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Life & Work with Ketsy Ruiz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ketsy Ruiz. 

Hi Ketsy, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
I am a fine artist and digital illustrator. I convey my ethnic identity and culture in my art. Growing up in the Puerto Rican diaspora of the United States has greatly inspired my work. As a “military brat” I was raised in the subculture of the nomadic Army family. Living all over the US I was constantly seeking community and found diaspora Latinx and Puerto Ricans everywhere I had moved to. My art is an ode to the diaspora that often feels left out and longing for connection to their home. 

I had been interested in the arts and everything creative at a very young age. Around 3 yrs. old is when I got my first easel but it wasn’t until the Disney renaissance of the late 80s-90s that I became seriously interested in drawing. By middle school, I had an entire cartoon series with accompanying script. And by the time I was choosing a major freshman year of college I was certain I would become a 2D animator. Turned out the dream wasn’t MY dream because I was romanced by classical painting techniques and never looked back. It’s funny because my current style of art has turned into a heavy mix of illustration and painting. I recently received the Emerging Artists Grant from Creative Pinellas and hope to expand on my new body of work with the grant. 

Alright, 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?
Work balance is always part of the struggle. I had very different goals and expectations for myself and my career for many years. I was climbing the corporate ladder in a creative field but only painting as a hobby. Between positions, I would naturally invest more time into my paintings but never enough to see a return monetarily. Most recently I had been furloughed from my 9-5 due to the Covid pandemic. Without a plan B, I immediately started a campaign for digital commissions on my social media platforms and it blossomed into a business. 

Never would I have imagined that my painting skills could be used for digital art let alone be something people wanted to pay me for. I decided to finally invest all my energies into my passion as an artist. With that journey came learning how and when to switch on business mode. I took a Co.Starters business course to learn the basics of how to turn my art into merchandise and products and how to take on clientele. It’s been a huge learning curve for me. I am constantly working on new ideas, fulfilling orders, making marketing content, painting, and still working in corporate America part-time! I truly love being creative every day and hope to one day do it full-time and have a team with me to help with the workload. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I own Sketzii LLC which is an arts creative business entity. I showcase my fine art in galleries, own a product line based on my work, sell NFTs, and offer painting and digital commission services. I mostly create 2D visual art. 

My body of work is comprised of acrylic on canvas and watercolor/gouache paintings. My pieces tend to lean towards illustrative aesthetics with matte paint application, bold outlines, and RYB color wheel schematics based on traditional colors in Latin culture. My subject matter ranges from still lifes of found objects to places, people, and food that invoke a conversation or nostalgic feeling of Latin culture. The references used for my pieces are from the hundreds of photographs I have taken and continue to take during my travels. These design elements really distinguish my style making my work distinctly Sketzii. 

What I’m mostly proud of is the community building I’ve been able to do by just utilizing social media. I have such a loyal following and they really help me navigate where my art should go, physically and metaphorically. I created an entire coloring book based off of their engagement with interactive adjuncts on Instagram and Facebook. On those same platforms, I’ve been able to reach out to organizations and donate the coloring books. 

For several years I’ve had the chance to collaborate with an amazing non-profit organization called Batey Girls, based out of the Dominican Republic, that helps support women and children who are victims of human trafficking. The profits of our hand-painted, hand-made jewelry support the women and their safe house. It’s those kinds of things that make so much of my journey as an artist have an actual purpose. The times where I’m able to give back is when I know I’m supposed to be doing this. 

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I definitely believe that everything happens for a reason and every job opportunity has brought me closer and closer to where I am as an artist today. I guess you could say the bad luck of not getting a promotion or getting furloughed from my job really gave me the time and the push I needed to realize I had acquired all the skills necessary to go into business myself. Here I was giving my all into companies, learning how to find vendors, how to market, how to brainstorm creatively when I could easily have done it for myself and my art. It wasn’t until the panic of not knowing when my next paycheck was that I figured it all out. 

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