Florida

The State of the Arts 

 I have grown to love the sophisticated but eclectic aura of Sarasota, FL.

 

 
 Owner, Operator  Sarasota, FL  Taken By: Dylan Jon Wade Cox    

Owner, Operator

Sarasota, FL

Taken By: Dylan Jon Wade Cox 

 

Out and About Coffee Owner - Justin Banister  

Able + Willing Supply Co.'s first Friday Event in August is where I met Justin Banister serving guests on a Slayer Espresso behind a mobile coffee bar that read Out and About Coffee. I stood in line and patiently waited to order. I requested an,  iced vanilla coffee, sweet. With no hesitation, before I blinked my eyes he served me "Awesome " in a cup. Justin was happy to talk coffee and about his company mission.   

The Coffee Expert

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"The spark that ignited in me to start Out and About Coffee was the lack of coffee culture in Sarasota. I wanted to knock away that street vendor intimidation. My responsibility as owner is creating a social presence on all platforms, traveling to cities to meet other business owners. I also spend time renewing permits, invoicing, doing strategic planning and helping starts ups. An average work day for me is 6:45AM prep, 7:15AM  setup, 12PM breakdown. I'm also active in The Food Truck Council and I attend once every other month The County and City Commissions. Its important to me to remain a positive voice within the community."

Operate in the Black    

"My grandfather gave me stock, so I invested. I never sold. Even throughout college I applied for scholarships and graduated with a couple grand in debit that I paid off. I operate in the black. I'm not interested in investors. I used the money I've saved to create my business. I'm successful in my work because I'm passionate. You have to love what you do".

Competition

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"I've distinguished myself from competitors through the experience and my passion leads through. My customers want to know the coffee I serve for the day. I'm also located on Main St. during prime time so you have to walk past me. I have regular customers that stay and do repeat business with me because its personable and customers also wants coffee, that tastes like coffee."

600 Pounds of Coffee Bar

"What was unexpected in the process of creating my business was weight, when traveling. The coffee bar is about a big 600 pounds and that doesn't include the weight of the grinder. Also the amount of paperwork for licenses ( ie; agriculture, flea market, farmers market ), health inspections, renewals fees, food tax, etc". 

Failure is an Opportunity

"The biggest mistake I made when it came to building the business was holding on to events that made me work harder (then smarter). Since I travel with my bar, there's a lot of wear and tear on my vehicle. I've made the mistake in the past of traveling incredibly far, underselling myself and not making much revenue for a private event. I've learned a great deal, from things like early prepping, to being more aware of my inventory for events. Also, when it comes to brewing coffee on tap, I use just about a pound of coffee when creating new recipes which can be costly and frustrating. You realize when it comes to failure, its an opportunity for you to learn from your mistakes."

Community Support

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"My business supports the community because I am actively involved with community affairs, I encourage millennials to stay and don't give up on the young culture of Sarasota you must play a role and sit in on counsel meetings."

Corporate Perspective

"When working in the corporate world I faced a lot of time overworked, with no lunch breaks and I was being taken advantage of. I was very sick and my body was shutting down.  I lost a tremendous amounts of weight. I believe that corporate America pays more I guess that's dependent on what your career is, but in some cases to be successful you must be dishonest and work yourself to death."    

 Find a Mentor  

"The best advice that was ever given to me was, figure out what makes you happy and make a living with that. Advice that I would offer new business owners starting today is: make a plan in a way that you can understand and someone that mentors you can understand it. If its just a dream, its not a plan. Find a mentor, or someone you admire who knows the business and will hold you to your goals"  

 
 Graffiti Writer, Artist  Bradenton, FL  Taken By: Matt Allison   

Graffiti Writer, Artist

Bradenton, FL

Taken By: Matt Allison

 

 'Land Of The First People' Muralist - Richie Brasil 

My first encounter with Richie was straight forward and down to earth. He is a creator leading strongly and placing his stamp on a small town. I was privileged to have interviewed him while he was painting his incredibly large piece in The Rosemary District  (650 Central Avenue) in Sarasota.

The Rosemary District Mural

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"I did eight different sketches before I came to do this sketch here. This is the one the landlord and I chose on the concept that we wanted to go with.  He is a morally honest man who has the same kind of heart as I do and wanted to do something about the land here in Sarasota. We agreed I should put some brown faces up there. I suggested that before we do the black culture we should do the indigenous  culture and then do the black culture. He agreed. So I started sketching, and found these old dutch drawings of the first early people in a book. What I liked about them is they didn’t have racist head dresses that you normally see associated with natives. There was an honesty about them and the way they are drawn in this renaissance style. So we took this, flipped it and made it ours and I started painting and knocked it out." 

Graffiti Writer and Artist  

"What encouraged me to start selling pieces and going into a more entrepreneurial independent route is that I suffer from anxiety, so I was feeling anxious about what I was doing with my life. I was a personal trainer, a nutritionists, but always a graffiti writer and an artist. I wasn’t doing art so I felt outside myself, I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do and I wasn’t happy. I saved my money, I quit my job and I started painting full time. I started with the train yards of course, baby stepped my way back into it. I did a free mural that got me my first job, then I started doing canvases and the rest is history. When it comes to my work; its honesty, quality and bringing a personal side to the art. If it pisses you off, I’ve succeeded. If you love it, I’ve succeeded. If you don’t feel anything then, I’ve failed."
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The Art Business

"I hustle just like everyone else, I have to make it happen. I’ll make a painting here and there, whether its signs, a mural, or a canvas you want personally. Even pencil drawings of yourself, you do what you have to do for the love of your work. I treat every day like its a Monday, but now I say Tuesday. You work harder on a Tuesday, then a Monday. There are no days off when you are an artist. Especially when you are self employed. The day that you are relaxing and taking it easy is the day you were sleeping. The opportunities are there, make them happen. I’m not saying its not difficult for me, being me, but I make them happen. I've built up enough notoriety in this town I can find work if I really needed to."
 

Painting the Uncomfortable Truth

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"My paintings within my career now are about people of color of all colors black, white, etc. There is a vulnerability in my pieces, there is an uncomfortable truth I like to convey in my stuff. That’s not always the case with all my pieces. I paint random stuff, I think is cool. But right now these things are personal and dear; but whether they start good or bad conversations – they start conversation and that’s what I hope."

It's a Learning Curve

"There are no mistakes, because you are on a learning curve. Every issue you have you know not to do again. I’m thankful for every problem I’ve encountered within this art business whether that's people taking money, me losing money, or selling myself short, it all taught me that I’m worth something and I to not make that mistake again. I needed these lessons especially early on in my career. Its only been three years straight that  I’ve been painting professionally. So I’m excited for more mistakes to come, you grow wiser that way."

Cut Throat Corporate People

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"The difficulties I faced in the corporate world are corporate people, cut throat. I’ve worked under people who were nothing but great to me, supportive and who told me to leave businesses to follow my dreams. I’ve also worked for people who treated me worse than scum and I busted my butt for them. Now in this time there is money out there and ways you can grind. You can find a way, if you believe in yourself and you're willing to break through the odds,  you can do it ! You don’t have to deal with that environment, I think that’s the most important lesson you can take from anybody that abuses power. You can be powerful too!" 

  Worst and Best Advice

 
 
"I had an art teacher in high school who told me graffiti isn’t going to take me anywhere. That criticism then, I took personally.  There was also a time when I made another attempt at finishing school. I had a terrible up bringing and I was determined to make it work. I recalled that moment with my former teacher when I was on a Sarasota Morning Show. I explained on my interview that I was told graffiti wasn’t going to take me anywhere, but here I am. I’m here because I still write graffiti. Over a decade later, I thought about how important a teachers  criticism is, weather good or bad. You should take that criticism in the same breath. In a positive light, if he never told me that would I’ve gotten serious and still done graffiti?  I probably wouldn’t have." 
 
What I can say to artists starting out today is work your ass off, quality before anything put out your best stuff ever. Don’t worry about the money and don’t worry about the number of likes." 
 
 Owner, Operator  Sarasota, FL  Taken by; Adorella Arts   

Owner, Operator

Sarasota, FL

Taken by; Adorella Arts

 

 Wild Ginger Apothecary Owner - Nicole Leffler 

Ms. Nicole Marie Leffler is Sarasota’s Gulf Gate, gem. Originally from Michigan, Nicole moved back to Sarasota, Fl for a third time. A little over two years later she is proud to celebrate Wild Ginger Apothecary's Two Year Anniversary. I had the pleasure of sitting down with her and meeting the store dog Berkley. 

A Multifaceted Woman

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"I've run businesses my entire adult life. Originally, I was a residential remodeler and contractor in Michigan. While I was there doing that I decided I wanted to get into small retail. At that point I wanted to do more of a metaphysical, semi precious, healing stones and jewelry; that sort of thing. That's what I was doing when I moved back down to Florida, the last time before this. The more I got into the natural health scene and started managing a health food store. I realized this was a more appropriate manifestation of what I wanted to do.

Wrong Timing

I've been a big cosmetic, beauty skin care fan especially since my teenage and college years. Also, my family and I have been in the natural health scene all of my life so it was an easy progression for me. When I was working there I still had plans to open a store of some sort like this but it just kinda continued to refine and it wasn't the right time, the right money or the right place and Florida wasn't for me at that point."

Corporate Natural Retail

 Taken by: Little Skull Photography 

Taken by: Little Skull Photography 

"I went back to Michigan and got involved with corporate natural retail. I managed for them for a long time and that just clarified the goal even more. Not that there is anything wrong with these corporate businesses but there's a lot of things you have to carry that you don't necessarily believe in or don't work.  For instance, I have two brands of deodorant and I know they both work, I've tried them. You're going to come in here and you are going to get a product that I know works, because I've tried it personally. It's not because I have to stock thirty different varieties on the shelf because that's what's expected. You are not constantly selling the product, over and over again that has an ingredient you don't believe in and, ignoring all these other good ones. There was such an ethical conflict there and just the over flow of way to many options."

Made it Happen

" I've been doing business consulting on the side so I knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial and I had the background and business skill set to for it, but I continued to help others and their businesses. The more I did both of those things I realized this was refining what I needed to do so by the time this came along I moved to Florida the last time the first two weeks I just made a decision and found a spot and made it happen."  

Being a Yes Man

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"Challenges I faced with the corporate world was being a yes man. I wasn't cut out for that, so not only was I selling products that I didn't believe in much I also had to do things really cookie cutter.  I already had years of small business management experience and I'm used to managing staff of ten to twenty people easily, so to have someone micro manage what you're doing so much that you're no longer managing you're just a warm body with a leadership role and that was really challenging to me. It kind of robbed me of my management abilities which in some ways was good because it reeled me in a little bit but it was not enough of a leadership role for me. I had be a little politically correct and that was challenging for me."

{Shop} | {Learn} | {Move} 

"I run three different businesses now four. Running the store I research all the products I carry and evaluate them ethically, quality, ingredients and the company background. I am responsible for stocking inventory, bringing in new product line and now I have my first part time employee. I've really been running the store every single day open to close, everything that has happened in the business has been me. From in person, to social media and marketing, now I'm also coordinating the yoga studio classes, managing the space and those teachers. The third space is the lounge and I schedule events, workshop classes, as well as educational opportunities - I wear a lot of different hats."

"It offers something that no one else has had the chance to provide as far as natural health and beauty products that are affordable and streamlined and with a really one on one consultation experience. We provide a community of health and wellness so we have everything from movement classes, business startup classes to workshops - it's something virtually every day of the month. Its an opportunity meet people, network, expand your business, expand your mind, your health, your body. I do a lot of partnerships with people in the community as much as I can, we have local vendors we've done collaborative projects with. We also have the fellow Gulf Gate businesses, the Merchant Association that meets here that's a great circle. Also the people who are teaching classes and workshops here are a small business on some level. It's a little incubator of sorts."

Small Businesses

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"You don't go into retail on this level because you want to make big bucks if I did I would have stayed with corporate and made a ton more money for far less hours. I would have been more efficient at my job in a small amount of time. The thing with small businesses is that you have to wear a lot of hats and be good at a lot of different things so you can't be really exceptional at anything. Despite the illusion of it, I try. I feel like with some people they get really enamored with the idea of being an enterpernuer or owning a business especially with things like retail and it's really not that clear cut its a lot of stress, hard work, anxiety, money and it requires you to kinda shape your brain into a different process then a lot  of us are use to with our day job."

Large Retail Competition

"There are some natural stores in town and we have large retail competition and they have some of the same products as I do but they also have products that are considered banned ingredients for me which is huge- I have a strict banned ingredients lists that there products at Whole Foods and Earth Origins and every where in between that don't meet those ingredient requirements. 
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On the other side, you have very pure yet very high end and expensive boutique organic products that are available in town. They are amazing and I would highly recommend all of them however, I cant afford them. For me I felt a little conflicted caring products that I can't even justify purchasing. So the goal of the store is not location driven,  its something for everyone. I have really good products at really good price points and nothings super excessive."  

  Unrealistic Standards

"For me, professional failures were really more on unrealistic expectations and so a lot of that taught me how to be self sufficient, how to not rely on others and not to have a perfectionist mentality. I do still do that often, as it is one of my challenges in life but that would be the overall biggest lesson for me."

Self Care

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"Best advice based on self care, one of those important components was that I was resistant to it for a long time. Taking care of your body and stress relief because people don't listen to the need of self care until often it's too late. The worst advice generally speaking, are from those who encourage not go through with something that you intuitively know like is the right choice. You have a lot of  people who kind of encourage this societal norm. When you are set out to do something else, theres always something to get in your way that looks like a bigger and better plan. Nine times out of ten people are going to encourage you to go with the main stream rather then breaking the norm. That's why the store took me a decade to actually get this the way I wanted, because there was always something that came along."
 

Have a Business Plan

"Now I'm around people every single day that are change makers, but no matter who your friends are, your background, or your family your always going to have someone be resistant to  you venturing out on your own. My advice to entrepreneurs starting out today is do your research, have a business plan. Get real with whats driving you, what you're passionate about, why you're choosing to do what you're doing. Make sure that you are patenting your investment needed. Also, self care ! It's easy to get caught up in the business owner flow where you're not taking care of yourself, or your relationships, or your body and mind. When you're always thinking about business all the time and you're never getting a break from it, it's really hard to be objective about what's really happening with your business." 

 Visual Artist and Designer   Sarasota, FL / Brooklyn, New York  Taken By:  Ellen Rose 

Visual Artist and Designer 

Sarasota, FL / Brooklyn, New York

Taken By:  Ellen Rose 

Ellen Rose - Visual Artist and Designer

Ellen and I met when I first moved to SRQ, we were colleagues. When we finally broke the ice and talked, we became good friends. We've partnered with one another for local events, like the Art Center Sarasota: 2016 I Concept Fashion Show. After two years in Sarasota she's relocated back to Brooklyn, NYC where she juggles a full time gig creating inspirational window displays and showcasing her own art work. 

Who is Ellen

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"Ellen Rose. People tell me it’s a nice name. My parents branded me well.I work full-time creating retail window displays, but have my own art practice outside of that. I’m a moody and almost-to-my-detriment-perfectionist artist. I draw, paint, and make ceramics." 

Art is Meditation

"I used to make conceptual art, or my conception of what conceptual art is. Now, I make art that’s fun and bright and only vaguely means something. Making art is like meditating. It allows me to think abstract thoughts and turn my ideas into something tangible. Transforming my imagination into physical form is a magic so strong, that even when I’m the magician, I’m surprised and delighted by the outcome."

What Called You to this Passion

"That’s a great question, especially since as the art and design fields progress, the roles within them become more and more specialized and abstruse.
When I was in school, I had basically no clue what visual merchandising was. I studied Art and associated that only with museums, galleries, and the artists represented by them. I can trace my trajectory back to a moment, during a college break, when I was walking down Fifth Ave with my friend: we passed a window display, and I brazenly said, “I could make that. But better.” I was completely underestimating the process and the talent that go into the displays, but that brazen attitude projected me into the world of visual merchandising and allowed me to participate in it and grow."
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Success Means

"Getting paid to be expressive; to have weird ideas; to have a perspective and to get things done. It’s a practical reality that success signifies compensation. A quotation that inspires and motivates me to be myself and do what I love is “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.” Salvador Dalí. I don’t think of this statement as some teetotaling straight-edge manifesto, but rather a realization that one’s own imagination can be as frightening and hypnotizing; as surreal as a substance-induced trip."

Workspace and Museums

"I have two amazing pieces of furniture in my studio: an antique maps filing cabinet from the New York State Department of Transportation that houses my art-making materials. And a desk that my husband made for me from a vintage door that once was covered in layers of plasticky paint that he sanded down to a smooth, weathered finish.
I go to galleries and museums to see other artists’ work. First, it helps orientate me: what art is important from history and why? What work is being created and lauded today? Second, it gives me insight into other artists’ solutions. Realizations like thick paint looks better when applied with palette knife rather than a brush; citron yellow and lavender make for nice neighbors, etc. Third it gives me a good injection of stress. There is so much beautiful work out there--how do I compete--I’ve got to go back to my desk and try harder."

A Motto I Live By

"I am in control of the things I need to be in control of. (And I don’t need to be in control of everything)."
 

Learning from Mistakes

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 "All the time, every day. I’m such a perfectionist that I see the mistakes in every project. I just try to make fewer and less significant ones with each new project."
 

Workday Rituals

"We surround ourselves with talismans and create rituals, whether we’re aware of them or not. My hands are my most important tool; I keep my fingernails short for maximum dexterity. Bold lipstick gives me courage. I clean my desk thoroughly between projects."
 

Distinguish Yourself From Other Artists

"I use threads to make straight lines. I connect one dot to another with thread rather than with ink or paint. Are there many other artists doing that? I believe that nothing is new; we’re all just collages of previous iterations. I’m comfortable with that."

The Corporate Perspective

"The difficulties are fewer the deeper into the corporate world I get. When I first left school, I was at odds with the idea of the corporate, but now that I’ve grown, I see its value. I like working in a team; I like working within certain brand or creative or budgetary limitations. I like having structure that allows projects to be realized... I like too having a corporate existence and then my own artwork apart from that.
 
I’ve had some small successes, but there’s more to come."
 Rae Grand  Sarasota, FL  Photo taken by: Little Skull Photography

Rae Grand

Sarasota, FL

Photo taken by: Little Skull Photography

Rae Grand - Live Illustration Artist

Who is Rae Grand

"My brand name is Rae Grand but my full name is Kelsey Rae Grandal. I started going by Rae when I went to art school at nineteen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I studied at the University of the Arts and I thought Rae was an interesting name, because it kind of made it unclear weather the artist was male or female. You didn't have to think about, "oh a woman created this " a lot of the times that complicates things since this is a mans world, but I'm not going to get into that."  

Artist Style

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"I am a documenter, I pretty much draw what I see. Lately, I've been doing live illustration and that has really become my niche. My live paintings are kind of like I am taking a photograph, just more slowly like instant photo print, kind of feel. I will also do a whole bunch of other things like print making and abstract landscape paintings."

 Art and its Meaning to You

"Choosing art really hasn't been a choice, honestly I wish I liked math more! It's very hard being an artist some people look at it as a hobby, and at times it gets treated like one. But I am making a living off of it, or at least trying to. Sometimes you end up being at a professional level and still not getting paid. I'm getting invited to these music festivals which is really exciting, but at times I'm not getting paid to participate in them and some don't allow me to sell my work. I've been a full time artist for a year now so it has its ups and downs. It for sure has been a wild ride."

Rae Grand, in Three Words

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"Whimsical, Adventure, Exclamation Point."

Operating a Business as an Independent Artist

"Right now I've been doing all my business offline, I've realized that I need to focus more on E-commerce and online marketing. I definitely have to migrate my work and make it accessible to everyone. I believe if I put a price on it, and offer a way to purchase online it would be a much more lucrative business. It's insane how many drawings I've done and I wont even get a photo, but I will sell it at an event. It must be about 50 - 100 drawings that I've sold and never got an image of it, just straight up non attachment. All these people that I am meeting at the festivals they have the tapestries, the lapel pins. But unfortunately, I am not there just yet. But that's a goal of mine to have more structure in my business. I know what I need to do but I need three more of me."

Professional Motto

"If you believe in what you do everything will align. The art world is like, you have to walk this fine line of ego. If you're too egotistical no one wants to be around you and all of a sudden you don't have gigs. If you don't have confidence enough you allow others to define you with their ill conceived notions. But if you believe in what you do, you can stand with other artists and not feel like you're in a battle or you're competing against them."

Your Calling to Art

"I went to art school in Portland, also. I don't believe in art school, I've dropped out from both but I tried it. As soon as I went from sketch book to easel, then people started to give me money - It worked out! What I'm getting at is, I used to do it before just for fun until I realized that I could profit from doing something I love." 

The World Needs More and Less of

"The world needs more communities and less corporations. Less complex, more simple. More love, less anger, more patience, and less misunderstandings."

Success and its Meaning to You

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"I guess I have this vision, it's is a goal to reach.  To own property, be self sustainable as possible, and try to build a home base for an art community. Not a commune, just a safe place where people could live and come together."

Favorite Thing to Come Home to

"I would say my dog but recently he has been coming with me when I travel to festivals. So I guess now I would say my bed, sometimes these festivals will be three days long and I will come back with tired feet and aches." 

Learning from Mistakes

"That is my favorite way to learn, definitely not by choice but it has taught me everything. Anytime I made a mistake or something doesn't go well I'll be telling it to my mother and she'll tell me "when are you going to learn?" My mother used to be an art teacher so she is my biggest critic. If you're not making mistakes you're not learning."

Most Proudest Moment in Business

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"I was in Colorado working and someone came up to me and said I've seen your work before and I told him I was not from Colorado but he named the festival that I had been at. He actually had recognized me from another festival I had participated in . It felt really good, being in Colorado and getting recognized because it does happen in Sarasota and St. Petersburg, Florida a little bit more lately, but to be in Colorado that was pretty cool."

How to Get out of a Creative Rut

"My workspace is where I live, it's in a renovated garage. My sister and I share the property. I love the doors and how it feels like I have everything I love inside while I feeling like I am outside. For creative inspiration I literally just need to be around an event, if I am around music there is inspiration everywhere. I don't even have to think."

How do You distinguish yourself from other Artists

"Many of my art friends that finished art school have expressed to me that there is like this strain and frustration with their art. I literally had a friend describe it as giving labor to something. It's almost like an expression that there art is painful. I don't have that relationship with my art. For me I feel I have a little more comfortability of making, messing up, and still going with it. I usually never start over a project it's very rare of me and I think that kind of translates in my work. I believe you can kind of see the joy that I am having in the process." 

Your Talent and the Community

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"Because I am drawing the community it's kind of cool, I'll capture peoples attention that aren't really interested in art, but if they're in it their able to open up there eyes a little more to what art is really about. My art work is about capturing moments and I think that's super important, just like the importance when taking a photograph of something historical."

Difficulties Faced Working in a Corporate Setting

"How much work and if I was putting that much energy into my own work, it could be that much more fruitful. I noticed that, especially if it was a creative job and I was working for somebody.  I never dedicated the time to my personal passion because I was comfortable. But to not have a job and have fifty dollars in the bank it definitely puts a fire underneath your butt to work harder. Also, the time. I am a night person so being able to work until four in the morning with my work and not have to wake up at nine is awesome." 

Advice for Artists Today

"Watch your ego. I wouldn't be where I am today, if I didn't go out and do it weather I was going to make money or not. Have a practice of non attachment and up selling your work, don't hold on to it. I was definitely like that in the beginning. Also, If you just immerse yourself in what you love it will capture in your work."