Artist: Sherstin Schwartz; Minneapolis, Minnesota
QUESTION: Why are artists skeptical?
Sherstin Schwartz: But I think that a lot of artists have been scammed by art contest organizers, for example. Or they’ve gone into deep amounts of debt by going to art school, and they feel burnt. They feel like they’ve been screwed. They feel like they’ve been taken advantage of, and that people have sold them hope, false hope, specifically. Or, there’s like all these opportunities for exposure and they’re false. They’re really just a way to get the artist to work for free, or to donate their art, right? So, I get it. I’ve been on the receiving end of that kind of manipulation before. It’s not like I don’t get it. I’m an artist myself, and that’s why I created this program because I’m sick of this shit and I’m sick of just dealing with things that we don’t have to deal with, and it’s just time to solve problems that are perfectly solvable.
Ann Rea: Mhmm.
Sherstin Schwartz: There’s a lot of people buying art. There’s a lot of people who wanna buy art, they wanna know the artist. They wanna give you referrals. They wanna understand you, they wanna understand the inspiration behind the art because people need meaning in their life. They don’t need another pair of shoes, they need meaning, and that’s what an artist can give. So, I think it’s really important what we do because as artists, as I say, our product is emotion, and our job as artists, is to help people connect with their humanity, and we need that more than ever before.
QUESTION: What was your biggest challenge as an artist?
Sherstin Schwartz: Mostly, confidence. Selling my art. That was probably the biggest one, and focus, not really a lot of direction of where I wanted to go or like how to go about selling more art.
QUESTION: Has your confidence increased?
Sherstin Schwartz: Yeah, definitely.
Ann Rea: Okay.
Sherstin Schwartz: It’s gone up quite a bit
Ann Rea: Oh, good! Okay, well what changed? What helped you build confidence and focus so far?
Sherstin Schwartz: So far, I’m only in course four right now, but everything in course one was extremely helpful. Especially, the Code to Joy exercises that we do. I think that was probably the biggest game changer for me, it was, just doing those every single day and releasing all the blockages, you know, that I never really knew that I had that were kind of like preventing me from succeeding or having the right mindset.
QUESTION: What if you’re and artist who doesn’t like talking to other artists?
Sherstin Schwartz: Well, you’re going to have to talk to people anyway to sell your art, so why not talk to other artists who know what you’re going through, I mean, I mean, yeah, they understand how it is, and you shouldn’t be afraid.
QUESTION: What if other artists have been jealous, competitive, or snobby?
Ann Rea: By the way, I’m not minimizing that because I’ve met, I’ve dealt with some really bitchy, jealous, competitive, snobby artists in my lifetime. So, I get it. It’s not, it’s not fun if you’re in that crowd, but that’s not what this community is, but whether than take my word for it, how would you describe the community? Because you’re in it.
Sherstin Schwartz: Yeah, everyone is super supportive. If you go on the Facebook group, like everyone is always telling our stories or like the progress and opening up about where they’re at in the program and everyone is always super nice and I’ve never really ever seen a negative comment, and everyone’s always cheering each other on and it’s really easy to talk to people in that environment.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for artists?
Sherstin Schwartz: Right off the bat, I would say, stop being a perfectionist. Like, perfection doesn’t exist. It’s all an illusion in your mind. So, you better just like forget about it.
QUESTION: What other advice do you have for artists?
Sherstin Schwartz: I would say be more gentle on yourself, or gentle on myself, like not make everything so hard if you don’t complete all the lessons in, you know, like the amount of time that you suggest. It’s okay, like, life happens and I would say it’s like self-care and not being so hard on myself.
Ann Rea: By the way, I suggest that you go through the program at your own pace. I do not suggest that anyone comply to any schedule but their own, and because I have no idea what my students’ circumstances are, what their obligations are, what their schedule looks like or what their energy level is. So, I always say, I’m not the boss of you, you’re the boss of you. So, you set your own schedule.
Sherstin Schwartz: Yeah
Ann Rea: But this is true, not just in this program, this is true in life.
QUESTION: What advice would you have given yourself?
Sherstin Schwartz: Stop thinking about doing it and just do it. Like, just become an artist. Like, take the courses, find a mentor, find a supportive community, and just go for it. Like, there’s nothing really stopping you. Like, there’s no perfect time for anything, so, you might as well just go out and do it.
QUESTION: What other advice would you have given yourself?
Sherstin Schwartz: Don’t be so hard on yourself. Before this course, I was pretty hard on myself, like, for a lot of things in my life, not just art reasons, but for a lot of things, and I would just definitely say, yeah, don’t beat yourself up about anything.
Ann Rea: Yeah.
Sherstin Schwartz: You control everything in your life.
QUESTION: Is it good to be a perfectionist?
Sherstin Schwartz: ‘Cause artists tend to be perfectionists and they are proud of it, but what they realize, they don’t realize is that perfectionism is actually killing their creativity and destroying their self-confidence because they are holding themselves to an impossible standard, and a completely inefficient standard.
Ann Rea: Mhmm, yup.
Sherstin Schwartz: You don’t learn from being a perfectionist.
QUESTION: What’s it like to have Study Partners?
Sherstin Schwartz: So, I’ve had one main study partner, that’s Flore. I’ve had a few other ones, but they, it was only like one session, it didn’t really work out. We didn’t really click or anything, which is fine, but with her, like we meet probably, or meet, but like, call each other like at least once a month, and otherwise, we talk like a bunch, you know, texting mostly about the course and, you know, how life is, and I know, she’s just like a really great person to talk to, and I’m super glad that I met her through this course because it feels like I’ve known her my whole life, very strange, but, yeah, I’m just like really glad that I met her and she’s very supportive and you know, cheers me on, and I help her and yeah, it’s just like, a really great mutual friendship.
QUESTION: What if an artist is a complete introvert?
Ann Rea: You can’t do this alone, right? You can’t sell your art by yourself. You have to talk to people. You have to get, not just prospects who are gonna buy your art, but people who are gonna support you in this journey. It’s too hard, it’s too lonely, and it’s no fun, if you try to do this by yourself, right?
Sherstin Schwartz: Yeah, it’s nice to talk to someone who actually understands what you’re going through, like the doubts in your mind, and like where you are on your path, like there’s, I mean, my friends kind of understand, but at the same time, they don’t really understand, but it’s totally different for an artist, I think.
Ann Rea: It is, they don’t understand why we would pursue such a, such a thing, right? Why don’t we go into banking? You know?
QUESTION: What were other artists like outside of this community?
Sherstin Schwartz: It was mostly, you know, I would go to open galleries, and you know, chat with a few artists, but they weren’t really, it didn’t feel like I was really connecting with them at all. I mean they were there to like, sell their art to people, so, they weren’t there to really chat with other artists, but I mean talking to a few other artists online, it was either they were like, I don’t know, oddly competitive, or like, critical of my ideas. So, that was kinda my experience talking about that other artist, and I can kind of understand how people would be a little afraid of, you know, talking to other people, but I mean, with this community, it’s totally, totally different. So, yeah, I can’t stress that enough.
QUESTION: What’s different about this community of artists?
Ann Rea: I’m most proud of the community, like more than I am of like, the program, the courses I created, like, it’s more the fact that artists from 19 countries now, have come together to help each other, and instead of being jealous of when an artist succeeds, you’re actually inspired by another student succeeding.
Sherstin Schwartz: Yeah, exactly.
Ann Rea: That’s freaking game-changing.
QUESTION: Should other artists apply?
Sherstin Schwartz: Why don’t you just do it? Like, there’s no reason not to. There’s, I mean, you can leave the program if you want to, there’s nothing, like, holding you back. Just try it out and see if it’s for you and … I mean, it’s, it’ll change your mindset in like, ways, that you don’t, you wouldn’t think. Like, when I first enrolled, I wasn’t, the course one portion of it, I wasn’t really prepared for that. Like, I thought it was mostly, you know, like more businessy, but that like really laid the groundwork on a really good foundation for success. So, I think it’ll change you, change your mindset, and it’ll change your, like, interactions with other people. So, yeah, just do it.
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