But I had to be willing to be confident when I said to somebody, I am an artist, I paint portraits.
Welcome to the Bold Artist Podcast, Summer Sessions, where we're talking about hot topics for the season, that'll make a difference to your art. I'm your host, Marijanel, joined by my co-host, Charla. Maarschalk. Let's get to it. Welcome back to the Bold Artist Podcast, Summer Sessions. This is a season where we're talking about hot topics for artists. And one of the topics we've been covering is going pro. And in our last episode, we talked about the three different dimensions, our mindset, our skills, and our business sense that really all need to be balanced in order to go pro as an artist. And today I'm excited to talk to my co-host, Charla, about the steps that she has taken as an artist to go pro -- like the practical steps. Uh, and Charla, do you wanna begin by just telling us a little bit first about yourself in a nutshell, because I think that some are tuning into our podcast for the first time they're finding us on YouTube and they might even wonder who you are. I know we have a lot of faithful listeners, but, um, just tell us in a nutshell, a little bit about your art business and what you're doing right now.
Um, so I'm a bold artist. I don't know,
I'm a bold color portrait artist. And so I've been painting, um, where I probably will say, and now I'm questioning everything I say, painting professionally for like a decade, but that was where I just went... A decade ago was when I decided to, for painting to be my number one only, uh, job, basically. Before that I was a photographer. And then I decided that painting was gonna be my profession. So, I would say I, now I'm questioning myself, I went pro 10 years ago. But was I really pro? I went to amateur 10 years ago.
Yeah, well, that's that's what we talked about. Yes. That's we talked about in our last episode was the difference between amateur and pro and all the steps from going amateur to pro. And so...
Yeah. So, I decided I wanted to go pro. I guess that's the right way. I, I began the journey to going pro 10 years ago, where it was going to be my number one. And, um, so I did that, which is what we're gonna talk about. What three steps do you take? And, um, at somewhere along the way, I decided to start teaching what I was doing online because there was a lot of, um, people wanting me to do it in person locally, which was time consuming. And there was lots of reasons why I made the decision, but I decided to record what I was teaching and put it online. And then I began there began Bold School, which is what we are doing right now. We have Bold School where we teach on online on-demand art classes with a community of amazing community of Bold Artists and a lot of mentorship that goes on inside of there. So that's what I do. And I consider myself a professional artist now. So there are definite steps to getting there.
And then, and we are actually gonna elaborate on what is a professional artist in another episode, but in a nutshell, Charla and I have sort of come up with this definition of a professional artist is one making their living in the field of art, but there's a lot of categories to how that could happen.
Yes, a lot.
You might be a teacher. You might be a painter selling paintings. Or like, I talk about art for my living. I'm immersed in the art world. But my art career and my professionalism in art looks very different than the one out there doing shows and painting commissions, um, as their sole income. Doesn't mean I don't do those things, but you know, all of us might look, our, our, our art profession might look different, but a professional will be one making their career, their vocation in art. And so you do that, Charla. So, you are a professional artist, and you have a lot of wisdom to share on the steps it took, because really you made a decision which, um, confirms what we talked about last week as like first needing your mindset to change. You need, you need the mindset. You need to be able to trust yourself, and go with your intuition. And then you, oh, well, I don't wanna give it away, but I know your, your first step on your way to being pro is... Do you remember?
Find some paint. Buy some paint. Purchasing paint.
Which might also, which might also sound like honing your skills, because for me it might not sound like buying paint, but honing your skills, your artistic skills.
No, it is. It's honing your skills. That is the first step. And in order to hone your skills, you have to own the products to that. So you have to buy paint. Um, yeah. Honing your skills. And I, so I decided to go pro. I definitely making that decision was a really big one for me, cuz I think like many of us, it took me years and years, years of thinking that I could never just make money off of being a fine artist. I couldn't just paint and have that as a career. It was an impossible. And one of the things I actually had people say to me when they're like, well, what are you gonna do now? 'Cause after I decided I was no longer gonna be a wedding photographer, what are you gonna do? I'm like, I'm gonna paint. I'm gonna do it full time. And they're like paint what? And I was thinking subject matter, but they're like, you're gonna paint houses? Like I actually got that. You're gonna paint houses? Like where does that? Do you even know me?
But people didn't really think of me as, as a fine artist. Like they looked at me at maybe a working artist, but not a fine artist. So, I had to make that decision, and I had to be confident in that decision, and I had to be willing to, um, fight for it, I guess you, you could say in a conversation. Or, not fight for it, but I had to willing to be confident when I said to somebody, I am an artist, I paint portraits, and they still look at me funny when I say that. Um, so you have to have your mindset there. And then, because I hadn't been painting full time and we had just moved across country. I actually had to go and buy the supplies. And I think it's a big, the, the part in, in first step of honing your skills, there is actually buying professional supplies. Buy expensive paint, brushes, and artist quality paint, so that when you paint, you know, you're putting quality into your work and this is exhibition level work.
Now I, there's a lot we could go in on that. It's not number one most important thing to do, but I think it's a big part of your mindset is that you no longer have to buy cheap paint, or you no longer can buy cheap paint. We've been talking a lot in our pre-podcast, uh, discussions about the idea of going pro as an athlete. If you're gonna be a professional athlete, one of the first things you're gonna do is go buy expensive shoes because you know, they run out real, they wear it really fast. If you don't have the right shoe, you get blisters. My son just started, uh, playing tennis a lot more than he was playing. And he had got these terrible blisters 'cuz he was playing tennis in the shoes he wore to school every day. So, we had to go buy a really expensive pair of runners 'cuz he's playing tennis a lot.
It has to happen if you're gonna go pro. So, I think one of the first steps in honing your skills is knowing that you have to buy good supplies and learn what they mean and how they work and how to use them, and then start honing your skills, which is practice and study and taking online classes, 'cuz there's way more of them available now than when I started, and then practicing, and practicing, and painting, and painting. And you can use some cheaper paints to do some of that. But um, I think you just really need to set your mind and get in there and know that it's gonna take longer than six months. Maybe even longer than a couple of years.
Yes. Honing your skills to me is a lifelong dedication. Yes, yes. Um, and it's, but you can reach a certain point in your skills where you're ready to go pro and what we're talking about today is the three steps in going pro. It doesn't mean in these three steps, you will be pro, but you kind of like, let's see our talent as the airplane and these three steps are the runway, and then you gotta take off and go pro, but you're not gonna get, you're not gonna go pro without these three steps. And one of them is to hone in on your skills. One of the ways I just wanna insert this, that you can do that is at boldschool.com, where as Charla mentioned, we have an online space for bold color painting. We teach the skills and we have this beautiful thriving community where you can, um, get critique from mentors. And um, a lot of interaction with peers. I host the book club sometimes and love it. I love growing with this, uh, group of, of artists who are just,
on a quest and, and supporting one another. So check out boldschool.com, make sure to get on our newsletter. I just had to slip that in there because that is one way you can hone your skills.
And I think that takes us into step two, which, uh, I don't know if this is a step two or step three, but going local, like getting into your community because you need to meet artists and talk to artists. You need to learn the life of an artist. And in our online community, one of the things that people say who join Bold School and become a member at Bold School is that the community has, is the thing that propels them forward because we give each other feedback. We talk through the stuff that we're we're dealing with. It might be that you feel like you're wasting expensive paint. So, we're talking about what that means and how to get around it. We're talking about how to evaluate your own work so that you can, you can be honest with yourself and not sit there, um, in the dark, like wondering if your work is good or not, or wondering how to get through blocks or how to get through stuck places.
The talking about a process. Like we just, we, you just, you learn a lot and it val, you get validated a lot in the community because sometimes we wonder if we're just doing it right. And maybe you are doing it right. And then somebody tells you you're doing it. Right. And then you feel better about your process.
So the community is huge and you there's a lot of online communities. I think ours is one of the best. It's a great place. Actually with our community, you can get a community pass. You don't even have to be part of the school. You can get community pass and just come and learn in the community and take our workshops and, and be a part of our events there. Um, but also you can go into your local community, like a real live people and meet artists there. And I think that is all a part of going pro.
You cannot go pro if you're just gonna sit in the corner of your studio by yourself, never interacting with anybody. I don't, I really honestly wouldn't believe you. If you told me you're a professional artist and that's all you ever did
Yes. Now, um, these are steps that you have personally taken. And as we talked through what we wanted to share today, we were talking through the three steps of going pro, and we had number one, hone your skills. And, um, you actually just mentioned number three, which was getting into your community, but number two is the online component.
And I just, just to start this, um, part of the conversation, uh, in my time of podcasting, and as I'm reaching out to artists and getting to know the artist community, when an artist, now this is, might be my own personal distinction of pro versus amateur. But as soon as an artist tells me that they don't have a website, I personally see the distinction that they haven't gone pro.
Because to me, uh, claiming a domain, putting your work online and having a professional website is a very big component of being pro.
When an artist tells me they only have Instagram, or they're only doing a Facebook page, or I see them as casual and as perhaps amateur, because they haven't taken that step in the direction of a business minded artist, which would have a website. So, that might be my own personal distinction, but I, I think I'm not alone in that distinction.
And it's very important to me that an artist who is going pro gets online in the form of a website and then socials. And you might have done it the other way around. You might have socials and then eventually get a website. But's the website is key. Wouldn't you agree?
I believe that it's um, well, I would, I would fight to the death for that being a part of going pro. I don't believe you can go pro in today's world without it. Now, I believe that maybe there are some artists that have been artists for their whole lives and maybe senior artists who have not needed to do that. And now they have a name maybe they're even represented by galleries, so they don't necessarily need it. But if you're new to the art world, then, which is means you're going pro you haven't gone pro um, you, you need to do it. It's it's an absolute must. You're doing yourself a great, uh, injustice almost by not being present online, putting your portfolio onto a nice clean website and having your artist statement on there, your biography or whatever, like just a simple and clean.
It's a way for people to see everybody goes to Google when they wanna know something. And if somebody, uh, a senior work, maybe in a show, or maybe just in your own private home, and they're telling their friend about your work, the first thing that person's gonna wanna do is go check out your portfolio online. They're not gonna wanna call you up for a studio appointment. They're going to wanna see your work online before they ever put the time and effort into actually viewing your work in person, for the most part. And so you need to have it because people will forget you, if you don't. And then you have your portfolio online, it's pretty easy to set up these days, and then you need to be on socials. If you're going to show people that you're alive and you're, well, you need to be on socials.
You need to have, you know, Instagram at the very least, uh, if you're really super brave a YouTube channel, like a Facebook page, whatever, so that people can go on and see that you're alive. And that, you didn't make your website 15 years ago, and then just give up your art. They wanna go on socials to see that you're still painting, and you're still riding your bike or going to the park, whatever you do, they just wanna see you're alive, and you're well, and you're still producing art. And that's a part of being a professional artist. It's the bare minimum of being a professional artist. You have to go online and you have to present yourself on several of these platforms.
So, before we sign off on today's podcast, Charla, I wanna circle back around to what you mentioned about being in the community. Now, I know we talked about our Bold School online community, but let's talk for a second about the local community that you live in. And introverts, introverted artists are cringing right now saying, no, I don't wanna come out of my studio. I don't wanna talk to people. I don't wanna go to markets or galleries or...
Especially, post COVID. Nobody wants to leave their house.
I know. And so, but, um, if you have the opportunity to get involved in your local community, it is, it is key because the local community around you has the ability to help you get your name out into the world. The community rallies around you because they're proud of their local artists and they feel a connection. And, um, I wanna use the word ownership. Like they feel that they own and foster this, this artist I've seen it in my own town. We are proud, proud, uh, lovers of the work of Adam Meikle. He was on one of our, um, very early on podcasts of the Bold Artist Podcast. And, and we've also interviewed several Kelowna artists that are from your area, Charla, um, Anita McComas and Jolene Mackey. And these are like, Kelowna feels that they, you know, they have claimed these amazing artists.
Because they're out there in the community and, uh, communities want to rally around their artists. And so by you getting in touch with your local art galleries that often have local shows, if you are able to set up your own show, um, you know, by, by renting a hall and collabing with some other, um, like-minded artists whose work compliments yours, if you can, if you can just get out there networking and letting your community know that you exist. So you're not
I hate networking, just so you know, I hate that word.
It's a necessity, but I just hate it.
Just letting you all know that I hate it.
If there's a better word for it, but you know, it is essentially you're building a network. You, one person introduces you to the next person, which introduces you to the next person, which though you hate the word networking, Charla, it worked for youF You painted the piece called flutter, which landed in someone's hands, who essentially opened the door to a big opportunity for you. And so that was a huge part of, of your start in your local community.
Yeah. Um, yeah.
So do you wanna, we're at 17 minutes of our, what's supposed to be our quick summer session, but what is the story?
It's a big topic?
It is. Do we wanna save it for next week?
Well, no, we can, we can clue it up, I think quickly. Um,
And then we could talk about it some more in another podcast, but yeah. Yeah. Like local community. I think it, it like Marijanel is saying it creates a support system for you, and that helps build your confidence. But it also, it just, it just makes your life better when you have a community and a support system. But it also helps you to hone your people skills. And as many of us introverted artists know, it's hard to do that if you're not hanging out with people. Um, I think it, it, if we're gonna be in the world and our art's going to make an impact and it's gonna matter, we have to be able to communicate our art to the world and getting out locally is it's -- I also hate this term, a safe space to do it -- because we love our local, our local people.
There're our tribe. They're our people. So we love being out there where it feels kind of safe. You know, going to the next big city it's foreign, and you feel foreign when you get there. So this is a nice, easy step to take, to get out into the world. I think we all kind of know there's different... It depends what you wanna do, but if you want your art to go into galleries and, and you wanna have solo shows, you need that normally happens in like a bigger city. I know that I'm generalizing a lot right now, but you're gonna move into the bigger cities to have those things happen, but you have to take the steps to get there. You're not just gonna put your art on Instagram, more than likely, and get some big show in like a major city, and then sell your art for $20,000. It's, it's just not gonna happen like that. You have to take stepping stones. And your local community is one of those stepping stones.
Is a stepping stone. And I.
It builds your support system.
I did have a thought that followed what I shared about how important it is again, in the community and how they are your, your biggest supporters, but in the same breath that I say that I have a caution that you don't wanna stay in your own community too long.
Because they can also, um, I say this with the deepest respect, but can take an artist for granted and eventually feel like, oh, it's just so and so. And so there's a delicate balance. I think of being in your community for special events and making sure your face and your art is present there, that they don't forget about you, but also that you're not giving away all your art and just always being oversaturated in your community or saturating your community too much, because they will lose, um, the respect and value for you where the, the idea is that it would be a safe place for you to develop and be loved. But being as a platform to be sent out into the world in other ways, to be able to present yourself beyond your community, but you gotta kind of start there, um, in order to, to gain confidence
Yeah. It teaches you the skills you need. Like, if you've never been in a show before, like you going out into a local community, they, they love your local artists. So you're, you're probably gonna get in that show. If your work is good and you have a nice portfolio they can look at, they'll accept you into their shows because you're local. And most of the time they love supporting local artists. So then you can get into a group show or a community art fair or something of, of that nature. And then you learn what it takes to submit your work. To.
To set up what kind of production you need to set up in the different atmospheres. And then you get to talk to people, and present your art, and you get to meet local art gallery owners and, and local collectors, like all of that starts to happen. And you're, you're honing your people skills.
And then when you move to the next city where you feel more foreign, and it's way scarier to do that, or you're moving into like a big art fair, where a booth is like $5,000. You're, you're ready for that. 'Cuz you can't jump into one of those art fairs. You've never done a fair before. You're gonna waste your money 'cuz you're not even know how to set up for it or how to present yourself to the people who are walking through your booth. So, these local fairs allow you to wet your feet, learn the skills and people will be way more generous in their critique of you because you're a local artist ,and they wanna support you. And they're proud of you. So there's a lot of levels, but I think that bringing that up about how it can actually, if you stay there too long or you get too comfortable, it can become like your comfort zone, and then you might never move beyond it either.
So, always stay, you know, a little bit nervous and always keep yourself moving forward, going into something that's new.
Like don't get too comfortable in your local community, but it's a number it's a, it is one of the biggest, most important steps into becoming a professional artist is getting into your community.
Yeah. My 17 year old daughter calls it nervy when you're nervous. She's like, I'm a little nervy about that exam today. So here's a good piece of advice. Stay a little nervy, everyone.
If you're a little nervy, you know, you're moving forward. So, just to wrap it up, the three steps of going pro that we've talked about today is honing your skills, getting online, for sure a website, and getting involved in your local community. Thank you so much for joining us today on the Bold Artist Podcast, Summer Sessions. We're excited to see you online, whether that be Instagram on boldschoolinc. Right here on YouTube on the Bold School channel. You can find us on audio apps. If you wanna listen on podcast, audio in your earbuds, while you're working, you can find us on all audio apps. And don't forget to make sure you're on our newsletter. You can get on there @boldschool.com. Until next time, keep creating.