4 Female Artists Who Are Inspiring the Next Generation of Creators
Filters and social media settings make it easy for anyone to pretend they’re an artist. But let’s be real: Unless we’re talking about a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, creating something that we’re proud of is really difficult! And it doesn't end there: Once you actually create something that you're proud of, it's incredibly scary to share your project with others. After all, our creations bare our souls, and to reveal them to the world is a truly vulnerable act.
That’s why it’s so important to have strong female role models who share, showcase and celebrate their creativity with other women and the world around them. When women are open with their passion projects, it can empower other women, and more importantly, the next generation, to share their own ideas.
To help all women with a vision squash their self-doubt, we partnered with The North Face and their Move Mountains campaign to talk to four female explorers who are paving the way for women in the arts, one creation at a time.
Elyse Fox — Filmmaker and Mental Health Activist
Whether you’re presenting a project in front of a classroom or sharing a deeply personal story with a group, it’s hard to go first. There’s no set module for what you can or should be doing, meaning it’s up to YOU to set the precedent.
For Elyse Fox, going first also required her to be vulnerable. In 2016, she shared her struggles with mental health — a stigmatized topic at the time — in a short documentary called Conversations with Friends. By doing so, she encouraged everyone, especially young girls, to open up the dialogue on the subject. Soon after, she founded Sad Girls Club, an online and IRL mental health community created to help young women living with mental illness.
Fox’s willingness to pave the way for mental health advocacy is so important, especially during a time when one in five Americans suffer from mental illness. Today, she encourages young girls to trust themselves when it comes to sharing their own ideas or feelings.
“Breaking boundaries means not taking ‘no’ for an answer, and knowing your worth,” Fox explains. “Being one of the first people to do something is scary, yet it's the most incredible feeling I’ve experienced since becoming vulnerable about my mental health.”
Krista Suh — Screenwriter, Craftivist, and Creator of the Pussyhat Movement
There are many attributes that go into being a good leader. But the most important — at least according to Krista Suh — is that you have to know how to throw a good party. Suh, a woman of many titles, has even dedicated the last chapter of her book, DIY Rules for a WTF World, to how to be a good host.
“Sometimes, I think [the word] ‘leader’ has an unfortunate tie-in with selfishness, especially with women — that’s why some women are accused of being overly ambitious,” she explains. Suh hopes to inspire, not stifle, ambitious women, and drive home the point that the best leaders strive to serve others.
A true go-getter herself, Suh is a screenwriter, an author, and the "craftivist" and leader behind the pink pussyhats you know from the Women’s March movement. Inspired by her own experiences as a woman of color in the male-dominated field of screenwriting, Suh's projects serve as motivational tools for women to validate their own creativity and femininity. Suh hopes that by simply being herself, she can be a role model and help other women find their own voices.
“I think when women are not welcome in certain environments, it’s important to step into those environments and pave the way for other women — not by following the rules of patriarchy but by making our own rules.”
Elise Peterson — Writer, Visual Artist and Educator
As a working visual artist, media host, children’s book illustrator, mother, and writer, one thing Elise Peterson actively demonstrates for the next generation is that you don’t ever need to limit yourself to just one title. Wearing many hats has given Peterson the freedom to collaborate with a variety of brands and people. Recognizing the common thread of all of her endeavors — storytelling — helps her sift out potential opportunities that don’t serve her long term goals.
To Peterson, being a trailblazer or role model doesn’t mean that you have to have your face on a billboard in order to be successful (though she does have a billboard featuring her work on the Manhattan Bridge).
“[Breaking boundaries] is realizing that I have arrived a place I didn’t know I was capable of reaching,” Peterson says.
By defining success by defying her own limits, Peterson is able to inspire others to pursue their own unique paths.
Sophia Altholz — Custom Sneaker Designer & Illustrator
For Sophia Altholz, the artist behind custom illustrated sneaker company SOPHDAWG Shop, every day is different but shares one common theme: She makes stuff happen. On the design front, she creates unique and personalized designs for sneakerheads, and industry-wide, she motivates more women to get involved.
"I want to change the stigma of this industry and have more females crush it in this space alongside me," Altholz explains. "Women have such a unique sensitivity and sense of style, I want to apply that femininity to sneakers and streetwear."
Though she works a day job as a Design Manager at a marketing agency, her most creative self comes to life when working on custom sneaker designs and illustrations. She encourages young girls to blaze their own trails by thinking outside the box when it comes to their life trajectories, and of course, by being themselves.
“No one person has the ‘right path’ — you make your own path,” Altholz says. “We live in a time where your career is what you make it ... Don't try and fit yourself into someone else's story or path.”
This post is sponsored by The North Face.