Artist: Lisa Tornatore; Chicago, Illinois, USA
QUESTION:What has been your biggest take-away?
Lisa Tornatore: My Why and my What are the biggest things.
QUESTION: Why does your Mission matter?
Lisa Tornatore: I think it definitely reflects a lot of the work that I do now and the work that I’m planning on doing with my prototype project, and I think it speaks to a lot of people too. When I got this workshop, basically all I did was send the lady an email with my Mission statement and a little bit more, and she was like “Sold!” and I was: ‘Wow. Really? That’s it!’
QUESTION: What is your Mission?
Lisa Tornatore: My mission is to help people nourish a certain feeling in their life through empathy and compassion. I wanted to help these ladies who are refugees, and I wanted to give them a feeling of home through their art or through their artwork, so that they can make things that they can sell to help them make a living.
QUESTION: How did she react to your Mission?
Lisa Tornatore: She was sold, and I was like: “Okay, let’s do this!” So this is my very first workshop I’ve ever taught, and I’m very excited.
QUESTION: What would you have done before?
Lisa Tornatore: I don’t think I would have been as confident. I definitely wouldn’t have said that in the email for sure. I probably would have jumbled it all up, it would have been a mess. But I was much more confident about what I knew was important to me and how I could contribute to these people.
QUESTION: What did she think of your Mission?
Lisa Tornatore: She even said in her email when she replied back, she said “Oh my gosh, my heart is beating so fast. I was so moved by your email and we have to do this workshop.” and I was like, “Oh my goodness!” It’s amazing, you know.
QUESTION: Do you think many artists know their Mission?
Lisa Tornatore: Yeah, I’m guessing not that many.
QUESTION: Why does your Mission matter?
Lisa Tornatore: It came from my heart and I think that that really meant a lot to them and they wanted to definitely incorporate me in to what they do there.
QUESTION: Did sharing your Mission work?
Lisa Tornatore: It worked! I’m very excited.
QUESTION:Is this helping you find your niche?
Lisa Tornatore: I finally found somebody and a group that I can contribute what I have to. Yes.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for artists?
Lisa Tornatore: Believe in yourself. You’re a lot stronger than you think you are. Just trust yourself and trust your mission. Your Why, that’s the key to everything. You’re going to build your whole life around it and it can’t be just some statement. It has to really mean something.
QUESTION: Where did you get your art degree?
Lisa Tornatore: The Art Institute of Chicago
QUESTION: What did you learn about making a living?
Lisa Tornatore: Literally nothing. I got my BFA and I took extra classes and I wrote all these artist statements that were horrible and I spent a whole extra class just doing an artist statement and it was the most excruciating class. It was worse than the math and statistics classes. It was awful. It was awful and I didn’t learn anything about selling or audiences or thinking about why you do what you do. They didn’t talk about any of those things. It was all very formal. It was this ‘explain yourself’ kind of thing in long paragraphs.
QUESTION: Did you want to be an artist?
Lisa Tornatore: When I was growing up I was told I wasn’t going to be an artist and I needed a backup, so my BFA was a major in graphic design, so I just assumed that I would be doing graphic design for the rest of my life. But my minor was in printmaking and that’s where my heart lied and I got fed up with graphic design.
QUESTION: Why do you want to be an artist?
Lisa Tornatore: This is what I want to do with my life.
QUESTION: What did you learn about artist statements?
Lisa Tornatore: It was very formal, like I said, and it was all about explaining what it is you do. I came up with this thing called ‘insider communicator’ and that’s what I called myself as my title to go with it. It basically was all about explaining all the different aspects of my art and why I did what I did here and there and how it all ties together. It didn’t really have anything to do with me personally or what drives me or anything, really. It was just kind of like why I did the art the way I did it.
QUESTION: What did people think of your artist statement?
Lisa Tornatore: I don’t think anyone ever read it, except for the teacher. I mean people just walk past those things.
QUESTION: What was your art school class like?
Lisa Tornatore: It was a long class, it’s a whole semester class, so we went through iterations and iterations and iterations of this thing. So by the time it was done, I didn’t even feel like it was mine anymore, you know? He just looked at it and tear it apart, and ask me to change this, change that, add this. I don’t even think it was mine by the time it was done
QUESTION: What do you think she would have thought of your artist statement?
Lisa Tornatore: Oh, she would think it’s crazy like I don’t even know what she’s talking about. I mean, yeah, she definitely would not be interested in doing any workshops with me.
QUESTION: How did it feel to share your Mission?
Lisa Tornatore: I was amazed when I got that email. I was on cloud nine. I was just like: “Oh my gosh, this is amazing. I’ve never had anyone respond to an email like that before.”
QUESTION: Do your art professors know their Mission?
Lisa Tornatore: No. Honestly. I know they enjoy what they do, but when I was in school, there was no way I thought about sitting down and figuring out why I enjoy what I’m doing or where my heart is, you know, at that time.
QUESTION: Should other artists apply?
Lisa Tornatore: Enroll. I mean, really. I know for me even, it was a lot of money, especially since I quit my job, but it was worth it! Because like I said, finding your Why is the biggest thing and you’re not going to find it just anywhere else, you know? You have to find your Why and you have to go through all of the program and figure it all out. Even the other parts of the program are really beneficial as well. Like trying to help us think not just as, “oh, I’m an artist, here’s what I did and you want to buy it” kind of thing. It’s about changing your mindset and thinking about it as an actual business enterprise, like an actual business. And that mindset really, really affected me when I was going through the program because I was still in the mindset of: ‘Oh I made this, do you want to buy it?’ So changing my mindset about how I do things and keeping track of my finances and all of that kind of stuff was a big change for my mindset, and thinking of it as not just this heart centered thing, but also something that I want to make a living at doing for the rest of my life. I have to be responsible about it. Treating yourself and the business with responsibility; that was a big thing for me. Because I’m not really a money person and not great at handling finances and things like that, so taking the time to really sit down and do that was a big deal for me.
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