Fabulous People: Kayla Newnam

Kayla Newnam is a Phoenix-based mural artist. After kicking off a mural tour locally at Desert Ridge Marketplace this summer, Newnam strives to paint a mural in each state for the next three years. Learn about Kayla Newnam…

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

First job: My first job was as a hostess at California Pizza Kitchen.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in AZ: My favorite ways to spend my free time in Arizona are climbing, hiking and eating a lot of food. 

Your biggest accomplishment and why: I am constantly seeking new adventures and goals so all of my projects teach me something and build on my skillset for the next project. I would say that the project that taught me the most was my peacock garage in Downtown Phoenix. This was my largest project to date, and I definitely was not prepared for it whatsoever! This one went from design to realization within a week, and I got certified to operate a boom lift and executed the mural in 114-degree heat for two months in direct sunlight. I learned that paint cooks at a certain point, preparation and planning is vital, and that I can’t do everything by myself.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: I have been depressed and insecure for a lot of my adult life and very dismissive about acknowledging it. I thought I was being lazy or not pushing myself hard enough, which is so dumb! I spent quite a bit of energy encouraging others to seek help if they needed it and wouldn’t admit to myself that I also needed to take care of myself. After a bit of a journey, I finally got help and am now able to do more than just “get through the day.” I am still hard on myself and will always be a work in progress but, at the very least, I can get out of bed without feeling like I have already failed.

Check out Newnam’s latest work of art at W Scottsdale. The mural is inspired by local desert themes paired with the hotel’s passion points in music, fashion, fuel and design.

Someone who inspires you and why: My mom has always been my biggest inspiration. She has supported and encouraged me to do absolutely whatever I wanted in my life and to do it without fear. She is fiercely independent and is someone who has taught me to work through problems by understanding how to do them on my own. She is hilarious and caring and does everything for everyone else. No project is too big for her! 

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Get involved with local arts organizations! I worked at Scottsdale Public Art for five years and that is where I learned that large projects are possible and how to be professional in a creative space. Each job or experience that I’ve had has been a piece of the puzzle so always seek to learn more!

Favorite quote: “Sting like a bee, but do not float like a butterfly. That’s ridiculous.” –Ron Swanson

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I have a 27-year-old tortoise named Rusty.

What makes someone fabulous: Accepting and encouraging the differences in each other. You are not unique unless everyone else is, too!

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