alumni UBC’s afterwords is a digital conversation series that shares the stories of some of UBC Okanagan’s extraordinary alumni.
Meet Liz Ranney
1. What is your current profession?
I am an illustrator, graphic designer, muralist, and painter.
2. What education did you receive at UBC?
Bachelor of Fine Arts (2012).
3. What do you think makes UBC Okanagan great?
I appreciated the smaller campus at UBCO where, especially in the Fine Arts program, class sizes were smaller, and the professors were amazing.
4. If you could start university again, would you do anything differently?
5. What was your first official job after graduation?
After graduating, I travelled for a while. When I came back, I had a few side jobs before fully committing to being self-employed as a career artist. It was a leap of faith, but I was ready to take that next step toward establishing my art career.
6. What is the best part of your current job?
Being a multi-disciplinary artist has a lot of flexibility and diversity. My favourite thing about my job is being able to work in a wide range of mediums, while also meeting new clients and working on fun and exciting projects!
7. What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career?
While being an artist is my absolute passion, earlier on in my career I faced a lot of uncertainty and instability. Self-employment was a completely new undertaking for me, and I learned a lot on the go and had a lot of hard lessons. I have also undergone an incredible exploration of the artistic and creative services that I can offer to the world, and while that’s been a challenge, it has also been very rewarding.
8. What would you like to share with current students who will be graduating in the coming years who have concerns with the current work climate?
To any fellow artist who wants to be a self-employed visual artist, I would say to establish a business strategy. Being an artist can be really difficult if you’re not ready to put yourself out there. The business aspect is something that doesn’t often come naturally to artists, and it is also not part of the BFA program. I would also encourage any BFA student to specialize in more than one medium, because this can open more doors for employment.
9. What's the best advice you can give to help plan a career?
As a self-employed visual artist, I can only speak to starting a small business (as there are many different types of visual artist career paths). My best advice would be to establish a team who can help you in your weak spots. If social media is not for you, find someone who can help. If creating a website and digital portfolio is not your strength, look for someone who can create it for you. If marketing and accounting are not your strengths, get someone to mentor you. Hiring a small team to get you up and running is a smart investment and allows you to spend your valuable time making your work. It is also a smart idea to set goals and intentions, and establish a client demographic. If you can discover who your work is reaching, this can help determine your next steps.
10. Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?
My mentor while I attended UBCO was Shawn Serfas. He encouraged me to take risks in my work, and to push past my self-imposed limitations. He is also an incredible artist himself and seeing him pursue his own work was so inspiring.
11. What is something you continually find yourself saying?
“You can do it.”
12. How do you balance your work and home life?
My husband and I have two young daughters, and two businesses. Our life is a constant balancing act where we do our best every day! We include our family in as many creative and fun projects as we can, and we are super involved in the arts and music community in the Okanagan. Our life is full, busy, and beautiful.
13. Where do you volunteer or how do you give back to your community?
I often get asked to participate in charity events and live painting, and to donate artwork. My husband and I are both visual artists, and we give back when we can to causes and organizations that we believe in.
14. Do you have any books that you would suggest are a must read?
Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.
15. Who is one UBC Okanagan alum you would like to nominate for afterwords?
Fellow students Dylan Ranney (now my husband), Heather Leier, Hanss Lujan, and Jeremy Shantz.