We love featuring Real Women with Real Stories of Intentional Living.
Isn’t it encouraging to know that you’re not the only one crafting a life of intention? Regardless of your field, industry, or your homemaking style, we have a uniting truth in Jesus and that makes all the difference!
Today we’re thrilled to feature a budding entrepreneur, Ms Audrey Barrows from San Jose, California, an artist who does acrylic paintings, chalk-art, drawings, calligraphy, and commissioned art pieces. Without further ado, meet Audrey from Audrey Nicole Design!
- Hello Audrey, you are a hand lettering, calligraphy and art extraordinaire! I’ve personally seen your work at your home church, and also your custom personal work for friends – you do a beautiful job! We’d love to hear more about how you got started in your art, and what inspires you as well. First though, who is Audrey Barrows? Could you give us a little of your background, church history and also what you’re up to these days?
Thank you for the kind words and this opportunity. First and foremost, I love Jesus Christ, His worldwide Church, and His beautiful Truth. I am twenty-two years young and looking forward to another birthday, which is coming quickly! I am the eldest of to two gorgeous sisters and two handsome brothers. I was raised by my grandparents and grew up with my uncle. I call him my “big brother” and I’m his “little sis.” Beckham is my favorite dog on planet earth, and he is the sweetest! Music and reading are my slight obsessions. I can never get enough of iced coffee, green tea, and dark chocolate. Living a healthy and active lifestyle is very important to me. I’m an introvert at heart, but you’d never know it when I’m with my family and close friends. In June I had the privilege of being apart of Hope Corps ITW, Roatán-A. My life was changed and empowered, a pivotal time of my life for sure. It was my first time traveling out of the USA, and I must admit, traveling the world is my new dream. First Church San Jose, pastored by Jonathan Shoemake, is my home church. I am happily busy and involved in various ministries of FCSJ, and would not wish to live my life any other way. There is nothing like being apart of the Church and the advancement of God’s Kingdom. It is in that work where true purpose is found, activated, and maintained in one’s life.
Audrey Nicole Design began and was inspired by my friend’s wedding in September 2013. I had the honor of creating artwork for the occasion, and used chalk and chalk-ink as a medium for the first time. I decided to take the risk and start my own business offering chalk art initially just for weddings, but have now created chalk artwork for many different occasions including corporate events. I also paint with acrylics and really discovered my love for painting upon the completion of my first large art piece at the age of fourteen. Much of my latest work involves chalk, chalk ink and acrylic mediums combined, such as my latest piece Kings and Queens.
There are many expressions of art I gain inspiration from. More specifically, the emotion felt through music, modern or baroque European architecture, striking scenic views, the contour and lines of automobiles (I used to attend our local car show every year!), colors and textures, reading autobiographies, listening to other people’s stories of struggle and triumph, monochromatic black and white photojournalism, and interior design. However, most of my inspiration comes from the random, unscripted moments of life. Usually I don’t have time to do much with the inspiration captured in that instant. I keep a notebook with me wherever I go and on its pages I write down anything and everything that inspires me, and sometimes use it as my journal. My notebook also helps me remember past inspirations, or be rein-spired when I hit “artists-block,” if you will. Of all my inspirations, music has always been the main source since I can remember. If you were to read my notebook in which I jot ideas and make notes, it is full of random lyrics that I want to use as the base of future projects.
My artwork is an extension of myself and represents whom I am. When I create artwork for my own pleasure and not for commissioned projects, I’ve learned what inspires me must also move and impact who I am in that moment, or phase of my life. Sometimes what I write down or sketch from inspiration may not reach a complete created form until I am not just inspired, but also passionate about the piece of artwork. Not until I have a connection to it, believe in the message I am trying to convey, and speak through that specific artwork. It is my passion, conviction, and connection to a current project that urges me to complete a work, and motivates me to work through the night if I have to! Oftentimes I finish an art piece feeling emotionally drained and exhausted, or emotionally revived, exhilarated, and pumped. This is the kind artwork I love to create.
A perfect example of my desire to have such a connection and passion for a project is my latest work, “Kings and Queens.” I can remember the moment I heard Kings and Queens, sung by Audio Adrenaline, for the first time in March 2013. It moved me deeply and was on “repeat” often. But I didn’t feel moved to create artwork based off the song until January 2015, nearly two years after the song was released. It wasn’t until then that the song almost sounded different; sounded better and even more inspiring than when I heard it the first time. This project is just one example of how I translate my inspiration to my artwork, and what gives my artwork a story.
- Getting back to your art – when did you first discover you had a talent as an artist? How have you developed that talent?
I recognized my ability to draw and attention to detail at a young age. My earliest memories of drawing are from the second grade and I began painting at age fourteen. My artwork was also affirmed with the encouragement of family and friends through the years. I believe myinterest in art and the development of my artistic ability is partly due to the environment I lived in, and being surrounded by like-minded creative people. Just about everyone in my family had some involvement and experience in the arts. From amazing craftsmanship, graphics, drawing, painting, playing instruments, and more.
My talent has developed with time, research, observing other artists, and practice, practice, and more practice. The nature of my job has given me many opportunities to learn and use different methods, mediums, and products to create art in forms I have never done before. In the process, my job has also stretched me as an artist, and has played an integral role in developing and broadening my skill-set.
I don’t believe there is an end to learning art; I am always looking for new ways to create and look forward to learning graphic design techniques with my original artwork. I try my best to develop my skill by using new techniques, using new surfaces, and many nifty tools. There is always more to learn!
- You have a website, and have set up a business as an artist, how does your faith and relationship with God play into that, and does it inspire your work?
“Make God the source of your inspiration, energy, and first in your desires, ambitions, and endeavors.”
–Bishop Jimmy Shoemake (based on Deut. 4:4-5)
My relationship with God is the base of everything I do regarding my business and it does inspire my work often. I learned quickly that my relationship with Him must be kept first, and not just in my personal life. Having my own business has taught me such, and has also taught me to pray in ways I have not prayed before. And it’s through prayer and being in the presence of God that my purpose and the intent of my life is found.
Stress is an understatement when trying to manage a business, work, family, church involvement, and attempting to keep it all balanced and in order. There are rewarding moments and it can be fun, but it is not always hype and glamour. Living life with God at the center does not mean it’s easy, but life without Him is dreadful. No matter how I schedule, plan ahead, and prepare for projects and meetings –and believe me, I must plan ahead– I still don’t have it all figured out and I must continually depend upon God’s grace, strength, and wisdom to help give me that balance, and help me avoid a meltdown in the process! My Pastor said it perfectly in service, “God centers our being.”
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 (KJV)
Yes, money and attempting to project future income and the cost is always involved when starting, or managing your own business. But I have learned to look beyond that aspect of my business and see it in another light. I take my interactions with my clients very seriously and never do I want to leave a negative impression, or give bad customer service. I not only represent my business and myself; I represent the Church, First Church San Jose in the city I do business and abroad, and my God. My relationship with God permeates throughout every area of my business. He is my boss, and I report to Him everyday –no kidding!
And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Colossans 3:20 (KJV)
In terms of my relationship with God inspiring my work, I am continually inspired and always keep a notebook with me so I can readily jot down ideas, thoughts, or even sketch a quick design. Oftentimes I am inspired by music sung in church and from preaching. I have stacked papers, upon random napkins, and even receipts and on them are random quotes, lyrics, Scriptures that impacted me in moments of church services. My relationship with God is one aspect of my life from which I draw inspiration on a daily basis.
- As I’ve come to know you, I’ve come to admire that you not only remain committed to your art and further developing those talents, but you are also very active in your local church and missions (Hope Corps) at the same time. Is there a scripture or bit of advice that has been most helpful to you that you would share with other like-minded ladies? Is there someone who has been most inspiring in both your work and walk with God?
The most helpful Scripture for me throughout my entire life and not just as an artist and entrepreneur is, Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall make your paths straight.” There are moments I am over-thinking, worrying, and stressed out because I allowed myself to fall into the false sense of security that comes when taking control. I am not smart enough, wise enough, or strong enough to pretend I have it all figured out and know what I’m doing. Leaning on God for wisdomthat surpasses my carnal thinking, reasoning, and logic, and leaning on Him for direction is my only consolation. I can’t say it any clearer than Proverbs. Keep Christ at the center of your life and everything will strategically come into its right place –in His time and according to His will for your life.
The times of this generation are dangerous, crazy and weird, always shifting and inconsistent, and most times ill-equipped to meet our needs; the needs of the mind and heart, and even our bodies. Only God can satisfy our very souls, give us peace that passes all understanding, a sure foundation, and “joy unspeakable” to withstand all things in this life. Always trust His ways and His timing, and not your own intellect, understanding. Trust me, He will blow you away.
Yes, there are various people I look to for advice regarding Spirituality, art, lifestyle, etc. All of them have impacted my life and have inspired me in both my artwork and/or my walk with God. My Pastor of course has always been an inspiration in my walk with God, and other aspects of my life including my business. I’ve had the privilege of receiving artistic advice and am inspired by some of the best artists I know including my Pastor & Bishop and their wives, family members and other friends of the Apostolic faith.
The friends and mentors in my life are God-sent. They inspire and challenge me more than they probably realize. Some of my best friends and mentors are much older than I (hopefully they don’t read this and are offended I said that, ha!). But I love being with people who have truly experienced the good and the bad of life, seen more in life than I, and have risen above their struggles. My friends are some of the strongest. I admire their tenacity, their authenticity, hearing their stories, and learning from their experiences. They help me think beyond the here and now, and plan for the future. The list could go on! My friends I recently met during the Intensive Training Week in Roatán, Honduras have truly been my inspiration as of late, and they have impacted my life more than they will ever know. I love the #UffdaFlexibles! And my newfound friends I had the privilege of meeting in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee… They have impacted and changed me, and I am forever grateful to have met them, #TheWolfPack.
God has strategically placed people in my life and they have played an integral role in helping me become the person and artist I am today. I have no doubt about that.
5. What has been the most discouraging obstacle you’ve faced in your walk with God and also your pursuit as an entrepreneur and artist? Would you feel comfortable sharing that with us?
Absolutely. The most discouraging obstacle I’ve faced in my walk with God is my battle with severe anxiety throughout my childhood and teen years. I give praise to God for Him helping me to overcome it. This is a huge part of my testimony! Anxiety used to control my life. When I was a child, I spent (what felt like) every night waking up in fear or from nightmares, waking my Nana as I slipped in beside her at night, or needing my Nana or Papa to sleep on the floor beside my bed. In my teen years I resolved to prescribed narcotics as needed, in order to cope with the anxiety and sleep through the night. I was not addicted, but I depended on it. This in turn weakened my faith and bred condemnation. I was frustrated and angry with myself because I depended on something other than God to relieve my anxiety. It was easier for me to resort to the immediate gratification prescription drugs, rather than to linger in prayer and seek God for a miracle.
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
I remember the day I looked at the prescription bottle and threw it away in anger and defiance, never looking back. It wasn’t until I took action that my life was radically changed with time. I cried out to God many times, but I never truly gave the anxiety to Him. I stopped feeding the anxiety by claiming who I am in Christ: I am “more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:31-39),” I can “do all things through Christ, which strengthens me (Phil. 4:13),” [God’s] perfect love “casts out all fear (1 John 4:18),” I am a “child of God (1 John 3:1),” and claiming many more promises written in Scripture.
“Say the Word and there is life, say the word and dead bones rise… my soul will hang on every word you say, because I know your word will never fade.”
Say the Word by Hillsong United (Empires)
It’s in Christ I am a fighter, a conqueror, an overcomer, and the truest form of who He created and purposed me to be. I hate, and resist at all costs, the version of me living in my flesh. The flesh and carnal monster that lives inside all of us only breeds fear, confusion, anger, and frustration. Only through Christ I can live a victorious life and overcome my flesh. My victory through Christ strengthened my faith, fortified my spirit, and mended my soul.
As an entrepreneur, my introverted personality has at times made it difficult to operate my business. However, I have grown to embrace my personality and push myself beyond my comfort zone. The first few client meetings were very uncomfortable and to this day I often feel way out of my element. If nothing else, my business has helped me to grow in this area of my life, and has strengthened my professional communication and interaction with my clients.
As an artist, one of my most discouraging obstacles is the physical pain that comes with the use of my hands. Unfortunately, I damaged my right wrist years ago and I’m not sure what I did to my left hand. Both my wrists and hands begin to ache and it can be painful if I overwork them. But you know what, if I no longer have a business, I will never cease to create artwork! I think the pain helps me appreciate my artwork more. Creating art is in my bones and it cannot be taken from me. I believe it is a talent God gave me and I must trust and believe He will give me the physical strength to continue using my talent.