Kelly M. O'Brien has been selling a lot of work since 2015, in a way that surprised her at the time. And while she has continued that work, she has added new work—what she calls emerging work— since deciding to go back to graduate school in 2017 to earn her MFA.
With such great commercial success it seemed like an unusual time to return to grad school, but now that she has been out of school for over a year, Kelly is ready to talk about her decision to take that big step and what she learned in the process. Join our conversation as we talk about the ins and outs of juggling two very different art businesses, what her daily practice is like, and where her work is headed.
Kelly M. O’Brien shares her art path and the works that have gone viral. (1:49)
Finding more meaning and depth in your art. (5:47)
Changing the focus of her work resulted in Kelly creating two different practices. (8:08)
Finding the right time and the right approach to return to graduate school. (11:51)
The value of intentional planning sessions to help you grow as an artist. (17:15)
The biggest benefits of returning to school. (20:02)
How to determine if an MFA is right for your career. (23:45)
Balancing money-making ventures with your education. (24:49)
How to respond to the stigma surrounding serious artists who work to make money. (26:27)
Changes in Kelly’s practice as a result of earning her MFA. (28:32)
A look inside Kelly’s approach to her daily practice in the studio. (31:04)
Learning a visual vocabulary that will shape the statement of your work. (34:47)
Kelly shares an overview of what is holding her attention in her studio. (38:18)
Intro and outro music by Wildermiss
About My Guest
Kelly M. O’Brien is an American mixed-media sculptor who lives and works near Bristol, England. She completed a Master of Fine Art (Distinction) at Bath Spa University in 2019. Kelly is co-founder of A Gathering of Unasked Possibility, a collaborative project fostering active hope through creative practitioners, and runs PaperJoy Studio, offering bespoke paper art originals and hand-embellished prints for hospitality and important residential projects.
First posted: https://artbizsuccess.com/mfa-obrien-podcast