I have collected all the frequent ask questions on my social media channels and here are the answers!
Q: Tell us about yourself! What projects are you working on now?
A: My name is Brita Lynn Thompson, and I was born in Pittsburgh, PA on March 12, 1994 (22 years old). I have lived in Mt. Lebanon for my entire life. I grew up with two older brothers and an older sister, with two parents. I guess you could say my family is creative but mostly in the engineering and technology area, except me. I am kind of the odd one out of my family. I am the only lefty and I am the only one who’s passion is art. There are a few projects I am working on, the biggest one right now is a slow process but it’s one of the largest goals i have had, a clothing line. I love creating pieces that can eventually be printed on clothing and all other sorts of things! This project of mine is taking a lot of my time but I know when it is all said and done, it will be worth it!
Q: How did everything start? Also did you started with traditional art or right away with Zentangle inspired art?
A: How did everything start? I am asked this question all the time, and I’m terrible at answering so I will try my best! When I was in elementary school I would doodle all over my school papers during class. Due to me paying more attention to my doodles than to my teachers, I would get in trouble a lot for “not paying attention.” But the type of student I am, is not a student that can just sit in a classroom and stare at the teacher for an hour. My attention span doesn’t work with the schools system at all. So to keep me from falling asleep in class, I would doodle. This all started in 2nd grade. Throughout the years of elementary school, middle school, and high school, I would still doodle all over my school papers and yes, I would still get in trouble every time. I would even get points off of my homework because it had doodles on it. My teachers would call my parents but they wouldn’t be upset. It wasn’t like I didn’t do the work, I just didn’t pay attention the same way the other students did. After the many calls home and teacher parent conferences, my parents suggested that I get a sketchbook and draw in there, instead on my school work and the rest is history! Just kidding! But once I started to draw in a sketchbook, I began to combine all of my little doodles into one. Which developed into my own style. I would then do a full sheet of doodles every single day. It was a way to relax, because school always stressed me out, and still does. But at a young age, I found a way to cope with my stress in a creative way. Back then, I never ever ever thought it would be what it is today. It’s hard to grasp it all sometimes. But I couldn’t be happier that even when I got in trouble and was told to stop, I didn’t, because if I had stopped I would have never developed this style I have now.
Q: How did your art develop over the years?
A: Obviously, when I was in 2nd grade, my designs were not as intricate as they are now. It takes years and years for an artist to develop their own style. It takes years and years to become an original. So all throughout school, until I graduated highschool in 2012, I was working on developing my own style. When people ask me, what type of art do you do? What style do you have? And my answer would be so unprofessional everytime. Because at that time, I didn’t know what my style was called. I would say black and white designs. Then I would show people my work and then they understood what I was talking about. So about 2 or 3 years ago, I came across “zentangle” and it opened up a whole new world for me. After 10 years of developing my own style, I finally found a name for it, a community for it. It was amazing that I discovered that others created similar styles as mine. It was nice to be part of community that did what I did. So now when someone asks me what type of art do i do, i say “Zentangle, but my version of Zentangle.” I am creating my own style in my own self-taught way. I didn’t have a book that told me how to create the designs that I do. It was all in my head and in my surroundings. I would see a pattern on the floor, in a building, on someones shirt, anything and right then I could add a little new design to my style. Every day I am developing my style more and more, with new designs, new structures, and new shapes. I never want to settle with the designs i have now, I always want to create more.
Q: It there anything you like the most about your art? The work itself or working with custom orders for a commission?
A: The best thing about my art is, it is a stress reliever. I used to get stressed almost every single day about anything and everything and it’s just nice to know that I can control my stress and create something at the same time. I love how every single piece I create may look the same, but it is almost impossible for me to replicate a drawing because I don’t like to plan out the designs. I will just let them flow and design themselves. I really do love creating custom drawings for people, because it’s an exciting challenge. They tell me what they want and how they want it and I go from not planning my drawings at all, to 100% planning them exactly how the customer wants it to be. But I still love it, because some of my favorite pieces I have done have been custom orders, that I never even imagined creating. Which is so awesome to me, to be able to work with a complete stranger on a piece that could be better than we both planned. Also, my favorite part about custom orders is the reaction from the customer once they see the final piece. Their reaction means everything to me. It makes me feel accomplished, that I was able to take someone’s ideas and make it come alive. That is one my favorite feelings.
Q: How did the Starbucks contest influence you and your art?
A: When I first entered the contest in 2014, no one really truly cared about what I created. They just knew that I was artistic and I liked to doodle. I had maybe 600 followers on Instagram. I would post drawings of mine and I would get so excited when I got 20 likes. Now I have over 50,000 thousand followers and my posts get thousands of likes. Last June when I found that I had won the contest, I was speechless. I didn’t even know how to handle it. It amazed me that out of 4,000 + entries, Starbucks chose me. They chose my design over 3,999 other amazing designs. Still till this day, it doesn’t seem real and I don’t think it ever will. The day that Starbucks announced that I was the winner on their Instagram (12 million followers) my life completely changed. They tagged me in the post, which led their 12 million people to my instagram page and that’s when I gained thousands of followers in minutes. My phone was blowing up more than I ever thought it could. That same day, I launched my Etsy store. I figured if that many people were going to see my page, I should probably have some sort of store where people can purchase my drawings. The first purchase was made by a lady named Linda. Linda works for Starbucks and was the lady who told me I won. So it was cool that she was the first to buy something off my etsy store. But ever since I won, my world has been consumed around creating a career for myself. Becoming my own boss, creating a business that is all mine. By winning this contest, it launched my dream. My dream to create for people all over the world and have people see what I love to do. Getting paid is just a perk. There is a saying, “If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.” Or something like that. I never call what I do “work”. Yes I get paid and yes I create for hours, but it’s not work, it’s what I love to do and hope to do the rest of my life.
Q: How do you deal with criticism?
A: I have dealt with criticism my entire life. Not only on my art but every other category in my life. When you’re not the size 2, people can be cruel. For some reason, what you look like and what you do with your life somehow effects them. It makes no sense but back then I didn’t know how to handle it. But with my art, I always knew how to handle that. There are some people that don’t consider my style to be “art”, including most of my art teachers. Just because I have the title “artist” does not mean I can draw realistic things or paint. Every artist has their own style and they succeed in a certain type of art, and mine happens to be zentangle, abstract. No, it may not be a traditional way of creating but it’s my way. So I would get criticized by my teachers a lot, I would actually get C’s, D’s and occasionally F’s on all my art projects. Only because my teachers didn’t like it. I won’t get into it now but I don’t think art should be graded. Anyway, as many times that I have been told that I am not going anywhere as an artist unless I learn how to paint or draw realistically, I am glad that I never stopped. I’m glad that I kept with my skill and worked on it to be what it is today. And the funny thing is, after winning the Starbucks contest and having all these people say wonderful things about my art; those people who said that my style wasn’t art, well guess what, they love my art now. So trust me, if they criticize you now, just wait a little bit because when they see others loving what you do, they will soon love it, too. Never stop, no matter what people say.
Q: Have you ever thought about making this as a career / what is your dream job?
A: My only thought has been about making this a career. My dream job is to be my own boss. To have my own business that I build from the bottom. I want my designs on everything. From prints, phones cases, clothes, home décor ect. I love designing for people all around the world. I want to be able to paint large pieces on the sides of building all around the world. I never want to stop creating. I always like to think, if you can’t find a job you love, you must create it yourself.
I really appreciate all the questions you guys asked me and I hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about me!