International Women's Day interview with Preeti Dhillon
Tell us a little about you.
I am an artist and I own and operate Neighborhood Art Studios for the past 15 years. We teach children and adults how to draw and paint by offering Art classes in various elementary schools in the lower mainland and the studio. In addition to teaching, I also make custom paintings for residential and Commercial Buildings. I have also exhibited my art work in Vancouver Art. My paintings are mainly done in Acrylic paints and variety of acrylic mediums. My paintings primarily have a bold and vibrant use of colour and texture, which is derivative of my culture. I am inspired by nature, my students and flow of my emotions mainly painting with the abstract concept. I feel like each painting is a journey in which one brush stroke leads to the other.
What does the International Women's Day 2019 campaign theme: #BalanceforBetter mean for you in your Personal and Professional life?
Balance for Better to me means that you need to be realistic about what needs to be done first. Being organized can help you a great deal. It’s vital that you leave personal life at home and vice-versa. Learn how to trust other people and delegate both in your personal and professional life, as allowing other people to help will only increase your downtime which you can effectively use to satisfy the other part of your life. If you want to achieve a good balance, say ‘no’ when necessary. It will make all the difference!
What’s something you learned early on in your career that made you a better artist?
From early on, that you paint from your heart not your brain! I learnt to be not afraid of letting out my emotions on the canvass or a piece of paper which always made me passionate to create. I think intrinsic motivation to create is passion, it exists in all but some people find it in them quicker than others.
What are your main responsibilities and achievements at the Neighborhood Arts Studio?
My main responsibility at the Neighborhood Art Studio is to enroll clients, encourage and develop creative abilities among students of all skill levels. Art is a great form of expression and relaxation and it improves the sense of self. My job as Art mentor is to get people connected with their inner artist. I also recruit and train artists who assist me in achieving my goal. My greatest achievement is that I am able to run Neighborhood Art Studios successfully while living my dream.
How you feel about how women are represented in the Creative Industries? Can you see yourself in any of them?
I feel women are constantly progressing in the creative sector and are being recognized for their creative achievements to the same degree as men. Women are well suited to creative work and the creative industries offer them considerable potential in terms of employment and new venture creation. Yes, I am already involved in a creative business teaching the world around me to create as well!
What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge in front of a working women is of setting priorities. We have to strike a balance between professional and personal life, which can only be achieved by setting up the priorities. I wouldn’t say I had barriers, but it had challenges balancing personal and professional life. I had a tremendous support from my family, which helped me follow my passion and being patient is the key!
How do you think your passion for arts and culture can bring change in the community?
I often donate painting for various fundraisers and charity events that helps raise money for good cause. And by teaching art I get a chance to make difference in my student’s life by introducing them to a fantastic way of expressing their inner feelings and helping them find a channel to release their emotions.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a career in arts?
I think you should always follow your passion and if it is art, the key is maintaining passion and moving forward with that belief. There might be many obstacles that you would come across, but after all, no pain, no gain. Pursuing something that you love doing is not the only advantage of an art career. The fact that you are constantly creating something greatly helps in maintaining your mental health as well, even if you might not be extremely successful on the commercial front, this is the key to living a happy and content life! The best part about a career in a creative field is that you come across like-minded people who help you grow tremendously.
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
I think it’s very important for women to lift each other. When a woman helps another woman, they both benefit.
And when women celebrate one another’s accomplishments, we’re all lifted up. Together women can do more, go further, and change the world.
What do you think is the biggest issue today facing women of your age?
In my opinion the biggest issue women face in this age is to maintain balance in personal and professional life. Raising a family at home and performing at work can sometimes be very hectic which can cause a burnout, and emotional exhaustion. A lot of times due to the financial requirements, women have to let go of their passion and take do jobs that they do not enjoy which further affects our behaviour and increase stress.
Do you believe that the contribution of women towards the community remains undervalued because there is no monetary value given to it?
The contribution of women to the family and society is not valued as much as it should be as most of their work is considered as household work which as women is the role given to them by society which they are obliged to perform. It remains unseen, invisible and unrecognized and in conventional terms, yielding no economic benefits. Whereas, I feel the work done at home contributes to the good health and well being of the family and community.
On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
The most important message I would like to send to young women thinking about their careers is to follow their passion because when you follow you passion, work doesn’t feel like work. Whether you’re a new professional or an experienced businessperson, working in a job you don’t love can take a toll mentally. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people and you need to block out the negative noise and focus on your personal journey.