Q+A with Start Where You Are author and artist Meera Lee Patel

art BRIKA workshops creativity entrepreneurial makers meera lee patel New York Q+A toronto

Meera Lee Patel is the author and artist of the BRIKA bestselling book Start Where You Are, an interactive journal designed to help readers better understand their desires and feelings in order to pursue their passions and fulfill their dreams. Guided by the principles of her book and hosted by BRIKA, Meera will be running a two-hour workshop in Toronto on March 20th. As her book is the top selling item at BRIKA’s retail locations, we’re thrilled she will be joining us as the first of our Makers for the inaugural launch of BRIKA’s workshop series. Click here for tickets and more information about the workshop. Born in New Jersey and based out of Brooklyn, New York, a little-known fact about Meera is that despite being an established artist, she works full-time as a journalist at a publishing company. Completely self-taught, she began painting and drawing on the side and, before long, selling her pieces and making a name for herself in the online craft circuit. BRIKA chatted with Meera about the intention behind Start Where You Are, the feelings of disillusionment plaguing young people today and turning your passion into your career. What was the inspiration behind Start Where You Are? The inspiration basically came from my peers. I saw a lot of people in their mid-twenties and older feeling really confused. They were very unhappy with what they were doing or with the people they were, but nobody really knew how to make a change. They knew what they didn’t like, but they didn’t know what they did like. And if they knew what they liked, then they didn’t know how to get it. Those types of confusions are really rampant in our generation because there’s so much distraction. There’s social media, where you can see what other people are doing instead of thinking about what you should be doing. There’s the TV, which gives you a warped idea of what your life should look like. I think there’s every opportunity for people to not look at themselves and instead look at others. I think that’s where the problem begins. I knew that because I had gone through it myself. The way to feel more confident, to know what you want out of life, to know what kind of person you want to be, is by looking inside. And asking yourself all of the really difficult questions you didn’t want to face. And coming up with answers, and if the answers didn’t feel good, then thinking about it more until you came up with an answer that makes sense to you. I wanted to make something that helped people do that, to help guide them and come up with ideas that would ultimately change their lives. MeeraLee-Instagram_Collage How did you pick the inspiration quotes that are featured in the book? I tried to pick quotes that would be applicable to any person, regardless of age, sex or gender, and I tried to pick quotes that would be universal to anyone, regardless of where they were in their lives. I wanted to have a timeless piece of advice that you could always turn to; the goal was to create a book that could be used by anybody at any point in their life. As you begin practicing introspection, you’ll see the shadow of that work behind every decision and thought that you have. It helps you make better decisions and consider all the options that are in front of you. It makes you less afraid because you know why you feel a certain way or why something looks appealing to you. I wanted to use prompts or exercises that pulled from the deepest sentiment of the quote. People love quotes, but I don’t think they always have the tools necessary to apply the sentiment behind each quote to their own life. My goal was to give a person a quote where they feel inspired, but to also offer longevity, so they are able to apply what this quote is saying to their life. Why did you choose watercolor as your mode of expression? I love watercolor because it’s very fluid and free and does its own thing. There’s only so much control you can dictate over a medium. And I like that because as an artist it forces you to let go of any preconceived notions you have about what a piece is going to look like, and I have to be okay with the shape that it takes on its own. There’s a lot of compromise and a lot of being in the moment and being okay with the way things are turning out and not exercising full control over it. What’s your advice for young people looking to pursue a full-time career in a creative field? My advice would be to not wait. If you’re passionate about something and you want to make it work, then start taking small steps to make that happen. Set up a shop if you want to sell product. Above all, my advice would be to make sure that this is what you really want because it’s a ton of work. It’s everyday—there are no vacation days. The way to make a creative career work is to be really passionate about it and have it be something that fuels you and that you look forward to working on. Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 5.04.33 PM

Images courtesy of Meera's Instagram

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