An exclusive interview with Viviana Puello the Founder and CEO of the Award-winning Multimedia Platform helping art activists worldwide.
written by Paul Simpson
Award-winning artist and activist. Feature filmmaker and director. Honored podcast and television host. Esteemed entrepreneur and business coach. Founder and CEO of ArtTour International, who has expanded the revolutionary platform to encompass print and digital publications, an award-winning TV show, international events, and so much more. A Top 10 Female Entrepreneur of 2020, as recognized by New York Weekly, whose passion now promotes artists worldwide and serves talented individuals from more than 205 countries.
With all of these successes and accolades, you may wonder how Viviana Puello has never graced the cover of the magazine that she brought to life ten years ago. The answer is quite simple — she always refused previous requests from her artistic peers and staff, preferring instead to keep the focus firmly on talented international artists and their innovative works.
However, for this special anniversary issue, she finally relented to spread her unique brand of Inspiration to you, beloved readers, and also because there’s no way of sharing the ArtTour International’s story without sharing her own.
Viviana’s childhood in Colombia was far from idyllic. Indeed, growing up, she was set adrift in the turbulent seas of parental abandonment. In the wake of these difficulties, she developed a belief system that limited her horizons. Only at the age of 12, when she ventured upon her first joyous explorations of art, could she finally glimpse ahead the creative powers of possibility. While the vagaries of fate and the duties of the day-to-day would obscure this vision — sometimes for years at a time — Viviana would always return to art.
Once she truly realized that abundance begins only in the pursuit of what you love, she finally was able to embrace art in full. Viviana ensured that art remained in her life, day in and day out for ten years, as an independent artist, curator, and founder of Vivid Arts Network, helping artists exhibit their work in international venues. The pursuit of these passions led to a different kind of passion when Viviana met her future partner and husband, Alan Grimandi while working on an exhibition in Ferrara, Italy, in October 2009.
During a flight between venues in 2011, the idea of creating an art magazine suddenly struck her. She immediately marshaled Alan, friends, and fellow artists’ support to bring ArtTour International Magazine to life. After a year of work, in December 2011, they released the first issue and began preparations to launch the magazine at the Auditorium al Duomo in Florence.
And launch there it did — at precisely the wrong time and in front of entirely the wrong people. You see, the day that Viviana arranged to tour the prospective venue happened to coincide with a convention of approximately 500 international cultural figures from more than 30 countries. After asking the responsible, Viviana could secure three minutes to present the magazine project. Within an hour, she began to speak the words that would ensure the foundation of a budding success.
This ability to brave potential rejection and practice seasoned flexibility has allowed Viviana to ensure that ATIM is available at Barnes & Noble locations and 1,200 newsstands worldwide and grow its readership from 1,500 to 2.1 million readers in more than 205 countries.
Her collaborative spirit has found expression creating award programs and ceremonies such as the ATIM Masters Awards and the ARTYA Artivist of the Year Awards and original activist groups such as Create4Peace.org and Artists for a Green Planet.
Her cultivated openness to creativity has driven the foundation of ATIM Web TV and The ArtTour International TV Show, which has traveled to more than 50 cities worldwide to support artists and art organizations. Honored with the Olee Public Media Award of Excellence in 2018 and 2019, the show airs every Thursday at 5:30 PM on MNN-HD Spectrum 1993. Moreover, it propelled the stunning documentary “Kintsugi — The Line of Destiny,” which features the Berber people’s natural livelihood in the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, and the Italian countryside. The film garnered numerous prizes, including “First Time Directors” (Top Shorts Film Festival), “Best Documentary” (New York Film Awards), and “Top Documentary” (Los Angeles Film Awards).
Viviana’s latest venture, The Winner’s Journey Coaching Program, originates from her desire to pass on her hard-earned knowledge and experiences. With this program, Viviana also launched The Winner’s Journey Podcast, which offers inspiring interviews with celebrities, entrepreneurs, and spiritual leaders who share their stories and secrets of success.
To gain further insight into her journey, we recently sat down to chat with Viviana.
First of all, thanks for the interview. This is something we’ve wanted to do for years, and we finally succeeded! Why have you kept us waiting so long?
“My work keeps me busy. . . (laughs)…The truth is that I have a very clear idea about my role in this publication, and that is to promote the art and artists that we bring in each issue; we’re here to help them have a voice to share their message. So, I preferred to focus my energy on fulfilling that vision.”
How do you define yourself?
“First and foremost, I’m a spiritual being on a human journey, enjoying every second of this life experience. I’m an artist, writer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and unstoppable manifester dedicated to helping creative entrepreneurs advance their careers, grow their business, and scale the ever-competitive international art scene so that they can thrive doing what they love.”
How have these ten years of ArtTour International been?
It has been quite a joyful ride, and every issue has been a new opportunity for co-creation with an excellent team of collaborators, artists, and readers. It has given me great excitement and pleasure to meet incredible people, from emerging artists to internationally recognized legends. Some have left a strong mark in my heart. So many artists whose energy I have connected with — people with whom I’ve developed a friendship and from whom I’ve learned so much.
If you had to describe yourself with one word, what would that word be?
What is Inspiration to you?
“Inspiration is the essence of creation. Some people see it as something that comes and goes in unexpected moments. But Inspiration is within us, all the time. We can choose to be inspired because Inspiration is being attuned with our divine self in the present moment. We can always make that choice; no external influence has the power to take Inspiration away from you. It is a part of us that is immutable”.
Is Inspiration essential to create a masterpiece, or is it more about technical knowledge and talent?
“I think all of it matters. I believe the master artist uses everything that has been collected through the human experience to create a masterpiece. The master artist allows the spirit to pick up the pieces of his/her being, the heartbreaks, the pain, the loss, the joy, the bliss — all facets of the master’s identity combine to create the energetic new. Such an inspired work touches people and evokes feelings — it becomes an instrument of healing. That is the intention of spirit when bringing art into this realm.”
Tell us about your art.
“I practice the art of manifesting beauty in every form. I love painting, writing, playing music — jewelry making. I incorporate natural elements in most of my creative process, rocks, wood, semi-precious stones, anything that has the pulsating sound of Mother Nature’s heart. My art is also the art of communicating and inspiring through my work and other artists’ works. I love all things art.”
Tell us about the installation you created for the cover of the magazine.
“Well, the photo is the genius work of Alan Grimandi’s lens. We wanted something that would represent ArtTour International’s vision: use beauty and art to bring awareness about issues that need our attention. Our most passionate cause is the preservation of our planet. We picked up tree branches from the garden and put everything together. I created the jewelry to represent nature also. The painting on the background is an original artwork by my dear friend and master artist Barbara Tyler Ahlfield, entitled “Viviana’s Dream.” Barbara created that portrait of me, and I had no idea what she was painting. When she showed it to me, I told her how the painting resembles the place where I go when I meditate. Serendipity.”
When did you discover that you wanted to dedicate yourself to art?
“I’ve always been artistic. I started painting at the age of twelve and playing my guitar and singing around the same time.”
But I do remember the moment I fell in love with painting. During a visit to the convention center in Cartagena, I was sixteen years old, and I was walking in the “Obregon Hall” when I saw a painting by Alejandro Obregon for the first time. The painting. ‘Galerna’ measures over twenty feet. I remember walking down the hall next to that painting. I could feel my heart racing with each step I took. I felt warmth, magic, butterflies in my stomach — something I had never experienced. I didn’t want the painting to end. I didn’t want that feeling to stop. I knew then that I wanted to reproduce that feeling, live with it. Art became my drug of choice at that moment.”
How was growing up in Colombia?
“My childhood was fun. I grew up with music, joy, fish, coconut rice, and the sun of the Caribbean Coast. Despite being abandoned by my parents, I was a happy girl. But I was also shy and insecure. I grew up with two grandparents who gave me their love, with my Tata, a mother to me, and my uncles and Tia — always surrounded by strong women who taught me lessons that have helped me through this journey. My family gave me the support and education that formed my character and principles. My grandfather taught me the value of honoring your word and being honest and my grandmother taught me the importance of taking risks, being an entrepreneur, being self-reliant. Their love story of over sixty-five years taught me that love is real and should be cherished.“
One of the most common questions we hear is this one, so I asked for our readers’ curiosity. Where are you from?
“I was born and raised in Colombia. Then, at 17, I emigrated to New York, where I grew into adulthood and a professional. M children were born here, so I have strong roots in the USA. I married my Italian partner twelve years ago, and since then, I have lived in Italy. We have our home in Ferrara. So a piece of my heart is in each of these three countries. We work here in the USA most of the time.”
How is it living in Italy?
“Oh mine, it’s a constant struggle to not overeat lol. My mother in love is the best cook in the world and spoils us rotten with her meals. In the Italian culture, family values are high, you stick together to your tribe. I love that. I love driving for only a few minutes and going to my father in law’s farm, picking up cherries from the trees, or going to the Piazza and meeting friends for an apperitivo in the afternoons or meeting my family just to have pizza together on a Sunday night. That strong sense of community is priceless.”
What personal challenges have you overcome, and what have you learned from them?
“I’ve experienced the abandonment of my parents, and that taught me to be resilient. I went through an abusive marriage that ended in divorce after two years. I was only twenty-two years old. I faced the world alone with my two children. Right after that divorce, I lost everything and experienced being homeless. I learned to practice gratitude every day for what life offers me. I also learned that I can always count on myself, and if I believe, I can create a new reality. You are never alone, and the universe has your back.”
How do you balance your time?
“Time for myself, time for my family, time to commit to working without interruptions, and never multitask. The secret is always to find time to connect to your inner being; if you can do that, you can stretch time. I start early and enjoy a couple of hours alone. Then I spend some time with my family; I live with my daughter and granddaughter too. We are a multicultural household, Italians, we’re all about cooking and eating together, and Colombians, we’re all about music and dance. So you’ll find us all dancing at breakfast or during a noisy afternoon in our kitchen cooking dinner. I have a great partner, and we’re not alone in this journey. We have a great team.”
Why do you do what you do?
“Because I enjoy it, it makes me happy, and I feel that I’m contributing to humanity by amplifying the artists’ message. Art unites us in a single truth, that is, that we are all part of a whole. I get up every day thinking whatever I do will contribute to a world where equality, inclusion, love, and peace are the new normal.”
What personal plans do you have for 2021?
“I just launched my Podcast, The Winner’s Journey, where I interview celebrities and award-winning entrepreneurs each week to share the secrets behind their success.
And just released a new book, “You Were Born To Be Unstoppable,” which I co-authored with other incredible women. It was released in January and became a number-one Amazon bestseller. It’s available on my website at www.vivianapuello.com.
What’s new with ArtTour International this year?
“We will continue with our vision of bringing awareness for social and environmental issues and being the voice of artist-activists worldwide. Arttour International has an incredible platform and, last year, partnered with Mediakit Art. We are now helping creative entrepreneurs promote their art, product, and services not just on our platform but also on leading news outlets. The goal is to amplify their message.
In 2021, we’re incorporating audio into our digital and print publications. Readers will now have the option to scan some of the articles’ QR codes and hear the article without reading it. Sometimes, it is just more fun!
We’re planning the ATIM Masters Awards Ceremony at the end of the year. We also continue our partnership with Create4Peace and Artists For A Green Planet to celebrate the ARTYA (Artivist of the Year Awards) next Fall and honor Mother Earth. A lot more to be revealed, but you will need to stay tuned to discover it.”
What is Create4Peace?
“Create 4 Peace is a non-profit organization founded to reduce the transgenerational transmission of pain and suffering, utilizing art to impact people’s imagination and creativity to transmit love, peace, and personal responsibility. Our 2022 project is to build an art center in Colombia to help underprivileged children learn and practice art. When I was twelve, I discovered art, and it was a healing force in my life. Our mission with Create4Peace is to do the same for these children.”
Any message for our readers?
“Be creative, stay inspired. I believe that being creative is our duty. We are not only entitled to live an inspired life — but we are also called upon for the betterment of all humanity, to live a life filled with Inspiration and unleash our full creative potential, to make a difference in the world. Think of yourself as that light that shines in the dark. We are called upon to shine, to feel the urgency to move forward, to accept our gifts and be grateful, and to offer them back to the universe with unconditional love.”