Manifesting Creative SuccessMarch 8, 2022
Since the start of the year, we’ve been discussing The Power Of Art. From Imagining Endless Possibilities, through to Putting Our Vision Into Practice, we’ve now reached the final stage, Manifesting Our Creative Success. How do we realise our vision, grow as artists, and get our work out into the wider world? If we focus on change and progress in our art and our creative careers, can we instigate better futures?
In our latest podcast we caught up with five artists, each on their own path towards manifesting creative success. As we discovered, there’s no single way to get there and it’s never too late to start – the key is figuring out what works best for you.
Contemporary artist and designer Zoë Pawlak is known for her confident, ever-evolving style. Rooted in painting, her catalogue includes figurative, landscapes and lately, a study of vessels. In recent years Zoë’s practice has expanded into industrial design, including mirror and rug collections. Connecting all her work is an evocative, intuitive command of colour, material use and composition. Zoë has been featured in Architectural Digest, Interior Design, The Globe and Mail and Martha Stewart Living, and her paintings grace the private collections of the Government of Canada, Cristina and Trevor Linden, Cobie Smulders and Club Monaco.
There’s a whole range of things that people can do to promote and sell their work, but we have to be naturally inclined towards these things in order for it to actually stick. I do encourage people who are more introverted or who know that they’re really just a painter and not a people person to find representation, find friends who can help them sell their work or find some young art student who wants to do the craft fair for them. We’ve been taught that we have to be this one person show, that we have to put on every single hat and that’s exhausting. I do think the promotion and business side is important but if you can’t take good photos of your work, find a friend who can and trade them for a piece of art. We need to cross-pollinate and help each other while playing to our strengths.
If you’re going to be a full-time artist, you need to take it very seriously and look at the numbers really closely, all the time. It’s obnoxious, it’s annoying, it’s hard and it’s tiring, but if you want the blessings that come from this kind of life then you have to look at the whole picture and the whole picture has to be healthy in order for things to continue at all.
One of the major challenges has been allowing myself true creative expression while still trying to wear that business hat. Everyone applauds my business acumen but it comes at a cost – my time isn’t always my own so there are challenges every day.
When I feel grumpy about my career I return to gratitude. Every positive change we make for ourselves of course is going to have a positive impact on the wider world – it’s a ripple effect. If we change ourselves, we can change our energy, which changes everything around us.
Finding friends, colleagues, comrades and peers who are at the same level as you is so important – you can commiserate about the same things and help each other problem-solve. Take the time, effort and energy to find a mentor. I’ve always had someone above me in an advisory role, and without that I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Sam Siegel is passionate about creating contemporary, abstract, landscape, and other style art. Born and raised in Vancouver, he reimagines the spectacular vistas of the region, creating vibrant paintings that display the undeniable appeal and magic of the ‘Great Northwest’. Much of his work is inspired by well known local landmarks, such as Stanley Park, Spanish Banks, Howe Sound, The Squamish Chief, the Sea-to-Sky Highway, and more. Believing first-class art should be accessible, in 2016 he established Sam’s Original Art – a family-run gallery that delivers limited edition runs of the highest quality Giclée canvas prints.
When I started out, getting my art into a wider market was a challenge. If it takes a month to do a painting, you don’t really have the resources to do more than 12 to 15 a year and then only one person gets to enjoy it. I did some research on Giclée printing and discovered that fine art reproduction was what I wanted to pursue. When you look at a canvas print next to the original, I can’t even tell the difference between them side by side. The quality of the technology today is fantastic. So not only could I offer a limited edition canvas print but it would be at a fraction of the cost of the original, making it more accessible.
I haven’t done any shows but I do donate to charities, which helps with the exposure.
Every business is different. You really have to experiment and take risks to figure out what’s going to work or what’s not going to work.
Everything you want in life is outside of your comfort zone. Every morning I have an ice cold shower. I know if I start my day doing something I don’t want to do, the rest of the things become easier.
I think I owe all my success to YouTube tutorials and blogs. If you dedicate two hours a day to just learning and then you apply it, that’s the best shot you have at being successful. A lot of people think knowledge is power. I really don’t think knowledge is power, it’s only potential power – you have to apply it. A lot of people know what to do but they don’t actually do it.
WKNDRS is an inclusive, optimistic and fun partnership between artists Rachel Rivera and Claire Ouchi. Each successful in their own right, together they merge mural painting, art and design-focussed goods, with creative collaborations between brands and businesses, including House Of Vans, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Reebok, Robson Street and Tofino Brewery. Keen to live every day as the weekend, their motto is, ‘Life is hard enough. There’s no effort in being kind. Lead by example’
From the beginning to where we are now, our objectives have shifted so much. Now it’s about the collective and it’s about the community. Once we get to collaborate together, whoever that is with becomes part of our world – a WKNDR for life. It’s pretty cool.
It’s not about this linear track, or ‘We can’t ever go backwards.’ It’s just, ‘What else do we want to do? Where do we want to go?’ It’s like you’re flying and you’re not on the road – you can go any direction you like.
Collaboration is key. If you’re a solo artist, find a group of other creative people you can bounce ideas off of so that you’re not just in your own head about your own work. That really elevates ideas and helps evolve concepts.
Every year we set goals and think everyone should. You naturally walk toward those goals even if you don’t meet them – you’re already closer than if you hadn’t said it out loud.
The only thing you should be comparing yourself to is where you were months or years ago. Everyone’s doing their own thing and you’re always going to shift, so just compete with yourself.
Vancouver-based Colette Tan is a deeply spiritual, ethereal abstract artist at the beginning of her creative journey. She often muses on nature through frequent road trips and hikes, especially around British Columbia and Alberta. Through her work, Colette strives to represent beauty, igniting hope and true transformation amongst her audience. Her path is one of many twists and turns. Full of determination, it’s a journey that proves it’s never too late to manifest artistic success.
It took me a huge conviction to say yes to my artistic calling. By saying yes, I had to say no – I couldn’t go both ways. It was either ‘make it big or go home’. The moment I said yes, I went all the way in.
I set my own goals. I know what I’m trying to achieve. It was only last year that I stumbled upon this studio. I had so much fun [preparing for the Culture Crawl]. I did some amazing work. I would say that was the beginning of my journey. The way I evolve is pretty quick. I push myself because I’m quite impatient. I’d rather go all the way then take a long break.
The first year I didn’t have any business strategy, I was just trying to get everything settled so I could manage the family, manage my art and manage my health. These days, I do think about business strategy but I also know it takes time. What is important is marketing your work. I’m not so good at Instagram or social media but last year I took part in some competitions – it’s another way to show people your work is recognised. Now I’m trying to be more diligent with social media posts and I also take part in those hundred day challenges.
Because I’m so new, all my artwork [sales] have been through people who visited the Culture Crawl. They came, they bought and then many of them bought for their friends
I treasure every opportunity I can talk about my art and I will make time for people. Not that they need to buy, it’s just about them getting to see and enjoy it. I would say that I’m successful so far and I’m very thankful.