I Come Alive When I'm Close To The Madness: Living As An Artist With Depression And Anxiety. by Antoinette Cauley

I absolutely love to laugh and smile. I love to make people laugh, feel good and remind them how important they are and that they matter. Being a source of positivity comes so naturally to me because I am always myself and always prepared to give those around me all I have even when I feel exhausted. Despite doing my best to be a ray of light to the world as I know it, there is a darker side of me very few get to see in person.

Sometimes the waves of emotion feel too high and too frequent to function properly. It’s like they come crashing down all at once and it feels like you physically can’t go on. Medicine doesn’t help. I tried that but stopped taking it 3 years ago and decided to learn to work through it on my own. The pills just numb you and make you unsure if you even exist at all. That’s no way to live and I was determined to beat it naturally. I know my triggers and that keeps me a little ahead of the game. I also started seeing a counselor about a year ago. She helps me more that anything really. The depression and anxiety seem to just have a mind of their own. They bang and my front door until I open and they refuse to leave until they’ve done some real damage.

The emotional pain always starts in my heart and manifests into physical pain that moves from my chest down my arms and into my fingertips. When I feel it, it’s hard to hold my paintbrush. It makes if physically difficult to do the thing I love most. It’s quite poetic sounding to most. To be honest, I’ve noticed that the picture the world paints of the stereotypical depressed and lonely artist hidden away in their art studio making masterpieces seems to be revered as almost a thing of beauty; “The tortured soul who bares the pain in their heart for the world to see through their art.” People eat that shit up. But the reality is that it’s not beautiful when you are the one living it. It’s not poetic when you are the one forcing yourself to get out of bed, put on a smile and step out into the world to try and make somewhat of a difference.  

When I was fifteen years old, I knew what my purpose in life was. I knew that my destiny was to inspire and motivate those around me and I knew that I was supposed to do it through my art. I was always super advanced artistically for my age. I knew that wasn’t a coincidence and that my purpose was so much bigger than myself. I never thought that as an adult I would inspire as many people as I have. I have fans that stretch from the grey and rainy countryside’s of London to the gritty and fast moving streets of L.A. They all keep up with my comings and goings, they watch for new work and they listen to what I have to say with the utmost attention. I don’t take that lightly. It is an honor to have been put in such an inspiring and motivational position and I do my best to fulfill that roll each and every day.

Between you and I, the only thing that keeps me going at times is knowing how much of a positive influence I have on those watching my journey. The only thing that keeps me pushing is knowing that people are watching me and finding the strength they need through all that I am doing. It doesn’t make dealing with the depression and constant anxiety any easier, it just gives it purpose. It lets me know that my struggles are not in vain. It makes figuring out how to work through it worth it.

So, in my mind, I have no choice but to press forward, put on a smile and give love. After all, that’s what I was made to do- to give love through my art, through my words and through the work that I do with youth in my community. I will always do that because, my purpose is so much bigger than myself or any emotions I may feel. Despite feeling like I can’t push through it at times, I remind myself that I will. I always have and I always will. I have learned throughout the past year how to work through the downs, take time to rest, channel the emotions and create masterpieces full of colorful, vibrant and mesmerizing… pain.  

I am grateful for the highs that allow me to laugh, smile and see life clearly and it its most free and beautiful form.   I am also grateful for the lows that, while difficult to cope with, allow me to enter into the space I need to be to create the works of art that will ultimately be my legacy. I haven’t quite learned how to get rid of the lows all together so for now I am choosing to use them the best I can. The madness in my mind seems to breed life through my brush and so I allow it to deliver. I feel that’s what the world expects of artists anyways… To roam the earth as the tortured soul who bares their broken heart for the world to see through their art.



That Time I Almost Got A Deal With Motown: The Story I've Never Told. by Antoinette Cauley

So, I am pretty transparent about all things pertaining to my art. But, I typically don’t share the struggles or setbacks I experience as a working artist hustling each day to bring their goals into fruition. I, just like everyone else, experience disappointments and take losses here and there. So, all of that said, I am going to share a story with you that I have never told before.

It all started when I ran into my friend and independent artist Touré Masters at the First Friday Art walk in January 2016. I had recently designed and painted the artwork for his “King of the Chill” album which he had used to create some merchandise. He handed me some stickers that he created with my design and I remember thinking they were just so dope. SO dope in fact that I was like, “I need to repost this on my social media like right now!” So, I did. I had no idea the adventure that this picture would lead me to.

A day or so after I posted the photo on Instagram, I got a message on from a group of my favorite producers whom I had been following for a couple of years. They mentioned to me how much they loved my art and wanted to chat with me about doing some work together. These producers have done work with some of my absolute favorite artists so I was beyond excited!

The next day I chatted with one of the producers via phone to go over a few specifics. I will never forget that conversation. It was inspiring and so encouraging. I remember him asking how I was doing and I said “I am great! I am on my way to a meeting that right now, how are you doing?” He replied that he was doing well and that he was actually on his way to a meeting also…. with Nipsey Hussle. Anyone who knows me knows how much I LOVE Nipsey Hussle! I seriously had to fight not to have a fangirl moment.

He then told me how much they love my work and that they really wanted to do several projects with me. He asked me about my work and my process when it comes to making album art because working with a painter was new to them. I told him a little about myself, how I work and my goals as an artist. At the time I was still working a full time job and feeling miserable. I told him how I was going to quit my job in a little over a month and take that leap. He then told me his story, about how he woke up one day and decided to leave his home city and move to L.A. where he knew no one. He told me how he ran into a new, up and coming Nipsey Hussle on the same day Nipsey had left a record label and become independent. He talked about how they partnered and built an empire with each other over the course of 8 years. How he is now signed to Motown records because… He didn’t give up on his dreams, he took that leap. “You have to take that leap.” He told me. “There’s no other way”.

The conversation continued and he told me about their group, what they do and that they were interested in having me create album art for two of their artists as well as their group. He proceeded to tell me that they had a budget set aside through Motown and all they needed to do was have me come to the studio out in L.A. to meet them as well as their artists and then we could get to work. “Be prepared,” he began to tell me. “You never know who will be in our studio on any given day.” I remember him saying “let me know when You’ll be in L.A. again and we’ll make it happen. We’re looking forward to working with you!”

When I got off of the phone with him, I immediately called my mom and I cried. I cried so hard. Tears of pure joy! I reflected on the previous year and how I would wake up everyday and go out and live a life I knew I wasn’t meant to, I would drive to a job that drained and stifled my true creative capabilities. It was EXHAUSTING. I was ready to be done and this opportunity seemed to be my way out.

I was absolutely elated. I mean this was it! This was that one thing that was going to push me from local Phoenician artist into the big leagues! This was my BIG break! This was what I had been searching for… that thing that would catapult me to the next level in my art career.

January 30th, 2016 was the day we scheduled to meet. January 2016 (coincidentally enough) was also the month that I had told myself I needed to quit my full time job no matter what and take that leap. So this was like the Universe sending me exactly what I was asking for. It seemed as if it was all starting to fall into place and I was so ready for it.

It was January 29th , the day before I was driving out to LA for a day trip to meet with the producers at Motown. I had been texting on of the producers (who was my main contact) and trying to get an address to the studio from him all week. I was having a hard time getting a hold of him. It was frustrating. Something felt off… So, I decided to book a tour with an art gallery out in LA for the same day I was scheduled to meet with the producers. I figured that if the meeting for whatever reason didn’t happen, at least I wouldn’t have wasted a full day away from my art studio by driving 6 hours to another state.

 That same day, January 29th, I kept texting back and forth trying to get an address. He was trying to figure it out. “I’m sorry. We have three albums in two months to finish up so it’s been hectic but I will figure it out.” He told me. I asked him if we should reschedule because they were busy and I was coming from another state. He said no, that he was going to make it happen!

I was feeling so uneasy and uncertain about the trip. But I wanted it sooooo bad. My friend Stephanie was going to be riding with me to L.A. for the day so I asked her how she felt about it. Was it worth the risk of driving to L.A. for a day? This was a busy time for me as I was preparing for my biggest art show of the year so any time away from my work was potentially detrimental to making sure I met my show deadlines. We went back and forth over the pros and cons and though we both felt extremely uncertain we decided to do it. No matter the outcome we felt that the reward was worth the risk.

We woke up at 4 a.m. on the 30th and headed to LA and to what I hoped was my big break. We get there  and I literally play phone tag all day with the producers. We would get ahold of each other and schedule a time to meet and then it would change. Finally around 3PM I told them that I had scheduled a 5PM meeting with an art gallery in L.A. to possibly show there and that we could meet after that at 630. They said that was perfect and to call when I was done.

Stephanie and I arrived at the gallery a little before 5P (after 7 hours of trying to kill time in LA) and walked inside. We were greeted by a worker there who told us we could wait in the lobby. We waited. 20 minutes passed. I tried calling the owners of the gallery with little luck. Finally at 6P Stephanie and I decided to leave. It was at that time I received a call from the owner who said he didn’t realize that the 30th was the day we were supposed to meet and he wasn’t going to make it but that he could still email me rates to rent the gallery… It was like a slap in the face! Despite knowing we were coming from out of state to view the gallery, they didn’t show. I was so disappointed.

Once we left the gallery I gave the producers another ring around 615… No answer. I then got a text that they couldn’t do 630 and that they would have to get back to me with a time. Keep in mind, Stephanie and I needed to leave in a few hours to head back to Phoenix because we didn’t have extra money for a hotel room and my family was out of town. So we had only planned a day trip.

It’s now around 8:30 p.m. and I still haven’t heard ANYTHING. At this point and we are both really tired. I felt like it was over. I was feeling so hopeless so naturally we did the one thing that makes me kind of feel better… we went and got ice cream! LOL! We stopped by this super hipster looking ice-cream shop somewhere in Hollywood. We sat and ate and talked about what we had gotten ourselves into. Both tired, we got in the truck to leave. I sent the producer a final text telling him that I was heading back to Phoenix and that we would just need to reschedule. He immediately called me and told me that he has been stuck in the studio all day and hasn’t been able to leave because they’re with a client. He asked me to wait while he checked if he could leave to come meet me. We got off of the phone and about 20 minutes later he sent a text to let me know that he wouldn’t be able to leave and meet me because they were in a paid session with a client. I let him know we could reschedule during a time they were less busy. I’ll never forget the last thing he said to me was “You need to just join our team!” I told him that was what I wanted. From the bottom of my heart that was what I truly wanted. That was what I expected to call my mom and tell her when I left LA. I was going to be an artist working with producers and musicians from Motown.

But that day would never come. I left feeling so defeated. I drove 6 hours to L.A. not knowing what was going to happen and I left feeling like “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” Two important and potentially life changing meetings, both didn’t happen.

On the drive home from L.A. I was so exhausted that I was seeing things. We had been up for almost 24hrs and I had very little to show for it. I remember getting home and walking into my apartment and just crying. I was devastated. I am willing to sacrifice so much for my dreams. I hustle SO hard. I go out and take what I want through hard work and dedication. I make things happen… but this was out of my control and that was tough for me to swallow. I didn’t want to speak to anyone for days. I avoided any questions about my trip to L.A. because I didn’t want to explain that the meeting never happened. I was embarrassed and a little depressed about the situation. Eventually I lost touch with the producers and we never ended up working together.

I felt like I had been defeated. It took me awhile to realize that in reality I hadn’t lost anything that day. I thought I came out on the losing end but I really didn’t. The big picture was this- some of my favorite producers who work with my favorite artists liked my art so much that they reached out to me to work together. How many painters can say that? That alone is a huge accomplishment. That is a testament to my reach and quite frankly validation to my hustle. I didn’t use that disappointment as an excuse to give up. I used it as fuel to do and be even better. I bounced back and did some major things last year including ending the year by winning Best Local Artist from AZ Foothills Magazine.

Antoinette being interviewed on Power 98.3 in February 2016 for her annual art exhibition. Photo by Malakai of Malakai Creative.

Antoinette being interviewed on Power 98.3 in February 2016 for her annual art exhibition. Photo by Malakai of Malakai Creative.

The moral of my story is this: Obstacles will come throughout the road to your dreams but you have to learn to climb over them and keep pressing forward. The life of the dream chaser is not an easy one. It gets lonely and confusing at times. You’ll spend days unsure of yourself and your goals. You’ll get tired and break down. At times you may even want to throw in the towel. But the thing is, your dreams depend on you never quitting. Your dreams die the day you give up. I once heard Russell Simmons say, “You can never lose if you never quit.” That statement has always stuck with me. Life is waiting for you to grab it and make it into exactly what you want. So, next time you face a setback or obstacle, remember to climb that wall of disappointment so you can get to the blessings on the other side!


I Can Never Make Him Love Me: What Really Happens When An Artist Falls In Love? by Antoinette Cauley

I remember texting him around one in the morning. “You feel like going on a random adventure?” I said. “Let’s go!” He replied without knowing what I had in mind. It didn’t matter to him. He was up for the spontaneous trip. We drove together towards South Mountain in the dark of the night and he explained how the road to the mountain reminded him so much of home, back in Cali. He said one day he would show me and he kept that promise.

We got to the South Mountain Park entrance around 2am only to find the gates closed and no real way to sneak in. So, we ended up at Kiwanis park instead. I remember we sat by the water and talked about everything. We laughed, joked, talked about our dreams, told childhood stories and just vibed until around 5:30 in the morning. He made me feel something so beautiful inside. It was something unique that no one had made me feel before. That night was perfect and after it we spent countless hours together, always as friends, always bonding, always holding our real feelings inside.

One week I accompanied him on a trip back home, Pasadena to be specific, where I got to meet his mother, his father, his family and all of his close friends. They were amazing. He was amazing. At the time there wasn’t anything I wanted more than his heart and to be able to give him mine but I had been holding my feelings in. After 3 days in California, our true feelings finally came out and man was it a huge sigh of relief.

I’ll never forget the night when he first told me how he really felt about me and when I was able to finally tell him that I felt the same way. I will never forget the first time he kissed me. I will never forget the way he made me feel. I will never forget when the thought of committing to a relationship with me started to scare him. I will never forget him telling me that I could find a man much better than him and that I deserved so much more. I will never forget when he told me we needed a break from one another. I will never forget the next twelve months that I didn’t see him and how angry and confused I felt. I will never forget seeing him again after those twelve months and how the feelings were even more intense than before. I’ll never forget when 3 days later he told me that he was seeing someone and that he was scared to tell me because… when he saw me he suddenly didn’t know where his heart was anymore, that he didn’t expect his feelings to be so strong. I will never forget the pain that caused and having to fight back the tears at my desk at work. I will never forget telling him that was the last time I would allow him to let me go and that I was done.

That experience changed me. It felt as though he had taken a hammer to my glass heart, shattered it to pieces and then handed me a broom before turning his back and walking away. No matter how well you sweep up the pieces of your heart, there will always be some that slip through the cracks and are lost forever. It will never be whole again.

We were young, around 22 when we met and the reality is neither of us were ready (even though I felt we were) and had we committed to one another, I would not have had the space I needed in the coming years to learn and grow. I honestly would not be the woman or the artist that I am today. I needed to learn a lot about life and myself and that required me being alone.

There is a saying that if an artist falls in love with you then you will live forever through their work. It’s so romantic when you really think about it; the fact that your love will inspire this artist to create a beauty like no other. But how true is that statement? I can only speak from my own perspective and my reality is when I am in “love” I don’t really have as strong of a desire to paint. Love to me, feels so much better than the feelings I experience when I paint. It’s this crazy high like nothing else in this world that you can’t help but chase.

It’s not falling in love that gives another soul immortality through my own work, it’s the opposite. Heartbreak is the catapult to the creation of some of my most dynamic and soul capturing artwork. It’s the pain of a love lost that gives me the inspiration to create.

Photograph by Antoinette Cauley

Photograph by Antoinette Cauley

Within the past couple of years, I have learned how to channel the hurt deeper into my art than ever before. I forced myself to learn how to truly feel it, paint through the disappointment and the sorrows and then release it through the completion of a piece. ­This has become such a necessary part of my journey as a full-time artist especially recently with having experienced some horribly painful heartbreak while I was preparing for my 4th annual solo art exhibition mid-2016. I couldn’t allow myself to stop painting and so I had to channel that pain into my collection of work and be more vulnerable than ever before. Though heartbreak gives me so much inspiration, I hope that one day when the right man enters my life and feeds my entire being with his love, that I will find a new type of inspiration that I never knew existed.

So, what happens when an artist falls in love? I can’t speak for every artist but I can say that falling in love is often a ride that will forever change and shift the creation process for better or for worse. That decision literally lies in the hands of the artist.

3 Tips on Throwing An Art Show As A Newly Independent Artist by Antoinette Cauley

With the announcement of my 4th annual solo art exhibition, “On 3, Let’s Jump Off The Roof”, taking place at Rebel Salon & Vintage on February 10th-11th, I received quite a few questions from supporters on how to throw their own solo art shows. I thought it would be a great idea to give 3 very important tips on throwing your first show in hopes that it will help an aspiring artist somewhere! I think it’s important to understand that while it seems like a simple process, it takes a lot of work, dedication and communication. Some shows may not be as successful as others in the beginning and that’s okay. You learn from those shows and you apply that knowledge into future shows.

To date I have done 3 of my annual solo exhibitions and 3 summer pop up art shows. It has been such a great learning experience. Prior to these shows I had no knowledge of how to plan events let alone an art exhibit so it really has been a learn as I go type deal. I always like to give artists as much advice as possible to help them avoid a lot of the struggles I faced along the way. So, here are three things you need to make a priority if you are wanting to throw your own art show or art event:

1.       Build a team: Anyone who wants to achieve big dreams will eventually need to have help from trusted people in order to help them achieve that next level of success. Whether you have one, two or even ten people to help you, make sure that you find proper support. It can be a spouse, friend, family member or even someone you hire. Just make sure that you can trust them and that you are on the same page.

When I did my very first solo art show, I was fortunate to have been able to plan with my friends Annie and Miles (the owners of Rebel Salon & Vintage) to put together a successful art show. They had just opened their business and I was still contemplating ever pursuing a career in art. None of us are event planners and none of us had ever thrown an event like this. But we all shared the same end goal and that’s what kept us focused and on track.  It has been a lot of trial and error but we have been able to grow and learn together.

A few amazing people who make my even possible including my photographer (@contrast_pics) my hair stylist and co owner of Rebel Salon and Vintage, Annie (@anniec3po) and Alex- another stylist at Rebel (@superhairo87). All we were missing in our photo was Miles! (@lakme72)

A few amazing people who make my even possible including my photographer (@contrast_pics) my hair stylist and co owner of Rebel Salon and Vintage, Annie (@anniec3po) and Alex- another stylist at Rebel (@superhairo87). All we were missing in our photo was Miles! (@lakme72)


2.       Find the right venue: A lot of times when artists think of hosting an art show they automatically think art gallery. Galleries are amazing and it is important for an artist to aim to show work in them whether alone or in a group exhibition. That being said, it is totally doable to have a show in an unconventional venue as well. Some examples of places would be clothing boutiques, salons, restaurants and even a home or large back yard. A lot of times, different businesses are looking to bring more traffic into their establishment or to let the community know that they are there. Art shows are a great way to achieve that goal.

The venue I host my solo art show in each year, Rebel Salon and Vintage, is half hair salon and half vintage boutique. The awesome thing about using Rebel each year is that they are a locally owned business from my home town. So not only am I able to use this awesome venue in the city that raised me, I am able to bring new people into their shop and expose them to potentially new customers.

My 3rd Annual Solo Art Exhibition "Barz To Brushstrokes" at Rebel Salon and Vintage in 2016.

My 3rd Annual Solo Art Exhibition "Barz To Brushstrokes" at Rebel Salon and Vintage in 2016.


3.       Plan! Plan! Plan!: This one may seem pretty self explanatory but in all actuality there is SO much that goes into an event like this. I typically spend a minimum of 6 months preparing for my annual solo show. Annie, Miles and I usually begin planning around August and throw the actual show in late January or early February. Some of the things you will need to consider when planning are, if the show have a theme, what type of marketing you will use, what type of promotion you plan to execute, whether or not there will be refreshments or music and how you would like the work to be displayed. This is when your team comes in super clutch. You are bound to forget things or get stuck on ideas that may not be the best route to go. It’s important to have people to brainstorm with and to give you constructive criticism when you have ideas. Give yourself as much time as possible to plan and adjust things accordingly.

(Click the images above to see photos from my last solo art exhibition "Barz to Brushstrokes")

I hope that you found these steps helpful! I will be starting artists workshops in the Phoenix area in the very near future that will break down things like marketing, promotions, merchandising & the overall business of art for new artists or for people on the fence about taking that leap into a full time art career. To be the first to know about my workshops please make sure to sign up for my mailing list!

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On 3, Lets Jump Off The Roof- An open letter from Artist Antoinette Cauley About Her 4th Annual Art Exhibition And Her Battle With Mental Health by Antoinette Cauley


I hope this message finds you in good health and a space full of love and hope.

I share a lot of my successes with my supporters via social media in hopes to inspire, encourage and motivate people to work hard and chase their dreams. But, the truth is that I face a ton of obstacles and a ton of struggles that I am not vocal about outside of a very tight network of friends and family. I have laid out one of the biggest struggles I have ever faced in my new body of work.  In order to begin my journey towards healing, I have decided to create a collection of paintings, drawing and photographs of work centered around my struggles with mental health.

I have never publicly spoken about my struggles with mental health because like many others, I’ve always felt that the stigmas often associated with these issues would make others view me in a negative light. The reality is, these issues are all too common and it is time that we create a safe space for people to begin a dialogue about it.

 When I was very young, I lost my aunt to breast cancer and watched my mother begin the fight against breast cancer only a few months after my aunt’s death. It was more traumatic that I realized. My mind immediately went into survival mode. Anxiety kicked in and over the next year or so it turned into OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). The compulsions lead to spouts of depression that come and go in waves and can be triggered by a number of things. Though I have struggled with these disorders since I was a child, I was clinically diagnosed at the age of 19.

The compulsions that came with the OCD have by far been one of the hardest things I’ve dealt with personally. While I don’t wish to speak in detail about it, I can say that it’s kept me from doing a lot of things including building friendships, attending events outside of my work and has made me hesitant to pursue any type of romantic relationships. It has caused a lot of emotional and physical pain that sometimes leaves me feeling isolated and depressed. I often turn to my art as an outlet. It has always been my way of screaming out to the world for help without having to say one single word. I have masked my pain in vibrant colors & dynamic patterns for years without anyone knowing.

Artist Antoinette Cauley pictured with her painting titled "Love Can Make A Bitch Go Crazy". Photo by Dontae Tubbs/ Hair by Annie Cavnaugh/ Makeup by Stephanie Hernandez

Artist Antoinette Cauley pictured with her painting titled "Love Can Make A Bitch Go Crazy". Photo by Dontae Tubbs/ Hair by Annie Cavnaugh/ Makeup by Stephanie Hernandez

My 4th annual solo exhibition is titled, “On 3, Let’s Jump Off The Roof” and was named after the Vince Staples song “Jump Off the Roof” which also inspired the entire collection in early 2016. This show, taking place on February 11th, is not only reflective of my struggles with mental health but also features stories of several minorities who face mental health issues ranging from PTSD to Bi-Polar Disorder. The show is free, all ages and open to the public. Tickets will be available for a limited space VIP Preview of the show on the 10th where I will be hosting a cocktail hour and walking you through the collection in a very intimate atmosphere.

Naturally my love of hip hop also plays a huge roll in this collection as well. Along with models who I handpicked to share their story, I will also be showcasing paintings of several musicians who have dealt with mental health issues such as Amy Winehouse, Kid Cudi and Kanye West, to name a few.

These issues have affected every aspect of my life and I know that one day soon I will find true healing and inner peace. Below is a short film I directed and starred in to illustrate the inner turmoil these mental health issues have caused in my own life. I hope you take something away from the work I have created even if it’s as simple as knowing that you aren’t alone.


Film Credits:

Shot and Filmed By: MCP

Directed By: Antoinette Cauley

Edited By: Irin Daniels

Actors: Dietrich Rashad, Stephanie Hernandez, Joy Kendrick, Antoinette Cauley

Styling: Tyler Jackson

Hair: Annie Cavanagh

Makeup: Stephanie Hernandez


24 Hours That Changed My Life Forever: The Phoenix Art Museum & Meeting Kehinde Wiley by Antoinette Cauley

It seems like just a yesterday I was a middle school kid laying on my bed drawing photos of all of my favorite athletes and musicians. I loved art more than I even knew how to comprehend. In a world full of uncertainty, loss and confusion it was my only constant. Life was tough as a teenager and the power to create was the only thing that gave me real purpose. It was true love in the form of liberation. But, it was just something I did. It was never something I thought could be a career, that is, up until the end of 2013. That's when the seed was planted my journey as a working artist began. I am now a full time working artist and the journey has been quite the roller coaster.

I saw a friend of mine a few weeks ago who goes by the name of PK Tha Poet. He told me something that really had me in awe of how far I have come. He said, “Antoinette do you remember the first conversation we had? You told me that you wanted your paintings to hang in the Art Museum. That was two years ago. So when I look at your posts I just think ‘Damn she’s so close.’” It wasn't until that moment that I realized where I actually am and how far I have come. Working with the Phoenix Art Museum for the opening night of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic was in my opinion the first step towards the direction I want to go as an artist.

In order to really understand the importance of this experience I need to take you back. I was depressed. I couldn’t paint. It was hard to move or to even get out of bed. It was July 2016 and I had just gotten back from Denver’s Black Arts Festival. I had a goal in Denver and I didn’t meet that goal. I felt like a failure. That sense of failure led to severe depression. One day I was sitting in my car on the phone with one of my best friends and I was telling him how I had been feeling. I was telling him how hard it was to get out of my funk. As we were talking my FB notifications popped up and told me that Kehinde Wiley commented on my painting I had done. It was a recreation of one of his pieces. I broke down. It was like the Universe was saying, “Don’t give up Antoinette. I have and will always have your back. Remember that.” What were the odds that my all-time favorite artist, my absolute HERO would leave a positive comment on my photo when I was feeling so hopeless? SO, you can imagine how shocked I was to receive an email from the Phoenix Art Museum a few weeks later stating that they wanted to know if I would be interested in facilitating life drawing at a special event featuring a collection of work from Kehinde Wiley. I was a little in shock and overwhelmed with joy!

And so, the process began! I was asked to during First Friday which was the opening night of the Wiley exhibition that he himself would be in attendance for. The behind the scenes process was so amazing to witness and be apart of. There were meetings, tours of the museums library and education centers, studios and galleries I had yet to explore. I even had the opportunity to wander the museum on a day it was closed and there wasn’t a soul in sight. Talk about incredible! One of the most memorable parts about the experience leading up to the big night was filming a short video. It was like a dream seeing myself talk about who I am as an artist as well as my favorite artist and to see it posted all over the museums social media. Talk about humbling!

After over a month of anticipation, preparation and excitement, we were down to the final 24 hours before the event began. It was Thursday and I had just arrived for Kehindes lecture at Phoenix Community College. The room was filled with people anxious to hear what this living legend had to say. I sat in the third row. I’ll never forget the moment he walked on stage and seemed a tiny bit nervous. It hit me. My hero is just as human as I am. I can do all of the amazing things I dream of and he is a living example of that. I listened to every word and soaked in every moment. He started with showing and explaining his early paintings and his struggle with his identiy as a Black man in America. He took us around the world and shared his creative experiences and processes. He was so inspirational. I left the lecture feeling so unbelievably hopeful.

The next day I arrived to the Museum an hour and half early. I waited patiently in the orientation room. He would be there soon for his show and I wanted to meet him before the celebration started and before I would be tied up facilitating life drawing all night. I remember Airi (A Museum staff) walking into the room and chatting with me for a bit. I began explaining to her how much this experience has meant to me and how life changing it has been. Her eyes welled up with tears as I spoke and then I began to tear up. It meant more than I knew how to convey. If you knew all of the breakdowns, struggles, stress over how to pay bills, confusion, doubt and fear that have existed in my world over the past year then you would know how much this meant to me. To go from feeling like a failure to being emailed by the Phoenix Art Museum...It was a break through. They saw the worth in my as an artist and so there was absolutely NO reason I shouldn't see that same worth.

After waiting in the orientation room for awhile, Christain (Another Museum staff) came to find me to let me know that Kehinde had arrived and now was the time for me to go and meet him. He walked me into the gallery and walked me right up to Kehinde. I waited paitently as people swarmed him hoping to get a word in and possibly a photo. Finally, it was my turn. He reached out his had to greet me and immediately said, “Wow! I absolutely love this (pointing to my skirt)! This is great!” I had on a hand painted skirt so you can only guess how geeked I was to hear that! Lol!

I then proceeded to tell him that he was my hero and that he inspired me so much. I told him that I had quit my job in Feburary to be a full time artist that I had been hustling my ass off. He got very serious and held my hand with both of his as he gave me words of wisdom and encouragement. He reminded me to give it my all. That moment is one I will never forget. Not only did the Phoenix Art Museum give me the opportunity to work at an amazing record breaking event, they went out of their way to ensure that I had the opportunity to meet my hero, to hear his lecture and gain more exposure as an artist.

Walking through his exhibition that night allowed me (for the first time ever) to visualize my end goal. It allowed me to see what I am working towards. I needed that. I needed to see someone who looks like me, a Black man from L.A., doing what he had done. I needed to feel that hope. I needed to soak in that experience. I think the Universe needed me to know that this is where I am headed and that through my persistence, dedication and positive projection I WILL get there. It absolutely changed my life because my end goal suddenly became tangible. It became real and it was hanging right in my face on the walls of the museum.

Words cannot begin to explain how grateful I am and will forever be for this experience. To go from a kid who used drawing as an escape to being a part of my favorite artists opening night at the Phoenix Art Museum, wow…just wow. I especially want to thank Lani, Felicia, Dawn, Airi and Christain at PAM for making this an experience I will never forget.

Statistically I am not supposed to make it. But I have. I have and I will continue to make it and continue to break through the barriers. I once met the Director of the Phoenix Art Museum and I told her that one day my art would hang in her halls. She commended me for my determination. That wasn’t my wishful thinking, that was projection. This experience was not only a sign; it was a stepping stone to the palace that is my dreams. And when I get there I will open the doors of complete freedom and weep at its beauty. I will have done all I set out to do and It will all have been worth it.

Photos by Quinton Prunty

5 People Who Helped Convince Me To Quit My Job And Chase My Dreams by Antoinette Cauley

It sounds scary af when you really think about it. Like, “Yo, I think today I’m gonna go and quit my job that pays allllll of my bills so that I can go do what I really want to and hopefully people will give me money for it because I think I’m pretty okay at it.” L! But, when you really break it down that’s exactly what I did. It didn’t happen overnight. I actually spent months plotting and planning my exit. It wasn’t an abrupt move. No. It was calculated and timed.

Almost two years ago something major happened to me and I decided it was time to take the leap and pursue my passion. I wanted to live life the way I wanted to. I wanted to quit this job that was sucking the life out of me and wonder onto a path of liberation. That liberation could only be found in the ability to live life creating and thriving as a full time artist.

Here are a list of 5 people who through their words and teachings helped me to jump and take that leap of faith. 5 people who changed my life forever.

1.       My Mother: Talk about crazy emotional support. I would go to my mother and tell her how stressed I was at the thought of quitting and abandoning a secure source of income. Her response was always something along the lines of “It will work out, Antoinette, because it has always worked out. So, it will always work out.” She never once told me, “No, Antoinette, don’t quit your job. You won’t be able to pay your bills. You will struggle.” No, she supported my decisions and constantly reminded me of all of the benefits and positive things that would come of my decision. This emotional support has been so crucial for me in my journey. Not only am I chasing my dreams but my little brother is also chasing his dreams of working with foreign cars. He works as an independent mechanic and has a car club that travels to car shows in LA, Vegas and more. How awesome is that as a mother to see both of your children chasing their passions in a world that tells people to get a job, work, pay bills and that’s life! Find someone who offers positive and reassuring affirmations consistently. It is so needed!

2. & 3.   Logic & Alan Watts: First off, let me say, if you have not listened to album “The Incredible True Story” by Logic then you need to! Amazing album! This album came into my life at the perfect time. It was the end of 2015 and I was gearing up to quit. I think I had about 3 months until the date I gave myself to quit by. This album really helped me through some rough days. One song in particular really tugged at my heart and put things into perspective. Track 18, “The Incredible True Story”, features a brief speech by Alan Watts at the end of the song that beautifully sums up what every person should be doing. I used to listen to this song EVERAYDAY on my way to work. Everyday it pushed me closer and closer to quitting. Now, I want you listen to the song and hear what I mean...


4.       Brendan Burchard: Brendan is an AMAZING motivational speaker and life coach. If you don’t know his story, I encourage you to look up his YouTube videos and books. He currently has over 100 motivational videos on YouTube. They range from topics like how to manage projects with excellence to how to be beautiful. I mean, this dude covers pretty much everything an entrepreneur/ dream chaser could ask to hear a little motivation about. I listen to his videos on a weekly basis and I have almost all of his books. His words definitely lit a fire in my soul and made me a lot more confident in my decisions. This is the first video that I watched of his and I would like you to watch it and really soak in what he is saying.


5.    Jermaine Cole: I couldn’t stop crying that day. I was SO scared. I was SO stressed. How was I going to make this shit happen? How was I going to live off of my art? I didn’t know what to do to cope with this overwhelming fear and so I turned to music to ease my mind. I played the intro and outro to J. Coles 2014 Forest Hills Drive on repeat and drove around the city and just let it all out. Those songs reminded me of something very important. At the end of the day, when all is said and done and we lay down for our final rest, the only thing that really mattered was love. LOVE. So, why not go for it? Why not risk losing everything? Why not? What is the greater struggle, being unhappy with life but safe in a mediocre existence OR risking losing it all in order to chase what you truly LOVE? Love is all that matters and I needed Jermaine to remind me of that.

ALL of these people helped me in making the tough decision of quitting. Its not easy. You have to surround yourself in motivation and inspiration. Your faith has to be strong and your hustle tight. So, find people who's words and examples inspire you to do and be better.


I Am Now Looking For An Intern! by Antoinette Cauley

Yes. The rumors are true! I am now looking for an intern to work between 5-7 hours per week. Interns must be at least 16 years of age and have reliable transportation. This is an unpaid internship. Here are some of the responsibilities my intern will help with but not be limited to:

- Responding to emails

- Help plan and run special events

- Help with marketing and social media

- Managing crucial information and important documents

My intern also have the opportunity to study artistic techniques, fine art business practices and/ or anything else they would like to learn from me.

To apply please send a resume and brief synopsis on why you would like to intern for me. All information can be sent to info@antoinettecauleyart.com