MEND Helps an Artist Go Digital
Marie Estrada has been an artist all of her life. Clad in her signature paint-splattered clothes since 1975, Marie has designed and painted murals and fine art all over Los Angeles and throughout the southwest. Examples of her work can be seen at any number of schools, day care centers, businesses, and restaurants, each one more elaborate than the last. “I’m going to be 100 years old and still painting,” she says, “that’s my life.”
Though her talent and passion are unsurpassed, Marie has always lived an artist’s life. “We artists are poor people,” she explains. “We get a lot of personal satisfaction, but it’s not good business. You can survive but you can’t get rich.” In 2010, Marie’s work began slowing and her client base shrinking. She lacked the necessary computer skills to keep up with her business and found herself unable to acquire and communicate with potential clients. “My business as an artist had to be improved, but I could not even take one step forward without knowing how to use a computer,” she realized. When private classes proved to be too expensive, Marie turned to MEND.
Before coming to the Education and Training Center, Marie admits, “I didn’t even know how to turn a computer on.” In the year Marie has been attending weekly computer classes, she has gone from the basics of computer knowledge to learning how to create estimates, communicate via email, and use essential business software like Word and Excel. “It’s hard to learn,” Marie says. “Sometimes we are like kindergartners in the class. But the teachers are so patient and professional. MEND is very efficient.”
Since increasing her tech savvy, Marie’s business has vastly improved. She’s completed recent murals and fine art pieces in Hollywood, Pasadena, Lynwood, Boyle Heights, and even the famous La Parilla restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. “Learning how to communicate with the computer has helped me a lot,” she says. “Now I can get more customers and reach out to better companies.” But she isn’t content to rest on her laurels, and wants to learn more. “I’m going to keep going because there’s always something to learn. You have to make time for your own education because it’s worth it,” Marie explains. “That’s why I love MEND.”
Aside from learning computer skills to increase and improve her business, Marie has yet another goal in mind. “I want to impress my grandkids,” she says. When asked if they’re already impressed, she playfully rolls her eyes. “Not yet,” she says, “but they will be.”
—Justin L. Smith