Many talents die on a daily basis due to the inability to develop or monetize such gifts. Knowing this, Maria sought a solution, a solution known as Art of You. Maria-Katharina Richter is the founder of Art of You, an organization that helps artists self-actualize, live their purpose, and monetize their talents.
Richters is originally from Hamburg, Germany, but has lived in both Spain and the UK. Today, we sat down with Maria-Katharina for a 30 minute interview amongst the rise of Art of You, and her busy schedule working with the world’s most creative clientele.
Maria-Katharina Richters has not always been this amazing coach or founder of a dominant company; she has also had her ups and downs, just like everybody else.
Telling us that as a young girl life wasn’t always easy, she had some rough patches, dealing with undiagnosed ADHD, bullying, teenage rebellion, psychological abuse by her first love, and more, but before we touch on that, let’s begin with question one…
Maria, tell me about your grass roots, what was your upbringing like?
I was born in Hamburg Germany where I lived until I was 11 years old. My parents separated and we moved to a town in Spain called Javea, between Valencia and Alicante.
After the move, I spent 2 years at The Lady Elizabeth School in Spain, an English school with predominantly international children. Throughout school, I was as shy as a porcupine, despite the desire to connect and be involved with the kids playing.
Staying mainly in the background when in bigger groups, such as Kindergarten, is where art began for me. Being shy, I was rather content on painting in the corner, eyes on the paper, ears closed to the noise allowing my creativity to manifest itself. As a highly sensitive child, it turned out, additionally to the high sensitivity I had ADHD, which I only discovered as an adult. It didn’t come as a shock as I had issues with social environments as a whole, with learning difficulties to go with it.
Paired with this I was bullied for being German, overweight and of course, timid it didn’t take long for my Mum to pull me out (thankfully).
Outside of school was a pleasure, at home, we were very connected to nature, living quite remote, which to some may not be an ideal way of living, with no central heating and no main electricity, but solar panels and gas, for me it was cozy, eerie and very connected, thus creating isolation and boredom. However, creativity thrives on that, connecting me further to the nature surrounding my home and mind.
Creativity is the residue of time waste.
When I changed school in 1999 to Xabia International College, I finally made friends, something so simple to most, but a miracle for me when it happened. Soon, with energy and dedication I lost my excess weight and quite quickly was introduced to “Fun” by my friends, which was quite the opposite to the usual isolation, stay on your own, painting at home and the serene I was accustomed to, but of course, even though I was quiet with my close friends and family I had a lot of energy to burn, with a “hyperactive full of energy” side to me, which finally found an outlet.
Is this where you mentioned life taking a turn for the worst before we began?
Yes, it is, so I was introduced to “Fun”, in other words, teenage mischief, I began to smoke, drink alcohol followed by stronger substances at 15 / 16 years old. You have to understand when you’re mute for all your life, and finally learn how not to be, you have friends, you can talk to people without the urge to scurry away, you get sucked into more of the “fun”, automatically as much as possible to make up for the years without it. This kind of imbalance, the ‘all or nothing’ way of living on the edge, and those two kinds of extremes have ruled my life until I learned to know and love myself.
At school, I failed most of my exams apart from language and Art due to this engagement in having “Fun” and Fiestas, but it wasn’t all bad, luckily I got the opportunity to move to the UK and finish with good grades after all, as I received the right support. This school helped me build on my potential from being easily distracted and with difficulty concentrating to crafting a rather nice portfolio which opened the gateway to every university I applied for.
How old were you at this point? 18, 19?
Yes, I was 18 years old when I moved again, this time on my own, from Spain to London where I finished my A-Levels at Hurtwood House, Surrey, before selecting a University out of those that I applied for. I feel very lucky as this was and still is the most creative school in the country, which added rocket fuel to my art.
After being encouraged to pursue Fine Art as a Degree, Kingston was my choice of University to pursue a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design after which I went on to study fashion design Technology Womenswear at London College of Fashion. All was great until another downtime began after I found myself in a destructive relationship (psychologically) with my first true love. Long story but what I can say, it was merely the reflection of me, not loving myself, shown to me through the relationship.
Throughout this time, I was an intern at Vivienne Westwood, working close to the designers, experiencing photoshoots hands-on with Vivienne, Andreas & Pamela Anderson and being a part of the AW and Paris Fashion shows as well as working at Peter Pilotto for another internship, which were both exciting experiences.
I’m in my twenties at this point, my work was exciting, the relationship was hitting a wall and I noticed my life hit a standstill, a plummet you could even say. Designing was not the kind of lifestyle that I wanted for myself, I witnessed how the designers weren’t treated great and it wasn’t aligning to who I was, I split with my ex after a lot of work internally to get out of it, but went back to an extreme of “Fun” with “friends”, which at first was liberating but soon spiralled downhill, further than ever before with people around me in the same pit as me as we basked in each other’s difficulties, escaping reality for instant gratification moments, that would take years to climb out of.
What was the turning point?
The realization of not being a good influence to the people around me, to family and friends, fellow creatives and artists, even though my highest value was to share the love with the world, I wasn’t aligning to that at all. Being creative is amazing, but can be difficult, being highly sensitive to your surroundings, to people’s emotions, feeling every thought from others, and ADHD is difficult, it is real, but I also know it is only difficult because the world wasn’t yet ready to cater for all differences. ADHD has an innate desire for purpose, if life is not purpose-driven, you will not make the most out of the way your brain functions, having a bundle of ideas, but not knowing how to utilize them or how to work with yourself isn’t healthy – if anything, it drives you insane, thinking that you just simply aren’t good enough, thinking that something is seriously wrong with you, leading you to inevitably bask in worldly things such as alcohol as a form of escape, not fix.
Then again, it is still in the decision to change, that will create change. ADHD meant for me, addictions, depression, anxieties, people-pleasing, no energy, sleeping late, missing appointments, always rocking up late, low concentration, the most crazy, the most hyperactive, the laziest, the most irresponsible, the list goes on… I am now able to be organized, on time, get things done, overcome my addictions, create friends, create a flourishing relationship, pretty tidy and clean environments. Don’t get me wrong, my head is still jumpy and I lose my keys and my phone a few times a day. It is an ongoing process with myself, but I have a framework and I have dealt with my emotions and made sure to change the way I approach life. Instead of reacting to my impulses I pause more and act proactively. It was a decision that took a while to build up, but once it did, change is what came of it.
After deciding to change, that one moment I worked hard to build resilience and bounce back from falling into that pit, to finish my university degree and going self employed from while I was still at University with my 2 businesses, designing caps and recycling fashion brands;
Tinki Love and Capture Love.
In that time, my clothes designed of the requests of some Stylists were stolen and appeared in magazines unknowingly and not credited, and my ‘niceness’ and naivety got the best of me, my investment funds had depleted and my work in fashion was at standstill. In 2016 my stepdad passed away, he taught me how to paint clouds as a child and how to paint with oil paints, as he was an artist and sculptor, well known in the area in Spain. After he passed I felt that he communicated with me, I just felt it, and it was loud and clear, that I was kidding myself with what I was doing and realised that my truth is art, not design and working with others.
The birth of “Art of You” I’m assuming?
That’s right, I instantly let go of my fashion brands, did a 180, moved back to Germany in 2017, to study Art Therapy and save as much money as possible to start afresh and build my coaching practice. I qualified as a transformational coach in 2017, to then as you said, set up Art of You.
How would you summarize what Art of You does?
Art of You specializes in bringing the art within the individual to the surface. I help artists and the ‘I am not creative’s’ to harness the “Power of Purpose” and unleash their full “Creative Potential” and thrive holistically (mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually) and bring their creations into the world. The most important part of this is that it is customized to the individual, not treating anyone the same as another.
Art of You has also emerged with the intention to help spread the word of creativity, to change the perception of its importance in our lives and the relationship we have with it in the world, because so far, that relationship is flawed with a lot of people walking around with intense “Creativity Scars,” that have an effect on how much self expression one is comfortable with, which has an effect on self confidence, trust in life and the quality of relationships we experience.
How do you achieve this with your clientele?
The work I do with Art of You is split into 4 types of Services; Art of You Art Business, Art of You Spirit, Art of You Art Therapy and last, but not least, Art of You Creative Supervision.
When I work with Artists, I may work with them with my “Harness Your Creative Passion into a Financially Viable Art Business” program, which is a 6 Step Program, to help artists create an income with their art or ideas in order to make it a sustainable and growing thing. Make money for art, not make art for money. The focus here is on enabling the artist to do what they love long term and build on it.
I may work on unblocking Artists Block with them with my transformational Art Coaching Technique I created through merging Art Therapy with Coaching, which helps to unlock it in an instant.
Sometimes the artists may come to work with me because they don’t feel that they are currently aligning their work authentically to their values or to who they are and don’t know why this is, wanting to align their Art to their authentic self expression, and we will work on aligning it. If I work with the people who feel they are not creative, we will work on connecting with their creativity through a 6 Step Program as well, where we will use playful therapeutic Art Approaches to unlock this and clients are astounded as to how much creativity is within them, bringing joy of life back in the game.
You see, I work very varied, I may even do dream interpretation sessions because we will work in areas where words can’t reach and images do tell a 1000 words.
I love this work, art is more than just a nice image or tool to have fun with, it is the language of the soul!
I know every single person has their unique qualities and creative expression not just limited to visual art or performing art, self expression is for everyone. Once people start to express themselves their way, they understand how to live a life that is customised to who they are not who they think they should be and therefore symptoms of ADHD for example will not cause any problems, because the qualities of it are taking overhand.
Art is healing and the world has a lot of ‘problems’ that could be avoided if we focused on art and expression from our childhood onwards without fail. I want to see creativity become priority in life instead of the reputation of it being a nice side hobby. I work with clients on a 1-1 basis, closely with the artist or creatives or in small groups. My website is www.art-of-you.com for more info on my offerings.
I have also teamed up with Startup Sherpa to help artists or creatives with a design idea or product idea to create an income stream that allows for freedom in life, an dI love their Project because each individual signing up to this program funds a teenager to create their business, how cool is that.
As a sister brand to Art of You, I am launching a Video Course called ‘Born to Create – Kickstart your Art Business’ to help Visual Artists set those Foundations in their own time and cost friendly and I have written a raw edition of my first ebook to download for free, which holds my thought processes about life, creativity, high sensitivity and cognitive differences in life. Both can be accessed via www.borntocreate.art-of-you.com
Why work with you and not another coach or company that offers a similar solution?
Hmm, I would say my ability to create a safe space, where my clients feel they are fully accepted for who they are, I have no judgment and am therefore to enable the clients to feel comfortable opening up to me and therefore be open for change catalytically because of it, but more than that, I asked a great client the other day, if I had a superpower what would it be? She said, “healing” and another colleague said “ You just see people”, and I agree. There is something about this that enables my clients to have gentle but deep transformations in a short space of time because I am connected with them at the core.
My connection to the subconscious is very direct having spent so much time in nature, I’m highly empathic and am therefore in my work and with clients very calm but very to the point with my questions and reflections, as well as the mindset tools that are drawn from ancient wisdom quantum physics backed, that this combination just enables soul growth at an accelerated pace, not just topical switching around of issues, it is like bending time.
As someone with ADHD, business didn’t come easy, I suffered from Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria and having overcome that I’ve been rewarded with an array of personal experience to support the individual I work with understanding a core element of life’s structures that when understood and acted on changes lives without fault.
Interesting, so for the end skippers, in a nutshell who do you help and with what?
I help Artists & creatives of all kinds at any stage of their journey, who want to harness the power of purpose and creativity to create a financially viable business with their art, while subtracting the chaos in their lives so they can build and grow their Dreams of being a full time artist and nurture that relationship long-term and be free from having to do jobs they don’t want to do and I help individuals who feel dried out by life right now who have a desire to explore new ways of living and approaching life, exploring their creativity and playfulness, and bring more play into their life to be able to live their lives with joy, confidence and energy again.
Thank you Maria, your time is greatly appreciated, to cap off today’s founder interview, where can everyone find you?
That’s a wrap, If you’re an artist trying to maximize your potential, Maria-Katharina Richters might just be the solution for you.
Lady Elizabeth School 1997-1999
Xabia International College GCSE’s and ALevels 1999- 2004
Hurtwood House – ALevels 2004 – 2006
Kingston University – Diploma in Art & Design 2007-2008
London college of Fashion Ba (Hons) Fashion Design Womenswear Technology 2008 – 2013
Animas Centre for Coaching – DIploma in Transformational Coaching 2017
Animas Centre for Coaching CPD Group Coaching
Animas Centre for Coaching CPD Mindfulness
Accredited by the International Coaching Federation – ACC since 2018
Hamburg Institute of Art Therapy (HIK) Person Centred & Solution Oriented Art Therapy 2017-2019
International Centre for Coaching Supervision – Diploma in Coaching Supervision 2020
- Learn to trust your intuition and take Charge of your direction in life
The things you get passionate, excited and curious about are all part of your calling! Fear settles in subtle and our minds tell us lies all the time. So start noticing your thoughts, are they fear based ? Are they negative? If yes, then you are believing your minds lies its telling you.
Excuses and the blame game and negative thoughts are all not true, but they become our reality when we chose to believe them. When you start on your journey of living a life with your art and your very own creativity, you will be confronted with internal chatter that tells you, you can’t do it, you are not good enough, your art doesn’t matter, nobody will buy from you, and any smallest hint of a rejection will be confirmed by your mind telling you, you knew this was going to happen, you just are not cut out for this and so on. Do not believe any of it. You can choose to believe or you can choose to train yourself to think thoughts that create a reality rather than hinder you from creating.
So, next time you want to go for it and start your own business with your art and you notice those thoughts, sit with them and don’t push them away, but replace them with the truth. You are more than enough, you deserve to live a life by your creativity and with your art and bust all those other lies that come up. Take control!
- Your triggers are your most important messengers
Setting up your Art Business or living your purpose will ask us to raise our standards, it will push us to move out of our current state of consciousness and comfort zones to elevate us into a more trusting, heart centred space, where we are not reliving our pain bodies over and over again. Therefore our triggers will be our key to growth. Especially when you are confronted with becoming visible with your art, the most vulnerable part of you, your creativity is out for display, so it is normal that triggers, such as fears of being judged or criticised or rejected will come up. When you get into Business of any kind, you will only be successful at it if you keep growing, this means that where you feel triggered is your biggest growth yet to be. If you get excited about something and have fear attached to it at the same time, it is your greatest shifts you will create for you and your business. At the end of the day success for me personally means living through my soul and not my fear. Those triggers will help you identify that.
- The consciousness of every action we take, determines the outcome we create.
Artists often fear to be a sell out and decide to not go down that route at all and end up living like a starving artist, struggling or even lose touch with their creativity because of it. Selling out is not a given only because you exchange art for money, it is a fear consciousness. The consciousness of every action we take, determines the outcome we create. Like planting a seed and then reaping its fruit. Becoming comfortable with selling happens by changing our mindset and perception of i. Make money to make art, not art to make money, there is a difference!
- Swap your desire for instant gratification for a desire of long term fulfilment!
I have gotten myself into all kinds of trouble by chasing short term instant gratifications. It is easy to find yourself stuck in a habit that keeps you from shining. Creating anything in life, whether that is a blossoming relationship or setting up a business, requires a long term fulfilment mindset, where you build on your vision even if it doesn’t show instant results. People that set up businesses find themselves losing their connection with building their business too soon with the first few hurdles and slip into instant gratification activities too quickly thinking that they won’t make it. It is a matter of self belief and desire, how much do you want it? How much are you able to resist the desire to just chill tonight and not do something for your vision? You never know what is around the corner and if you keep being consistent you are building an unshakable foundation, like bamboo trees take years building their roots for them to sprout out tall and strong within 5 weeks. Just keep believing and swap your instant gratification activities for long long term fulfilment activities. Short term discomfort for long term success.
- Creating a framework is everything!
Sometimes it is not you being lazy or not committed enough, sometimes it is just a matter of a non existing framework that pulls us back into not doing the things we wanted to do, forgetting things, becoming overwhelmed, procrastinating and so on.
So give yourself a framework to make it easy for you on the days that feel hard to implement anything. For example, give yourself weekly schedules, with different days for different themes. I find it helpful to spend one day for one thing, whether thats filming day, scheduling day, content day, painting day, outreach day. I may also use the pomodoro technique and time myself for certain tasks and you will be surprised what you can get done in no time.
You want to have to think less and automate certain tasks, which includes to have certain apps to help you schedule upfront and templates for your posts and blog posts.