The Story of Might Could

From struggling + frustrated with my art to self-compassionate + brave.

I’ve been drawing since before I can remember, and got my BFA in Graphic Design at North Carolina State University. After working as Lead Designer at a marketing studio, I took the plunge and became self-employed in 2012, forming my one-woman company, Might Could Studios.

Over those 5+ years, my business has gone through many transitions: freelance graphic design, editorial illustration, book publishing, and teaching.

Might Could Studios, Christine Nishiyama
From 2012 (with one client) – 2017 (with +40,000 students)

The year 2014 was the year everything changed. That was the year I switched from graphic design to illustration, and it led to a drastic cut to the number of jobs and my monthly income.

I was trying to find my style and confidence as an illustrator, and that’s not an easy process. I was plagued by all the usual issues: fear of the blank page, disappointment in my work, fear of what others would think, and frustrated that I couldn’t make art that felt like me.

How to Not Be Perfectionist. Christine Nishiyama, Might Could StudiosI hate being dependent on other people, so the lack of paying gigs and financial trouble led me to get a part-time job at a local grocery store. I had applied to be a cake decorator—hey, that’s creative, right?—but instead was hired as a bakery worker, where I was paid $7/hr to move boxes full of frozen bread from the top shelves in the freezer to thaw out overnight. Why they thought it best to hire a 5 foot girl with a design degree who wanted to be a cake decorator for this job, I’ll never know. I did occasionally get to make tortillas every now and then, though.

That year I spent my days trying to learn how to draw in my own way (and wallowing/crying on the couch), and spent my nights moving boxes of heavy bread in a freezer (and mopping the gross bakery floor), and spent all my time feeling like a complete failure.

How to Not Be Perfectionist. Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios

Somehow, I kept going, and eventually, after a year of exploring and experimenting, deep thinking, lots of crying, and intensive sketchbooking, I began to find my artistic voice. Around that time, a science blog took a chance on me as their Artist-in-Residence, and things finally started falling into place.

Every year since has seen more growth, more confidence, and more fulfillment in my life as an artist. And that’s where you come in!

Might Could Beta Books, Christine Nishiyama

A Community of Experimentation of Encouragement

Might Could Studios is a place of creative exploration and motivation, both for myself and others. I realized during my struggles in 2014, that most people (including me at the time) focus on the wrong things when we’re trying to figure out who we are as artists and how to make the art that feels like us.

That period is by far the most frustrating period of an artist’s journey. You have this creative fuel inside you, and a drive to make art, but when you make something you are so unhappy and disappointed in what you made that you don’t want to make anything else!

During this period, I think we’re too focused on how to draw things “correctly”. Drawing things accurately or realistically is certainly one way to draw, but it’s not the only way. I believe a more intuitive, open, and creative way of drawing exists, one that is totally unique to each person. And I believe everyone has that unique style inside them, not just people who went to art school or make a living as an artist.

There's No One Way to Make Art, Christine Nishiyama, Might Could StudiosSo while Might Could Studios is the company where I publish and share my own artwork, it’s also a place where I share what I’ve learned about drawing and creativity, and encourage and help other artists find themselves and their own unique art.

The year of 2014 was a terrible year for me, and although struggle is required for most good things, I want to help reduce the amount of pain for other people so they don’t have to wallow on their couch in an existential artistic crisis for an entire year like I did. I want to equip them with helpful tools, a more playful attitude, and an encouraging community of fellow artists so we can all continue to experiment and grow together and overall just make more art.

K, But Like, What Do You Actually Do?

One thing that bugs me about the new crop of teachers, online entrepreneurs, and coaching “experts” these days is that many of them focus so much on teaching and coaching, that they stop doing the thing they’re coaching and teaching. Design coaches stop designing, cooking teachers stop cooking. Eventually they start teaching how to teach or coaching how to coach and it all just ends up seeming an awful lot like a ponzi scheme.

That’s not Might Could. I am an artist first and foremost, and I create art almost every single day. I walk the walk so I can talk the talk. I tell you you should be drawing almost every day, and I’m drawing almost every day, right alongside you.

I filled up 6 whole sketchbooks, started 12 drawing series, launched my flagship solo course Sketchbook to Style Boot Camp, and self-published my first children’s picture book all in 2017. I’m here to make, and I want to help you make more while I’m at it.

“I’ve noticed this daily habit has changed my mentality. I used to get a rush of anxiety when looking at the blank page, and doing this short exercise has me a little excited to mine my day. I’m noticing less anxiety, and more play as I draw. I’m really loving this class so far!” –Pauline

“The fear of messing up and when I did…thinking the entire book is ruined. Because of this internal turmoil I’ve never started. Since starting this boot camp with Christine… you can clearly see where I begin to totally loosen up and scribble. It is liberating.” –Linda

“Milestone! Today I sat down to draw, in pen, without caring about the outcome. I was at peace and felt like whatever would be would be. These flowers were not for one of the assignments, but ARE a result of doing the course! 🙂 ” –Samantha

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