Let's build a community together
If not us, who? If not now, when?
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You may or may not know, but I'm not an artist – at least not in the traditional sense. I took the required art classes in school as a kid. I'm a member of my local art museum. I've spent countless hours in art museums around the world. However, I can't tell you the last time I held a paintbrush or a bit of charcoal in my hand, let alone thrown some clay or fiddled around with a Wacom tablet.
For whatever reason, the muse of visual arts has yet to sink her teeth into me. So, if right about now you're wondering to yourself...
"Self, why is this fellow writing to me, and why should I care?"
Well, that's a reasonable question, so let me get on with it, and I'll explain. In the short time I've been on this Earth, I've learned a few things. A few things that aren't rocket science and yet are still not widely known. Many of those things I've learned have turned out to be useful (very useful) to artists who want to flourish more in their art and in their lives in general. And while I might not be the next O'Keeffe, Kahlo, or Monet, I plan to have a hand in making them.
You see, my art medium isn't charcoal, oils, or clay. It's not wood or stone. You can't touch it or feel it with your hands. It's intangible. My medium is ideas – more specifically, helpful ideas – because each and every one of us goes about our daily lives with certain ideas in our heads. Ideas of what's true and what's false, what's harmless and what's harmful, what works and what doesn't, what we should run towards, arms wide open, and what we should avoid like the plague. The trouble is, just because an idea feels right or wrong to us doesn't mean that's always the case.
Now, I'm not saying I have a monopoly on helpful ideas and that I have nothing left to learn. Not at all. There is always more to learn, and the more I've been at this, the more I see how much more I have to go. However, even so, I am confident that there are specific ideas, beliefs, strategies, and tactics that I have identified that, when implemented, consistently lead artists to enjoy more success in their lives.
And so this is my first reason for writing to you. I want to share more of what I've learned from my own experience and from working with hundreds of artists over the past few years, and I want to share it more widely. Again and again, I've seen incredible artists struggling in obscurity get exposed to the right helpful idea at the right time, and then, provided they take action, they are off to the races. Whether it's a mindset shift, removing a limiting belief, a change to their pricing strategy, or something else, it's often just one small adjustment that makes all the difference in the world. And more often than not, it's not some secret Instagram hack or new trending Reel; it's usually something more foundational, more inner work than outer work, so to speak. So I want to reach and help more artists in this way.
My second reason for writing to you is that I want to build a healthy community for artists (and, selfishly, for myself too), where artists can experience encouragement and support on their journey. Engaging in any sort of creative practice can be a lonely endeavor. If you choose to, you can work in isolation for years and eventually wonder where the time has gone. Without being part of a community, we can develop tunnel vision and lose sight of the bigger picture. We might even forget why we set out on our creative path and where we were planning to go in the first place.
On the flip side, having an unhealthy community can be worse than having no community at all. Most people will know what I mean. I've heard it called the "crabs in a bucket" mentality. In a bucket, a crab could easily climb out if it were alone, but if there are other crabs present, they have a tendency to pull each other back, keeping everyone stuck in the same place.
The theory goes that, oftentimes, our friends or family members pull us back into the bucket, so to speak. Perhaps they are envious, feel threatened, or are simply comfortable with their current lifestyle. If we were to change in significant positive ways, it might draw uncomfortable attention to areas of their life that need improvement too. They say things like, "You've changed," "Don't forget where you've come from," or "Don't sell out." Many artists say these things to other artists as well. It's not enjoyable to be on the receiving end of this when you're trying to make positive changes in your life. Given how pervasive this attitude is in the wider world, it's crucial that artists have a community they can be part of, where their dreams and goals are not dismissed or belittled but are encouraged and supported with pragmatic realism. Imagine a bucket where, instead of everyone pulling each other back in, people lift others out one at a time, and each person on their way out turns back around and pulls a few people up who are just behind them. That's the type of community we're building.
Why pragmatic realism? We also don't want to fall into the trap of blowing sunshine up each other's rear ends. I love this quote from Paul Newman:
Dreams without movement are delusions, escapes, kid's play. You have to put your feet into your dreams if they're ever going to be reality. The dreamers we know and love today are the ones who worked the hardest.
The point here is that positive thinking and encouragement are critical ingredients, but they don't make a full meal. The complete recipe is this:
Helpful Ideas + Positive Encouragement + Hard Work => Results
So, dream big—as big as you'd like to—but you've got to match those dreams with significant action too. If being part of a community with these values resonates with you, stick around. I want to facilitate that for you, but in order to do so, I'll need some help, which I'll discuss later.
These are my two goals in writing to you:
Sharing helpful ideas that I've learned along the way.
Building a community around those ideas so that more and more artists can flourish in their lives.
Here's how I plan to do this:
The Unstarving Artist
First, I will publish videos here in a series called The Unstarving Artist. You might call it a video podcast. While I enjoy writing, it takes me more time. Publishing videos will let me get stories and lessons to you faster, which I think is important. The videos may be a bit raw and informal, but they will still be chock-full of helpful ideas and actionable advice. They will be recorded on YouTube and reposted here. You'll also be able to listen to them as a podcast in your favorite podcast app of choice (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.). That way, if you prefer an audio only experience while you're driving, on the go, or doing chores, you can easily have that too.
The first videos will feature me sharing my thoughts solo. That said, if people enjoy them and I enjoy making them, I'll start interviewing people from the art world. These interviews will be with artists, gallery owners, critics, curators, and more. There are so many interesting people in the wider community with unique career paths and stories that I would love to learn from and share their wisdom with you. Also, I've come to see that there is a great deal of artistry in fields more removed from the visual arts. So, I would love to also interview more unconventional "artists," for example, film directors, novelists, software designers, and more. Art is everywhere, and I want to showcase how people tap into their artistic and creative skills, regardless of their job title or medium of choice.
Again, all of this content will be published here on The Unstarving Artist Substack.
Here's how The Unstarving Artist Substack works:
There are three options: free subscribers, paid subscribers, and founding members. Here's how it breaks down:
Free Subscribers — Zero Dollars. For the low price of $0, free subscribers will get access to almost all my posts. I say "almost" because there may be an occasional post I want to share that's more sensitive or private in nature.
Paid Subscribers — $8/month or $80/year. Paid subscribers will get added benefits, including commenting privileges and discussion threads. They will also be able to read certain posts that I prefer to keep more private. In addition, they will have access to other new features and ideas as they arise.
Founding Members — $240/year. Founding members are people who deeply resonate with our cause and want to show an extra level of support. As a thank you, you will get 3 months of access to The Catalyst for free (a $141 value). What's The Catalyst? Read on below for more information and how it works. You'll also get a special founding member icon next to your name whenever you leave a comment. Beyond all that, being a founding member is an opportunity to show me you're invested, excited, and fully on board for this new endeavor.
Get stories and lessons that help everyday people become successful artists in your inbox.
Wait, you want us to pay? Why should we pay for something we can get for free?
Here are a few reasons why I am asking for paid subscribers (even though you by no means have to choose that option to benefit and follow along):
It gives me the ability to create a smaller but more meaningful community.
It provides special access to invested people and creates a private space for us to speak freely, without worrying about trolls and spam in the comment section.
It allows me to write about sensitive topics behind a paywall that I don't want open to the entire internet.
It gives me the incentive to really put time into the things I wish to share.
At the end of the day, paid or unpaid, I'm so glad that you are here. Now let me share a bit about The Catalyst community as well as how our private coaching programs work.
How The Catalyst works:
The Catalyst is a new private community I've created on our own independent platform. It's like a private Facebook Group but without all the distractions that come with using Facebook. Some of my best training ever can be found inside.
That said, The Catalyst is so much more than just training. Imagine finally being a part of a community of committed, like-minded artists who dream big but also take action to make things happen. That's what we're building with The Catalyst, and if you feel that this is something you're missing, I want you to consider joining. But here's the thing: a community isn't a one-way street. It requires participation and engagement from everyone to thrive and grow in a healthy way. So if you join, don't be a wallflower. The more you engage inside, the more you'll get out of it, I assure you.
In the past, I've charged $249/month or more for groups like this, but for a limited time, you can join for $47/month. What's more, this price will be locked in for you. As the community grows and becomes more valuable, we will raise the price. So if you're on the fence, consider joining now to lock in the most affordable rate.
How The Academy works:
If you have been following me for a while, you may have heard about The Academy as well. The Academy is our flagship program that not only features a vibrant community of over 300 artists, but also provides an experience that includes more training and personalized coaching. For example, there are small group live Q&A calls weekly where you can get all your questions answered, and you also receive one-on-one coaching calls. So if you're a member of The Academy or you've been planning to join us, don't worry; The Academy isn't going anywhere. For details on how The Academy works and what it takes to join, catch our free online workshop here.
How The Accelerator works:
Last but not least, we have The Accelerator. The Accelerator is our most in-depth, implementation-focused program for those who want the highest level of personal attention and support. It includes live one-on-one private coaching, hands-on workshops, and more. You’ll receive help and guidance every step of the way. Spots are available, but extremely limited; if you're interested, please book a call with me.
Serious inquiries only.
Okay. Who's still here? I'm sure I've lost a few of you. But that's okay! Because... if you've made it this far, you are my kind of people! The kind of people I want subscribing to this newsletter, joining the community, and making this happen for all of us together with me. Let's do this!