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Making the Leap from Corporate America to the Art World: Liz Flores Visits John Carroll University

Liz Flores in her studio

Right after graduating from Illinois State University, Liz Flores took her Entrepreneurship degree into the corporate world as an Operations Manager. It seemed like a dream job. She was young, successful, and finally living out her preconceived notion of the fantasy that was the business world.

Liz shared with JCU students while here that when she was in college, the idea of working in a corporate job had a certain prestige to it.

Liz Flores sharing life and career advice with John Carroll University students

Many college students value the image of being young and successful, working in an office, and wearing business clothes every day. There is a certain status that goes along with it. Liz believed she would find happiness by achieving that status, but she also did not know what the day-to-day inner-workings of corporate life would look or feel like.

It was about six months into her 9–5 job when Liz began to realize that she could not do it much longer. The thought of spending the next 30 years at a desk terrified her.

But what else would she do? Her family always saw her as a role model for her younger sister, and someone who would have a “stable” career.

Liz felt lost but knew she needed out. She began secretly watching Ted talks at her desk for inspiration. It was at this time she found a travel agency for young people looking to travel alone. Among those solo travelers were the individuals who would eventually become a part of Liz’s greatest support system.

She surrounded herself with a group of entrepreneurs telling her to go for it.

After having not held a brush in years, Liz began painting again. She started in her parent’s basement, then eventually got her own studio in the city. It wasn’t long before she spent every hour of the 9–5 grind daydreaming of painting.

Knowing it was a “now or never” situation, the time came that Liz would make one of the biggest decisions of her entire life. In 2015, Liz quit her job to focus on art. She says that, at that time, “The feeling of being fed up trumped the fear.”

Something that helped Liz, and that she recommends everyone struggling to discover their next step is, was taking notes on herself. She paid attention to the things that she was drawn to. By developing this sense of self-awareness and doing lots of experimenting, she was able to gradually develop her artistic style.

Most of Liz’s work is based on experiences and come from a place of emotional response. Her art also has a heavy focus on the female body. She says that drawing [the female figure] came “naturally” to her.

The hustle for work never stops for Liz, nor does it for most people in the creative industry. She is always looking for ways to grow herself and her work. She has made some pretty astounding accomplishments along the way, like painting murals for Chicago locations of stores like Lululemon and Sephora, to name a few.

“People expect you to have one job,” Liz says. She wants to stress the importance that it is okay to change your mind — if needed, a million times.

“You do not need to have one passion, one career, in this life. It’s all about leading a life of curiosity. More curiosity, less fear.”

Liz Flores in front of a mural she painted at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, Illinois

See more of Liz Flores’ artwork and follow her story on Instagram @lizitto

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