Meet the Artist: Mindy Lee

Meet the Artist: Mindy Lee
Meet the artist behind our latest Artist Edition lens cloth, Mindy Lee of Happyminders, and the cofounder of 4C Lab, Marissa Herrera.

Mindy Lee is a graphic designer and artist, proudly born and raised in Koreatown, Los Angeles. Happyminders’ work is highly influenced by her family, friends, city, and longing to deliver stories of human goodness, diversity, and strength. She wants her work to affirm and uplift voices of the weird, the atypical, the quiet, and the misunderstood and share and spread their magic.

What was your inspiration for this artwork?
The inspiration for this artwork, “I SEE YOU” is my 6-year-old son. My son is autistic and eye contact is really hard for him. Through different therapies and practice, we teach him to make eye contact with others. I personally value the body language of eye contact but I’ve also been questioning and challenging the idea of it because of my son. My son is PERFECT even without the skill of eye contact. This art piece is a love letter to those who do not follow the norm but find their own way of looking at the world.
4C Lab inspires positive social impact by creating safe spaces for young people to share their stories through artistic expression. How did you explore creativity from a young age?
Growing up in Koreatown in Los Angeles, I remember being shy, scared, and small. My parents were struggling to give me the best life and I didn’t have a lot of language to express my feelings. I remember decorating my room to make it feel like my own world. I painted murals in my room, and hang art, lights, and pictures that made me feel happy and reminded me of the beauty in this world. Art was a safe space for me.

Your work illustrates stories of human goodness, diversity, and strength. Where does this come from?
In my journey as an artist, I met and befriended so many inspiring people that were using their creativity to empower their community. I’ve also witnessed so much resilience, strength, and love in the humans around me and they shaped me to be who I am today. The more I learned about art and design, the more I believed that art and design are beautiful but also need to be useful. I want my art not to just be beautiful but useful messages and reminders in people's lives that help them feel seen and loved. 

Three places you find inspiration?
My relationship with family and friends, nature, and my city.

Favorite Covry frames?
Adara series! The amber and peach! And Maia sunglasses in black!

Marissa Herrera is the Co-Founder and Executive-Artistic Director of 4C LAB, an arts organization driven by Four C's: create, communicate, collaborate, and to build community. They've built a sacred and safe space where young creative visionaries and emerging community leaders use the arts to share diverse stories with the power to transform and impact others. 

What led you to start 4C LAB and how has it evolved since?
As a 3rd generation Chicana and L.A. native with 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry and as a leader in Arts Education, I saw the lack of opportunities for BIPOC youth who were aging out of free arts programming (ages 15-20) and were just finding their creative voice and were in need of mentorship as they explored careers in the creative economy. I was also determined to build an organization whose leadership team and staff reflected the communities we serve and whose values were ingrained in anti-racism to build a safe, diverse, equitable and inclusive space for our communities.

In 2016 we started out as a project-based organization working from grant to grant and in 2020, when many organizations paused or didn't survive during the COVID-19 Pandemic, 4C LAB continued to grow and thrive. We created a virtual model of our programming to support young BIPOC Creative Visionaries to feel connected and where they could tap into their creativity and multi-disciplinary art forms to process the social (in)justices they were experiencing, personally and as a collective community, as well as support positive mental health. 90% of our youth participants shared they were experiencing various degrees of anxiety and depression during Quarantine. Since then, our organization has grown and now offers year around programming (we are back to being in person but still offer some virtual opportunities to connect with even more youth) serving youth across the Greater Los Angeles Area. 

Can you share one of your favorite moments?
There are so many! But there are two that come to mind right now. This summer 4C LAB presented "An Evening With Christopher Jackson & Wayne Brady" (who are both members of our 4C LAB Creative Visionary Advisory Board) at The Ford Theater in Los Angeles. Our CoLAB Performance Ensemble took the stage for their first live performance in over two years, some taking the stage for the very first time, and it was life changing for them. To be able to share their stories through the Arts in front of a live audience of incredible community support was amazing and part of what we deeply missed during Quarantine.
The second moment was during our "One Step At A Time" Youth Empowerment Summit that took place this spring of 2022. We provided a day of guest speakers and  workshops in the Arts and mental health as youth started to reintegrate back into in-person learning after two years of virtual learning. At the end of the day we asked the participants to anonymously share on a post-it what they learned about themselves. One participant wrote, "That I matter." THIS is why 4C LAB exists. 
Best advice for someone wanting to start a non-profit.
The historical construct of the non-profit sector was not built for BIPOC individuals to lead. A sustainable equitable non-profit organization takes time, energy, patience and resources to build. My advice is to build your community FIRST. It takes a village and you will need all the support you can get, especially when you reach roadblocks. Create a strong and clear mission statement and list of values that will be your North Star as you continue your work. Network with other like-minded community partners to build best practices and learn from. Last but not least, self-care. Burnout is a danger not only to your own health and well-being, but the very work and communities we all strive to serve. We have to be at OUR best to provide our best. 

Favorite Covry frames?