It's that time of year again... The holidays are nearing ever closer and our minds race to grasp on to a moment of cheer that we knew better when we were children. Although it might not come easily, I think most of us can find something to be happy and grateful for, even if it doesn't appear until the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. 

Our country and our world has faced a year of tribulations and as always in history, the holiday season fights against evil to bring us together as a human race. That reconciliation however, does not come without hard work and great thought. Luckily, we have Christina Scheppmann Thomas, who is doing her part to add to world peace by giving away her gorgeous illustrations. 365 of them to be exact.

Scheppmann's creations come from the umbrella of her company, Persika Illustrations, and you can check out the daily giveaway contests on the Persika Illustrations Facebook Page, or get more info from her website, www.ChristinaScheppmannThomas.com. You can also check out her prints for sale on Etsy, here.

Let her tell you more about the idea behind the 365 Day Art Giveaway, in our featured interview below.

MM: How did Persika Illustrations come about? And what is the meaning behind "Persika"?
 Well, I have always had a tough time keeping a sketchbook regularly, but I have seen how useful they can be. I just haven’t been able to keep myself accountable to sketching frequently. In 2013 I finished my degree in art and I knew I was going to have to figure out a way to consistently keep making art without the structure provided by being in school. I decided to create Persika Illustrations as a sort of project that I assigned to myself. The purpose is to develop a brand that establishes itself as a facet of my work as an artist. I have many plans in store for Persika; the 365 day project is my jumping off point.  Persika is Swedish for “Peach.” It has personal meaning connected to my heritage and an inside joke with my husband.

MM: What was the inspiration behind deciding to give everything away?
PI: I went back to UW-Milwaukee in 2014 to get my Master’s degree in Business Management and finished this past summer. The business mindset really impacted my way of thinking, even infiltrating my creative process. I began to look at my art as a business, which can be a good and a bad thing. Upon sitting down to make something, I would immediately try to judge whether it would be something somebody would want to buy. I needed to take a step back and regain the purity of the creative process. I wanted to let myself be free to experiment in my art making and test new ideas and concepts. I knew that I would never be able to keep myself accountable to draw in a sketchbook everyday and I also wanted to force myself to bring an idea to completion, rather than begin a sketch and give up on it if it wasn’t working. That is why I decided to do a 365 Original Art Giveaway on Facebook. My hope is that it will really engage the people who choose to follow and that it will help younger people be able to see the value in collecting original art, so that it doesn’t become a thing of the past.

 MM: Rather than you just choosing a person to give a drawing to, you are letting other people choose a person and letting them give it as a gift. That is an awesome way to involve the giving spirit to other people. Where did that idea come along?
PI: Well, giving is actually just in the rulebook for this month. October was my first month doing the giveaway and the rules were whoever commented on the post first would win. I became a bit tired of the rules and my reach wasn’t growing much, so I decided to change the rules at the beginning of each month. I thought the holidays would be the perfect time to give everyone else an opportunity to give. I’m not sure what the January rules will be yet. I’m open to suggestions!

MM: I understand how, as any type of creator of art, it can be very difficult to let go of your creations. Artists definitely need a certain level of courage before they let other people see their work. Was there a certain trigger that helped you let go of these drawings?
PI: Letting go of my original work has always been a huge struggle for me and I had to take somewhat drastic measures to get past it. What I am doing now is almost like exposure therapy! This project has required me to create work with the intention of giving it away almost immediately. Witnessing how eager people are to win and receive their art has definitely helped ease the pain of giving it away and letting go.

MM: What I love about this giveaway is that there isn’t necessarily a general theme to the drawings – they are all very different on their own. Can you describe your mental process as you create a new drawing?
PI: I went into this project with the desire to let myself be free to experiment. I used to be afraid of wasting my time when I sat down to make art. I didn’t want to invest the time and energy it took to create something if I didn’t know whether it would turn out well or look like “something I would make.” My mental process with my larger drawings or oil paintings is much more planned and calculated. These illustrations are quick so I am able to go into them without much forethought. If there is some idea I have been playing around with for a while, I’ll just go for it. I am learning a lot and trying to reflect on this whole process as much as I can.

MM: What do you hope to achieve with this giveaway?
PI: I hope to learn more and push myself further beyond the boundaries that I had unknowingly set up for myself in the past. I hope that I can have a firm grasp on not only my “brand” and what Persika stands for, but also who I am as an artist and the kind of work I want to put out into the world.

MM: Finally, is there anything you want the world to know?
PI: I don’t make art for you! Ha! But in truth, I felt it became necessary to separate my art making from the judgment of what others would like or not like; want to buy or not want to buy. I needed to do something that made me feel empowered! Taking back that freedom and the raw essence of what being creative meant for me meant taking money out of the equation for a little bit. I definitely still make things to sell, show in galleries, and do commissions, but this project is mine. I am choosing to share it with the world because I am sick of my art and my sketches being holed up in drawers and in folders under my bed and never knowing what to do with them. I am choosing to share it with the world because I need people to keep me accountable every single day. Making art truly requires diligence, blood, sweat and tears. Lastly, I am choosing to share my art with the world because I am happy when others derive joy from something that gives me so much joy.

Happy Holidays from MUSE MKE.

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