Sunday, June 16, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on January 9th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 45 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 45

Modern love

Artist Rosemary Pierce broke all the rules in her rise to success


The first time artist Rosemary Pierce met with a gallery owner to discuss her work, she left in tears.

Rosemary Pierce describes her art as approachable abstract designs, focused on three-dimensional elements utilizing bright, saturated colors.

Pierce had just taken a huge leap of faith. She’d walked away from a lucrative career in real estate to focus on being an artist. It was a gamble that seemed to immediately backfire.
“She looked at the work and said, ‘I’ve seen things like this before,’” Pierce said. “She was very rude to me. She treated me like I was nothing.”
The aspiring artist went back to her car and burst into tears. But then, while sitting there, a sudden feeling came over her.
“I thought, ‘Who is she to tell me what I can do?’” she said. “I started thinking about it and thought, ‘She’s in this little gallery. What does she know? Why would I let her decide what to do?’”
The heartbreaking moment turned into a motivator for Pierce, who went home and immediately began researching how to sell her own art. Nearly a dozen years later, Pierce is a highly sought-after installation artist with pieces all over the world.
Pierce maintained a studio in Santa Ynez for years and now lives in San Diego. But her work hangs in many private homes and businesses throughout the Santa Ynez Valley, where she still works with many clients who seek her out for custom creations.
As though willed into existence by her own sheer force of determination, Pierce’s career is largely a product of her own creation. The artist is entirely self-taught; the only art class she’s ever had was in college to fulfill an elective.

A heartbreaking rejection from a gallery owner prompted artist Rosemary Pierce to sell her artwork on her own, using websites such as Etsy. Today, she commands thousands of dollars for custom designed pieces.

She was a premed student and a psychology major in college, primed for a life where art was on the sidelines, hovering around her.
“I always was creative, even as a child,” she said. “I would invent and create things. I knew I was creative, but I didn’t know I was an artist. But I always carried art in my life.”
As she approached 40, Pierce experienced what she described as a “soul call,” a moment where she questioned what she really wanted to do in her life. She described what happened next as a leap of faith, deciding to start a new career by focusing on her art.

With no formal training or classes, Pierce set about trying to teach herself as much as she could about art and the business.
“I decided to be an artist and learn what that was,” she said. “It was really about expressing who I am more so than learning a technique. It was about exposing the essence of my soul.”
Pierce began experimenting with sculpture, heading to the hardware store and finding unusual pieces to work with. She picked old frames out of junk piles and painted over them; she bought piles of the same item at discount stores and challenged herself to build something unique.
“I dreamed these big visions in my head,” she said. “They were these very big things I could see so clearly.”

Modern artist Rosemary Pierce is a self-taught artist who never went to art school or had any professional training. She designs and creates custom installations for private residences and corporations all over the country.

From there, she had the aforementioned disastrous encounter with a curator. Pierce said the model for becoming a successful artist was for many years pigeonholed into few options: Either an artist is represented by a gallery and sold through a store or they pick up shows and find buyers that way. Armed with a background in business, Pierce decided to try something different.
She turned to Etsy. At the time, Etsy was a young website that was beginning to grow a huge following of arts and crafts fans. Pierce’s unorthodox gamble paid off.

“I let people, actual buyers, tell me whether they like my work or not rather than a gallery,” she said. “I sold things right away.”
Custom orders soon came rolling in, and Pierce began to grow her art business. In 2017, she was named one of HGTV’s “Favorite Creative Geniuses,” a spotlight on the network’s favorite designers and creators.
Her business today is filled with orders from cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. She said she prefers making custom work for clients rather than selling pieces because it allows her more freedom to design the perfect piece for their space.
“Each project is going to be unique to what the space is,” Pierce said. “Who is going to see it? Who is going to experience it? How do I make that fit in? That’s what works for me.”

Wall flower
Rosemary Pierce’s work is available for view online at or via Instagram @rosemarypiercemodernart.

If asked, Pierce describes her work as three-dimensional textural sculpture, imbued with her own sense of shape and color. Her work is especially known for its inventive and playful use of color, often incorporating bright complementary primary colors or hues of one or more colors to create repeating or similar designs reflected throughout an installation.

Pierce said she often gets notes from other artists on how she comes up with her ideas or color usage, but she finds it hard to explain in artistic terms.
“I don’t know,” she said. “It just comes out of me. One of the greatest things is it is so easy to break the rules when you don’t know what they are.”

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose is loved modernly. Contact her at

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