It was clear to me from a young age that I had a passion for art. One of the funny stories my parents tell me about my early childhood was how I took a green crayon and colored all over the front door. My parents scolded me (I don’t remember any of this) and I got mad and looked at them and peed right on the floor in the foyer. I think I was two or three.
Besides my green front door masterpiece, as far back as I can remember, my favorite toys were art supplies. I vividly remember drawing on paper with markers outside on the concrete steps outside my house. I remember drawing a girl (I think in a bikini) and being really proud of the drawing.
In first grade I drew a red horse for a contest for the American Royal and it won first place. I think I won $5, but I was more proud of winning than I was excited for $5. I was hooked on creating art at a young age.
In second grade I got a bad case of pneumonia. I couldn’t go to school for an entire week. I loved school and was devastated that I couldn’t go. I was mostly upset because I was missing the art project we were doing that week (in addition to a play I was in and a field trip to Discovery Zone), so my teacher let me do the art project at home.
Recognizing my love of art as a child my parents put me in art classes at our local museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Instead of going to sports camps in the summers growing up, I went to art classes. Even in high school I would take summer art classes at museums. Also in high school, I was chosen (one of five students from five different high schools) to paint a mural on a building. A paid job that took half of the summer. I couldn’t have made up a cooler job than that.
The natural progression here would be that I would have gone to college for art. But I didn’t. And yes, I sort of regret that. Although I don’t regret the education I did end up getting by not going to art school — a journalism degree from arguably the best journalism school in the US (University of Missouri, or MIZZOU/MU). That degree has given me so much in the past 12 years of my career that has helped get me to where I am today. My own site, being my own boss, deciding what projects I want to work on, and having my day-to-day schedule be whatever I want it to be, etc.
See, back when I was choosing what college to go to, the Internet wasn’t as much of a thing as we have now. If a University had a website it wasn’t very robust. We had to look up scholarships in a giant book, an actual book. You still applied for college on paper. Ancient!
I wasn’t very educated about how to go to college in other states, or what the difference was between an art college and a regular college was. Both of my parents went to MIZZOU and really wanted me to go there. At the time I thought I wanted to go to fashion school in California, but I didn’t know how it would work for me to move there, etc. Art school scared me, and I had never heard of RISD or SCAD or Ringling. I really didn’t know what to do, so I just went to MIZZOU which I knew would be fun as it was a large state college.
I went, joined a sorority (don’t judge, I quit halfway through college), and started taking different classes to see which direction I wanted to go. I took fashion classes and art classes and to be honest, the fashion class sort of bored me (I think it was the teacher) and I kept taking art classes. I didn’t end up going the studio art route in college for two reasons. First I was just intimidated. I felt I was one of the best artists in my high school, but college was all of the best artists in one place, and that scared me. Second because I’d heard the art school at MIZZOU wasn’t really that great.
I also thought (again, this is early Internet days) that I could never be an actual artist. I thought if I went to art school I would only be able to be an art teacher or work at a museum — and neither of those jobs sounded like what I wanted to do. I didn’t think about or know what types of work an artist could do besides get their work into galleries.
So after two years of bouncing around taking classes ranging from art and fashion to political science, Spanish, and international business — I had to pick a major. I tried to think what I could do that was creative and what I was interested in — magazines. Fashion magazines mostly. And I just so happened to be at the best journalism school in the US. So I got into to the journalism school, was a magazine major with an emphasis in design, and I took advertising, PR, writing, and grammar classes.
I kept doing creative things on the side like knitting and scrapbooking (am I dating myself by saying that it was huge when I was in college), I was always in charge of posters and artwork for things in my sorority, and that seemed to fulfill my art heart at the time. Lots of DIY-type of projects.
My first job out of college was as a photo editor and designer at a newspaper/magazine in Sarasota, Florida. While living in Sarasota I did some painting. Most of my paintings were awful and my mom still has a few of them up in her house that I need to secretly dispose of, but I did have one really good idea that I started doing while I was down there. That is another entire post in itself. It was then I realized that I needed to do art even if it wasn’t my job or I didn’t go to art school.
After a year in Florida we moved back to Kansas City where I got a job at the HQ of Hallmark Cards as a designer and directing photo shoots. I was surrounded by creative people, and after a few years I started a little blog called MIMI+MEG. Mimi was my great grandmother and at the time two cute names together was popular for boutiques, hence the name. That blog has morphed over the last ten years into what you see now as MegBiram.com.
I say this all to say that I was filling my creative desires with the blog, and projects on our house. I would also do a lot of DIY things before it was cool, before Pinterest was a thing. So I didn’t do any painting or fine art for a while that wasn’t for my house or some sort of project.
When we moved to DC and I couldn’t stop thinking about painting. I had to paint. Most of what I created that first year was terrible. I was also in a terrible state of mind, probably one of the worst years of my life but that’s another story.
So I stopped painting for a while because it was just too frustrating, and I was doing it in my tiny apartment which wasn’t very conducive to having a painting mess everywhere.
A year later we moved into a different apartment, and I needed a giant painting for a wall before a photo shoot that I knew was going to be featured on a large website. Know that I was frustrated with how I used to paint I decided to try a new painting technique. To my delight, I LOVED IT. I loved how the painting turned out and I loved the process.
Over the next few years I found out that my building had a painting room in the basement. I kid you not, it was a random storage room in the basement that a few women in my building took over and turned into a shared art studio. So for a few years I could actually do large messy paintings there.
When we moved again a year and a half ago to another new apartment I (obviously) lost my painting studio in my old building (oh, did I mention it was free?). So for over a year I didn’t have anywhere to do my large messy paintings and of course, all I could think about was painting.
In March, I finally found a new painting studio (which I’ll show you soon, but you can sometimes see snippets of on Instagram Stories), and committed myself to painting A LOT more this year. Now I have the space so I can do it. Since most of the series of work I do are large and very messy (think paint dripping everywhere and running all over the floor) space is a major issue for me. I cannot just do them anywhere or at home.
Now that I’ve committed to a studio space (that’s all mine) I feel like I can finally focus on my artwork in a way that I’ve really never been able to in my entire life. For me it’s just a matter of devoting time to it. Also, my paintings actually cost a lot of money to produce. Large canvases are expensive, and I use a lot of paint in each painting. Paint is expensive. So for me to do a lot of large works is actually very expensive for me, which is another reason I hold back sometimes. But it’s just something I have to personally get over. Sometimes I do smaller work that doesn’t cost a lot in production costs, but I really enjoy the large work.
My love of art is something I talk about freely in person, but sometimes I also protect it. It’s so personal in so many ways. But it’s something I think about constantly. I will wake up in the middle of the night and have an idea for a series and type it into the notes on my phone. I see art everywhere, in the lines on the sidewalk, recently even in insulation for my attic.
I’m telling you all of this because I’m going to start to document and cover my artwork, my process, and art in general a lot more here on the site and on my social. So if you’re into that, you can expect to see a lot more of it soon!
See my current available work here.
Photo by Laura Metzler