This story was originally published on Medium.com
My digital photo art
Over the years I’ve always felt a burning itch that I just couldn’t scratch. Despite my best efforts, I could never figure out what it was. However, in May of 2014, Ramit Sethi held a webinar on building a business for yourself instead of someone else that it finally hit me. I had been spending my entire adult life trying to get a job that was in the service of other companies I wasn’t really passionate about.
That night, I realized it was time to work towards something I believe in. I signed up for Ramit’s course and was on my way to building something great that’s meaningful to me. A few of my first attempts included helping people be productive and the other was to help startups with their sites and marketing, but these felt a little bit off. Then I had one of those lightbulb moments. I wanted to help artists like myself thrive in the world by making a living off of their gifts. I felt as if I had finally scratched that itch.
Before I get into how I want to help artists, I will tell you why I chose artists.
Photo from Wikipedia
My love for the arts started when I was a little kid. I also played sports and went outside with friends, but I was happiest when I could just sit inside and draw. I drew all sorts of things: houses, people, animals, cartoon characters, and anything else that looked interesting. My most vivid memory of drawing during childhood is when I drew the Tazmian Devil on my bedroom door. Boy, did I hear from my mom about that one. “Why did you ruin this perfectly good door?” my mom asked. I didn’t really have an answer for her, I just knew it felt great being able to express myself through that drawing.
I also realized that no other subject gave me the sense of freedom that I felt when I was in art class. I could lose myself in that classroom with whatever assignment was given. It was one of the few places you could explore your creativity without being told to stop. Those were truly the first moments where I discovered the state of flow.
During middle school and high school, art became much less of a priority. When you are trying to get into college, no one wants to see a portfolio of artwork, they would much rather see high grades in Advanced Placement classes. Unless you are trying to become a full time “starving” artist, art is just a fun hobby, or so you are led to believe. So I concentrated my efforts on becoming an architect. I took three years of drafting in high school and thought it looked like a promising career path.
UCF & Digital Media
Photo by Matthew Pearce
When it came time for college, I went to the University of Central Florida. The only problem was, UCF didn’t have an architecture program. I was stuck trying to figure out what my major should be. Lucikly I had grown up as an internet kid and UCF offered a program called Digital Media.
While at UCF I learned a lot about the different ways you can use media as a platform for sharing your message and story. From audio design to video production everything in-between. Although I haven’t made use of all these skills outside of college, I definitely have a greater understanding of how digital platforms can help spread your message.
This brought me to my job as a web developer and designer. At my job I have learned a great deal about how powerful the internet is. Since graduating in 2008, the internet has grown by leaps and bounds, and we are still in its infancy. Blogs and newsletter marketing have re-emerged as powerful platforms. Social media has made sharing your thoughts with the world easier than ever.
Who Designed It?
Screenshot of Who Designed It?
In 2009, I launched Who Designed It? My original idea was to create a site where people could upload a design, photo, or piece of clothing and find out where they can buy it. The internet has an incredible number of great pictures, but many of them are unattributed. I didn’t know how to approach this subject, so I never pursued that direction. I did, however, turn WDI? into a showcase for great fashion, design, and photography pieces. There are so many artists out there with amazing talent that people have never heard of and I felt they deserved some exposure. There are tons of great sites out there that also share this mission: My Modern Met, Colossal, Booooooom, and Scene 360 just to name a few. Over the years I have discovered tons of great designers, photographers, and other great artists. Even so, I still felt like I could do something more.
The Present and Plans for the Future
Screenshot of Marketing Your Art the Right Way
This brings me back to the present. One of the things that strengthened my desire to help not just artists but any creative individual was the practice of a gratitude journal. It has been immensely helpful in becoming a more positive person.
In my journal I write three things I am grateful for each day. Doing this, I noticed certain trends popping up time and time again. One was helping others and sharing my knowledge with the world.There is something about sharing knowledge that brings me great joy. Whether I’m learning from others or sharing my own insights, I believe knowledge is the greatest tool we have as humans. The other thing I noticed was I really enjoy spending time with people who are positive and want to grow. The old adage that says surround yourself with people you want to be like is absolutely true. I have met so many incredible and interesting people since I started putting myself out there to grow. I want to impart these same ideals on artists who not only want to grow and meet new people, but to those who want to share their gifts with the world.
I believe I’ve finally found that itch I just couldn’t scratch. I want to help artists share their amazing work with the world. I’ve spoken to many people, including artists, about this topic, and I know it is an area of need. My new site, Marketing Your Art the Right Way, is dedicated to helping artists share their art with the world and build strong and lasting connections with their fans. Through the site I will help artists create a larger and more engaged audience. I will help them build better websites, and I will help them connect and communicate with the world.
I want to demystify the idea that artists can’t make a living doing what they love. There are plenty of artists who have done an amazing job sharing their talents with the world. In this day and age, I think it is easier than ever to become a successful artist. You can communicate with audiences instantaneously, you can share your work on platforms with millions of people, and you have access to audiences in almost every part of the world.
We are coming upon a new age for artists. You have those who can adopt and flourish in this new digital age and those who toil in obscurity. It doesn’t have to be that way. Every talented artist should be able to survive in this world without having to worry about just getting by.
Everything I’ve done up until now has led me on this path. If it weren’t for each step of the journey I’ve taken, I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in today. I’m looking forward to using all of the knowledge I’ve gained over the years to help artists flourish. I want artists to reach their full potential and share their great and inspiring art with the world. Most of all, I believe that dedicating oneself to one’s artistic expression and making a successful living is entirely possible — and it is my mission to help others turn that into a reality.
In one of the most inspiring series I've ever seen, artist Shawn Van Daele takes the drawings of sick children and turns them into magical fantasy worlds where that child's dream comes true. Daele has turned these drawing into books which encourages donors to contribute to the cause. Through his drawings, he hopes to show "anything is possible".