Satsuki Shibuya

Satsuki Shibuya is an energy painter and spiritual thinker, living and working in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Her work is based upon intuition, energy, and spirit, exploring the realms of the unknown to bridge the gaps between the traditionally tangible and the unseen. With each watercolor she takes us on a personal journey into our own souls leading us towards greater appreciation for the world in which we live. We especially love her focus and emphasis on simplicity. 

Tell me about your path to becoming a freelance artist and designer.

After receiving a college degree from another University prior to graduating from art school and years of working in different fields, I knew starting my own company was the only direction I could foresee in my future. The company started as a graphic design studio, but quickly switched to product design. We created three seasons of home goods, then paired down production to one of a kind goods because creating with my hands was and still is of deep importance. We coupled all of this with creative consulting and social media engagements. Least to say, it was quite a roller coaster ride.

A sudden illness took me out for year and through this hiatus, all changed. It was never my intention to work with watercolors, nor painting, for that matter. After receiving a message to paint and months of procrastination, I decided to try different mediums to see what might come through. Several attempts later, I happened upon watercolor and never looked back. It was love at first sight and although the connection may be stronger on some days than others, it continues to lead me down my current path.

In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients (or buyers)?

If I concentrate on just the painting aspect of my work, the focus has always been to present myself, authentically, through everything that is shared, whether it be artworks, words, thoughts, and beyond. Although I am never sure how people, companies, clients find me, I believe they find me with the right intentions and consciousness. Although sometimes not immediate, opportunities come when timing aligns.

Be humble, but bold in sharing what you believe in and what rings true to your heart, for we are all built with a soul, which vibrates with love.

"Be humble, but bold in sharing what you believe in and what rings true to your heart, for we are built with a soul, which vibrates with love."

Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

I have learned that we are all truly built uniquely, a one-fits-all approach does not seem to work, but for myself, it has been conscious presence in the now, not spreading myself out too thinly and saying no more often than yes. We can only be focused on one thing at a time and by leaning deeper into each moment, what comes into fruition is saturated with our visions, expressions, and spirit in the way it was intended.

What has been your greatest struggle running your own business so far?

The greatest struggle has been continuing down a path that one believes in regardless of what others may say or think. It is a constant struggle honing in on what matters and making sure that the direction taken adheres to one’s vision.

A method I constantly use for direction mapping is imagining whether I would be doing what I do if all other factors were subtracted — money, social media, people, praise, love, attention, and any other incentives that may drive myself to continue down a particular path. Would I still want to continue? If the answer is yes, I know I’m still hitting the bull’s eye.

"If all other factors were subtracted - money, social media, people, praise, love, attention - would I still want to continue? " 

What is your favorite thing about working as an artist?

Having the freedom to bring to life anything imagined. Freedom of expression, of being, is a very important ingredient for happiness.

Do you have any tips for dealing with the nitty-gritty business details? 

Implement a system early, utilize great online tools and delegate whenever possible. By doing so, it frees up time to concentrate on the core of what your business is built upon, your talents.

Some online tools that have really helped are Xero for accounting and bookkeeping, Gusto for payroll, Slack for inner-office communication, and Asana for project management and scheduling. What a world of difference!

Since you are your own boss, do you have any advice for maintaining a work-life balance?

As my energy is limited, simplifying allows me to focus on the important and appreciate the everyday. From purchasing clothing that is designed with a minimal aesthetic and made to last, it not only saves time when picking out an outfit, as each item has been tightly curated prior to entering the closet, but also assists in using less of our earth’s resources. When cooking a meal, simple dishes not only enhance the flavors of each ingredient used, but also the appreciation of the life force of each ingredient becomes easier; not to mention, also aids in digestion, freeing one from a long bout of food coma.

Not all will agree with these methods, but for me, it has helped me to focus in on the meaning of life and through this, an abundance of gratitude, for work and life.

Fill in the blank: The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance creative are:

Authenticity, Humbleness, Focus

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