Family Info: Husband is Daniel, kids are 8th grade and 4th grade
Name or your business: Aimee Hofmann Fine Art
How would you describe your work? Painting is something that I am passionate about and at the same time, it challenges me everyday. My work constantly pushes me to get out of my comfort zone, evolve and grow.
How you got started as an artist?
I’ve always been artistic my whole life. Growing up, I studied piano, dance and was constantly sketching/drawing. Eventually, as an adult, I took the path of pursuing a corporate career. I graduated from NYU with a marketing degree and worked in marketing/PR for a few years after graduating. In a highly-stressful, fast- paced and demanding environment of the corporate world made me constantly search for creative outlets. In 2006, 16 yrs ago, a sudden disability led to a career pivot. I was struck with transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord which paralyzed me from the waist down. During my 2 month hospital stay, I took part in a therapeutic art program for traumatically injured patients. As soon as I started painting, I felt a sense of peace wash over me. It was then that I knew painting was my passion and that joy/hope was possible again. I continued to paint over years in between having/raising two kids. Right at the start of the pandemic, I started a more disciplined art practice, put together my website and started selling/marketing my work online. I was able to apply my past marketing experience into my own business. The rest is history!
Incredible! What type of art do you create?
I paint abstract art using mainly acrylics on canvas or paper. I like mixing different consistencies of paint such as really fluid or heavy bodied paints. On occasion, I work with mixed media which may include gold foil, dried/solidified paint skins, or torn paper.
I use a wide range of techniques such as pouring, splattering or a stamping technique with old wheels of wheelchairs. I’m notoriously known to use unconventional tools such my “painting wheelchair” that I roll over the canvas with to blend/mix paints. As a result, they create these beautiful track marks all over the canvas.
Wow! Are there any specific themes or messages that you like to convey through your artwork?
I use my wheelchair to encourage the art viewer to see the wheelchair as tools or catalysts that can move things forward and create something beautiful, as opposed to having negative connotations about disabilities. I use a lot of symbolism in my work to give a piece meaning. I love how the track marks represent the idea of embracing everyone’s unique mark in this world, enforcing the idea of inclusivity. I also paint a lot of swirls and gestural marks with different sized brushes. The swirls lead the viewer’s eye on a journey around the canvas and back to where it started– similar to life when we go through adversities, or ups and downs, we end up where we were meant to be. Everything, eventually, comes full circle.
Where do you find inspiration for your artwork?
Bodies of water, nature, fashion, music and nostalgia for the 80’s (my childhood decade) are my inspirations. I'm fascinated by water, my favorite element. It is forever moving and evolving. Paralysis has made me feel trapped in many ways, and water is one of the places where I feel free. As an expression, wild, gestural marks and hues of blue that reflect the water are repeatedly featured in my work. I also love to incorporate brighter palettes and neons. As an Asian female with a disability (minority groups that may be perceived as having no voice or seat at the table in the past), using bright color is my way of taking up space in this world and being heard.
Any tips for other creative moms out there?
I try to stick to a routine or “unofficial” schedule (which is flexible) that balances self-care, the business, and family time. I’ll alternate swimming laps and marathon training sessions early in the morning. Then I’ll paint throughout the afternoon, which may alternate with administrative work or daily household duties. When the kids come home from school, its all about them– helping with homework, driving to activities/social hangouts and then cooking dinner. Sometimes, life throws you curveballs– like a child being home sick or home renovation issues and then I end up not having a productive day. I do admit to “dropping the ball” sometimes like forgetting to sign that permission slip or forgetting about cheer practice. Lol! I also feel the guilt that other working moms face when I’m so focused on the business. However, I believe all moms should give themselves a pat on the back because nobody is perfect and we’re all trying our best. Trying to achieve perfection and being everything to everyone is unattainable and not realistic.
Another important tip is to make self care a priority. Its true what they say about putting on your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. Eating right, exercising, getting sufficient sleep, meditating and being a part of a community of other women are all things that contribute to being your best self as a mom, business woman, friend, wife, etc.
How do you stay motivated and inspired during times when creativity feels elusive?
Sometimes when creativity is not my fingertips and things are not flowing easily, I take it as reminder to take a pause, decompress and look within myself again. I try to identify whether it's stress, thoughts of self doubt or lack of motivation. Then I go back to self care, spending time with family & friends, meditating or getting back out into nature– whether its just spending a day at the beach or a swim/bike ride outdoors. Those are the things and people that inspire me and feed my soul in the first place. Even though my passion happens to be my job, there are days when you don't feel that creative spark. If that's the case, I just push through the grind since I remind myself that I’m in it for the long run.
What are some other challenges you've faced as an artist and a mom, and how have you overcome them?
Being an artist or a mom can be an uphill battle. When you’re a business owner in general, its never a straight line to the top, its rather a jagged line. Sometimes you take two steps forward, then two steps back. Then when you least expect it, you make a huge leap forward. The same applies with motherhood. Each year your child gets older, some things may get easier but then new challenges arise. I try to take one day at a time, learn from my mistakes, grow from them. One thing I learned is to always go with your gut and stick to your own guns. You know what the next best step is for your career. You also know what is best for your kids.
What role does art play in your life as a mom?
Being constantly surrounded by art, watching their mom create and run a business influences both my children in different ways. My younger one (going into 4th grade) is an artist, following in his mama’s footsteps. My older one (going into 8th grade), although not an artist, wants to be a successful business woman. Whether art is in their future or not, I’m showing them they can pursue their passions no matter what adversities/obstacles they may face in life. I’m also showing them that if they really want to achieve something, it takes hard work, dedication, grit and perseverance. If they fail at certain things, I’m always telling them to get back up, stick to it and try again.
Do you have any particular milestones you're proud of?
Some exciting highlights are getting featured in Westchester Magazine and Westchester Home Magazine and just recently, a story on News 12! A year ago, I signed with ArtLifting, a company that represents artists with disabilities. Big corporations such as Amazon, Ipsen, Vigil Neuroscience, and JP Morgan have purchased my work. Recently, I did a big commission which was really special to me, for the Burke Rehabilitation, a spinal cord/brain injury hospital.
Are there any specific resources, such as books, websites, or workshops, that have helped you develop your artistic skills or expand your knowledge?
Yes, when I started I was like sponge ready to absorb any knowledge I can find. I’ve taken workshops from other female artists that I admire and have been running an art business way longer than I have. I’ve read a number of guide books on how to keep creativity alive such as The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. I’ve also read motivational books by Mel Robbins, Jen Sincero, David Gikandi and Jenna Kutcher. They all focus on common themes such as facing your fears, having gratitude, controlling mindset, manifesting abundance and taking productive action towards achieving goals. These books are like bibles which I keep on hand and repeatedly go back to whenever I need reminders.
Can you share a memorable story or experience related to your art that you'd like to share?
A memorable experience is the moment when I started painting from my hospital bed. Little did I know, this was only the beginning of a journey of how art would come back into my life. I want to let other moms know that no matter what adversity they face– whether it’s grief, loss or just hitting rock bottom, there is hope. They just have to find courage within themselves, have gratitude and find things that they are passionate about again. That’s why the commission I did for Burke Rehabilitation was so special. It was dedicated to spinal cord/brain injury patients that are going through the same traumatic experience I did. I want my art to always be a reminder that joy is possible again.
Have you faced any criticism or skepticism from others regarding your decision to pursue art? How do you deal?
People with disabilities always face criticisms in general. There are many misconceptions about us due to a lack of education and under-representation. Although representation has improved significantly over the last few years, there are still a number of people in society that believe we cannot be capable parents, employees, CEOs, athletes, artists, leaders and the list goes on. The only way I can change perceptions, is to continue to create awareness and educate others. People can either follow, support, be open to learning or continue to disagree. Either way, I’m going to continue living life my way and keep doing me.
What advice would you give to another mom who wants to pursue her passion for art but feels hesitant?
If they are hesitant, they should ask themselves why. If it is fear that is holding them back, I would say that trying something new is always scary. You should jump in scared anyway. I still get scared everyday when I’m about to embark on a new project. We have to acknowledge that fear, accept it and find the courage within ourselves. Staying in your comfort zone isn’t going to allow you to grow and become the best self you are meant to be.
Where do you see yourself and your art in the future? Any specific goals or dreams you'd like to achieve?
I have a whole list of goals. I plan to find more gallery representation and a solo show. Although I love working on commissions for residences, I plan to work on extra large pieces and continue to do more commissions for corporate spaces and medical facilities. I also have this dream of exhibiting and selling a piece at Art Basel one day. People keep telling me that I should do a TED talk or write a book. Who knows. No dream is ever too big!
In addition to all of this, Aimee is gearing up for an incredible challenge this November as she prepares to participate in the NYC marathon on her handcycle bike, alongside her supportive husband and brother. The dedication she puts into her training is truly inspiring, often starting early in the morning with her husband running right by her side.
But Aimee's mission goes beyond the personal accomplishment of the marathon. She and her team are part of "Team Reeve," united in their efforts to raise funds for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. This remarkable organization is committed to supporting individuals living with paralysis, providing essential care and resources that make a significant difference in their lives.
If you would like to support this incredible cause, visit the following link: https://give.reeve.org/fundraiser/4700771