Romanian artist, Ramona Pintea from Brașov, a wife and a mother, who splits her time between London and her home country, started a global movement called #WearYourCrown with her colorful, magnetic paintings of women from her Urban Queen Collection. She uses bright colors: red, blue, pink, orange, gold. “I love bold, bright colors,” she says. “They express happiness and joy, which is in my soul. I look for what’s best in life and for its beauty.”
For the last 7 years she painted women, for women and from the woman’s point of view but until her official campaign launched in Washington, DC on March 8th of this year, even she didn’t think that her creations would become an inspiration, and it would empower women around the world. After all, she was not even supposed to be an artist.
“In Romania I was studying math and physics,” Ramona says, “but when I moved to London in 1991, I discovered art. I thought it was brilliant but I was just 18, and the idea of being a starving artist scared me, especially coming from a starving country to a place with so many opportunities. I didn’t want to go through that again, so I studied fashion design instead, and I started my own fashion company in London, and even an interior design company later on. I was always very entrepreneurial. Though, art always stayed in my soul, and I kept saying: “One day I will do what I am passionate about. I will make my dream come true.”
Then one day in 2013, I went to the United States for a month-long vacation. The United States, in general, played a very important role in my life, and it’s the reason why I became an artist. Long story short, I was invited to exhibit in Miami at an art gallery. After I did that exhibition, I just couldn’t do anything else. After 6 months I said: “That’s it. I want to be an artist.” I closed my successful interior design business, and that’s how I started my life over.”
Irina VanPatten: How did you come up with the idea of Wear Your Crown?
Ramona Pintea: It was a combination of circumstances and luck. When the COVID lockdown started in March of 2020, I just returned to Bucharest from an exhibition in the UK, and everything went crazy. I couldn’t go to my studio to paint, so I thought that for a while I would just drink cocktails on my terrace and take a break. But that didn’t happen because I read an article in Forbes magazine about women-leaders and how they were dealing with the pandemic. How their leadership style was very different from the men’s leadership style.
That article made me think of women from the leadership point of view. What’s her role in society, and what’s her role in leadership? I’m a great believer in balance. When we form policies, the world really needs women to lead with compassion. Even now with the war in Ukraine, what do we need? Compassion, nurturing, caring, all these qualities that women have. We need more leaders to lead with these qualities. And I began painting women: assertive, inspiring, with their crowns. That started a series of paintings that I shared on Facebook. People responded greatly with lots of compliments and encouragement. My followers were actually the ones who named the whole series Urban Queen.
The pandemic that forced us all online, opened new opportunities to connect with each other, so I found a new community. I love the connection with my online collectors because before I used to work with the galleries, and there you never knew who bought your paintings, and you had no connection with them afterwards. I have had a completely different experience with my followers since. There was lots of communication going on. I could see the difference that my art could make in people’s lives.
I had women tell me: “I got my queen in my office. When I have a really shitty day, and I don’t know what to do, I’m telling myself: ‘I’m just going to put my crown on my head, and I’m going to go out there, and get it done’. Messages like that were inspiring me to carry on.
Irina VanPatten: But how did this become a global phenomenon?
Ramona Pintea: That’s when Angie Xidias from New York comes in. She owns a marketing agency One Bean Marketing. She found my paintings online and she loved them. She got in touch with me, and we started a partnership. We both believed the message to uplift and inspire women to wear their crowns needed to be heard by a larger audience. If you look at how men do things, they don’t need validation from outside. Men just go and do it. Women, on the other hand, need a little bit of encouragement. We need role models more than anything, so she would say: “We need to inspire women to give them that encouragement.”
She and I brainstormed on how we could transform this movement into a larger, global campaign of inspiration for women. We created the #wearyourcrown and found women-leaders in their own fields and asked them to join the campaign. We want to inspire and also want to offer real help so we are fundraising for various women’s causes.
The #WearYourCrown campaign is represented on nearly every continent by women of influence who empower women, each with diverse backgrounds, and are visionaries in their fields of business, politics, arts, entertainment, nonprofits and more. Their collective power is reaching a global audience of over 9 million people and counting. I am proud to present the 8 Urban Queen leaders who have joined this campaign:
Susan Sloan, USA, author of „A Seat at the Table: Women, Diplomacy, and Lessons for the World.” Susan works in diplomacy in Washington DC, engaging with diplomats, community organizers and international leaders.
Natalia Martins, Brazil, a powerhouse entrepreneur and founder of Natalia Beauty Group in Brazil, Natalia has built her business from the ground up and has 100 affiliates spread throughout the world – Brazil, Dubai, Switzerland, Chile, Portugal, Italy and the USA..
Sofia Bekatoru, Greece, a Greek sailing Olympic Gold and Bronze Medalist, the first female flag bearer in the history of Greece Summer Olympics, and a true leader, breaking her silence in the Hellenic #MeToo movement.
Casey Donovan, Australia, award winning, double and triple platinum musician who has made her mark in the areas of theater, television, and writing.
Barbara Lizzet Sanchez, USA, senior publicist, social activist, passionate about women empowerment and a strong advocate against domestic violence.
Donna Ashworth, Scotland, poet, speaker and founder of Donna Ashworth Words; brings women together with her words of truth, hope and comfort.
Jayshree Mallaya, South Africa, co-founder of the not-for-profit Over the Walls Together, a charity aimed at community building and raising awareness of violence against women.
Amie Louie, Italy, Global Vice President Fundraising for the Professional Women’s Network (PWN), a global movement towards Gender-Balanced Leadership in business and society.
Irina VanPatten: Are the fundraisings for women causes?
Ramona Pintea: Yes. I painted one painting for each one of these leaders and I donated all the paintings in order to raise funds for a woman’s cause of their choice.
People can win a large original painting just by donating any amount on www.fundduel.com/wearyourcrown . Three of us, myself, Sofia Bekatorou and Donna Ashworth are fundraising for Ukrainian women war refugees. Donna and myself are raising funds through Scut, a Romanian NGO that I have worked with for 12 years.”
We launched the campaign on March 8th, International Women’s Day. Hotel Zena in Washington DC hosted the event with an invitation-only party attended by 4 of the Urban Queen Leaders and about 160 guests. Hotel Zena is the first ever hotel in the world featuring art and design that celebrates women and women empowerment so it was the perfect venue for us.
Irina VanPatten: In this time of unrest, what is the role of an artist? How can they use their voice?
Ramona Pintea: The artists are always at the forefront of social changes, and social unrest. Every artist has something that they have to offer. My art is very optimistic, encouraging, uplifting. I use my art as a tool to encourage women to step out of their comfort zone, and go out and lead and do something that makes them a better version of themselves. To wear their crowns with pride.
Irina VanPatten: What can an artist do during the war?
Ramona Pintea: They can use their art to give hope, the way I’m doing it, or to bring awareness on certain issues, to lead a campaign or social change. Personally, I am donating $55,000 of my art to raise funds for various causes for women issues, including for Ukrainian women, now because of the war. For the #wearyourcrown campaign we have women who fundraise for victims of domestic violence, others are raising funds for indigenous girls in Australia to give them a better chance of education. There are many issues all across the globe where we can help.
Irina VanPatten: Do you know people who got out of their comfort zone to do something after you launched your campaign? Did anyone give you feedback on that?
Ramona Pintea: A lot of people did, especially here in Romania. Many went to help Ukrainian refugees at the border. I know a woman who took in a family of seven people (two sisters with their children and their grandmother) in her apartment. Other people I know donated money and were helping refugees in that way. The desire to help Ukrainian refugees is the immediate reaction right now because it’s very real.
But if you talk specifically after we launched our campaign, I can mention this beautiful message written by somebody who wanted to be an artist her whole life but didn’t have the courage. I met her by chance at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, where I was visiting, and I invited her to my exhibit. She was so inspired by what I created with the campaign and by the paintings, that she told me she’s decided to be an artist. She’s changing her whole life right now. So, things happen in unexpected ways.
Irina VanPatten: Do you think art is therapy?
Ramona Pintea: Absolutely, and not only doing art but also being surrounded by art. I’m an art collector myself. You’d be very surprised that my house is full of art but only two pieces are painted by me. I have this particular painting that I had for 7-8 years that I keep moving from one room to another. It gives me so much joy to look at this landscape. It’s an impressionistic piece of a field, somewhere in France I assume, with lots of colors. I bought it from a gallery in England, and I became friends with the artist because I really liked his art.
I have it now in my bedroom. I wake up in the morning and the sun shines on it in a certain way, and I go to sleep and it looks different in the artificial light at night. That’s very therapeutic. So definitely, art is therapy. You can get lost and find yourself again in a piece of art.
Irina VanPatten: What kind of people is important to surround yourself with to better yourself?
Ramona Pintea: It’s important to surround yourself with people who support you in whatever you do, whom you can share your successes with, and who won’t drag you down. Also, the kind of friends that when the times are tough, they will not say: “You gave it your best. What can you do?” but rather say: “Don’t give up. Go out there and do all you can.” To me trust and common values are very important. I attract soul sisters. We can have different world views but we have to accept each other as we are. It’s also important to surround yourself with people from various walks
of life. If you are an accountant, don’t be surrounded only by accountants. Most of my friends are not artists.”
Irina VanPatten: Do you have a message to the men of the world?
Ramona Pintea: I definitely want to talk to men right now. Although I’m doing this campaign for women, men are not excluded. I want to tell them that I love men. I see men and women as partners and cheerleaders of each other. I have the most supportive husband in the world. If he would not be my rock and support me in all my crazy endeavors, I couldn’t have done it. I’m also supportive of him in whatever he wants to do. He’s an entrepreneur who works in the renewable energy sector and I’m very proud of him. We have the same values and we care about the health of the Planet.
Men should realize that women have something to add to the world and something important to bring to the table, and we ask the men not only to support us but also to tell their friends about it.”
The #WearYourCrown campaign will continue in New York , dates and location to be confirmed soon.