Have you ever felt torn between two seemingly opposite paths in life? Have you ever struggled finding a balance between what you feel you need to do and what you feel you want to do?
I’m Alex, the creator of Wild Souls Art. I know this feeling well. Too well. I was born and raised in Minnesota, living in the city of St. Paul during the Fall and Winter and working on my grandfather’s northern farm in the Spring and Summer. I truly felt that I had the best of both worlds, and this is probably when my aforementioned dilemma started. I was surrounded by art and sciences in the city and animals and nature in the country. My love for both blossomed.
I attended college at Iowa State University where my internal conflict of having to choose between a life of art or a life of science continued to boil. I had trouble settling on a major – after starting off in large animal veterinary medicine I felt a call pulling me to my creative side. I switched to Biological/Pre-Medical Illustrations (BPMI for short) where I hoped to use my artistic skills to convey scientific information. I then found out how many rules there are in the field of BPMI… and I don’t like to put any rules on art. I decided to leave art as a hobby and go back to animals, but instead work with wildlife. I graduated in May of 2020 with a Bachelor’s in Animal Ecology, focusing on Wildlife Care. I found a new dream to become a veterinary technician for wild animals, specifically in a zoo or aquarium.
After graduation, I went into wildlife rehabilitation to get some hands-on wild animal experience. It was tough. There’s a lot of death in rehabilitation and I couldn’t see myself continuing on that path. I moved back to the city and settled on Veterinary Medicine again. I found myself as a Triage Technician at a well-established emergency and referral center. My love for science and medicine blossomed, and I began taking Veterinary Technician courses online. This was when I discovered I could use my new-found time to work on my art. I began drawing endangered species and the idea lit up inside me to sell my art in order to GIVE BACK to these animals. I drew some rough sketches of the animals that are now my original collection and began working on creating the brand, Lif Voror. Nordic for “warrior of life,” Lif Voror died out as quickly as it was conceived. I couldn’t settle on a brand that spoke to me and I felt dragged down by taking classes, creating art, and working full time. With a conflicted heart, I turned my focus back to my career in Veterinary Medicine. After a year of hard work, I made the big move to Florida so that I could surround myself with more opportunities to get my foot in the door at one of their many zoos and aquariums. Or even to just get my hands on and help some marine wildlife – my newfound passion.
In November of 2021, I was employed at another Emergency Animal Hospital as a full-blown Veterinary Technician. There, I truly expanded my skills and grew immensely as a technician. I still felt that pull to wildlife, however. I did enjoy working with companion animals, but I knew it wasn’t my true calling, and the longer I stayed at that position, the more I felt I was throwing away everything I moved down for. I endured case after case of the worst of humanity, being unable to alleviate the suffering of innocent animals, and reached my breaking point. I had mentally hit rock-bottom and resigned from my position. I had no job lined up, no idea what I wanted to do, no direction in my life, and had no purpose.
I found solace and healing in my art. I revived that old dream with a new name, Wild Souls Art. I dove into this business head-first with the support of family and friends. I was lucky enough to be in a financial position where I could leave my job and work on my art full time for a while. As I built this business, I felt myself come back to life, too. I had found my purpose, my passion, and my sweet spot between my feelings of desire and obligation. I continue to struggle with self-doubt and the overwhelming sensation that there’s no way we can possibly right all of humanity’s previous wrongs. But as I research and draw every single animal and meet more people who want to support my journey, I gain more fuel and rediscover that fire that ignited my drive for change in the first place.
I want to pass on to you, reader, that you too can find the balance between what you want to do and what you feel you need to do. I used my knowledge from my art classes to create the designs you see today. I took the lessons from my ecology classes to create an environmentally sustainable brand that can appropriately educate others and support the fight to protect endangered species. While I would like to leave you with the wise words of J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lady Galadriel, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future,” I can find it daunting, trying to be that person to change an entire future. Instead, I want to leave you with a quote that allows you freedom to be content with whatever you pursue in your lifetime, no matter how big or small. Whether you go out and save animals yourself, buy a sticker from my website, or simply look at my art and move on, remember:
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” - Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings