When Marissa Quinn was in second grade, her parents switched her from public school to a private school — and she became an artist.
“I was so nervous when I switched schools because it was the first time I had to learn to make friends,” said the 27-year old San Diego native. “So sometimes I would just sit inside during recess so I could draw and color.”
Quinn’s social skills improved through school, along with her art. She went to college for a degree in fine art, and by 25 she earned her MFA.
For the past two years Quinn has been working two jobs. She says she wakes up in the morning and draws for 2-3 hours. Then she works her shift as a manager at the woman’s clothing store Anthropologie. After that job, she comes back home and clocks 3-4 more hours in her studio.
“I call it my work sandwich,” Quinn said.
But that is all about to change, as demand for Quinn’s art has grown to the point where she is now ready to pursue it full-time.
“It’s really exciting,” Quinn said. “I’ve been hustling for so long.”
Quinn considers herself a biological artist, borrowing from a tradition of scientists who are extremely accurate in their illustrations. She said her art, most of which is done with a pencil, combines an exacting approach with a surrealist element, similar to that of painter Salvador Dali
Her subjects are endangered plants and animals, and her goal is to communicate environmental consciousness through her art.
“I’ve always loved animals and nature and with my art I can incorporate all of my passions,” Quinn said.
While her work features an activist aspect, it is also deeply personal.
“Everything I draw has a specific meaning or memory or symbol attached to it,” Quinn said. “When I draw something that object might have a personal meaning to something in my own life.”
In a few months Quinn said she will pack her sketchbook and some pencils into a van and drive up the California coast and draw. She said her confidence as an artist is a choice she makes every morning.
“Most artists are anxious about failing,” Quinn says. “Everyday I wake up and choose to live in the moment and have faith that the next gig will come along.”
Her favorite peice of advice for budding artists is what she calls the “15 minutes a day rule.”
“When I was first starting out a mentor told me that no matter what I’m doing, spend 15 minutes a day on my craft,” Quinn said.
“That 15 turns into twenty, turns into an hour, turns into a passion,” she added. “The only way to get better is to keep doing it everyday.”
Quinn said she would one day like to open up a space where she can hold workshops for artists, musicians, writers, and other creative types.
Her motto: keep shining.
“I would like to be remembered as somebody who bought a bit more beauty into the world.”