Season 2
52 Minutes

E78 | Lori Pratico | How I Became A Rebel With A Cause

When she was 18, Lori Pratico began her artistic career as a billboard artist in her hometown Philadelphia. Lori is self-taught. These days, her artwork is recognized around the country, represented by galleries and shown at Miami’s Art Basel. Her artwork has been published in Marie Claire, Juxtapoz and Professional Artist Magazines.

A serial entrepreneur, Lori started her first business at 21, creating in-store merchandising for the second largest home video retailer in the country. Today Lori runs the non-profit she founded, Girl Noticed, Inc, a national community mural and arts outreach program for girls and women. Girl Noticed celebrates the inherent value of females and affirms the deep need to notice and be noticed.

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Lori Pratico  00:00

It became really urgent to me to have something important to say. And how was I going to say it? And how was I going to say it loud? And how was I going to make it impactful? Because I had figured out what my why was I had figured out this is why I do this. This is why I continue to create and, and it’s more important to me that the person that I’m painting sees that part of themselves that is so beautiful, that maybe they never noticed before than it is that my painting is so beautiful.

Achim Nowak  00:40

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT PODCAST. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected FOURTH ACTS, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started. It gives me great pleasure to welcome Laurie practico to the my fourth act podcast. Lori began her artistic career when she was 18. As a billboard artist in her hometown of Philadelphia. Laurie is self taught and learned from unique experiences that pushed her outside of her own boundaries, and the boundaries of society. Today Lori’s artwork is recognized around the country. Her work has been represented by different galleries, and shown at Art Basel. And Laurie is definitely a serial entrepreneur. We’re going to talk about that some more. Just two highlights I want to share with you now at 23. Laurie had twins, and devoted five years to giving them 100% of her attention. These days, besides creating her own artwork, Lori runs the nonprofit girl noticed, which supports the creation of murals around the country, as well as workshops that empower girls and women around the US. And I want to just end the introduction with this phrase that I saw in, in your materials. Laurie, you said I am obsessed. And you know when I hear that, that can be good, or that can have a dark side. So. So welcome, Laurie,

Lori Pratico  02:36

thank you so much for keeping my eye it’s a pleasure to sit and have this conversation with you.

Achim Nowak  02:41

I so look forward to it. And I already alluded to your younger years, Philadelphia. I’m curious now when I think I’ve been to Philadelphia, I have also the stereotypical images of Philly neighborhoods and what it’s like and stuff we’ve seen on TV. But when you were growing up? Did you know you wanted to be an artist? Did mom and dad ask you what you wanted to be? Was that in your consciousness at that time?

Lori Pratico  03:13

Yes, I can’t ever remember not wanting to be an artist. And my very first experience of knowing that was it was probably the first week of kindergarten. And my kindergarten teacher put a smock over my head and set me up in front of an easel with a big pad of paper on it. And there were little containers of paint in front of me and no brushes. Because we were going to use our fingers. And I was allowed to get the paint. Wherever I got the paint, it could get on myself. It could get on my hands, it could get on the canvas. And it really didn’t matter what the painting looked like. It was just create. And I was sold from that day on. It was the idea of of the freedom to just express myself that way. I of course didn’t know what it was then. Right? I was hooked. Was that was it? And I still to this day, I never don’t have paint under my fingernails.

Achim Nowak  04:24

Well, I just I would just listen to the whole marvelous that the teacher gave you permission to use the fingers because the teacher gave you the freedom because for many of us society is about you know, curtailing our freedoms. Right. And you weren’t given a chance to play with that.

Lori Pratico  04:43

Yeah, it was that you know, that idea of just being able to honestly, I think it was more about making a mess than making art that was appealing to me at the time. That it was okay to be a bit of a mess, you know, because I’ve always been a bit of a mess. So if you No, and it’s not always okay. Worked out that day. And, and I actually my mother saved us to save our little papers, you know, she had a little box with certain with, you know, different papers throughout the years of drawings and things like that. And she has a piece of paper from kindergarten, and it says, What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite this? What do you what veggie what, you know, foods do you like? And then it says, What are you going to be when you grow up? And I wrote artist actually, I wrote art. I didn’t write artists, art. So that pretty much sums it up.

Achim Nowak  05:38

And did mom go along with that what you wrote down art?

Lori Pratico  05:41

Well, like kindergarten, I don’t think she had anything to worry about. So she wasn’t really, you know, against it or for it. But no, it was not something that was encouraged. When I was a kid. Creativity wasn’t encouraged by my mom, because there was always something more important to do. And I wasn’t one to want to do the important things. My childhood was focused a lot on why haven’t you done this or done that kind of thing. And now my father, though, was very creative. And I actually was very inspired by he had one sketchbook that he kept in the bottom drawer of his, you know, dresser, and it, it had maybe six or seven pages that he had drawings in. And I used to just look at those pages and just be in like all of that he drew that. And it was just pen and ink, you know, and him kind of doodling. But it was so cool to me. And he liked he played around with a guitar and he, you know, he’d get involved if I had a school project and needed some kind of creativity, he would jump in and get involved in that. And it was really the only time he was able to get involved. You know, because he was busy with working and things like that and worked a night shift most of his life. So we didn’t see him a lot. But he was careful not to be too encouraging, as well. Because then my that would make my mom upset.

Achim Nowak  07:16

Nobody. The complexity of family dynamic, right, exactly.

Lori Pratico  07:21

As I got older, it was more about, you know, not wanting then it was about that necessity. We grew up below poverty level. And there was this necessity of having a job that was a responsible job that, you know, you knew you were going to get paid. And honestly, I really think that they just figured get a job that makes some money until you get married because you marry a good man and you have kids and you know, you’re the supplemental income if you go back to work at some point, you know, that kind of thing. So very traditional. Yeah. upbringing.

Achim Nowak  08:03

I want to dig into two things here. One. I do want to talk about the billboard art billboard art to Kim’s mind. It’s big. It’s noticed since your brand is girl noticed, you did this one you were and I think it takes a certain chutzpah, I think to say I’m gonna make billboard art. Can you talk about when you first started doing that? Yeah.

Lori Pratico  08:29

It was kind of by accident. But then again, not, which has kind of been always how things work with me. Sitting in high school thinking about I wanted to be an artist. Still, I remember saying to a classmate of mine, having this moment where I said, I just want my work to be seen. I just want it to be, you know, I want to drive down the street and see it. And that’s kind of in my head. People who made money doing art. That was how they were making money. It was through commercial art, which it was called at the time or kind of advertising, that kind of thing. And for me, it was like, Well, if I was going to do that, then I wanted you people to see it. I did not know that men would be billboards. Because I was not encouraged to go to art school. I found myself graduating high school and not really having a plan. I was offered many college scholarships for sports. And my mom actually never sent the applications in because she didn’t want me to go away to school and didn’t see playing sports as something that was something I should do. And at that time, it wasn’t on computers you sad to send in your financial aid stuff and all that and I thought, you know, I didn’t test well. So I thought because of my low scores on my tests. I wasn’t getting something was happening with the schools and that’s why I wasn’t hearing back from them. They wanted me and then all of a sudden I didn’t hear anything. And it was because she was based glazed down. And I learned that years later. But yeah, so I kind of didn’t have a plan. So I opened up a yellow pages, which is the phone book, right? And I wrote to all of the art schools in Philadelphia asking, What do I need to do? I don’t have the money right now. But I want to be prepared when I do to come and apply to your school, you know, do I need a portfolio what it doesn’t need to contain an assigned painting school, contacted me and said, just come down for the interview. And I went to the interview, and I went to this 18 month school, and within the first six months of going to that school, a billboard company had gone to the school and said, Do you have anybody? And they said, Yeah, and my interview literally consisted of showing up with paint brushes, and then saying, go ahead and paint that. And I went, you know, and painted in this warehouse in West Philadelphia, had no windows. So it was very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. And after a few days, they were telling me to paint billboards, which I never told my parents I was doing. I told them, You know, I was far they knew I, they, they knew I was doing something creative there. But I couldn’t tell them. I was climbing billboards, they would never let me do it. I was still living at home. Oh, and that’s how it all pretty much started.

Achim Nowak  11:30

Well, how subversive Have you is that there’s so many beautiful aspects to that story, you know, and also the, your, your pursuit of what you want it and then stumbling into something that to me sounds adjacent, but was perfect, right?

Lori Pratico  11:49

Yeah. Well, even this, even the sign painting course, they had a sign painting course and an advertising course. But they didn’t have a teacher for the advertising course. Yeah. And they said, look, the beginning of the course is typography, you have to learn how to do lettering. So just take the beginning of the other course. And then you can switch over. And you know, I never even I finished the school in like 12 months, it wasn’t even a year that I was there. And I wasn’t being offered so many jobs at that point for what I was doing that I was like, I’m gonna go make money instead. And, and that’s what I ended up doing.

Achim Nowak  12:28

Yeah. So that’s so cool. Now, I mentioned when you say you had twins at 23, you painted the picture of the traditional narrative of, she’ll marry a nice man who will take care of her. But I understand that you were a single mom. Is that correct? Yeah.

Lori Pratico  12:45

Well, I, you know, they have a dad.

Achim Nowak  12:50

Of course they do. When not, of course.

Lori Pratico  12:54

Yeah, right. It doesn’t have to be that way. But yes, I did get married. And I very much wanted to have children. I got married very young. And to be honest, it was about being able to have some freedom and get out. I wasn’t, you know, y’all wasn’t going to leave the house unless I got married. And it was like, Okay, so let’s do this. So we moved to Florida, because here I was trying to raise twins. And he was working two jobs. And we were both very young. And it was a lot to handle a lot of responsibility very young for two very young people who weren’t grownups yet. And we moved to Florida. And all of a sudden, we had no support system around us. His family was a huge support. My mom was a huge support with the kids. And now we had nothing but each other. And that wasn’t going to work. So when the kids were four years old, we ended up splitting up and from that point on, I had relationships in my life, and I had support in my life, but I did raise them pretty much on my own for making the all the decisions and the hard decisions by myself. So

Achim Nowak  14:11

now you’re a prolific artist, especially when when you establish yourself balancing, doing your work. It’s the classic artistic dilemma, no matter what your form is, and you need to support yourself and you need to create a life where there’s room for all of that. And you had two children. How did you maneuver through that?

Lori Pratico  14:36

Um, well, I don’t think I really considered myself a fine artist. That could sell paintings until maybe I was, you know, in my mid 40s, but what I did discover with going to that sign school, and you know, just for a few months and then I’m getting work and people appreciated my creativity that they pay me to do creative things. And I enjoyed doing creative things. It really, it was just I knew how to make money using my creativity. And it could look a lot of different ways I’ve worked in probably every creative industry you could think of. I mean, there’s so many creative industries that I’ve touched upon. And I’ve learned so many things from those industries. But I never really thought oh, I could go show my work in a gallery. You know, that was when things started to kind of change when I said, Okay, I’m actually going to get out of my comfort zone, because I was always drawing. And I only really knew how to draw. I had a shoebox that had pencils and erasers in it. And I would draw these really detailed drawings of people always. Yeah, and they were getting better and better and better. And then all of a sudden, people started offering to pay me for those. I thought, oh, no, maybe there’s something here.

Achim Nowak  16:11

Before we get to, the people are paying for your paintings Part I, part of your and I say there’s a couple of part of your wonderfully checkered past and the different things you’ve done is this is a very Florida reference. But, you know, you did some work that had to do with sawgrass Mills, which is this huge, huge outlet shopping mall that if anybody goes on a cruise, chances are the day before after they go to sawgrass Mills, just to give a sense of your what it’s a more maybe traditionally commercial work. And so fine art. What did you do at sawgrass mills.

Lori Pratico  16:49

So, you know, a big part of my story is the fact that when I stayed home with my kids for those five years, you know, with four years that they were born, and then the year before they I was on bed rest for so long, being pregnant with twins. So it was about five years, when I went back into the sign industry and tried to get a job. Everything was computerized. And so what I had been doing all by hand, now everyone was using a computer to do so I was at the top of my field when I got pregnant with twins. And I was actually running my own sign business at that point, and had to stop doing it. And when I would try to get back into the field, I was now at the bottom of my field because I didn’t know what I needed to know. And I went to work for a signing company in Fort Lauderdale. And I would just stay late and hang around the computer guy and I basically got hired for $12 an hour as a helper. And I would go and I would help. And I would just hang out and learn. But in three years, I ended up being the project manager of that sign shop. And one of the things that I learned in creativity when you asked about making money, and how do you balance it and all that, I learned very early on that I was going to make a lot more money. Because the value isn’t put on the artist value is put on the product. So if I was the one selling the product, I could make a lot more money than creating the product. Yeah. So I became the artist that created and sold the product. So as always, like you say being that kind of serial entrepreneur saying well, I’m going to make a lot more money if I do this myself. And sawgrass Mills was one of their accounts that required a lot of creativity. And it was kind of a pain in the butt account for them. Because they, they wanted everything to be very mechanical. And just get it out, you know, kind of like a factory, I would put that extra bit of creativity. So they had all these when they first opened especially they had all these kiosks in the middle of the store, which they still do that. So you know, they’re all individual businesses. Yes. And they required those businesses to create a logo and then turn that logo into a die cut foam sign to put on top of their kiosk. They asked me if I would take that account. And I spoke to I had left the job at that point. And I spoke to the my boss and I said Are you okay with me taking this account? I don’t want to burn any bridges, you know, and he was like, Please take it. So yes, they would give me and the fact that you know that story you probably know the part that I didn’t drive. Do you know that part? I did not know that. Okay, so I did not drive at the time I didn’t learn how to drive till I was 33 years old. So I would make these signs in my apartment, I would design their logo then make the sign, they were very creative of whatever they were selling. And I think I was paid like, something like $425 a sign, which was pretty good, you know, getting quite a few of them. The thing is, there’s unfortunately, there was a very high turnover of these little businesses. So I was getting three and four a month easily. So it was a great account to have. And but when I would be done a sign, I would they were about maybe 24 by 28 inches around, you know, 28 by 28 was the total size of them kind of thing. And they would go on a stand, and I would put it on the stand double sided, had to put a trap big, huge trash bag over it. And I would get on two buses from Oakland Park and take it to the and sit on the bus with the sign. And I would take the they will pay me the $425 A lot of times in cash. I would take the $25 and have lunch and maybe buy my kids something. And the 400 would go in the bank.

Achim Nowak  21:17

I have images of you doing these secret drug deals and sawgrass Mills, one of those shady stories? Yeah,

Lori Pratico  21:24

well, it’s kind of funny because their offices are kind of like back behind the food. You know, but yeah, so that was a great little gig and that account. And then I also was approached by a high school, that was the first high school to do the banners of the different companies, and the incentives of different companies kind of sponsoring the school, and their sports teams. And now all the high schools have banners all around their fences. And this was like the first school to cut the the guy that came up with the idea approached me and said, Can I pay you to do the banners for the school. So my kids were in grade school then and they would come home. And I would have banners like throughout the living room, and all the rooms laying on the floor drying, and they knew to kind of walk around them and through them. And it’s almost like an obstacle course in the house. But

Achim Nowak  22:19

wow, very cool. I want to talk about being and galleries are being represented, or I know it’s suddenly can become the status game right about who was showing you, who is representing you? Are you getting into the right places? And they can kick in a lot of stuff internally for people like if there’s if we’re if we’re any part inside, they’re good things, we’re not good enough that can suddenly be amplified. In that game. What was it like for you to suddenly Oh, people are paying money for my paintings. But where am I going with this? And can you give us a picture of what the journey was like for you fine arts, commercial artist and sells our artworks? Including online? You know?

Lori Pratico  23:13

Yeah, you know, it’s all of what you said is the journey, right? And you, I kind of, I think I doubted myself so much when it came to that type of art. And a lot of it was because I wasn’t trained at all in that kind of art. So I felt like there’s a right way to do this stuff. And I don’t know how that right way is. And I was very much about knowing how to do things. That’s how I prepare. You know, it was like, a lot of things that I’ve done in my life. Like, I did them for the first time. But there was always that preparation period where I could open up a book and I would figure out how to do it first. And I, I was at a loss when it came to creating, like fine art of yes, there were plenty of books and things like that, but I didn’t have the materials to to create with them. So I just always felt less than and I felt like they would they would know that I didn’t know what I was doing kind of thing. So it was really my friends. A few friends in particular, that, you know, I had like a drafting table in my living room of my apartment. And my friends would come over and I was always working on something the kids would put the kids to bed and I would draw while I watch TV or whatever. And they were like, you have to show this work. What are you doing? And I was like, oh, you know, I just figured out they’re my friends. That’s very nice of them. Yeah. And then we were on Las Olas Boulevard. I had gotten to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner and we walked across the street to this gallery that was showing local artists work. It was like a two story gallery.

Achim Nowak  24:56

I just wanted to say for our non for radiants. That’s an downtown Fort Lauderdale. So

Lori Pratico  25:02

yes, thank you. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s a very you know, it’s known for its artists galleries that are and its high end restaurants and kind of swanky newness right? So we walk into this place is had a more of like, you know St feel like artesian feel type of type of thing, not like a swanky gallery. But you know, the artwork was great that was in there it was warehouse style. And I’m in there with a couple of my friends and my one friends, like, your work is better than this, you should be in here. And I don’t ever like hearing that I because I feel like it’s very subjective. And artwork, everyone’s artwork, one piece of artwork can be amazing to one person and not appeal to someone else. So, but I was like, Do you really think my art could be in here? And then behind my back, they went up to the gallery owner and said, you know, would you look at her art? And can she? How does she submit? Like, is there a way to submit and the gallery owner told them how I could submit. And they told me and so I did it. And I was in the next show with the gallery, you know, a bunch of my friends, like, you know, 20 friends show up that were like, Oh, we’re all gonna go to Lori’s first show. And I kept warning them, because I had no idea where they were hanging the work, it was a group show, it was a black and white. And at the time, like I say, I only really did pencil drawings and, you know, black and white, if I didn’t use color, and I was like, you know, my stuff might be hanging in the bathroom, I don’t know where it’s gonna be, you know, there. And, you know, right front and center, there was my work. And it was just such a great feeling just to be in that atmosphere and have that I had joined a couple like, there’s an organization called Art serve. And then there’s an art Guild and I had started to kind of just wet my toe with them, and, you know, show a piece here and there. But but it was the kind of thing where I would find out later, well, if you were a member, they showed your work, you know, wasn’t like getting accepted, there wasn’t that acceptance part. So it really just was about putting myself out there and, and doing it. And in the beginning, I always created work for the show. So there was a black and white show all this is black and white, there’s an there’s an abstract show. So I’ll do something as abstract. So there’s, you know, like, whatever there were themes to the shows, especially with the Broward art Guild, and art surf at the time, they would have a theme for the month, and I would create for the theme, and then submit and I was getting in. But I wasn’t thrilled with the work. And it was always rushed, because I had a month to create it. And then I had that poignant moment where I decided, I’m just going to create really good work and wait for the right show. And that’s when things started turning for me because now all of a sudden, I had a number of pieces that were quality. And when an opportunity came, I could just apply to the opportunity. And I looked at it as just apply to every opportunity that fits you, you’ll get in some you will get it you know, it’s a numbers game, some are your going to are going to work out some are not. And the ones that worked out, were awesome. But I think about the fact of I had to like look for those opportunities, I had to be very like and, you know, I would take a day where I wasn’t maybe working on a project I was working for myself creatively doing full finishing and you know other things, but I would take a day and just apply to things and I was like, well if that day didn’t happen, I want to be in those shows.

Achim Nowak  28:59

A word from your sponsor. That’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast Fourth You will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation as I listened to your story, you know I you gave yourself permission to have your own artistic voice right then and that was the shift that bothers me then fast forwarding the conversation because everything you say I could spend so much more time on. But how did girl noticed come about which is like maybe maybe I did the introduction but in your own words So what’s your vision for it? And what what are you doing with it so far?

Lori Pratico  30:06

So girl noticed, it’s really a great story and girl noticed is who I am. It’s it really embodies who I am as a person, and embodies my story. It’s embodies the young girl that we were talking about that, you know, didn’t feel seen and wanted her work to be seen, when really it was me who I wanted people to see me. And I felt like I had kind of, you know, a unique gift of seeing others, which was why I always drew portraits. And why always painted portraits, because it wasn’t, I started drawing portraits, portraits, really young, and I would copy this, I would get team beat magazine and copy all the stars, and we’re in the magazine, and all of a sudden, it looked just like them, because I just did it over and over and over again, that’s what I was always doing. And so making your portrait look like you, I don’t even worry about that, I know, it’s going to look like you, right, but making it feel like you with something else. And making someone be able to look at the meaning I did of you and discover something about you. And then maybe you even discover something about yourself was a whole nother story. So I’m I was doing, you know, I had a gallery representing me, and I had done a series called Dare to be different. And it was about these girls that had and women that had tattoos and they had, you know, pink hair and, or, or maybe they, you know, they on the outside look completely normal, but they were following this, you know, normal quote, unquote. But they were following this path that maybe was different from others. And I was very much living very vicariously through them. Because I had had this huge tug of war between fitting in and standing out. The artist in me one of the standout, I had a personality that made me want to stand out. But I was told my whole life fit in. And so there was that part always tugging at me, no, you should just fit in. And so these women, it’s like they didn’t care if they fit in. And they totally stood out. And I was so interested in their stories, and I was learning about them and becoming friendly with them by having doing these portraits of them. So I had a solo show, at the gallery with about 25 pieces. And all of the women that I drew showed up to the show, and it was this amazing event because people were like, Oh my gosh, because there are women with orange and red hair and tattoos. And, and it was when you didn’t see that a lot, you know, was 15 years ago, you know, you were 10 years ago, you weren’t seeing as much of that at the time. But it was like, everybody wanted their pictures with them. They were like celebrities, right. And it was such a great event. And nothing sold. And that was okay. Because it’s wasn’t what it was about. It was about getting this message across. But I hadn’t really told anyone what the message necessarily was that I was trying to get across. And people started coming up to me and telling me, I see this person differently. I’m not looking at them. I’m looking at them longer. I’m looking, you know, I’m I’m noticing things about them. And I was like, that’s what I’m trying to say. And you’re getting it without me actually saying it through the paintings. So it became really urgent to me to have something important to say, and how was I going to say it? And how was I going to say it loud? And how was I going to make it impactful? Because I had figured out what my why was I had figured out this is why I do this. This is why I continue to create and and it’s more important to me that the person that I’m painting sees that part of themselves that is so beautiful, that maybe they never noticed before than it is that my painting is so beautiful. And it just became this thing. So I happened to go to a fundraiser for an organization called Girl Rising. And it was a series of movies about human trafficking stories of these young girls and it was about how you educate a girl. You know, you can change your community by educating a girl because you can stop the cycle of human trafficking and everything. And there was a seven year old girl from Haiti that had survived the horrible earthquake there. Her and her family survived but her school had been destroyed. And she would walk to the school every day and just want to learn and they wouldn’t let her go because you had to pay and her parents didn’t have the money to pay for these special schools that after the earthquake And she looked around and she was like, they kind of did a voiceover of her thinking. And she thought, if I survived this all this devastation all around me, then my life must mean something more, there must be more to it than just what I’m supposed to do my chores, I’m supposed to do this. And I get chills to this day when I think about that moment, because that moment, I was already looking for what is my next thing? What is how am I going to have a voice here? How am I going to make it loud and stand out. And then this little seven year old girl, talk to my little seven year old girl, and said, make the difference by, you know, noticing that you are more than what you think you are. And literally the next day, I wrote a business plan for girl noticed, I kind of put it all together. And I just sat on my patio and I brainstormed ideas, and I put this business plan together. And I showed it to a few people that I thought would be very critical. And I cared what they thought. I showed it to three people actually my best friend who I knew would would say go for it. This is the best idea ever. And then I showed it to someone that just poo pooed on everything would tell me everything that was wrong with it. And she did. And then I showed it to the gallery owner who loved it. And I really respected her opinion. And she loved it. And she was like, I want to be your photographer, and let’s make this thing happen. And they helped support me financially in the beginning, you know of it, before I was able to start fundraising and all they helped me fundraise and really helped me get it off the ground. And in that plan, and that’s sitting on that patio, I said I want to go to all 50 states, I want to notice girls and women, I want them to be nominated from their communities. And the nominations were because in when I was a senior in high school, my art teacher nominated me for the National Honor Society. And she let me read the nomination letter. And it was the first time I was in a very difficult time in my life. And I was so insecure. And I felt like reading her letter that she had seen me, I felt seen that was always such a huge theme and my wife. And I was like what if I see people what if I can show them I see them. Like the ordinary person, the person that thinks that they just go through the motions of life that they’re that they deserve to be seen as much as you know, the star or the, you know, somebody on TV or whatever, that they have just as much value that they hold that value in their community and their family. And, and it just, I have so much passion for that. And it came through in the project. And I’ve been to 16 states with it. Traveling was something I never got to do as a child because we didn’t have the money. It was something I didn’t do as a young adult because I had twins and I was raising two kids. And so now all of a sudden, my kids were grown and going to college. And I was like, okay, I can do this, you know, and so I worked that into it more for me than for the project itself. But the project then started evolving, where I was like, wow, like this issue needs to be recognized and this issue because the nominations always kind of surfaced around some kind of issue. You know, somebody would get nominated because, well, maybe they were a cancer survivor. Maybe they had an eating disorder, or maybe they came from an environment that was really difficult. And they rose above you know, so it was all of these things that different reasons. And all of a sudden the mural was not only just noticing the girl, but it was noticing everyone like her that suffered from the same things and we could bring attention to a cause and we could bring attention to the girl and we could bring attention to the community. And that was amazing. And when I saw what it could do, the very first mural I did was in Hollywood, Florida, and was a very shy young girl. And she wrote me a thank you letter after she didn’t say a word to me and she kept coming up to me and saying thank you. I was painting or drawing. And I kept thinking her mom made her come up here and thanked me you know because she was so painfully shy. And she wrote me this like two three page letter after like a couple of days later thanking me and what she said to me in that letter, I wrote her back and I said, if this project I do not if I do not do one more mural with his project it will have been worth it. Because it was just so unbelievable to me that like that she experienced I got through my art. And every single mural has been like that. It’s like, every time I do one, the experience is so unique, that I’m like, you know, like, it’s so worth it. But now instead of feeling like, I’d be fine, if it was over, it’s more like, I need to do more needs to be better it needs to be that I have to do that.

Achim Nowak  40:25

So as I’m listening to your, your why is clear to me, your passion is clear to me. But I want to ask you a question that I ask all my guests, because you’re entering your mid 50s. So you have a lot of years ahead of whatever you damn want to do. And you’re so clear about what drives you and how, and I think what nerve what nourishes you, but also gives back to others. I hear both and how you describe yourself, which is so beautiful. But if if you get very honest with yourself other other things where you go, and even if you don’t know, if you don’t know how it’s going to happen, because sometimes we think about it, I don’t know how I can say it. But the other things Laurie like to do that she has never done that, uh, looking around somewhere.

Lori Pratico  41:20

You know, creatively, I see myself being more of a kind of a little freer creatively, trying things that I haven’t tried, like, you know, different techniques that I’ve never tried before, because one of the things that sometimes happens with artists is you get good at something, and it gets a little scary to go try something completely different. Because you might not, it might not look as good. And you know, now you’ve kind of put yourself in this. Well, you know, people have like an expectation, and well, what if this stinks, you know, and I don’t think I ever really had a problem with that. But I want to get rid of some clutter. You know, I’ve got clutter everywhere. I have clutter. When uh, you know, artists tend to be a little cluttered when it comes to we’d like to save things and I have, you know, I have lots of art supplies, and they don’t fit in a shoebox anymore, that’s for sure. But I also have a lot of clutter. When it comes to, I say yes to everything. As far as people asking me to do things creatively, I don’t want to, I don’t want to say yes to everything, I want to get rid of some of that clutter in my life. That clutters my mind if I have to remember to do that. And I have to remember to do that. And I have to get this done for this person, I have to do that for that person, where I’m curating my life and my art a little bit more where I’m saying, I’m going to take this really special project. And then I’m going to take this time to do just the things I like to do. You know, so that’s where I see myself going. But you know, if, if COVID didn’t teach us anything else, this pandemic, it’s that things don’t, things change constantly, and they never stay the same. And I’ve known that my whole life, my life has always been this kind of series of of changes and challenges and things like that. So I’m kind of like, because I do know my why, you know, because I know that I just really want people to understand my mission has always been to make people understand that they have value, and that they hold something inside of themselves just the way they are. They don’t have to wait to you know, until they do this or do that to be something they are that already. And without any limitations. You can believe in yourself. Right? Like, like, get rid of the limitations and believe in yourself. If that means I’m writing a book, if that means I’m I don’t know what that looks like as far as how I’m getting that message across. For years now. It’s been through my murals and through workshops that I hold and through my traditional sense. It might look completely different. But as long as I’m doing that, I know I’m still on the right path.

Achim Nowak  44:30

One more question for you. You’re doing such a great job. Number one describing your own evolution as an artist, also describing the courage to continuously evolve and stay curious. You identify as a member of the LGBTQ community because listening to this conversation people like oh, she’s as heterosexual chicken as she she had kids that made their marriage didn’t work out too bad. But how How did you find that part of you? And how did you learn to embrace that part of you? You know,

Lori Pratico  45:10

you know, we talked a lot about with my project and just through this whole conversation about kind of that idea of fitting in, and I literally did not fit into my family. And it’s, it’s almost, it’s a very difficult thing to describe. But when you realize, and a lot of LGBTQ members understand this feeling of just kind of knowing that you just aren’t like everyone else. And I knew I wasn’t like everyone else, but I didn’t necessarily know why. And, you know, I very much wanted to get married, and I very much like men, I like women more. But I had no, I really had no, no grasp on my sexuality. When I was young, I did not understand it, I did not embrace it at all. So I didn’t even know what I liked and didn’t like, as a young person. And when I figured it out, it was like, okay, and now I know. And, you know, and it was actually after being divorced and dating more men. And you know, there was nothing wrong with the men, they were wonderful guys, and I loved the relationship with them, I just, you know, wasn’t into the other stuff. So, and then realized how that emotional connection with a woman kind of did it for me. So you know, I was very kind of quiet about it. In the beginning and very, I had a long distance relationship with a woman and that was an artist studying film in New York. And we, you know, we met in a chat room, computer, and had kind of this whirlwind romance. And it was nice, it lasted a while. But because it was long distance, it kind of gave me the freedom to stay very, you know, in, you know, keep it pretty quiet. And my daughter, turns out, I have a boy and girl twins, my daughter is gay. And she figured it out around 13. And at that point, I was, I was out, but like, I certainly didn’t, I always kind of almost used them as an excuse of, well, I’m not going to put like stickers on my car. And I’m not going to be in the parade parading down, you know, the streets saying I’m gay, because, you know, I need to respect my kids and what people might, how they might treat them. And there was a there was truth to that of me wanting to protect them. But it was also protecting me. Yeah, you know, and my daughter comes out, and it’s just like, look, I’m gay. And if, if people aren’t okay with that, well, they’re gonna have to deal with it. Because secrets are stressful. Those were her exact words to me secrets are stressful. And if they can’t deal with how I am, then that’s their problem. And I’m like, looking at her like

Achim Nowak  48:18

a good case of daughter teaching mommy right? Oh,

Lori Pratico  48:21

well, daughter had a daughter and son have taught their mother so much. And I really did learn how to be more me and embrace who I was, and that it was okay to be me through my daughter. And sometimes it was jealousy, because I would watch her and I would I would get jealous that GWA cheese, why can’t I just be like her? You know, why can’t I just literally not care what anybody thinks and, and just be myself. And that kind of almost envy turned into me doing it a little bit, little by little, and then the encouraging men of my kids, my kids are like my biggest cheerleaders. And they always have been and they’ve always been like, Mom, you know, you’re a badass, like, embrace that, you know? And an IV like, oh, okay, you know, and so they they’ve taught me so so much and I’m there they’re amazing. I love them so much. And you know, they helped me embrace who I am and be proud of who I am and and want to be an example for them because it’s like they’re being the example for me Hold on. Like I need to be the example for them as well. So

Achim Nowak  49:45

that’s such a beautiful note to end this conversation on but before we before I say goodbye, I’m struck by I think if your work as big and bold and in your face, because your your work is about being seen and not hiding And I do think your work what I know of it, it goes to the essence and core of people and brings it out and amplifies it. I can’t imagine that there aren’t people listening who are curious and want to learn more about where they can find your work. So where would you like to direct them?

Lori Pratico  50:15

Well, thank you. So I do have a website that has all the murals that I’ve done in the different 16 states. And that is girl But the best place honestly, to kind of you want information girl is great. And if you’re interested in having a mural done in or finding out more about the process, you know, you can contact me through the website. But then also, I’m Laurie practico, on Instagram, where you can kind of see a lot of the different types of art I do. And I’m also girl noticed on Instagram where you can see like kind of what we do on a regular basis as far as you know, the behind the scenes stuff, so it doesn’t get on the website. So, you know, they’re the Instagrams really the best place to follow me.

Achim Nowak  51:02

Awesome. Well, thank you for the gift of your story and your life. And also thank you for such a cliche to say this for being so inspirational, but you’re inspirational. So thank you for that.

Lori Pratico  51:14

Well, thank you. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell my story and to to be seen and heard.

Achim Nowak  51:23

I appreciate it. Bye for now. All right, take care. Like what you heard, please go to my fourth And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao


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