Today we’d like to introduce you to Dora Knuteson.
Dora, before we jump into specific questions about your art, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Art has always been a part of my life. As a child you would usually find me glued to my sketchbook, memorizing how to draw my favorite Disney characters (Simba tops the list). Throughout school I dabbled in a variety of creative disciplines, ranging from ceramic sculpture to computer animation. I dreamed of spending my life traveling the world and making art, but I ended up focusing on graphic design since that seemed like the best way to pay my bills! I spent about 13 years in the design field.
Most would probably say that I was successful, but inside I knew that I didn’t feel fulfilled by my career and I was living an inauthentic life. Unfortunately, I was also pretty burned out creatively from my job, and I didn’t know what else I could realistically do instead. It wasn’t until I moved from Wisconsin to Florida in 2015 that I became inspired by my sunny surroundings, and I started to paint.
At first, it started just as a hobby, but it didn’t take long to realize that my joyful and slightly whimsical style resonates with others. After receiving my first glowing testimonial from a new collector, I knew that I had found my calling and that if I really put my heart all in on this, I could make it as a fine artist. Finally, here was a way that I could do something that makes me happy, while also bringing joy to others as well! I sometimes think I’m living proof that “when you do what you love, the universe conspires on your behalf!” (Thank you, Oscar Wilde.)
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
One of the biggest challenges, in the beginning, was a lack of time. Thankfully, the ten years I spent as an art director in marketing taught me a ton about self-promotion and what’s involved in getting a new business off the ground. But there is just so MUCH! I pretty much became obsessed, and every free moment that wasn’t spent working at my full time job (or sleeping) was spent painting, thinking about painting, or doing all of the other “business” stuff like branding, building a website, writing a bio, building a social media following, looking for and applying to shows, etc.
After about four months of this, I was fortunate enough to work out an arrangement with my employer that condensed my work schedule down to four days per week. That at least gave me one entire day every single week where I got to feel and act like a “real”, full-time artist! Then it just continued to build from there, and within about a year I was ready to let go of the other job completely.
Tell us more about your art.
Much of my work is your traditional “Florida fare”… beach umbrellas, shorebirds, marine life… but I am most proud of my dedication to using my art to support wildlife and eco-conservation. I feel it’s important to protect the environment that inspired me to become an artist in the first place! My mission to support these causes was solidified by the early success of my “Clean Our Seas Collection” in 2018, for which I created 22 fish paintings and donated half of the proceeds to Captains for Clean Water.
When they all sold out after only two weeks, I knew I was onto something. Since then I have created limited edition prints and original paintings to support ocean conservation groups, and most recently I have partnered with Rookery Bay Estuarine Research Preserve to become their Featured Artist. Throughout the next year, we have several projects planned, including a large mural at their Environmental Learning Center, as well as a special collection of paintings to raise money for their sea turtle monitoring program.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I have to be painting something that makes me smile. I am a firm believer that the energy you put out into the world comes back to you, and I decided early on that I wanted to be a creative force for good. I think as long as I focus on staying true to myself and the things that feel “right”, then I will continue to thrive.
- Originals and commissions ranging from $200-$2,500
- Prints starting at $45
- Murals starting at $20/sq.ft.
- Website: ArtByDora.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
André Spatz (headshot only)