head set on pursuing a career in the creative arts? Being a full-time artist can be tough – like any creative industry, making a name for yourself won’t happen overnight. But if you thought making it was a pipeline dream, there are ways to make it work. We spoke to artists Kristin Gaudio Endsley and Abigail Yentis to get the lowdown on how they broke into the art world and the challenges they’ve faced so far in their careers…


After graduating from Hampstead School of Art, London-based artist Abigail Yentis displayed her first solo exhibition, ‘The Shadows of a Dream’, in London in November last year. Her work captures imaginative and surreal visions of the human body, beyond the human shell, in a fantastical world of texture and colour, where she pushes boundaries and gently moves into a dark, unknown world outside the comfort of everyday life. We spoke to Abigail on how she broke into the London art scene.

Have you always been interested in art and design?

Yes, I don’t really remember a time that I wasn’t drawing, so it definitely started when I was extremely young. My parents have always been very arty, and two of my grandparents were artists too.

When did you realise you wanted to become a professional artist?

I think it was during school – I’d always known it was something that I would end up doing as it was the only thing I had any interest in. Except for music, but they go together much of the time.

What did you study?

I took part in life-drawing courses at a few different institutions before doing an art foundation at the Hampstead School of Art. Following that I did a three year degree/advanced art course. It really helped me find my own voice and identify myself as a professional artist.

You recently launched your first exhibition; how did it go?

It was stressful, enjoyable, hard work and fun – all of those and more within such a short period of time. I’m immensely impulsive and work well under pressure, and it’s usually during these times that I make some of my best work. So having a deadline, especially a solo show, proved to be a great turning point within my practice. I curated and organised the entire thing, which taught me a great deal.

As an artist just starting out in the industry, what challenges have you faced so far?

Being an artist is also challenging in itself; it’s hard to stay true to yourself when you know you have to deliver a positive thrill to your audience. However, knowing who you are and the reasons behind what you’re doing will always keep you grounded.

What’s been your biggest highlight to date?

My solo show was a very special experience. I also enjoy the process of completing a commission – when everything starts to make sense the colours begin to almost paint themselves and you’re no longer a painter creating work, but part of the work itself.  

What inspires your work?

The energy within the works of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, and the beautiful tranquility Edward Hopper’s work have always stood out to me. I definitely relate back to their work when I find myself slightly lost. The movie Style Wars, which I watched just before a previous exhibition, was also hugely influential; it focuses on the graffiti culture in 1960s New York, and as a documentary film, it really spoke to me, inspiring me to be freer with my work. I also play music and write my own stuff; music is a great inspiration for my art practice as it stems from a different and very personal place that I sometimes find difficult to express in visual form.

What’s your artistic process?

I don’t really plan, unless I have a commission. I tend to look back on past journal and sketchbook entries, and use them as inspiration for my works. A lot of my paintings have collaged footage of previous experience in, so I like to classify these works as a kind of ‘scrapbook’ way of making art.

Is there a theme to your work?

I wouldn’t say I have a theme, but the underlying melody within my work is very personal.

Has your style evolved over the years?

Absolutely – I started off being a very detailed portrait painter, but I’ve since gone through many different phases and will continue to do so. I think that’s what makes art so exciting; it’s ever-changing. The world is so vast and dynamic – constantly expanding and shifting – why should we as artists stay the same?

What do you love most about being an artist?

The ability to express myself in so many variations; to speak in a different language that many understand, and many will not. I like to challenge the viewers and allow challenge in return; my work is always a question waiting to be answered.

What’s in the pipeline for 2018? 

I have an exhibition at the Grand Palace Hotel in Rome in March, with Roma Art Rooms and the Le Dame Gallery – it should be an amazing experience. I also plan to do some collaborative musical and visual artwork with various creative friends of mine in London. I’m excited to see where each experience leads me.

To be in with a chance of winning one of Kristin Gaudio Endsley's original pieces, head over to the SheerLuxe Instagram for an exclusive competition on Sunday 4th February. Keep a look out for the post, follow both SheerLuxe and Kirsten's pages, and tag a friend to be in with a chance of winning. Winners will be announced on Monday 5th February. 




American abstract artist and ceramicist Kristin Gaudio Endsley graduated from Virginia University in 2002. Since then a stream of her artwork has been displayed at countless exhibitions in London and across the US, including The Other Art Fair and The Affordable Art Fair Bristol, Battersea and New York, as well as being featured in the likes of British Vogue. Her work combines abstract geometric prints with a rich, adventurous colour palette and expressive techniques. We got the lowdown from her about what inspires her work and how she first made it as an artist.

Have you always been interested in art and design?

Yes – my mother’s an artist which definitely encouraged me.  I remember being eight years old in art class and my teacher held up a picture of Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh – that was it for me; I knew I wanted to create work like that.

When did you realise you wanted to become an professional artist? 

In my teens and early 20s I didn’t think it was a viable job. The practical bits of life, like steady paycheques, owning my own apartment and travelling all seemed more important.  It wasn’t until I moved to London in my mid 20s that I saw it as something I could do as a fulltime career. Particularly with the rise of social media – this really helped to catapult my career.

What did you study?

I studied Fashion Design and Illustrations in Virginia, US.  I wasn’t a horrible student, but I wasn’t really interested in fashion as a career. I spent most of the time messing around with my illustration markers and partying.  It did, however, introduce me to textiles which is still a big influence on my work today.

At what point did you realise you could make a living as an artist? 

After practicing and showing work at small galleries and group shows for a couple of years.  Everything began to revolve around my art and before I knew it, it was my career. Social media was a major factor in providing income, but I also received representation from a couple of galleries that helped me go full time.  

What challenges did you face when you first started out?

I love to play and experiment but when I first started, I was nervous about showing certain pieces, even though I loved the work.  I painted a series of palm trees when I was travelling in Marrakech with limited art supplies and these were more representational than my abstract work. I put them on Instagram and got an incredible reaction. Now I embrace showing the process of playing and exploring, with no expectations other than to express.

What advice would you give anyone starting in the industry?

If you dream of being big in the art world, but feel financially it’s not possible, don’t let that stop you. Focus on your artwork and find a job that allows you to do that. I tutored for a long time and it was a perfect job that allowed me to enjoy what I did for a paycheque, but gave me the advantage of concentrating on my art. You have to put as much as you can into it to turn it into a full-time career. 

What inspires your work? 

My work is driven by colour and I’m often inspired by images from fashion, interior design, travel, and nature.

What is your artistic process?

Once I’ve deciding on a colour palette I begin my process-based work. My geometric paintings display the idea of time as a means of achieving a sense of control; at the same time, I pull on intuition and trust in the senses with my reflective, expressionistic paintings. I let go and confide in my own rhythm and balanced instincts; harmony is a paramount value for both.

When did you start creating ceramic pieces?

My ceramic work began as an escape from an unexpected personal hardship.  I had a sudden urge to use a creative process that required more physical labour than my practice at the time. Once the exploration began I quickly discovered the medium matched the vulnerability that surrounded me. Working with clay, especially porcelain (my material of choice), requires a great amount of patience and care.  The constant, delicate aesthetic of ceramics reminds me that at all times things are not certain. 

Is there a theme to your work?

Not to my paintings but my ceramic work is based on bits of nature – oceans, pebbles, rocks, eggs and their colours, textures, shapes.

What do you love most about being an artist? 

First that my job as an artist is also my way of life. I think about art, dream about art, travel to see art – it’s so much of who I am. Second, that hopefully I bring more intention into a home. My paintings and ceramics are products that can add meaning to a space. My purpose is to add meaning in my own way to this world. On the practical side of it, I make my own hours as an artist and I'm my own boss.

What’s in the pipeline for 2018? 

I’ll be exhibiting at a well-known shop in Washington DC, US in March, which is an excellent opportunity for me, because the store really involves so much of the community in all their projects. They’re female run and led, and I’ll be working with them during Women’s History Month. There are lots of powerful things going on in the world right now to do with women’s equality and I hope to add a bit of art to the conversation.  I also plan to sell my ceramics at several craft fairs around the country. Additionally, I hope to merge the two mediums together in 2019, to exhibit a cohesive show of both my ceramics and paintings. 


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