We had the good fortune of connecting with Dionne Victoria Milton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dionne, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
One thing that people said to me is that being an artist will not pay the bills. The starving artist myth is very very dominant in communities of color, communities that look like mine. People encourage you to look for education that guarantees a job in the system. However I believe artists sculpt the system. So mindlessly joining the workforce not only diminishes the creative muscles, but if you work a job that is not aligned with your passion, you will struggle to find happiness and true peace. My peace and happiness has driven me to take the road less traveled by exercising and activating my business mindset just as much as my creative mindset. In fact, I would say they might go hand in hand, creatively allowing me to solve the challenges I face.

I was told to have a back up plan. This is the worst advice you can give a person passionate about their creative lifestyles. Having a back up plan gives us a “safety net” that actually acts as a crutch. Knowing there’s no turning back after you burn that bridge ignites creatives to figure it out! We are creatives. We are designed to look at situations and make something of it. My advice; Make a plan. Stick to it. Face the challenges but NEVER turn back.

I am far from starving and I intend to continue living this way because there is no other way for me to live.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art! And the purpose of my art occupies my mind. We are not bastards. We are life’s longing for existence. We are love in essence. Our very presence depicts our determination. Our strides leave a mark that identifies our lives as a triumph in the world of lack luster. We are the color; the representation of life!

Heroes of Tomorrow are paintings of children I know as the superheroes they are. Our children are taught everyday they are not enough, they will never be enough and they are not worth it, by mass media, by the school system and by people in power. The most common time our children see themselves publicly, is in criminal situations or if their bodies are strewn across the street. They should know how super they really are, that they are not defined by what mass media is promoting them as and that they are great beyond measure because the only limitations they possess are the ones they place on themselves! I paint them how I see them, in the light they shine on us!

These pieces are about love, about character and about seeing your light from within. My goal is to spread love by showing healthy images that look like me and those around me.

I use every form of paint I can find, acrylic, watercolor, spray paint, tempera, house paint, paint markers. If it’s paint I use it because though it is the same medium, as people are, there are so many different values to it, as there are different values to people. I use various forms of paint to express the variety in values while creating an image that is unified because unity is my end goal. I paint on wood because it is a bit more raw, even when refined. It is still living. Over time it warps and moves and changes and that is what life is; constant change.

To get to this understanding about myself, about my art, I had to take a lot of time to think introspectively. I meditated a lot. I got comfortable being uncomfortable. I had a few loses and I never gave up. I cried myself to sleep a few times and I woke up laughing. It has truly been a labor of love; a love for myself, for my family, for the world.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Must see places in Chicago include the Subterranean in Wicker Park. On Thursdays they have reggae night! In Chicago you can find an open mic pretty much every day of the week. You must visit the lake for all its healing properties. During the summer there are so many festivals and activities like the Bud Billikin parade but during the winter there’s the museums and galleries like the Museum of Contemporary Art, WNDR Museum and Blanc Gallery. There’s always something to do!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have a ridiculous number of people to shoutout so here we go!

Mrs. Kathy and Mr. Ben from Studio71 have believed in me since I was in High School. They supported me in traveling to Washington D.C. to show my art. They helped me organize events for the public. They’re my fairy art parents. https://studio71art.com/

Gallery37 is where I started painting. If I had not gone through the program I may have stayed an illustrator.

The South Side Community Art Center is one of my recharge stations. When I am feeling the need to check in with the ancestors, those he come before, I make sure to stop on.

Robin Rios from 4Art Inc. Gallery taught me everything I know about running an art business.

Tye Johnson gave me the opportunity to learn firsthand how to run a business.

The Healing Academy is not only the nonprofit I cofounding with my business partner, Natalie Battles, but it is also my inspiration. The board members of The Healing Academy are all creatives and supportive of my process as well.
Our mission is to transform urban communities by offering education for the entire family that inspires solid minds, transforms whole bodies and rebirths the full soul.

I have learned a lot about abstract art from my studio mate Andre Brown.

Dorian Sylvain and Dana Todd Pope inspire me as a mom to keep going and keep being creative. My children would love me more as a walk in my purpose rather than joining the average workforce. This is what they show me!

Finally my children inspire me! They are artists as well and they push me to continue to be creative.

Website: www.dionnevictoria.com

Instagram: @thedionnevictoria

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dionne-victoria-milton-9ab4b8a8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDionneVictoria

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