Hi Chandra, Ive seen your work everywhere, how did you get started with Sugarluxe?
That’s so awesome Tami. Thank you for telling me that. My goal with Sugarluxe was to have my art everywhere, so when you say that, it reminds me that it’s a dream come true.
And the second part of your question is so timely because the story of how I started is one that probably resonates with so many people right now.
In 2003, I was laid off…for the third time…by the same company. The tumultous cycle started right after 9/11 in 2001 – another economically trying time in our nation. I was let go, brought back – and let go again when the funding ran out. After the third time (I really loved the company or wouldn’t have kept going back), I swore that I would never endure downsizing again.
My entire life I had the dream to create my own company with products that would feature my then, yet unseen, artwork.
At the end of 2004, I jumped in full force. I took what little savings I had (which was tiny given my bouts of forced unemployment) and started to develop my first line of accessories. I was completely convinced that following convention by going to market with greeting cards and t-shirts, which are probably the easiest products to start with for an artist, would be the death of my idea. I knew in my heart that success would depend on doing something different. So, over my kitchen counter with a blow torch and a vat of sulfuric acid, Sugarluxe came to life.
Sugarluxe was officially launched two months later in February 2005. It’s been the hardest, most emotionally draining job I’ve ever had.but I’ve never looked back.
Your art is very feminie and sexy, is this your alter ego lol?
Oooh, I love your questions!! Well, I think there is part of me (my imagination – anyway) that lives inside each piece I create. Every time I sit down to sketch or paint, what evolves begins from a foundation of what feelings I want to evoke. At the core of what I do, I always strive to send a positive, self-empowering message through my imagery.
Everything I do is really an interpretation of how I see the many amazing women who make an impact on people’s lives.
I’m an extremely visual person, but when I meet people, I don’t look at the exterior. I see what’s inside. I’m drawn to compassion, kindness, confidence, intellect, and independence. Those are the traits I try to personify in my art. And when I meet women who embody those traits - I’m completely inspired because, in my opinion, that’s what sexy is!
So, I would say that my art is less my alter ego and more the culmination of fascinating, strong, sexy women everywhere.
What are you thinking about when you paint or design?
Oops – I guess I sort of got ahead of myself in my last answer since I just talked about what motivates my work.
But to add on to that…I’ll tell you, the pressure is fierce. The influence in the media has created an ever-growing demand for music, art, tv shows, fashion – you name it – to be overtly sexualized. It’s stimulating and big companies with deep pockets know that sex sells.
But I believe there’s a very fine, yet crucial, line between ‘sexy’ and ‘sexual’. And when I work, I’m highly aware of that line. It’s not a judgment call on my part, it’s just trying to stay true to who I am. So, that’s something I think about every time I paint or design – to be true to myself and my mission, no matter what.
You have put your artwork in hotels,please share that experience with us?
Absolutely. Ya know, it’s funny – everyone always wants to ask about my piece that Miley Cyrus has hanging in her bedroom. That’s great. It is. And getting a tremendous amount of publicity around that has been wonderful for business. But when it comes to the art side of my life, one of the biggest highlights of my career was being asked to do a room for the famous Hotel Des Arts in San Francisco. So, I love talking about that!
It’s a boutique hotel right across the gates from Chinatown and blocks away from the Fashion and Financial Districts. People who love art come from all over the world to see and stay in this hotel. It’s not overly fancy, but the attraction is in discovering all of this amazing art from some of the most influential contemporary and urban artists alive today.
San Francisco is so supportive of the arts. Not just semantically speaking, but through their actions. Art is everywhere in that city. And the Hotel Des Arts, with owner Rich Singer, and the art curator, John Doffing (who came to Singer with the idea years ago) together developed this little creative mecca that so uniquely encapsulates a period of time in art history.
I’m still so honored to be involved. And because of it, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and become friends with so many wonderful and talented artists.
Plus, every time I go to San Francisco – I could stay in a million places. But I always choose to go right back to the Sugarluxe Room in the Hotel Des Arts. I’ve never told anyone this before, but I secretly paint something new in the room each time…a little something here and there. It changes just a bit every year. It’s so fun!
I want to visit Austin,Texas. If I was to travel there,where would I spot Chandra?
You MUST come to Austin! I do love music and married a musician…so living in the Live Music Capital is something I definitely appreciate. And I’d love to take you to one of my favorite places in town – The Elephant Room. It’s a little jazz club in an intimate downtown, underground space. Austin is also a beautiful, green city – unlike anywhere else in Texas.
Yet, 16-18 hours a day I’m in my studio. The only time I’m out and about is if it’s work related. Art shows, charity work, in-store appearances get me out…but for the most part, I’ve packed 10 years of work into less than five. That’s just what it takes to turn an idea into a viable business.
So, I’m not much of a socialite.
But my work on the other hand, is much easier to spot than I am. From places like the Blanton Museum of Art which is the largest university museum in the country to major retail stores like Z Gallerie and Bed, Bath and Beyond…it’s pretty exciting to think about helping to make a fundamental shift in what it means to be an artist today.
Because I believe that getting to make a living from something you’re passionate about is absolutely worth every sacrifice made to turn your dream into reality.