A self-taught painter, Akiane’s first original work of art was sold for $10,000 when she was just eight years old. At the age of nine, Oprah Winfrey featured her as a child prodigy who is “obviously gifted.” She hasn’t stopped painting since.
There is something hauntingly magnificent about Akiane Kramarik’s artwork. Her use of vivid colors and complex depth convey an otherworldly realm. “I often compose and paint about serious and heartbreaking issues,” says Akiane. “but deep down I am very content and lighthearted.”
Akiane began drawing at the age of four, and she still remembers how one of her teachers would get upset with her when she made her own sketches instead of using the school’s coloring books. Luckily, her mother was her greatest supporter and championed Akiane to keep inspiring and creating.
The incredible child prodigy – now all grown up – still rises at 3am to begin painting in her studio. When she is not working on her masterpieces, Akiane makes time for yoga and tennis, among other activities.
Here’s what it’s like to color outside the lines from the very start:
1. How was your artistic talent discovered?
It was Oprah who discovered my talent, but it took five years from my first art fairs where my drawings were displayed until the public appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show. It was not an easy road. “Painting the impossible” art documentary and my book “Akiane” tells the full story of how my artistic talent got discovered.
2. What is your artistic process?
The artistic process has two stages: inspiration and the painting process. The first factor for my inspiration is complete awareness of the world around me. I do wait for the answer from above regarding all my artistic projects. In the end, it is the invisible world that blesses or stops my visible creative forms. It is a complicated and highly intuitive push-and-pull art dance. The second factor for my inspiration is my family. If I know my four brothers and my parents are doing well, I can focus fully on my work.
The preparation for many paintings can start even as early as a few years in advance. The concept for the project is the seed which depending on the artistic “terrain” needs a specific time for growth. I seldom predict the timing or the final result of the painting. And I am at peace [with] that. Constant novelty about challenges, about changes and about the final outcome keeps me humbled, excited, motivated and rejuvenated.
I do meditate and pray before starting the painting. I do have to find the right models and the right locations, and all of that takes extraordinary amount of time. Often years. And now that most of my art process I film I also prepare the film material which adds another dimension to my work. I was told I was the first artist in the world who created such genre films.
3. What does spirituality mean to you?
So much that comes from the ultimate source of wisdom is a complete mystery to all creation. The broader our perspective is and the wider we can reach time and space continuum, the clearer we can understand the divine intelligence. God manifests in many forms and ways. All that exists is God. Art is an integral part of God, and I was called to participate. For life.
My art films have become a visual gateway to my philosophy and art which is focused on hope and love. Sometimes I paint the cultures and faiths that cross the boundaries of my own beliefs and views. As an artist I feel I am “commissioned” to paint what I hear, see and touch without filters and limitations in order to bring individuals and nations together.
Man is a spiritual being. Those who sincerely seek the eternal values of the unknown will find them. Sooner or later, the truth is stronger than illusion.
4. What did it feel like to become a “breadwinner” at such a young age?
I never considered myself a breadwinner. By the time my story circled the world my parents had successful careers in their own right, and they put everything aside just to help me. We all worked as a team. We all sacrificed for one another.
5. Can you share one challenge you faced in your artistic journey?
A self-proclaimed prodigy expert showed up in our lives who wanted to buy my first paintings and represent me. After being enticed into signing the contract, not a day passed that he did not ridicule my family. The new agent blatantly starting taking advantage of our trust, manipulating us in the most revolting ways and even stealing my paintings.
The more I painted, the more I felt that art was my true mission, and the more I felt the urgency to separate from the agent. In a short time, we got to face our most extreme and our most expensive challenge: ending the nine-year-long binding contract at the court mediation.
Remarkably, upon the separation from the con-artist, I received an unexpected invitation to fly to Chicago. To be a guest at the Oprah show. In a flash, my world changed, and everyone including my family and my acquaintances suddenly saw what my mother had seen all along. It was as if someone dissipated the fog and unveiled the scene to be discernible more clearly.
6. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
“Do not leave your paintings before they are finished. Work harder and be more patient.”
7. What are some things you’re working on right now?
I am working now on Japanese-inspired stories, three art films, my third book, and, not surprisingly, another move – this time closer to Chicago.
8. What is your vision for the future?
[My vision for the future includes] founding an Arts Academy, producing & directing art films and uniting the world countries through arts.
Some facts about Akiane:
- She can fly a plane, but does not drive.
- She loves gourmet cookingand cooks every day for her family.
- If she wasn’t absolutely in love with art, she would be pursuing a career in medicine.
- She speaks five languages.
- She would most like to have an animator’s or a neurosurgeon’s talent.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.