By Nicole Troup
Extraordinary, riveting, and passionate. These are the words that came to mind as Nicole Troup interviewed Artist, Akiane Kramarik, now an adult but was once a child prodigy. By the age of 8, she created a four-foot painting of Jesus, titled Prince of Peace. This later sold for $850,000 and was featured in the compelling film Heaven is for Real. Her work is beyond breathtaking, astonishingly realistic, and divine in nature. Kramarik began drawing at the age of 4 and painting at age 6, her art being a reflection of dreams and visionary experiences. But what lies ahead propelled her art to international recognition at the age of nine after being featured on the Oprah Winfrey show, the Katie Couric talk show, and CNN. However, the fame was not all positive; it was met with hardships and criticism beyond what she expected or understood at the time. But with love and support from family and her faith in God, Akiane found the strength to battle through the difficulties, follow her purpose and become one of the most influential, positive, and significant artists of today. Nicole is grateful to sit down with this extraordinarily gifted artist and speak with her about passion, faith, and the profound message of her art that has impacted so many.
What were your childhood background experiences as a child prodigy in the arts?
When I began painting and drawing at a young age, it never occurred to me that I was gifted; the novelty of art always drew me into painting, poetry, and philosophy. It was only around 7 and 8 years of age that, gradually, my art was presented to the media. My mother was a big part of my work being revealed to the world. In the beginning, I wasn’t prepared for the press; it was very negative at first, which put a wrench in the roadway for me. Some of the negative feedback from the media were comments that this was coming from hell or that I didn’t create this art. But through the support and help of my family, they protected me. And after an invitation to the Oprah winery show, my world changed. I learned much responsibility about sharing my story with people of all ages. It was something I got used to, and it became a part of my life. I welcomed it. I was honored to be called a child prodigy, superhuman genius, modern-day Rafael.
Faith in God is essential to you, so how do you portray that in your art?
Good question. Faith is defined differently for people, but for me, faith is a personal relationship with God and divinity. I believe that my creativity is the key to opening up that door. Every work of my art encompasses my relationship with divinity, but sometimes my paintings teach me and challenge me to think outside the box. Through my art, I always stay true to myself.
How do you incorporate poetry and storytelling into your art? For example, do you create a painting first or poetry first and then an image related to that?
It is both. It varies from project to project. In my artistic documentary films, poetry and storytelling encompass my inner feelings and the philosophy I have. The storytelling can take a month or two years. It’s a moldable process. It’s not a quick flip-around project because I want every message expressed in the best way possible. I like spending time creating, so I am patient. Whether painting or through words, presenting my art to people takes a lot of thought and time. Words and images make a difference; they can change people’s lives, and I want to introduce them to people the best that I can.
What does your daily schedule looks like and working process?
I start my day between 3 am, and 4 am. I get my cameras set up and start my 3-4 hour filming. After painting, I enjoy going to the beach, waking up to the sun, and welcoming the day. Then I begin some responsibilities and cooking. I then start editing my films and brainstorming idea. Part of my day is spent incorporating ideas into my third book. I have also written two other books: Akiane: Her Life, Her Art, Her poetry, and Akiane- My Dream is Bigger Than I: Memories of Tomorrow.
Later in the day, I will sometimes take my brother’s pottery classes which is an amazing time spent; I like working with my hands. In the afternoon I have other business obligations. Then in the evening, I make time for family and friends.
What has been your most successful and recognized painting?
In my career, I’m best known for painting Prince of Peace (a painting portraying Jesus). However, there are a lot of other works that have become well known, Mothers Love ( Mary and baby Jesus) and my angel paintings. Presently, my work has become more diverse; for example, the painting Triumph has become popular, Flow of Time, Lilies of the Valley, The Light, Jesus; The Messenger has become well known. So there is a little bit of everything in my art that has become more recognized.
Are you using your work to raise awareness or money for current charities?
This is my most significant component, and what I want to do with my art is donate and give back to the world. I’ve contributed to hundreds of charities, Smile Network, cancer organizations, Northwest medical teams, schools, and universities. Homeschooling is a part of the movement I am passionate about, so there was a time in Lithuania when I wanted to educate children more effectively by raising awareness of homeschooling as an alternative to learning. We are passionate about schooling children in a new way. This is so important to me because every impact and the positive teaching of a child will have a domino effect on others. The current school system isn’t the way I believe children should learn. I am adamant about creating new ways children can be educated.
Do you have upcoming shows and projects you are working on?
I was supposed to have an exhibit in Chicago about two years ago, but it was canceled because of the pandemic. There is a possibility of another upcoming exhibition somewhere else; I don’t know where but it’s in the works. I live in Florida now, so I may have it in Florida. I’ve always been interested in discovering new artists in the world, so I have a goal in the future to create an exhibition featuring other artists. I have this passion for giving them the platform and helping them get discovered. I’m passionate about sharing their work and supporting them.
Do you teach or mentor?
In the past, I taught and mentored students; it was almost a free-style way of mentoring children. I have taught in Lithuania and Australia. Even when I was seven years old, I taught in-studio group settings. When I film my art, I also see that as a teaching tool, a gateway for people to learn from my painting demos, pick up techniques, and learn their own way.
What has your work sold for, and who have been some of your clientele over the years?
To date, my artwork is selling 10k to six figures. For example, my painting Prince of Peace was sold to a client for 850k. My clientele varies from world leaders, scientists, professors, politicians, Embassy in Singapore, etc. Many people I have met over the years from all walks of life have purchased my work.
Can you provide information on where people can purchase your artwork and learn more about you?
I sell originals, prints, and other merchandise at my website https://akiane.com. You can find me on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter under the name @akianeart
Lastly, what is the message behind your work, and what do you want people to take away from it?
This is such a big question. Every painting has a meaning, and each one evokes emotion and a different purpose. So my primary purpose would be to bring a sense of unity and peace, an awakening to others. I want my art to be a bridge for people. My paintings and poetry are a gateway to people’s thoughts and feelings and have offered them comfort, love, and hope. So that is my intention when sharing the message of my art.