The Creative Journey of a Multi-Passionate Artist
Mural photography: Eileen Koteras Elibol // Branding photography: Andrea Wenglowskyj
Art has the power to transcend words and touch the depths of the human soul, offering a unique perspective and stirring emotions within us. For one artist, this power is not only a source of inspiration but also a means of livelihood and self-discovery. Meet Cassandra (Cassi) Ott, a multi-passionate creative based in Buffalo, whose journey through various art forms and collaborations has led her to create work that spreads hope, joy, and optimism.
Cassi’s artistic background is deeply rooted in her upbringing in a creative and entrepreneurial household. Growing up surrounded by the artistic endeavors of her mom, who ran a weaving store and her dad, who worked as an architect, she was exposed to a multitude of art forms from an early age. This exposure fueled her passion for creativity and led her to explore various practices such as jewelry making, watercolor, photography, and glass bead making. In the late ‘80s, Cassi and her mother embarked on a jewelry-making business, crafting earrings and pins out of melted plastic, allowing them to share their art with friends and family.
Cassi’s artistic journey continued as she pursued a BFA with a concentration in Photography from the University of Cincinnati. After graduation, Cassi entered the world of art direction and graphic design, working for her family’s glass dinnerware design business, Riverside Design Group. Her 15-year tenure with the company, starting as a marketing coordinator and rising to creative director, taught her valuable lessons in entrepreneurship.
Throughout her career, Cassi has found inspiration in a diverse group of artists, including the likes of Helen Frankenthaler, Matisse, Gerhardt Richter, Duane Michals, and Firelei Baez. She admires artists who fearlessly embrace big, ambitious projects that resonate with wide audiences, such as Wendy MacNaughton, Bunnie Reiss, Cody Hudson, and Oliver Jeffers.
Cassi loves art’s expressive nature, both for herself and in observing how others use it to convey ideas and stories. Though she feels less at ease with words, she finds art offers her a unique way to communicate and connect with others.
Cassi says several significant moments stand out as personal achievements. Painting her first mural exposed her to the world of large-scale public art and instilled confidence that she could conquer daunting challenges. During the pandemic, Cassi embarked on a labor of love, a project to paint suitmarks (hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds), becoming a deck of playing cards, each with different artwork. Additionally, having some of her pattern designs featured in the portfolio of the local company Red Disk, renowned for its artisan, handmade wallpapers, brought her immense joy and pride.
Cassi’s artistic endeavors span a wide range of media, and she derives joy from experimenting with different art supplies and combining them to achieve unique effects. Installing a playful flower-themed piece in the lobby of Fountain Plaza marked a new direction for her artistic practice, and she eagerly looks forward to exploring it further.
As a passionate artist, one of Cassi’s long-standing goals was to have her work included in a museum collection. She also set intentions for her art to add beauty to the world, improve the lives of others, contribute to her community, achieve financial stability, and enjoy a fulfilling retirement with her husband, Aaron.
Currently, Cassi has exciting plans in the pipeline. She is gearing up for holiday product launches and is also working on two interior mural proposals, both set to be installed in private office spaces. Additionally, she intends to spend time in her studio this fall to create new paintings and installation pieces that evoke happiness and delight.
Beyond art, Cassi finds solace and inspiration in spending time outdoors, be it hiking or tending to her garden. Traveling to different cities and towns also fuels her creativity, as she appreciates the unique characteristics and visual stimuli each place offers.
As a proud mother and self-proclaimed “crazy cat lady,” Cassi’s life revolves around art, her passion, her husband (who also works in the arts), and her family. She has a heart for her community and hosts a free virtual art-making and co-working session each week, providing a platform for fellow artists to create and connect.
Cassi offers valuable insights and advice to aspiring artists: She emphasizes the importance of self-belief and self-valuation, as these factors are crucial in allowing others to recognize the value of one’s creative gifts. She also encourages aspiring artists to engage with peers and support each other, to avoid comparing themselves to others, and to take care of their well-being and nurture their creativity.
With a journey shaped by her love for art, Cassi serves as an inspiring example of how passion, creativity, and entrepreneurship can be beautifully intertwined. As she continues to create work that radiates hope, joy, and optimism, Cassi reminds us all to embrace our artistic superpowers and pursue our dreams with courage and determination.
Follow cassi on IG @cassiott or visit her website at www.cassandraott.com.