Being a Working Artist: In dialogue with Octavia Wright- Hirry

Copyright Octavia Wright- Hirry

Over the last few days, I have befriended a number of people. It seems a majority of them are visual artists, dancers and musicians! I’ve said this before but it’s most encouraging and a huge blessing to meet people with such a craving for life, persevering in what they feel propelled to do.  Yes, some of them work in other fields too ( if and when needs must) but it’s a joy when I see  drive, tenacity and  a commitment to create something from nothing with the impact of bringing pleasure to potentially so many others. Equally, it is self believe and discipline that is the bridge between having goals and reaching noteworthy accomplishments. With this in mind, I feel happy to add an entry about Syracuse based artist Octavia Wright- Hirry. Like artists before her, I’m happy she was open to sharing her thoughts on art, her work and where she finds her inspiration.

Octavia, how long have you been painting and what inspires you?
I have been painting for 20 years now. I get my inspiration from everyday people, my travels and sometimes cues from nature.

What is your favourite medium and why?
I use watercolours, colour pencils, and ink but acrylic paint is my favorite medium because it dries fast and cleans up easily. Not to mention acrylic colours are bright and I love bright colours.
Your work it seems is very figurative as well as colourful; is there a conscious message you try to communicate in your work?
I love figurative style with a touch of pop art. My colour choices are meant to attract attention and get the viewer to see that art doesn’t have to be boring or uptight or overly expensive.

Octavia Wright- Hirry

How do you handle the commercial/income generating aspects of being an artist?
When you are an artist you are pretty much a one man/women business. You are the CEO,VP, employee and chief of marketing. You have to balance your time between creating and marketing your work which isn’t always easy. I have a schedule that I try to stick to that helps me keep things balanced.
Where do you see the future of original art, particularly Afrocentric art. Do you think commercial art galleries represent a wide enough variety of artists?

I think people will never lose their love of art. People are always on the lookout for new and original art. Afrocentric art is still a growing field and the demand for it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. No, I don’t think most galleries offer enough variety. Most of them have a certain type of art they represent and usually doesn’t cover all types of art work.

What are the best and worst elements of being a full time working artist and designer?
I love being a full-time artist/designer. I get to set my own hours and there is no limit on my level of creativity. The only drawback to being self employed is sometimes there can be periods of slow sales.

Where do you see yourself in years to come?

Ten years from now I hope to see my art in even more markets and my name on dozen of children’s books. 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now I hope that I am still able to hold a paint brush and create. I love art!!!

For further information on Octavia please visit

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