Art is more than a hobby or a job for Nailah. It’s an outlet for her feelings — from anger to happiness to sorrow. Through the course of difficult life changes, her love and passion for art helped her find joy again and create beautiful pieces that bring joy to others.
“Pay attention to where and when you feel joy and when you don’t, and just try to stay in those spaces where you feel joy,” she shares.
Nailah Smith: I always thought that my artwork wasn’t good enough. I always thought that I wasn’t a good enough painter to do it full-time. Because I wanted to do it. I loved doing it, and I was like, “How come y’all don’t see what I see do? Why don’t y’all think this is cool? I love this.”
Now that I am, I just love making people happy. So my soul purpose and goal in my art is to bring full joy. I want them to feel happy when they look at it because there’s so many things throughout the day that upset us or make us unhappy. So I just want to be that little sprinkle of joy.
As an entrepreneur, I work as much as I can. Literally never know where my next project is going to come from. I don’t know if I’m going to make money next week. I don’t know anything. I just literally pray that it keeps coming.
After I got divorced, I just really didn’t want to do anything that didn’t make me happy anymore. I even went through my closet and got rid of every single piece of clothing that didn’t make me happy, and every shoe that was uncomfortable. I just didn’t want anything in my life anymore that made me unhappy, and so that included work — hoping that I landed on my feet or even my knees.
I probably dived way more into my art than I ever have because I was so sad and angry and depressed about my divorce that I needed the distraction of art. I really wanted to actually find my voice, and at first I thought my voice was angry — brokenhearted pieces, because I guess I was letting out all my feelings.
I literally just painted my anger. Nobody knew they were angry but me. People saw angel wings, yeah. And then I guess I got all that out because now all I want to do is paint happy, joyful paintings, because I actually feel happy now. I feel pretty content, and I feel like I’ve come further than I ever would have.
The art process is crazy. So you will be talking mad smack to yourself while you’re painting, and then everybody’s telling you how great you are. So I’m like, “Okay, thank you.” Because in my head I’m like, “This is looking crazy right now.”
And then it always ends up looking great in the end. It’s just that there’s always an ugly stage. Just when I’m starting to question myself, somebody will call me and be like, “Oh my God, you’re doing so amazing. You’re really inspiring me,” or something like that, and it’s really cool.
Yes, trust the process. You know that you will come out of this place and it’s important for you to come out of that place. You don’t want to stay in that place, and if it takes time, that’s okay because it took me a whole year. Let all of that out. You’ll probably create some really cool pieces from it.
Just don’t stay there because that’s never a good place to stay. Pay attention to where and when you feel joy and when you don’t and try to stay in those spaces where you feel joy.