Kia Cannons is a talented artist, content creator, and dream chaser based in the U.K. We caught up with Kia to find out how she found success by pursuing her passion and how she inspires others to do the same. Her work is gorgeous, abstract and eye-catching. We love Kia’s story because it proves that anyone can find success if they simply put their heart and mind into it! Read on to discover Kia’s humble beginnings, how Instagram played a pivotal role in her journey, and how her art has evolved since she first started.
Hi, Kia! Please tell us your story and how Sticks and Ink came to be.
My journey started three years ago. I was a full-time Mum to two boys aged four and two years old. I stumbled on an art exhibition with a friend, fell in love with the abstract works, and walked away feeling strongly that I wanted to start painting. As I left the venue, I saw an ad for an experimental drawing class, I was tempted to give it a go, but was nervous because I wasn’t much of a drawer. I spoke with the course tutor who reassured me that this was just for fun. Two months into the course I put some work into an open exhibition, pricing it high as a test to see if anyone would pay what it was worth to me and it sold! Realizing someone would pay me good money for my artwork gave me a surge of confidence that I desperately needed.
Soon after, I got offered a three-month solo show at a local wine bar. Having an exhibition to prepare gave me the permission I needed to keep buying art materials, and having a deadline made me work hard at creating my best work. It was a huge part of why this developed into a career rather than just a hobby.
Tell us when and how you decided to start sharing your work on Instagram?
In February 2016, I started my Instagram account. I chose the name Sticks + Ink because my first experimental drawing class involved painting with sticks dipped in ink. The joy I felt painting that first day made me feel that this was what I was meant to do with my life, and I didn’t want to ever forget that moment. I got serious with Instagram, posting every day, painting most evenings, doing tons of research – watching Youtube videos, attending webinars, and trying to fathom everything from hashtags to algorithms. In May 2016, my exhibition took place and I sold a ton of work! I felt I could finally call myself an artist.
What difficulties did you face when first starting out?
I felt desperate to get a studio space because painting at our dining table was such a challenge, but I didn’t have funds to pay for one. That evening I saw an email from a local arts center which was advertising a free studio! I got in touch and two weeks later I moved in!
Having a place of work to go to every day meant I took what had become a career at this point a lot more seriously. Friends would often say, “You’re so lucky you are a full-time Mum and you don’t work, I know you do your art thing, but…” This was heartbreaking and could have been a real catalyst for imposter syndrome to creep in. I’d been working on my art career most evenings for a couple of years, juggling my children, their sleepless nights, painting in a tiny space, and managing it all with a husband working far away. Having friends not get my ‘art thing’ made taking my work seriously a challenge at times.
Your eBook, ‘My Instagram Journey’, has inspired so many people. Tell us how that came to be!
People began to contact me saying they followed my journey and wanted to know how my Instagram account had taken off and gained success. I decided to write an eBook sharing my experience and advice that I gained in my first year on IG. I’ve received so much fantastic feedback for the eBook – people telling me how grateful they are for me paying it forward and fast forwarding their learning journey. It’s a fantastic feeling to follow my passions and help people too.
Your art is beautiful! How has your work evolved since you started painting?
Thank you! Allowing myself time to experiment has been key in honing my style. My work has evolved from random experiments on various subject matter that interests me (botanicals, architecture, line drawing, landscapes, etc.) to realizing my go-to instinctive way to create is either with big gestural strokes with paint or with my hot wax batik technique. My style is still evolving and right now it’s all about finding a way to combine the two.
The one thing that has always stayed the same is my color palette which I discovered by rocking up at my local art store at the very beginning of my journey looking to buy my first art materials. While gazing at all the rows of paint tubes, I decided to pick up all the colors I was drawn to. When I looked down at the colors in my hand, I knew that was my palette, and I’ve never felt any desire to move away from it.