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by grace gavilanes

To kick off the new decade (hello, 2020!) and the launch of Vital Proteins' new Collagen Bars™, we’re revealing a new series called “How I'm Raising the Bar.” Here, we feature inspiring individuals who are striving to hit new goals, maintain old ones and become their best selves in the new year.

Today, we’re highlighting artist Liz Flores. A few years ago, the Chicago native made the brave decision to leave the corporate world in pursuit of her lifelong passion for art – and now she’s killing the game as a muralist. Her work can be seen (and ‘grammed) all over Chicago and New York. Keep reading to find out more about her journey, her 2020 resolution and the collagen product she can’t live without.   

liz flores how im raising the bar

Lively: Liz, you have a super interesting career path. What made you want to change things up and pursue art full-time?

Liz Flores: The simple answer was I just didn't feel happy with where I was at. When I did some research on myself (literally journaled for months consistently taking notice of what I liked and disliked), I realized that I felt really happy when I was drawing, painting and making things. After that I just started following the clues/bread crumbs of life that eventually led to doing art full-time. 

L: What about your current career makes you the proudest?

LF: Can I say two things I'm proud of!? One is more general, and the other is more in line with this past year.

Overall, I'm really proud that I didn't give up. I left my corporate job 4 years ago and have had many freelance gigs and odd jobs after that to keep my art going. There were countless times when things were very difficult, and I'm really happy that through all those times I kept my art practice going and grew it to what it is today. 

This past year in particular, I'm so proud of my mural work. I started 2019 with my very first mural for the Sephora store at Water Tower Place in Chicago and things have just grown since then. There were lots of times when I thought I wasn't ready or skilled enough, but I pushed through and ended up with an incredible year.

liz flores muralist

L: Now that we know more about you, tell us about your resolution. Why are you pursuing it? 

LF: I have a few resolutions - paint more murals (really working for an international opportunity), certain galleries I would love to work with, financial goals, but there is one resolution that is very important to me that affects all others. In 2020, I want to focus on learning healthy ways to cope with the emotional demands of being an artist. I'm pursuing this because as my art has grown so have my anxieties. I have big dreams, and I've realized that if I'm going to reach for those and make art for the rest of my life, I need to be able to journey safely through my anxiety and fear.

L: What products, tools or people do you think will make you successful in achieving this?  

LF: Having a network of people you trust and respect is so important. I honestly don't know where I'd be without my good friends and my partner Martin who have cheered me on, helped me navigate tough situations that you encounter when running a business and even assisted me on site.

Also, therapy. This year I started going to therapy to dive deeper into my anxiety and better learn to manage it. As a Latina, therapy and things like that are so taboo which is why I think it's necessary to talk about it.  

liz flores lululemon

L: How do you shake feelings of doubt or uncertainty you might face along the way?  

LF: I journal pretty frequently, almost every day. I find this to be a great way to shake those feelings. I write out exactly what I'm afraid of and what I will do if it actually happens. Another great aspect of journaling is that once you've been doing it for a while, you have proof for yourself that you've gone through hard times and come out okay. It helps me to read past entries when I was doubting myself, and I persevered. 

L: What do you believe are the biggest obstacles people face when setting their resolutions? 

LF: I think people make resolutions based on what they think their resolutions "should" be. Take inventory of what worked and didn't work last year and use these notes to set resolutions that make sense for you.

liz flores painting 

L: What advice would you give to someone looking to make big changes in the New Year?

LF: Be very specific with your goals. Generalities can derail you before you begin. Get really specific and revisit those goals every month to remind yourself of what you're aiming for. Also, it's okay if after working on a goal you realize it's not what you want after all. Take it off the list and don't put any more energy toward it. Always onward.

L: Lastly, what does “Raising the Bar in 2020” look like for you? 

LF: Making even more public work in and outside of Chicago (I'm hoping to double what I did last year) and collaborating with some artists and galleries who I've really wanted to work with for a long time.

Rapid-Fire Questions:

  1. What's your favorite Vital Proteins product and why?Vital Proteins Collagen Water™! I love the flavor and how refreshing it is. Plus, as someone who just doesn't like to drink plain water, anything that gets me hydrated is a win.
  2. What quote/mantra do you live by? “The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
  3. How do you like to unwind? A deep tissue massage! Mural work is very physical, and I love celebrating the completion of a project with a massage. More day to day, I love lighting a candle or incense, putting a face mask on and watching an action flick.
  4. What's your dream vacation? Anywhere beach-y and warm, and slightly secluded.

Thanks, Liz!