Because of Vincent Van Gogh and Frank Lloyd Wright, lifelong artist Crystal McDonald made a radical change. Three years ago, the architecture major packed up her life in Massachusetts and moved to Chicago to enroll in The Chicago School’s I/O Program.
“Van Gogh only sold one painting when he was alive, and only acquired fame after death,” she explains. “Frank Lloyd Wright acquired lots of fame while he was alive, but had difficulty articulating price points and other areas of the business. I also saw it in undergrad during the pin-up presentations students have to do. The creator and the potential client didn’t know how to talk to each other. This sparked an idea. I want to fill that space between the artist and the potential client.”
The move to Chicago was just the beginning, and Crystal appears to have hit the ground running. She took a job as a TCSPP admissions counselor and managed to complete her master’s degree in just one year. She is now a student in the Business Psychology Ph.D. Program.
“The journey’s not done,” she says with a smile. “I want to find ways of identifying how to have a collaborative communications space between the artist and the client so that they understand each other. I understand the artist side of things and see the value, and though feeling a connection to it is the most important reason for purchasing art, buyers also want to see the financial benefit. There’s no data to support the creative idea. I want to be the medium who looks at it from both sides – from the artist’s and the buyer’s.”
For Crystal, this could mean a position with a venture capitalist firm dealing with high-end art, or it could be an entrepreneurial role. “I’m open.”
In the meantime, she still finds the time to create in between going to school and work. Her creative outlets include painting and writing poetry. She’s even read her poetry at a couple of Open Mic nights.
“The Open Mic performances were just to push myself out of my comfort zone,” she says with a laugh. “But my art gives me joy, and I’m putting together a portfolio because of that, but also because it will help toward a long-term goal I have of opening an art gallery for young women to create and work together without competing. I want it to be a space of collaboration, and one where young women and girls can come together and find value in themselves and each other.”
Crystal has a lot planned for her future, and completion of her doctorate is only the beginning. “Just because I’ll have a doctorate doesn’t mean the journey will be complete. I have to continue practicing and giving back to the community.”