Check out our interview with talented author and artist Heather Sweeney.

Heather is the Director of the Creative Mind Academy at San Diego State University where she also teaches. Her abstract paintings have been commissioned by several private clients and by the school of Professional Studies and Fine Arts at SDSU. She is also the author of two poetry collections, Dear Marshall, Language is Our Only Wilderness (Spuyten Duyvil Press) and Call Me California (Finishing Line Press).

Follow Heather @heathercsweeney

Please tell us a little about you?

I am an educator, artist, poet, dog mom, and spouse. I work at San Diego State University as the Director of the Creative Mind Academy, a new program designed to launch the college careers of high school students during one amazing summer. I am excited to be a part of an exciting program and team!

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Ambitious, Creative, Brutally Honest (I know that is 4 words, but I am also a rule-breaker.)

Name one your strengths?

One of my strengths is that I am extremely determined and work hard. I have a strong work ethic and am constantly doing something or thinking about what I am passionate about and planning my next moves.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My biggest supporter is my spouse, partner, and best friend, Kurt. He has been a constant source of encouragement and always has my back.

Best advice ever given?

I think the most helpful advice I have been given is to stay focused on your goals and don’t get involved in gossip or drama.

Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?

I have had a lot of people who have helped and supported me along the way, but I will say that the most impactful people (see, I am breaking the rules again!) have been my parents. My mom is an artist so we were always around art and encouraged to create. My late dad was a very successful business person with a lot of ambition, to say the least, and I think some of that trickled down to me.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was growing up I knew I wanted to be doing art of some form, whether it be drawing, painting, or writing. This continued into my teens and beyond. I will also share that when I was around 10 or 11 I thought I had a shot at being a roller skate dancer or champion.

What is the most challenging part about what you do?

Whether it be my career at San Diego State or my career as an artist, my biggest challenge is finding enough time to accomplish everything I want to do in a day.

What did you learn from your biggest failure?

My biggest failure, that is a tough one to name. I think one of my biggest failures was not listening to my instinct and majoring in Journalism, when I should have majored in art in undergrad.

Now tell us about your art. Where do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from popular culture, other artists and writers, nature, and fashion. Right now I am obsessed with the fashion designer, Halston. I am intrigued by his designs, his style, and his ambition.

What’s your favorite quote?

One of my favorite quotes is by the poet Frank O’Hara: “Grace/to be born and live as variously as possible.” I love this quote because I believe it is about experiencing and being many things at the same time.

To what do you attribute your current success?

That is a tough question! I think any success I have had is due to 90% hard work and maybe 10% talent.

What part of your job do you find the most challenging?

The most challenging part of my job as Director of the Creative Mind Academy at San Diego State University is to not get ahead of myself, meaning that I want to do everything at once and get everything done, NOW. That is not always realistic or effective and I need to take a more measured approach sometimes.

Are there busy and quiet periods during the year?

The beginning of the summer seems more relaxed to me. It is more casual and people are taking their vacation time, so it seems less busy and stressful.

What book should every artist read?

Great question! I think every artist should read Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. It is innovative, genre-defying book, and focuses on myriads of the self, a topic I am very much interested in.

How would your best friend describe you?

My best friend would describe me as supportive and organized. They might also say I am impatient.

Your idea of a perfect Sunday is?

My perfect Sunday is getting up early and going to brunch before the rush with my husband. After that we would go for a hike or a long walk. I love to do (or try to do!) the New York Times crossword on Sundays too. A perfect Sunday might end with a good documentary or reruns of The Office or Seinfeld.

How would you describe your fashion style?

I love this question! I am captivated by fashion and fashion designers. I am a terrible sewer so I am doubly intrigued by their talent. I would describe my look as classic with an edge. I wear a lot of black and I cannot get away from it! Some of my favorite designers are Halston, Diane von Furstenberg, Kate Spade, Joie, and Burberry.

What kind of music do you listen to today?

I am in love with Tame Impala, The Sea and Cake, Belle and Sebastian and The War on Drugs. I like atmospheric music and impactful, meaningful lyrics. I always have music going in the art studio at home.

What do you think of Social Media?

I think, like anything, there is dark and light attached to it. I love Instagram because it is more visual and inspiring. I follow a lot of artists there and am constantly being inspired and motivated to create there. I am on Facebook, but only because during the pandemic my family and friends asked me to go back on that platform.

Where our readers can follow you?

Instagram: @heathercsweeney