"Ultimate relaxation to me is being out in the woods and soaking it all in with my camera... which just so happens to be about half of my job."
Talking to Portland-based artist Leah Flores was like going on a good hike; long, winding, and very rewarding. I got hungry too, but maybe that’s because it was time for lunch. Leah has created a portfolio of beautiful and unique snapshots into the simple pleasures of being outdoors and appreciating the wonders of nature. She has a keen eye for hand-made lettering against a beautiful photograph and has successfully created a full-time-full-tilt creative life for herself. We discussed how to best take care of yourself — through hiking, exercising, spirituality, and loving yourself.
Beth: What’s your take on exercise? Do you think it’s helped your creativity at all?
Leah: I am horrible at exercising for the “sake of exercising.” It’s boring and terrible. I am very active though by doing fun things like playing soccer, hiking, dancing, etc. Luckily I organically workout enough in my daily life that I don’t need to do something gross like go for a run to stay in shape. I do believe that exercise helps everyone in their creativity in that it produces endorphins which make you happier, more motivated, etc… and also that for me personally, a huge component of my work is nature photography which requires me climbing mountains, wading through rivers, and all of those physical tasks that are much easier if you are healthy and fit.
Beth: Can you tell us about a time when you’ve gotten away from it all? Stepped away from your desk? Done a day of work at the beach/on a mountain or retreated?
Leah: I am fortunate that my work is naturally balanced. I spend nearly equal time out exploring, taking photos as I do in front of the computer designing. Ultimate relaxation to me is being out in the woods and soaking it all in with my camera… which just so happens to be about half of my job.
Beth: Do you have a relationship with spirituality that’s helped your creative practice?
Leah: One of my favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “God is more easily found in nature than in the works of man…here is sanctity which shames our religions.” I’ve always felt strongly connected to the natural world and that relationship definitely
"I feel like I am pinching myself on the daily that this is my life now. My 'reflection' is a mix of weekly happy dances and just amazement that I get to do what I love every day."
Beth: After you’ve exhibited, sold, or showcased your artwork, do you do anything to decompress, reflect or look back upon your achievements?
Leah: The past few years have just been wild. I had wanted to be an artist since I could remember, but had always heard, “Being an artist isn’t a real job.” So – I went to college, got a degree, got a real job, and played around with photography for fun. I think my art hit the internet at the perfect time with the rise of POD sites like Redbubble that create such an accessible platform for artists to share their work with the world. My ‘hobby’ gained momentum so fast and this is now my full-time gig. I feel like I am pinching myself on the daily that this is my life now. My ‘reflection’ is a mix of weekly happy dances and just amazement that I get to do what I love every day.
"I was in college and definitely couldn't afford it, but there was the slightest inkling of possibility that my art was going to take me somewhere."
Beth: In terms of loving your artwork (and loving yourself), what’s the kindest thing you’ve ever done for yourself artistically?
Leah: The most kind thing I did for my artwork/myself was taking the leap and buying my first professional DSLR camera. I was in college and definitely couldn’t afford it, but there was the slightest inkling of possibility that my art was going to take me somewhere. More than the camera itself, it was the belief that I could really follow my passion and carve out a life for myself.
Thank you to Leah for taking the time to talk to us about how she stays feeling great creatively. You can check out her portfolio over here, filled with many more inspiring images.