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March 5, 2024 at 4:13:58 PM

An Iterative Path to Becoming an Artist


How Passion and Failure Breed Success

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March 5, 2024 at 4:13:58 PM

Ignite Business Insider shares the stories of businesses that are making an impact in their local markets. We highlight their stories in order to inspire entrepreneurial growth and to let readers learn more about businesses across the world that are growing and scaling.


Holly Lombardo


Holly Lombardo Art

Thank you for taking the time to sit with us and share your story. Can you share a little bit about you and your company?

I am a self-taught professional artist working primarily in acrylics, capturing the greatness of the New England coastline. Because I am actually educated and trained as a scientist (graduate w/MS from Worcester Polytechnic Institute), I mostly paint in the evenings after a full- day of work at a prominent Biotechnology instrumentation company- as well as on the weekends. I offer original acrylic landscapes to the 8 galleries who represent me, and I sometimes offer limited edition giclee prints. The iterative problem solving that I perform daily at my "day job" as a scientist has absolutely informed and molded me into a better self-taught artist.

A question so many people are interested in, is how you got started. Can you share a little bit about what you were doing before this, and what that moment was like for you when you decided to start this new journey?

My grandmother was a painter and many of my family members are "crafty" and engineering savvy. I have both of those "genes" and have always been entrepreneurial in spirit. In elementary school I would paint ladybugs on rocks and walk around my neighborhood trying to sell them to moms with houseplants as cute additions to the pots. In junior high school I painted small images on beans, mounted them onto earring posts and sold them from my locker. I have always been crafty and artistically interested in bigger projects but my primary interest in the sciences prevented me from taking art in high school and college. Once I finished my masters program in Cell Biology and had a little free time, I bought an inexpensive set of watercolors at Spags in Shrewsbury and set up some glass bottles and plants on my windowsill as a study. I painted them, they LOOKED like bottles and plants, and then I was hooked! I have been a student of art via research and watching with a few lessons in between ever since. Because I started to pursue my art career later, as an adult, I have never been constrained by grades and judgement by others, so this freed me to explore and create a style based on my interests and the way I see the world- not someone else's. I'm willing to try and fail and then want to try again, whereas a younger student might be put off by initial failures- I see them as opportunities to grow and learn.

Let's take a little bit of a detour, and rewind the clock a little bit. What did you want to be as a kid? And how did that influence the person you are today?

As a child I wanted to be a bunch of "-ists", like scientist, geologist, biologist, and most prominently a marine biologist. I spent endless hours in the woods of my hometown Brunswick, Maine and I was a natural and curious observer of all things natural. I even had a small microscope and took every opportunity to look at the microscopic world from things I collected in the woods. Today, I continue to be a strong observer and it is this set of skills that I believe allows me to infuse my artwork with the colorful details of shadows in the snow, sunbursts behind trees, and the diamond sparkles on the ocean.

Have you fully let go of that childhood dream? And where do you see yourself going in the next ten years?

I've never let go of the dream to be an outdoor scientist- and it's with that same discerning and observing nature that I approach the subjects I paint by composing the reference photos I take with details, colors, and interesting compositions. I hope in 10 years to be more sought-out by interior designers, since my work is considered bright, reminiscent of many of our childhoods in the woods and at the shore, and a great burst of colors. I have several designers that I have worked with through my galleries, but I hope to be more recognized and desired within this community.

Now, I have found that with successful people, there is always someone pivotal as either a mentor, parent, teacher, or someone that you look to for advise, that helped set you on this path. Could you share who that person was? And what impact that had on the person you are today?

For me, my first influence was my grandmother, an artist who I admired as a small child. Over the past 15 years, watching the determination of on-line artists who paint and paint and practice and share has really helped shape the current artist that I am today. I did a 13 year stint teaching middle/high school math and science, and my natural desire to teach is still part of my artwork today as I gladly mentor some starting artists, both local and on-line. I guess I always wanted to be like my grandmother who painted oceans and other scenes she liked, but since she passed away when I was in 1st grade, I've held myself accountable to trying my hand at painting, committing myself to practicing-failing-trying again. Also, my education at WPI, an engineering school that teaches the discipline of iterative design and problem-solving, has really helped my approach my work more like an engineer in many respects. I'm not afraid to fail, to try something new and to already appreciate that sometimes iterative work is what leads to success.

What was one take away that you learned from that person? And how did it translate into your business today?

From my grandmother, I learned to appreciate and embrace a passion for subjects that speak to me- namely the coast of Maine and New England. I find that when I paint those subjects that mean the most to me, I am able to tell a colorful, sensory-filled story with my paintings that speak to many who grew up in New England and enjoyed their time as a young observer out in the elements of all four great seasons.

When we work with businesses, we focus a lot on their "Why?". What is your "Why"? What is the driver behind your company, and why you and your team wake up each day and give it your all?

As a team of "1" I strive every day to create beautiful, meaningful, soothing and colorful pieces that invoke emotions and memories in those who collect my work. I seem to have lots of energy and can easily work on several pieces in progress at once, so I've been able to grow my business from displaying in small local coffee shops and at open studios, to finding representation from 8 galleries. I take my painting seriously and do research, watch the designers and other artists as they also navigate this art world, and I believe in practice daily. When I get emails, messages, and comments on my posts and paintings from those who LOVE their paintings and find joy in looking at them every day, I know I've succeeded in raising the emotions of beauty, love, hope and passion in others. They also tell me they see nature in a new way- appreciating now the details that I highlight in my work, such as shadows, sunspots on tree-trunks, sparkles on water, and the colors of leaves in the fall against a cerulean sky.

Let's dive deeper into your products and services. You already gave an overview, but how do your products or services help your customers? And what makes them different from your competitors?

My work is based on the happy and hopeful emotions that my collectors seek, so I am able to offer a variety of scenes and subjects that ultimately speak to a collector and satisfy the desire to revisit or re-experience the beautiful outdoors of New England. I have developed a unique style that took years to master, and I am proud of my ability to translate my subjects into relatable, colorful pieces.

Let's unpack that even further. Let's pick one aspect of your business. What makes it so unique? And how does it change you or your customer's experience?

I think my style of paintings, brushstrokes, and colors that I select make my work unique and stand apart from others. I see details and colors quite boldly and I work diligently to convey my interpretation onto canvas so others can experience what I see. So many have written to tell me they are transported back to a familiar and happy location and set of feelings based on my work. That is the ultimate compliment to me.

Let's dive into your customer's journey a little bit. Can you share with us, how do your customers discover you and your brand? What are their next steps? And what is the experience you would like to see your customers go on, when working with you and your brand?

I have spent a lot of time "researching" other artists who I admire, but in the way they promote themselves and show-up daily, especially on-line and on social media. I am grateful that social media gives me a far reach where I otherwise wouldn't have one and try to engage with as many "followers" and collectors as possible. I appreciate the additional outreach by my galleries and as such, have built good relationships with them where I am able to refer inquiries to the galleries for assistance in selecting or perhaps commissioning a piece of work. I value the administrative tasks and customer support that my galleries provide, and this allows me to do what I prefer to do which is paint.

Let's rave about your customers for a minute. Can you share a story about one of your clients or customers, that either touched your heart, or made an impact with you and your team?

I created a large sparkle-filled piece that is currently on display in a cancer center in Maine. I have received several messages of gratitude from family members who have spent a lot of time in the waiting area where my piece is displayed. Their sincere appreciation and the messages of hope that they say my work conveys absolutely warm my heart and I am grateful whenever I can affect someone in such a positive and hopeful manner.

Everyone likes an inside scoop. What detail or secret about either you, or your company, is something most people might not know?

I think the biggest "secret" is that when one is passionate about executing and practicing a skill such as painting, the WORK part actually becomes a love, and it never feels like a burdensome business but a joy to be able to stand in front of my easels and create new pieces based on a love of the outdoors and nature. There really aren't enough hours in the day for me to paint, and I appreciate every opportunity I get.

Final thoughts. What feeling or benefits would you like your customers or clients to take away when working with you and your team?

I would like collectors and admirers to know that I paint from the inside-out. My love of light, colors, and nature are projected onto each canvas and with each piece that I create, I share my love of New England and my observations with everyone so intentionally. I hope that my work always creates newfound appreciation for the amazing colors and details and patterns that are all around us.

Last question. How can people find out more about you and your company?

I am easiest followed on Instagram @HLombardoArtist or facebook @Holly Lombardo Art. My email is and I list the galleries that represent my work in my bio on both platforms.

Thank you so much for sitting with us and sharing your story.

Thank YOU! Much appreciated.

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