1. Please tell us about who you are and what you do.
My name is Ramona Pintea, I am an artist, an entrepreneur, an optimist, a free spirit, lover of colour, life and positivity. I look for the silver lining in every cloud and I try to encourage those around me to do the same.
2. Share your backstory with us. How did your business or organisation come about and what was it that switched you on to this area in the first place?
I grew up in Romania and moved to London in the early 90’s at the tender age of 18. Even as a child, I had this strong desire to leave the communist regime and move to the democratic, free ‘west’. I left by myself with the first chance I got, with £200 in my pockets, a bag of clothes and big dreams.
After a few jobs in fashion design, I started my first business when I was 25. A London based fashion brand that quickly expanded, selling in 300 boutiques throughout the UK by the late 90’s. Many years later, in 2009, after I got married and had my daughter, my family and I returned to Romania and I built an interior design business.
Still I always wanted to be an artist but never had the courage to pursue this dream. I had studied fine art in college in London and I used to paint as a hobby. But in 2012-2013 I started painting again and eventually decided to pursue this passion seriously. In 2013 I was invited to exhibit in Miami during the prestigious Miami Art Basel. Shortly after that I walked into my office and told all my staff that I’ll be closing the business and pursue a career as an artist.
Being a self-taught artist was tough at the beginning. I put in extra-long hours to ‘catch up’ and made a point of working on my technique as well as establishing my artistic voice. Despite being the confident, positive woman that I am, or the success of the paintings, a little voice inside my head told me that I needed the validation of the ‘art establishment’. I finally got that when my family and I moved back to the UK. I was approached by some very well-established art galleries in London and the UK and worked with them.
3. What do you think or hope the future has in store for you and your business? Where do you see yourself or your organisation five years from now?
I am very passionate about the message I communicate through my art. I don’t just paint pictures; I paint messages of inspiration, self-reflection and empowerment. I am currently focused on the role of women have our modern society, how we view ourselves and the healthy balance of masculine and feminine.
People seem to be really connecting with this expressive art and the optimistic message. My intention is to touch as many people globally as humanly possible. The beauty of art is that it leaves a legacy, it’s timeless. It can impact the initial collector as well as their future generations. People need art and inspiration in their lives and I think art should be accessible for all to enjoy.
4. How has lockdown been for you and for your business and what have you done that has helped you personally and professionally?
After the initial shock, the lockdown turned out to be a very productive and creative time for me. An article in Forbes magazine about seven women head of states and how they dealt with the pandemic ignited the spark to create a new collection of paintings, ‘Urban Queen’. I started sharing my art and thoughts on social media daily and the response has been incredible: literally hundreds of messages on how these paintings touched people and how they helped during these testing times. People were getting really involved, naming the paintings, naming the entire series, voting their favourite painting, telling me what they were feeling. I received hundreds of messages and responded to each one of them. People told me their stories and what the art meant to them.
A deeply moving experience was talking with Kristen, a nurse in the front line in San Francisco. She was working crazy hours, doing loads of overtime when the hospital needed her, taking breaks and resting in her car when she was on call. We messaged each other and spoke a lot. She told me that she feels scared and empowered raising daughters during this time and that the paintings spoke to her on a really deep level. She ended up buying 3 paintings, one for each of her daughters as she believes the paintings are a statement for women to stay strong during times of adversity and uncertainty. She asked me to write a personal message for her daughters on the back of the paintings.
By the time we officially launched the collection on my website, 60% of the paintings had sold; the rest sold within 6 hours from launch. We had buyers from Romania, USA and the UK.
I really love connecting directly with my collectors. When you work with a gallery you never know who bought your art and how it impacted them. I have taken onboard a lot of the suggestions from my audience and I am now working on the sequel, Urban Queen 2.0.
This collection is deeply meaningful to me as 10% of all proceeds will go to a noble cause: helping mothers who grew up in orphanages or in dysfunctional families, now struggling with poverty, low self-esteem, suicide attempts and no support network. Good women who are now mothers and want to keep strong for their children. To give them a better chance. We are helping them with counselling, training and financial assistance so they can be safe and keep their children from going into social services.
This is an NGO that I’ve been supporting for 11 years and they do amazing work.
I’m also excited because the launch is on my birthday, 22nd of June, exclusively on my website. I love celebrating the occasion with the art community, family and friends.
5. What’s your take on Bucharest and Romania. What are the highs and the lows in your opinion?
After living in London and then beautiful Surrey, we returned to Romania…. twice, so that says something about it. I love the easy going, friendly lifestyle here, the natural beauty of the country, the weather. The fact that you can hop on a plane and be anywhere in Europe for an art show, a concert or whatever else you fancy is a plus, although I’m not sure how this is going to be in the future.
6. What is your must do/must visit/favorite thing to do or show off to visitors here in Bucharest and Romania at large?
My girlfriends from the UK absolutely love Romania. They love to visit and relax at Therme, eat by Herastrau Lake and party in Centrul Vechi. Plus I take everyone to my home town Brasov. So many other places I personally love: the Danube Delta, the Carpathian mountains, the Dealu Mare wine region.
7. What is your number 1 recommendation now for a book/film/series/app/ or gadget?
I re-watched Hunger Games recently and thought it was a fascinating, timely movie.
8. If you could eat in any restaurant in all of Romania and have dinner with anyone in the world (not a husband/wife/relative) which restaurant would that be and with which person?
Definitely Oprah, anywhere she wants, I don’t care. Would probably take her somewhere very scenic, perhaps rural. Prince Charles’ guesthouses in Transylvania or Peles Castle spring to mind.
9. Sum up your business in one sentence, what it is and why should people engage with it.
Art for the soul, expressing my optimistic outlook in warm, vibrantly colourful brushstrokes. It passionately stands for resourcefulness, creativity and leadership, especially during tumultuous times. For discovering and sharing our unique gifts with the world, when it really needs it.
10. Describe your Romania in one word.
Well-kept secret. Underrated. Magical.
Photo credits Cris Tyler