From Fetching Sneakers to Selling Out Art Exhibitions
What this woman did. Well, her name is Naila Felice and she is a successful artist and dedicated teacher from Trinidad and Tobago.
At the time of this interview, she had just completed a series of video and photo shoots with Gale & Co for a new collection, and her effervescent personality and light weight spirit had peaked my attention fully. I therefore determined to share a bit about her career journey on my blog, and feature her as inspiration to other creative women just like Naila.
Gale & Co: How old were you when you had your first job?
NF: My first job was as a store clerk at Francis Fashions and Shoe Locker. It was during vacation when school was out. I may have been 15 or 16 at the time and in Form 5. A few friends had applied to work there, so I begged my parents to let me have the experience. They did. But listen to me, fetching shoes is hard hard work though!
Gale & Co: Why did you get it then?
NF: I wanted to feel independent....like a woman!!! At that time my parents were giving me a lousy allowance. I wanted extra cash that I could save to buy whatever I wanted.
I was always a hustler. Quick story: I used to make box cakes and sell them at school for $3 a slice...and made sure I got at least 12 slices out of each cake ....getting a job was an attempt to have access to a greater pool of income.
Gale & Co: Twinsies! I also sold every manner of everything as a teen. But I used to get about 20 slices from my cakes lol. I didn’t have a reason to sell things, I could have asked my parents for money. It just never occurred to me that I should! In my mind, if you wanted something, you come up with a business plan to get it.
Ok, so when did you start painting and why did you choose to become an artist?
NF: I was always a creative. In primary school I would sit in the beautiful high rise building of my dad’s office, staring out of the tall windows at the trees and Queen’s Park Savannah. I would create stories in my head that I would be excited to execute. I went on to secondary school where I realized, from my very first art class, that I was special. The teacher sang me praises and art was effortless. In form 4 I started exploring painting, and I graduated with a distinction in Art for CXC and later attained the Leroy Clark trophy for Excellence in Art in the A-Level examinations. One of my final pieces was then purchased by Mrs. Sharon Rowley, the wife of the presiding Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Mrs. Rowley encouraged me to exhibit my work professionally, and was actually the fan to a burgeoning flame. I approached Horizons Art Gallery, a local art exhibition store, and they put my work on display. These pieces sold quickly, and ushered me into my first joint exhibition. All my artwork sold. I have taken part in several exhibitions (including solo exhibitions) and every piece of art was sold, giving God glory!
Gale & Co: This is huge! Congratulations on your successes Naila! But tell me, what are the challenges you have faced as you tried to make a name in the industry?
NF: Honestly, I have been my only setback. When I ventured into the industry I was so young, but I seemed to grow in popularity quickly. I soon became intimidated by that success and stopped producing work from 2011-2017. In 2018 I had a life altering experience that allowed me to have an encounter with the true and living God, and I started painting again, this time images of hope and comfort.
Gale & Co: Nothing like an encounter with Him, to release or reignite buried talents. I too have had the same experience.
Who now owns your pieces? Drop some names.
NF: I will have to research....I’m so bad with names ....can we leave this out?
Gale & Co: umm, what? Atleast we know Mrs. Rowley is one, so I suspect the other persons or businesses that have your pieces on display are just as impressive.
NF: Also, to be honest, remember a lot of my work would have been purchased by persons who visited art galleries. The gallery would then know faster than me, who actually owns my work and which pieces they are.
Gale & Co: Facts, and an interesting mystery this presents indeed! So what's next for Naila, the artist?
NF: I don't want to fully let the cat out of the bag but I’m currently an art teacher and practicing artist. I love creating online content and expanding my knowledge base within the creative industry.I hope to explore graphic design more, as well as video creation and editing, animation and illustration. I look forward to populating even more household walls with scripture and hope, as I encourage others one brushstroke at a time.
Care for a fun fact? Naila also has a career history in advertising and production, where she assisted in the production of many of the Digicel advertisements that we have enjoyed in the past. This goes to show, once you are a creative, you are always a creative, and the evidence of it will be sprinkled throughout your career. The question is, are you allowing yourself the opportunity to?