Passion and love for art whirlwinds into career choice for young artist

Jordan Gerard

College and life in general can be stressful, but what’s important is that there is a way to manage that stress, and Samantha Bratland has found that for herself during her time at Luther College.

She’s loved art since she was a kid, but focused on Advanced Placement (AP) classes and honor courses when she entered high school. Many softball seasons as Caledonia/Spring Grove’s pitcher also kept her busy.

Bratland thought she wanted to study in the medical field – either athletic training or veterinary medicine – but art became an outlet for her when she used it to manage stress.

“The more I explored my creative side, I fell more in love with art and found myself feeling like I was finding myself as a person as well,” she said. 

With an art bug that wouldn’t go away, she decided to take a leap of faith and study management and art.

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of a journey every day. Bratland said she’s focusing on photography and graphic design but also loves painting and drawing. 

She’s also used her art to explore the mental health of herself. 

“Originally when I first started exploring mental health, it was a way of exploring my own mental health and the loss of my cousin Hank Hegge,” she said. “But through school, I soon found that art was a way to display mental health in a way that was less taboo than simply talking about it.”

She focuses much of her art on emotion and uses different images, colors, poses, compositions and mediums that interpret mental health.

Bratland’s goal in creating her art is to “help viewers view the world in a way they would not normally view it.”

“No one should have to go through the pain that is inflicted through mental illness, but there is a stigma that surrounds mental illness that makes [it] a hush-hush topic,” she added. “Mental illnesses should be able to be treated like any other illness that you or I would go to the doctor for.”

In addition to exploring mental health with art, Bratland’s pieces are also a form of communication for her, since she’s always been more of a quiet person, she said. 

However, her art gives her an opportunity to say or do anything she wants, as the world of art is limitless.

“When I am working on a piece I feel free and completely lost in a different world,” she said. “I love being able to get lost in something I love and I hope it is something that I can continue to do for a long time.”

Bratland recently graduated from Luther College this past May with a degree in management and art. 

She currently works at a brand solutions company in West Salem, Wisconsin.

Her plans also include growing her art business on the side and one day, turn it into a full time job. 

She’s focusing on photography and graphic design right now, but also enjoys painting and drawing for her business. She can also create custom pieces for clients.

“I love doing work for other people. It keeps me motivated to keep creating when I see a client’s face light up when they see what I have created for them,” she concluded.

An open house artist’s reception will be held on Saturday, Aug. 3 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the gallery for Bratland. Refreshments will be provided.