"Why be unhappy if you can be happy?"

It was a simple enough question for Inga Street, when she decided to dedicate her life to art.

"I didn't want to waste my lief being stressed out," she explains, "art makes me happy.

"I think it makes me a better person to be around. I'm more positive and I'm a better contributor to society."

Despite coming from a creative family – both her mother and grandmother are artists – it was not always Inga's plan.

"I grew up with my mum saying 'you can't make any money out of art'. Even now, people say 'you're an artist, you must be really poor'. I think that's a belief system that needs changing. But it was more about changing my belief that made it happen."

Inga, who lives in Parkstone, found herself working as creative director at Pier Approach restaurant and bar Aruba, where she was tasked with "random things" including designing the front entrance.

"I did pretty stuff", she smiles. "I made it a lot prettier than it was, within the budget. It was great fun, but it was so stressful.

"I had to just grow into the belief that I could do what I really wanted to do."

She gradually began to transition to a calmer way of life, taking teacher training sessions in meditation, yoga and healing, before discovering Station Studios, a state-of-the-art complex in Branksome set up by local artist Stuart Semple to provide workspace for other artists, which just happened to be round the corner from Inga's house.

"All these things started to knit together", she explains.

Having undertaken a year's degree course in Bournemouth, followed by four years at Central St Martins in London, Inga returned to her hometown four years ago and has devoted herself to life as an artist, with her own space at Station Studios.

"I mainly paint, quite often with acrylic and oils at the moment," she says, "however, I've done sculpture, I did one for an exhibition in London which was human hair on tree branches.

"I like maps as well and I also really like to spend time in nature. that's part of the process. I did a residency at Knoll Gardens in Wimborne. I would go and sit in the gardens and sketch. I go down to the beach or the forest, or Hengistbury Head.

"I'm interested in the spiritual aspect of life, the things you can't see."

Inga, who also takes on commissions, says art has enabled her to look at the world in a different way, with her "realist abstract" style inspired by the way she is looking at the world at that time.

"I can do more abstract stuff, but it doesn't work as well in my thought process," she explains. "It's about peeling back layers. What going to uni showed me was how important that growth process is.

"I'm a work in progress myself, so they sort of show where I am right now. I suppose, in a funny way, they're all a self-portrait really.

"I think that it's quite circular, so you might go around and revisit an idea several times over."

Inga is currently working on putting together an exhibition and is keen to bring creative people in Bournemouth together to share her passion for the town and broaden her life experience.

"I think about life as boxes," she says. "I got this from a book I read a few years ago. You've got your initial box, which is just us and our parents and siblings. We think that everything that happens in those four walls is normal.

"Then you go to school and you've got another box which is school. Then you've got the wider community and your town and your country. It's not just about location, it's about who you hang around with.

"I'm interested in pushing the walls of my personal boxes. I'm working on taking away the boundaries so I don't want to set myself boundaries."