“I lived in New York City and had a ‘real’ job. I always wanted to do art but it was this backburner, side hustle, here and there kind of thing. Between jobs, I went to Union Square to sell my art (and schlepped my suitcase on the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan) but Union Square was a big miss for me. My prints weren’t connecting with people. It wasn’t hitting. I always felt like, ‘I know I’m meant to do this. I’m good at art’ and people would ask me, ‘Why aren’t you doing your art full time for a job?’. But I didn’t go to art school. I didn’t have the background or the skills, or so I thought. My excuse was, ‘I know, but I don’t know how to make money doing this. Maybe one day I’ll figure it out.’ It took a lot of negative self talk to get to the place where I was like, ‘You know what? I’m literally going to explode because I have so much creative drive that isn’t being embraced.’ I’d been living for everybody else. I had two babies. I was nursing all the time. Changing diapers. My days (and my nights) weren’t my own. I completely lost myself for a little while. After having kids, my creativity exploded and I was ready to go, but then I (sadly) didn’t have the time to do it. So finally two years ago I hit this point: I needed to do something for myself and it had to be art – my one true love. So I started taking classes on Skillshare. I had the traditional skills but I didn’t have the digital skills. I wanted to learn the graphic design side of things and how to digitally illustrate. At the time I felt like, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do with this but I would like to learn.’ I needed to learn how to create digitally because I couldn’t just go down to my studio and get all my paints out and then a baby cries, you know? I had to pivot what I was doing.”
“Researching ways to get a following, I found out about #The100DayProject. This hashtag is so popular and people end up following it and then they see your work. I thought, ‘This will be good for me. I’ll just do something every night after the kids go to bed and pump things out and stop being so critical of my work. Just put something out into the world for 100 days in a row and see how it hits.’ There really wasn’t a lot of interaction with other people doing it. So it did take me having to keep myself motivated to complete it. Once I started putting it out there on social media that I was doing it, there was pressure to finish what I said I was going to do because I had people watching. I started to see how the followship was growing and if I didn’t show up and keep posting, what are those people there for? So I did it and it’s amazing to look back over all the opportunities that have come my way as a result. And I didn’t even know that was going to happen! It’s cool to see how a tiny little baby step of action towards something I wanted has ballooned into this beautiful thing. Suddenly I have all these jobs coming in.”
“I want to inspire people to chase their own dreams. I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere and getting the platform to do that. My work is getting out there in different ways – packaging design, logos, portrait commissions, prints – and I am becoming completely financially independent doing what I love. I want to know that the world at large appreciates my work or knows of my work and then gets to know me and my heart. And I hope that I might inspire people to do a similar thing where they chase their dreams so that they can inspire others.”
“I want people to think…You know the quote about, ‘You’re only a failure if you don’t try’? You’re not a failure for trying. Just put yourself out there. Some work I debate even posting because I think it sucks. But because I’ve spent hours on it, I’m like, ‘well, I might as well post it”. And you know what? That’s always the post that I get the most likes on. And the most comments. It just goes to show that it’s so subjective. Don’t think so much about it! Just throw something at the wall and see if it sticks. Because most likely the things that you think aren’t going to stick are the ones that do and people aren’t going to fault you, especially if they know you’re doing 100 drawings in 100 days and you have two preschoolers! They’re going to appreciate the fact that you made something. I want women and young girls to just try something. You can be bad at it, but maybe what you think you’re bad at, somebody else is going to think you’re awesome at it. Be brave enough to put your stuff out there and know that nothing is ever going to be perfect. Just put something out into the world.”
“I taught an art camp last week for girls and even in third grade, they’re so critical of what they’re doing. I said, ‘Close your eyes and draw a self portrait with your eyes closed.’ It was the first day. They didn’t know each other and they just closed into themselves, into their little shells. And they were like, ‘Do we have to? Is there something else we can do instead?’ And I’m like, ‘No, this is what we’re doing. Close your eyes. Your eyes are closed. Nobody expects this to be good.’ When I called time, they opened their eyes and some of the girls almost crumpled their drawings up. Super bubbly, popular kids just sank into themselves. They didn’t want to show their work. That’s why my passion is women. We’re so down on ourselves. We don’t appreciate the big moves we are making by taking baby steps and being brave and putting things out there. But my heart was renewed when one of the little girls piped up. She wasn’t as worried about it at all. She goes, ‘My art teacher at school says, “when you mess it up, dress it up”’. And all the other girls started to giggle. And suddenly the whole rest of the week everybody was like, ‘Ooh, I messed up, but it’s ok.’”
If you’ve ever wondered how to grow your business or how to make a living as an artist , hopefully Lauren’s story inspires you to believe that it’s possible. Visit Lauren Rust Art and follow @laurenrustart on Instagram to support her journey.
One of Raddle’s core values is that vulnerability is the norm. Like Lauren, we encourage Raddlers to keep pushing forward and putting your work out there, which requires courage to be vulnerable. If you enjoy bouncing ideas around and meeting new people–request an invite to our virtual brainstorm community for a chance to brainstorm with Lauren and other inspiring solopreneurs in 20-minute zoom brainstorm sessions. It’s free & fun!