Akiane Kramarik is an inspiring teenager with an extraordinary talent in the arts. So powerful and beautiful are her paintings, which she says were initially inspired by a conversation she had with God at age three, that they influenced her parents to convert from Athiesm to Christianity. She has produced drawings and paintings since age four, and in addition to painting also writes poetry.
Her paintings are a mixture of realism and surrealism, and she often includes spiritual themes, but not in a heavy-handed way. Each image seems to glow with an internal light which draws you in and makes you want to stare at it for hours. Her work is truly imbued with a living spirit and has gained the following of serious collectors who will pay up to several million dollars for one of her paintings. Adding to her notoriety have been appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America and The Late Late Show, among many others.
We got the chance to ask Akiane a few questions, and she was gracious enough to give us some insight into her art and spirituality, and also allowed us to embed a few of her paintings here for you to enjoy.
Tell us about when you realized you were an artist…did it just suddenly occur or was it a slow build-up?
Honestly when I actually realized I was a devoted artist was when I was seven, because during my early experiences at age four, it was just blending into my everyday lifestyle and I didn’t notice the rapid changes. It was something that wasn’t new to me, I loved everything about the vibrancy of colors and the magic of having a single idea and placing it on a 2 dimensional surface.
Although this must have been a deeply personal experience, could you please shed some light into how God spoke to you when you were small and encouraged you to paint? Did you see him, or was it a voice, and what was it like?
It wasn’t a human’s voice or any kind of human communication I can relate it to, it was as if I was unconsciously downloading information into my memory bank. When the information was being processed I felt literally every word in every tissue of my body. If it was a description of a elderly person I was receiving, my whole mind would start reinventing my current youthful state and I would start remembering what an eighty-year old woman feels like during that moment and her memories.
What has been the toughest thing you had to deal with as an artist, and how did you overcome it?
At six, during my early experimentation in art I became curious of what other children were doing at my age. My mother and I had a brilliant idea: to invite children from many different towns to draw together. The tough thing for me was the actual attempt of bringing the children together in order for them to express themselves. I interpreted that experience as my foundation of motivation and determination to share my art with many more people around the world.
What role did your parents play in developing your craft and career?
From the beginning, me and my parents have had a friendship and an honest relationship. They treated me equally, and because of that, I believe we gave each other responsibility and challenges that helped us grow together. I was informed if there was anything of importance, such as a call or meeting for instance, and I had to put my own personal input, even though I was only seven. This relationship we have has strongly affected my personal life and my profession.
OK, say you haven’t figured out what you are going to paint yet, and are sitting in front of a big blank canvas. What’s the first thing you do?
I sign on the bottom of the canvas. Then I begin with any kind of background, and only then I can start processing multiple ideas and begin my experimentation. [We clarified with Akiane and yes, she signs first before any other drop of paint hits the canvas.]
Which is your favorite piece that you have done? The one that you are like…”wow, I cannot believe I did that!”
“Inseparable.” Even now when I take a look at it I can still remember counting those hundreds upon hundreds of flowers. When I step back, I still can’t believe I didn’t give up on it — it sometimes surprises me.
If I knew all the outcomes of every painting, I don’t think my future self would suggest it to my past self. But not knowing the future makes anyone’s determination thrive.
Tell us about your involvement in charities.
Since I was little, I have been very sensitive to anything to do with helping children. I feel connected with every single one of them. I devoted myself to work hard for them. To date, I have been involved with over 200 charities and counting. If I can bring at least one smile to a child it would make my life worthwhile.
From what we have read, you seem to be a very spiritual person. What do you think Heaven is really like?
Heaven is not a particular destination. Heaven is different to every individual. I remember, when I visited my personal heaven, there wasn’t any miscommunication. It was as though we communicated through telepathy. There were a lot of tasks for us to do there, but we craved for it. Most of the colors didn’t exist, everything was mostly interpreted through smells and emotions.
A lot of teens are facing intense pressures and challenges. What words of hope and encouragement could you give to them?
Focus on your strengths. Happiness and comfort don’t come often and not from vending machines. It is more important than anything else to find your happiness and grab it.
If someone took everything I have away, I would still be content being in my unknown studio alone and just painting.
Looking back on your 19 years, is there anything you would do differently?
I would probably focus on my mother’s native culture more [her mother is from Lithuania] and somehow figure out how I can spend some more time with my long distance extended relatives, especially my grandfather whom I always wanted to meet. Since he was a poet, writer and film director it would have been extraordinary to learn from him.
What are you looking forward to the most for the future?
To open up a place where youth can focus on their strengths and creativity. We have to use the little sparks that we all naturally have, to make us extraordinary. I hope I will be able to accomplish such a goal in the near future.
Anything else we should know?
I have had the privilege to travel around the world these past four years, even though that means I haven’t had much time to paint in my own personal studio. Since 16, all my works were finished in diverse environments — such as on top of laundry machines, in bedrooms, in bathrooms, in kitchens and outdoors. Through these years I learned so much about myself as an artist. Through both hardship and comfort I am now more than ever dedicated to share my work with the world.