Although still only 20 years old, Akiane Kramarik is destined to be one of this century’s most acclaimed artists. Her story is quite remarkable. Born into poverty, she is now internationally renowned and producing paintings, which are selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Akiane grew up in what she describes as a “shack” in Illinois. Her family was so poor that they could not afford a television or a radio, and they had no friends or relatives close by. Life was tough, but Akiane’s parents were loving and supportive.
The little girl was only four years old when she began having vivid dreams, in which she would see visions of heaven and faces of the divine. She couldn’t describe what she saw in words but was compelled to illustrate them. So she would grab anything at hand – makeup, markers or tomatoes, and “paint” on the walls and carpet.
Akiane on Oprah
Akiane’s parents quickly recognized her gift and bought her a sketchbook. By the time she was 8 years old, she was deftly using acrylics and oils. Her fame as a child prodigy spread, and she appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show when she was only nine, immediately propelling her into the limelight.
Akiane sold her first painting at the age of 10 for $10,000. She was inducted into the Kids Hall of Fame, the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and The Richest Kids in America, a group of the most successful self-made young entrepreneurs in the country. By the age of 12, she had completed sixty large paintings.
Akiane Remembers Humble Beginnings
Despite the fact that her original paintings now fetch over $300,000 each, Akiane has remained humble, thankful. Both Akiane and Art & SoulWorks donate a portion of her paintings’ proceeds to causes that help the needy. Her work is a mix of artistic styles and is the result of her dreams, visions and real-life experiences. She laughingly describes her style as “Akianism” and describes it herself as “a blend of surrealism, realism, it has imagination to it and has... a different kind of universe tweak to it."
Fulfillment of Parent’s Lifelong Dream
And now Akiane, along with her parents and four brothers have moved half way around the world to the Gold Coast in Queensland. Living in Australia was always her parents dream, and Akiane herself is happy to live a quiet life near the beach while continuing to pursue her talent.
Overall, she has completed over 200 art works and 800 literary works and has published two best-selling books. Her most famous painting is “Prince of Peace, a portrait of Jesus Christ.This life-like painting became much publicized because of a boy named Colton Burpo.
Jesus Heaven Is For Real
Colton was a near-death survivor at the age four, and he had been mysteriously identifying deceased family members from photographs. The family was searching for pictures that matched Colton’s description of Jesus. Needless to say, Akiane’s “Prince of Peace” painting turned out to be an exact match. Colton’s’ story is told in the bestselling book and movie released last Easter entitled “Heaven is for Real.”
Although, not for sale, Akiane’s original paintings featuring Jesus are considered global treasures and are valued in the millions of dollars. These Jesus paintings are only available now as reproductions. If you are interested in more of Akiane’s artwork, have a look around our website, where you can purchase an Akiane Art in variety of ways!
Akiane Kramarik Interview - The Young Prodigy Discusses Her Art Career and Painting Style Compliments of ABC Gold Coast 91.7 ABC:
Akiane’s Candid Heart Warming Interview with Gold Coast Radio
Bern Young: I don't even know if you can even put yourself in this situation of being a genuine child prodigy, the real deal. Kids Hall of Fame, World Council for the Gifted, Talented Children in America, all these sorts of titles. In fact, I'm feeling a little inadequate I think I has to say this morning as Akiane Kramarik joins me in the studio.
Akiane Kramarik: Oh, gosh!
Bern Young: But this is definitely more about you than it is about any of us. Good morning, Akiane. How are you?
Akiane Kramarik: It's lovely to be here, thanks.
Bern Young: It's so nice to have you living with us here on the Gold Coast.
Akiane Kramarik: Oh, gosh. It's been our dream.
Bern Young: Have it really? So now, well, I want to know about your dream because this is a family dream, to come and live on the Gold Coast.
Akiane Kramarik: Yes. It's been like a 25-year dream since my parents' marriage.
Bern Young: Oh, really? So what was it that they so wanted to be here in this city?
Akiane Kramarik: I think, in general, Australia, because of their culture, their way of life, their way of just moving from day to day, the way of relaxing and just the peacefulness in every person. I think it's that connection with people that was lacking for us in America. And we just love that we have a relationship here and we just wanted to adapt to that.
Bern Young: One day (and I hope you do stay), you won’t be saying "their", you will be saying "our".
Akiane Kramarik: Yes, absolutely. Mine, too
Bern Young: Our way of life here in Australia.
Akiane Kramarik: Our, I would love to say that.
Bern Young: Well, you have an interesting connection with people through your paintings. So it's painting that brought you to this level of fame really. Tell me your earliest paintings. People can relate to it, sadly, in terms of money. It shouldn't be about money. But once you start saying what things are selling for, people go, "Oh, my goodness." What were you selling art for the age of six?
Akiane Kramarik: At that time, I was still developing my own technique, but it was only when I was around 10 years old that I started selling my first artwork. And those were around, in American dollars, $10,000. But then it developed over the years into a different price. But it's a lot of hard work and dedication, that's for sure.
Bern Young: Oh, I can only imagine. But 10 years old and selling pieces for $10,000. What's the most you've ever sold a painting for?
Akiane Kramarik: Currently speaking, it's probably over the 300…
Bern Young: Thousand mark?
Akiane Kramarik: But I think, the way I look at it, I don't look at currently the price. I look at it because I love to paint. I love the way the emotions are brought out in paints. And when people see that raw emotion in my work, I am so happy that they are able to appreciate that and take that to their homes. And I think that's probably the best thing that as an artist, to receive a compliment like that. So I'm really thankful and happy.
Bern Young: Yes, it's very hard to describe that on the radio. Rather than us trying to do that, I would just say, if you have access to something right now, you may be able to find your tablet, your desktop, whatever it is, your laptop, I'll give you Akiane's first name. That's all you'd have to put in. She's that well-known. You just put Akiane and you don't need her surname. It'll start guessing it for you. So A-K-I-A-N-E. We had tweeted a painting this morning so you can see it by following us on Twitter @ABCGoldCoast. So just put A-K-I-A-N-E, and then you'll see what you do. But how would you describe your paintings?
Akiane Kramarik: It's a mix of everything. I have my own style. It's actually called akianeism.
Bern Young: Who said that?
Akiane Kramarik: It was me.
Bern Young: Oh, you said it.
Akiane Kramarik: Actually, I started using this when I was 11.
Bern Young: That’s amazing because I've got bernisms. We should get these into the dictionary, shouldn't we?
Akiane Kramarik: We should, we should. Oxford dictionary.
Bern Young: So what's the akianeism?
Akiane Kramarik: It's a blend of surrealism, realism. It has imagination into it and it has a different kind of universe to it. But I love bringing everything together. If it comes from the visions, the dreams, real life experiences, people, I love putting everything around this in one piece. And that's what I like to do.
Bern Young: When you were a really little girl – because this is where it began for you, and I know it got huge, I want to ask you about Oprah. But when you were a really little girl, can you go back to those earliest drawings you were doing? What was going through your mind? How old were you? Were you amazing at two? At what point was it clear that you had something going on?
Akiane Kramarik: We grew up very different. Throughout my whole life, my parents, especially, were very, very nurturing. They were not the typical parents where they would just have expectations. They were very free and they will allow us to develop on our own in our creative pathways. But unfortunately, at the time, we were very, very poor. And we literally lived in a shack where there were constant molds and my dad suffered from asthma and there was poisoning constantly from pesticides across the street. It's a very, very hard time. But when it got to the point when I was about three-and-a-half, four years old, I had these just vivid dreams. I just saw, constantly, faces all the time. And I just didn't know how I could talk it out or describe it. I had a very immature vocabulary at the time, so I just didn't know how to explain it. So slowly, but surely, I would just take whatever I had in my hand, just anything – markers, makeup, tomatoes, literally anything.
Bern Young: Anything with color?
Akiane Kramarik: Exactly. On the walls, on the carpets, you name it. Well, it was moldy carpet. And it just slowly progressed from there. And my mom, obviously, and my dad, obviously, started noticing all the drawings all over the house, the shack. And it slowly progressed. They saved up enough money to buy me a sketchbook. And from there, I started developing my own style at four-and-a-half. And from then, I just couldn't let go of the pencil. I couldn't stop. And it turned at around eight years. I progressed into acrylics and oils. And from there on, it's history.
Bern Young: Wow! Well, it puts the money conversation we just had to have into perspective, doesn't it, because you’ve been able to help your family with the money that you've earned through art.
Akiane Kramarik: Yes. I love helping my family. And in addition to that, I love helping other people as well. And throughout my whole life, I've been participating in over a hundred, 200 charities around the world. And I think my whole life, it is my passion to help people. I love giving to people and giving back. That's just who I am. I love that.
Bern Young: Did you learn that from Oprah? What role did she have in bringing you to the masses?
Akiane Kramarik: At the time, since we didn't have any television, I was not acquainted with her vast popularity. So I was unknown to her fame. So I went onto her show, I didn't know who she was. I just knew that she was this amazing, but motherly presence about her. And I loved sharing my story with her. But it was from that point on when I started – she had that pedestal, that lift that brought me up. I'm just absolutely thankful for her all my life.
Bern Young: How old were you at that point?
Akiane Kramarik: I was nine, I think.
Bern Young: Nine! Wow! And as you say, your first painting was sold at 10, so that's clearly the beginning of it, isn’t it?
Akiane Kramarik: It was definitely the beginning of that.
Bern Young: You're giving me goosebumps this morning, Akiane.
Akiane Kramarik: You're giving me goosebumps.
Bern Young: You're giving yourself goose bumps. That's akianeism again, the goose bumps, left, right and center. It's really amazing to meet you quite frankly. I'm just enjoying having you here in the studio with me. We're sitting at four minutes to seven. So I've got the latest news at seven o'clock. I've got to check for finance and traffic as well just before that. Akiane Kramarik is with me. I've asked you already if you want just to jump online, follow us on Twitter, @ABCGoldCoast, you’ll see the pictures we're talking about.
Can you be a world famous artist and base yourself on the Gold Coast? How are you going to do it?
Akiane Kramarik: I'll figure it out somehow.
Bern Young: Perhaps it doesn't matter where you are.
Akiane Kramarik: Absolutely! That's what I love about art. It's a traveling companion. That's why I could just take that anywhere I go. Is it in Antarctica, Russia, America, anywhere? I'll be happy wherever I go if I have my paints in my hands.
Bern Young: Well, now that we know we've got you, we're not letting you go to Antarctica or Russia or any of those places. You're going to be a proud Gold Coaster first.
Akiane Kramarik: I cannot wait.
Bern Young: And I love the fact that you have helped your family to come out of that level of poverty and to also follow their dreams. And you're here with them. Your parents are here, your extended family. Who else is here?
Akiane Kramarik: Just my brothers at the moment and my parents.
Bern Young: How many brothers have you got?
Akiane Kramarik: I have four.
Bern Young: Four brothers.
Akiane Kramarik: Yes, I'm right in the middle.
Bern Young: Are you? And no other sisters?
Akiane Kramarik: No sisters. My mom is my own sister, I guess.
Bern Young: Oh, that’s nice. That's always lovely when a mother can be a sister as well. Well, you and your family, welcome to the Gold Coast. Thank you for choosing us and I hope we live up to everything that you have always aspired to as part of the Australian lifestyle and the Gold Coast lifestyle, in particular.
Akiane Kramarik: Thank you so much.
Bern Young: Good on you, Akiane. Thank you. Akiane Kramarik.