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Maya Dam: 17-year-old artist and market vendor

CDN’s weekly community profile

Maya Dam, 17, pictured at the Salish Seed Swap on Saturday, Feb. 24 at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship. Dam was a vendor at the annual event, and has been selling art at local markets since age 12. (Jack Warren/Cascadia Daily News)
By Audra Anderson Assistant Editor

Maya Dam

Age: 17

City: Bellingham

Lived here for: 16 years

Originally from: Bellingham

Notable: Animal lover, artist, market vendor and Sehome High School student.

When did you first become interested in art, and when did you start Art by Maya?

I first got interested in art just doodling and sketching as a kid. From a very young age, I think I was drawn to it. I think I started Art by Maya around when I was 12. It began as sort of getting more vending around the community — around Bellingham — going to more art markets, and being more involved with the art community.

How would you describe your art style?

I think there’s definitely a difference between the art style that I advertise to the public and my own personal art style. I love creating the art that I sell. But a lot of it is definitely focusing on beauty, focusing on nature, focusing on how I connect to Bellingham as my home. Whereas a lot of the art that I do for myself explores more about who I am personally as a human, and fashion and the aesthetics that I like, [and] explores color. So, it definitely varies.

What is your favorite medium?

I think one of my all-time favorite mediums is watercolor. It takes a lot of patience. And it’s also a really nice process because you can plan on having a result, but a lot of times when I’ve been painting with watercolor, the picture changes a lot. Because you’re going with the flow, you’re using water, and you might end up with something that’s a little different than what you expect.

Is your family supportive of your pursuit of art?

Oh, 100%. I’m so grateful to my parents, both of them have been supporting me from a very young age, encouraging me to keep going. Being an artist, I think a lot of young people hear from their family that it’s a difficult thing and that it’s not easy to succeed. And I think that actually comes from a place of love, because a lot of parents and family members, they want their kid to succeed, they want their kid to grow up and get money. But I’m very grateful that my parents think that I can succeed and have been pushing me forward.

Is there a particular artist you look up to?

I worked with a local artist for a while, Casey Burge, who used to have a studio in Bellingham. She was my mentor for a long time. She taught me so much of what I know. A lot of the art that you see that is connected to Art by Maya is art that I did with her advice, and so many of those foundational skills that I’ve learned are because of her, and how I found my voice and my style.

What are your plans after high school?

I’ve been thinking about art school. I’m interested in art history, I’m interested in comparative literature, I’m interested in linguistics. So yeah, there’s a lot of things I want to study after high school, but I think doing something that will eventually lead me into an art-centered profession and help me pursue art full time would be my plan.

What is your favorite piece of artwork you’ve made?

A few years ago, I made this big linocut print, carved out of linoleum. It’s called “The Hundred Acre Wood.” And even though I made it a few years ago, I remember just keeping going at it, and spending months sketching and carving it. And that’s something I’d like to do more often: Create a big piece of art that I’m really passionate about and means something close to my heart.

An in-progress linocut created by Bellingham artist Maya Dam. Dam’s style can be described as calming and soft, and often uses themes of nature. (Photo courtesy of Maya Dam)


Maya Dam’s artwork can be found at The Garden Spot, Fairhaven Toy Garden, The Lucky Dumpster and Whatcom Museum. Dam vends at the Salish Seed Swap and holiday art markets at Make.Shift Art Space and Firehouse Arts & Events Center Bellingham.

“Faces in the Crowd” is published online and in print Fridays. Have a suggestion for a “Faces in the Crowd” subject? Email us at

Audra Anderson is CDN’s assistant editor; reach her at; 360-922-3090 ext. 115.

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