Kira Luca has been painting since she was a little girl. Having always been creative, she took art classes throughout her childhood and into high school, but ultimately studied business in college. Says Kira, “I chose marketing because I felt that it was the most creative form of business. I wish I could have double majored in studio art, but the business school and the art school combination didn’t work.”
After college, Kira relocated to the DC area from Pennsylvania and began working at USA Today doing advertising in their sales department. From there, she moved to a start up called Vox Media, now a huge media company. Life at the time was hard. All of her free time was spent learning a new city, adjusting to a new career, and attending to the stresses of building a new life. Those stressors took a toll and her health took a hit. It was that low point that caused Kira to prioritize aspects of her life and get back into what she loves. Once she dove into the fresh art supplies gifted by her husband, she hasn’t stopped painting. It was this past Fall when she started to connect the “professional dots”. She thought, “I work in advertising. My husband works in marketing. I know everything about social media. It would be such a shame if I didn’t take my business degree and turn my passion into a business.” Four months later, Kira launched her business. She shares, “I’ve done everything myself. I’ve built my own website and started to post [my art] on Instagram and people began asking about buying it.”
Kira’s goal is to make beautiful art that inspires people and makes their home feel more chic, beautiful, or fun. She aims to produce art that fills people’s homes with wonder and inspiration. Being an abstract artist, Kira likes that abstraction is not a literal representation of an object or place. Says Kira, “I like when people look at [an abstract painting] and all see different things. They see different shapes. I like that art can spark ideas, and feelings, and thoughts, and I hope that my art gives people more creativity and enjoyment in their life overall.”
Says Luca, “Painting is therapeutic in many ways. It’s kind of a lonely hobby in that you do it by yourself, but it’s nice. I’m an introvert/extrovert. Totally friendly and talkative with people, but I recharge alone. With painting, I can just be myself. I always joke, that I have this mermaid soul; this beachy, whimsical part of my personality. I feel like I can recharge in being that. It’s fun!”
Speaking of mermaids…. Kira’s family owns a beach house in Rehoboth, Delaware, which she has traveled to throughout her life. Her love of the sea and the sky at the beach is her major source of inspiration. Says Kira, “I love how you feel like you’re looking out to infinity. I love clouds and stars; anything [having to do with] the wonder of the vastness of the sky and the sea. I love the colors of the beach, the texture of the sand, the textures of the waves….” Recently, Kira has been working on her “Galaxy Series”. In the same way that she feels looking out over the ocean feels like looking out to infinity, her “Galaxy Series” also offers this idea of wonder. She muses, “Like, what is out there? What do you see when you look into the sky? What are the colors? What do you dream about? It doesn’t have to literally be a galaxy or the night sky, but it’s more of the thought of the feeling behind it.”
She goes on, “I know this probably sounds crazy, but sometimes I feel like when I’m going to sleep, I can close my eyes and I can see paintings that I want to paint. I see lines or colors, or I’ll be somewhere and I’ll look at something and I’ll think, that is so interesting, I want to incorporate that into a painting.” Kira often finds that places she has traveled to or wants to visit will also inspire. She explains, “Once you’ve been somewhere, the experience is only in your memory and I like to translate that into a painting. I like that it doesn’t have to be a literal scene of where you were. Sometimes I just paint something that makes you feel the way [you felt in that place].” She adds, “You can work with a local artist, to make something custom in whatever colors you want. They will help bring your vision to life from whatever inspiration point that you are working from.”
Kira’s original artwork is currently available for sale on her website, www.kiraluca.com, or inquires can be made through her Instagram account @kira_luca, but on the horizon is Kira’s dream to appeal to shoppers with a more modest budget. Short-term plans are to make her artwork available as prints. Says Kira, “There obviously is a market for original art, but there are a lot of people who just want an inexpensive 8” x 10” print. They’re ok that it’s not an original. I feel like I can service those clients by offering a select grouping of prints.” This idea nicely transitions into an even bigger dream for Kira. Ultimately she would like to form a lifestyle brand around her art. Says Luca, “I think it would be cool to do partnerships with other brands and stores and have my art on products and décor items.” She would love to be a part of design and fashion in the form of her artwork and style in the luxury lifestyle space.
But the dreams don’t end there. Kira would also love to be involved in some kind of live abstract mural piece. She shares, “I would love to work with a really cool, up and coming restaurant that wants me to do an abstract mural on their wall. I’m really into alternative art. I don’t like to just paint, I want to add texture and make it cool and different. I think that translates into me wanting to do murals or make art that goes onto purses or wine bottles or whatever it is.” She goes on, “How cool would it be if I got a winery to contact me to design [artwork] for their wine label? [I’m interested in that type of] partnership or collaboration. I would love to have my art on a product or be a co-owner of a brand where someone says, ‘This is what our wine tastes like. Here are the elements of it, here’s what our bottle looks like, here’s what we’re all about. Can you give us an abstraction of that wine experience?’ I think it would so cool to paint something from a flavor or an experience.” (Hey Loudoun County wineries!! There are over 40 of you! Anyone in need of an artist to create a label for your newest creation?) Says Kira, “I feel like I want my art to be more than just a canvas. I want it to be more experiential.”
What’s the reality versus the dream of running a business that sells original art? Kira answers, “I found that Instagram is such a creative medium that I didn’t expect, but it’s definitely a hustle to get yourself out there. The reality is you spend a lot less time painting than you do working on the business side. Thankfully, I love the business aspect. That’s what I do. I worked at a start up. I work in advertising. It’s right up my alley, so it’s comfortable for me, but I see so many artists that are so talented, but are overwhelmed. They don’t know how to build a website. They don’t know anything about social media. They’re not confident in front of a camera.” But even being educated in all of these things, and having professional experience, Kira admits that it hasn’t been easy to build a brand around cultivating a certain look of photos of her work which is dictated by social media. A lot of time is spent editing photos. She also adds that you have to have pretty thick skin. You put your creative self out there in the form of art braced for feedback, good or bad. She says, “When I share a photo I’m saying, ‘Here’s what I’ve poured my soul into and now I’m going to see if people even like this’. Or what if they don’t buy it, or what if they were to write a negative comment? That’s definitely an aspect I didn’t really consider but has been challenging to think about.” As most small business owners, Kira spends more time shipping art, responding to inquiries, updating her website, or posting on Instagram, than just painting. She goes on, “Sometimes I wonder what if I never did all of this and all I did was paint in my basement? I would paint all the time and I wouldn’t have to worry about all this other stuff, but then I’d have a house full of art that no one ever bought. I think that’s definitely the challenging part with most people who are creative. They want to produce and they love their creativity and what they’re making, but there’s so much more to it if you want to make it a business.”
Growing her Instagram following has been a huge professional accomplishment for her. “I’m proud of it,” she says. “I think when you look at my feed, you see a specific look and feel of my art and style. I’m proud that I put myself out there. That takes a lot of courage to do.” Kira has sold the majority of her art through Instagram. She’s confident in her artwork and has been able to sustain her business through social media sales alone. What she considers her best accomplishment to date.
Says Kira. “It’s easy to fill your home with stuff that’s trendy, or you go into Pottery Barn where they’re telling you what is cool, but if you invest in a piece of artwork, something from an artist, something that’s original, you’re getting an heirloom piece that you can have forever. Original art is completely unique to you and you’re supporting a local artist that made it.” She adds, “Fast fashion and fast design [are not meant to last]. A piece of art that you love and that speaks to you, will never go out of style. Don’t think of it like those throw pillows you’re going to get rid of in 6 months. It’s not going to get stained. It’s not going to get ripped. It’s a beautiful piece for your home. It’s an investment.” She goes on, “I think people sometimes spend all this time on the furniture and paint colors and then think, ‘Oh, we’re just going to throw some junk up on the walls’. Cheap frames, or pictures they don’t even like. I think your artwork should be the one thing you spend money on. Your kids are just going to destroy your furniture and you’re going to get rid of your rug in the next year. Buy something you really love and that speaks to you, it doesn’t have to be something that’s trendy and then you get rid of it.” Says Kira, “I feel that a lot people think original art is unaffordable, but if you’re willing to spend a couple hundred dollars for an end table, spend a couple hundred dollars on a really cool piece of art that you’re going to love. And when that end table breaks, you’re still going to have your piece of art! Lol.”