Renee Levin, Renee Levin Fine Art And Design {Our NJMOMpreneur of the Week}

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With a keen talent, art school degree, and love for design, artist Renee Levin, our NJMOMpreneur of the week, has always had a natural inclination to create. As a young adult, she was balancing a job in design and showing her paintings at NYC galleries. But when she started her family, she put her paintbrush aside and focused her creative talents on craft projects and homemade costumes for her kids. Yet her desire to paint bubbled under the surface, and when her two boys reached school age, she knew she was ready to go all-in—and leaped to paint full-time. Now, with a cult following (and we can see why), Renee’s paintings pull inspiration from her Monmouth County roots, with a modern, seaside feel that reveals delicate colors, shapes, and textures in each viewing. We sat down with Renee to talk about where she finds the objects she paints, how pandemic parenting has changed her mompreneur flow, and the home design shops she says are a must-stop if you’re down by the shore.
featured image via @lararobbyphotography
nj mom Renee Levin, Renee Levin Fine Art And Design {Our NJMOMpreneur of the Week}

Renee Levin, Renee Levin Fine Art And Design via @reneelevinstudio

Did you always have an artistic talent? Tell us how you got started creating and designing professionally.
I come from a family of doers that are always problem-solving, creating, thinking,—so I believe my creative spirit came naturally to me. In grade school, I was known as “the artist,” but it wasn’t until high school that I took it more seriously. My art teacher recognized that I could be using my talent and gave me a push that became my springboard for creating. I began to dabble in oil paint and also colored pencils, and I figured things out myself and just created. Several years after graduating from art school with a degree in design, I landed a job at a design agency. It was during that time that I picked up a paintbrush and decided to paint and sell my work on the side. I showed it at several galleries, and then I had children and put my painting on hold. When the boys were young, I rarely painted, but when I did, it was mostly for myself. When the boys turned four and six, I decided to really “launch” my career and journey as an artist and give it my all. It is the only way I know how to do things — full speed, with intense passion. So I knew I had to wait for the right time to do it—it’s been a good ride ever since.
nj mom Renee Levin, Renee Levin Fine Art And Design {Our NJMOMpreneur of the Week}

Renee installing her latest work via @reneelevinstudio

Your current work has a stunning coastal theme. Where do you get your inspiration?
I grew up in Monmouth County and moved back here after living in the city and Hoboken, so I’m close enough to the beach to spend a lot of time there. I almost prefer the shore in the off-season—it’s calmer and more peaceful, especially in winter. My family also prefers to travel to coastal destinations, which has been a source of inspiration as well. I am a big collector of things, and my kids and I are always scavenging on the beach or along a walk. I find inspiration in nature—it’s what grounds my creativity. I celebrate these natural objects for their beauty, fluidity, and unpredictability in my work.
How has the pandemic changed your business and your workflow as a mompreneur?
It’s been quite a juggling act, as it has been for all mothers right now. I would say it’s almost comical. I’m trying to paint while two boys (a year and a half apart) are running around while I navigate remote learning, respond to needs, break up fights and clean up who knows what from the ceiling, all with a paintbrush in hand. I know all working mamas can relate to this feeling. To avoid this chaos, I spend a lot of time painting after the kids go to bed. There are lots of very late nights to keep up with demand. I have learned to take things day by day and be grateful that home decorating has had an influx during quarantine that’s been keeping me very busy. There are tough days, especially when I have deadlines to meet and kids’ meltdowns to go with them. But the joy from making art supersedes those moments. Fulfilling my passion makes me a better mom and wife. It’s my release, and as mamas, we sure need those. I could say that in this dark time, art has brought me moments of calm, light, and community, which has gotten me through the hard days. 
Renee Levin fine art, Renee Levin artist, Monmouth County NJ artist, Jersey Shore paintings

Painting with kids during a pandemic via @lararobbyphotography

What do you think your expertise and business help teach your children about expressing themselves?
My children are always creating, whether with cardboard boxes, Legos, or dirt and sticks. I encourage them to think outside the box and to break the rules a bit because I believe it builds a strong character. I always tell my boys—”you be you.” They have had a big interest in mommy starting a business as I see their curiosities and involvement. I am fairly transparent in terms of parenting, so I hope they soak up my journey and learn from it. It makes me proud to call myself a mom, as well as an entrepreneur. I believe showing my children this side of me and involving them as much as I can, will help them grow to be strong, independent individuals.
What are some of your favorite local businesses around New Jersey, and what do you love about them?
When it comes to food, I love Talula’s in Asbury Park, Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge, Yumi Sushi in Red Bank, and Seed to Sprout in Avon. I can always count on a good meal at those spots. There are so many shops near the shore that I love—Noon in Bayhead, Main Street Gallery in Manasquan, Patriae, and Interwoven in Asbury. Salt Design in Fair Haven and Nest, Currant, and Forge in Red Bank are well-curated for art, home accessories, and the like.

Renee with her husband and two little boys via @lararobbyphotography

What advice do you have for a mom who has a passion or talent that she wants to turn into a profession?
If you have an urge, find a way to begin your path. I think of my mother’s words—”do what makes you happy” —simple, yet so true. I gave every ounce of my being to motherhood for years, staying at home with my boys attempting to fill my creative void with kids’ crafts, extravagant birthday parties, life-sized cardboard box pirate ships, and homemade costumes. I don’t regret it one bit. However, I bottled up my passion for way too long and finally released it. I can’t tell you how good it feels. I waited until my children were in school full time, and I can say there is nothing more gratifying than being a mompreneur. It’s more stressful, and I’m more tired, and it’s been uncomfortable and uncertain along the way—but I am happier because I filled that void. The most important advice I have it to tackle it with baby steps, as the bigger picture is daunting. I hope I inspire just one mama out there to do that thing she has wanted to do.
To learn more about Renee Levin and see more of her work, follow her on Instagram. 


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About Author

Marisa is a mom to two sweet boys and a little lady (all under 4!) as well as one precious girl in heaven and her heart. A true Jersey girl, Marisa loves raising her family here and embracing all that being a #NJMOM has to offer. Whether it's summer days on Spring Lake beach or down on LBI, or heading out to sample some of the state's best eats (Montclair and Jersey City are favs), family days out and about together are her favorite way to spend a weekend. A former news anchor turned on-air lifestyle host and expert, you might also catch her on TV or in the kitchen cooking up something delish for the littles.

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