The Gift My Dad Gave Me

Do you remember when you first knew that you were an artist?

I do. It began when my Dad gave me a gift.

Let me explain.

My parents were divorced and Dad lived far away. Though I loved him like mad, I rarely saw him.

When I was 16 years old, Dad invited me to join him on a two-day business trip to the city. It would be a huge adventure.

To keep me occupied while he was at work, Dad showed me how to use his old Olympus OM-10 camera. I’d never taken pictures before.

“There’s only one roll of film in the camera,” Dad warned. “That’s 36 shots for two days. Choose your images wisely.”

When I remember those two days, I remember how it felt to be so free. I wandered the strange city with that Olympus OM-10 around my neck and followed my instincts as I hunted for photographs. I had all kinds of adventures!

For my 18th birthday, Dad sent me a gift. I’ll never forget opening that package and finding his Olympus OM-10 camera.

That camera became my best friend. Together, we explored the world as I sought to find my place in it.

For awhile, I thought I might become a photo-journalist. Later, I picked up commercial photography work.

But it was studying photography at university that I knew I wanted to be an artist.

I used that Olympus OM-10 for all my assignments, and even took it with me for a year studying abroad. I sent my Dad prints of the pictures I was taking.

When I returned home, Dad died.

It happened unexpectedly – right before my wedding. I was marrying a photographer of great repute.

And then on our honeymoon, my Olympus OM-10 was stolen.

I’ve never missed anything so much. That camera was a part of me, my story, and it represented a deep connection to my Dad.

I took the loss as a sign to quit, and let my new husband be the artist. I created a different life for myself, without a camera.

But I missed my Dad.

One Christmas a few years later, I pulled out the boxes of slides he’d left behind. I sat in the dark looking at the projected images of Dad’s photographs.

The vast majority of his images were pictures of his car, or pictures from the window of his car. There wasn’t a whole lot of interesting shots to be honest.

Until there was.

One roll of film was interesting. After seeing hundreds of slides, one roll captured my attention.

I was mesmerized. These images spoke to me, making my heart sing.

And then I understood why.

This was the roll of film that I’d shot all those years ago. My very first! I was able to recognize my own 16-year old eye.

And I liked what I saw.

Even though he was gone, Dad had given me another gift. He had reminded me that I was a photographer.

I bought a digital camera and started shooting again.

I eventually split with my husband and built a successful career as an international arts dealer. My photography was something I only did for myself.

And then one Christmas, a friend sent me a gift.

It was a framed picture. “A true work of art,” the card said.

It was a photograph that I had taken. “This is an artist that you really need to pay attention to,” my friend had written.

Not long after, I made the decision to leave the art business and focus on representing just one artist’s work – mine.

Today, I travel the world taking pictures.

My online business training for artists allows me to share what I’ve learned about showing and selling art. I’m teaching artists how to build their own careers.

It’s been a gift.

A few months ago. I dropped by a garage sale to poke around. There, still in the box, was a pristine Olympus OM-10 camera.

“It’s never been used,” said the owner. “Someone gave it to me as a gift in 1979 and I never even took it out of the box.”

It was indeed a gift. To me.


I love that the word to describe an artist’s talent is “gift.” Don’t you?

In many ways, all artists view their creativity as a gift, a special endowment that we’re entrusted with. For better or worse – right?

When did life first show you that you had a gift?

What do you hope to do with it?

My wish is that 2024 is the year for you to share your gift in a way that makes your heart sing. And that the world takes notice of the beautiful gift you offer.

Crista xo


LAST NOTE: Here are 2 gifts for you … 2 ways we can work together, if you’re ready…

  1. Build an audience for your art – my free gift for you

Do you know how to speak to your potential clients? Or what to do with them once you’ve got them? What’s the best way to get their attention? I’m sharing this training for a limited time. Check it out here.

2. Work with me privately – gift yourself

If you’d like to work with me directly to build your art business and make it more profitable, just send me a message.

Tell me a bit about your art practice and where you feel challenged. I’d love to see if I can help. Click here to get in touch. 


Would you like to SHOW + SELL MORE ART? I’ve helped thousands of artists and I can help you too.

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Working in the international world of contemporary art, Crista Cloutier has spent her career selling art and marketing art to art galleries, museums and private collections. 

Using her professional experiences, Crista has created The Working Artist Masterclass, where she’s developed a global reputation as an artist’s coach. Crista can teach you how to be an artist; including how to sell your art, how to sell art online, how to sell photographs, how to price your art, how to succeed at art fairs, and even how to find your art style. 

Crista has worked with established, blue-chip artists to raise their profile and attract greater opportunities. And she’s also helped thousands of emerging artists to build a professional art practice. To learn more, visit https://theworkingartist.com


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