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Unapologetically Artistic

It’s never too early, or late, to create something that’s useful, joyful, or thought-provoking.

              Brian Cronkrite started crocheting four years ago when his mom showed him how to use a pattern to create his own plush toy, Hubble the Squid. With great attention to detail, hand-eye coordination, and talent for geometry, Hubble the Squid soon had some buddies with Atlas the Lion Cub, Jupiter the Rabbit, and a bevy of other plush animals Brian made without a pattern. Although he, his mom, and his sister still crochet from patterns as a family hobby (Projectarian is his favorite), Brian often freehands complex projects using only his imagination and mental math skills. He has created fantastical animals, toys, and playsets such as Minecraft and Among Us for himself, his family, and classmates.

            Shilpa Hardas started her art education early and has stayed with it to this day. “I knew by 8th grade I was going to be an artist,” says Shilpa. It was the art table at her school’s Career Day that grabbed her attention and never let go. An Indian immigrant, Shilpa’s family wasn’t thrilled about a non-traditional career, but she says it was worth fighting for. “My stubbornness brought me here,” she says with a laugh. “If not for my determination I would have been pulled away from it. I don’t think I would be happy doing anything else.”

            As an art teacher and professional artist, Shilpa welcomes students of all ages to her Brea studio while manifesting a gallery space to display and sell her art. “The power of observation goes a long way in any field. I teach children the foundations, then graduate to three-dimensional shapes that form our world.” Shilpa’s collection of abstract art speaks to current ecological issues and aims to inspire young artists of diverse backgrounds to express their own ideas through painting with a message that makes a real impact.

            Julie Cruz pivoted away from a traditional job to become a full-time potter later in life. Just one semester of high school ceramics introduced her to the art she returned to when it was time for a career change. Her pottery studio occupies half the garage she shares with her husband, who does all the welding and carpentry for her art show displays. Every piece that comes out of the kiln is up for sale and photographed for her Cruzinart Instagram account. “I love what I do. My only regret is that I didn’t start earlier.” Not everyone has the ability to nurture their artistic side early, but the process is the point. Not how, or when, you finish.   

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