Artists: Asha Menghranjani; Oakland, California, USA

QUESTION: What was your top challenge?

Asha: I couldn’t focus. I had been doing my business for over 20 years, but I couldn’t hit it on the spot. Something was missing and I couldn’t tell what it was because I was looking in so many different directions and I couldn’t even fit myself in any of those directions because I didn’t know.

QUESTION: What did you do to sell your art?

Asha: I put on the shows, I joined galleries, I sold a lot of work for a long time. I made a living for 10 years actually doing full time art and, and every time I did it there was a lack of authenticity in the feeling of what I was doing. I felt like this wasn’t the real me. I felt like I was a little bit fake because even if I was selling, I felt like I wasn’t really selling what I really wanted to sell, which was the vision that I was having and I couldn’t get that clear. The work was great, people love it and I knew what what they felt, but I couldn’t really hone in on that feeling and really express it.

QUESTION: What’s it like to know your Why?

Asha: You know, just as others were saying, it was right there and everything is like falling together with the least amount of effort now. It feels like things have gotten clearer, the focus got better, the confidence was there, the vision is clear. Just clarity is the main word that when you’re clear about that, everything else falls into place.

QUESTION: What changes?

Asha: You know how to respond. You know how to say no. You know how to accept what is good for you and what’s not good for you. Really, it’s your overall being that feels like this is where I belong. It’s the belongingness of where you stand.

QUESTION: Your Why is your soul’s truth.

Asha: And that soul’s truth is that truth that comes from you alone. Who you are. You can use as many words as you want and it could relate to someone else’s words, but the feeling behind the words is where authenticity lays. And now you’re speaking based on the feeling like you mentioned. And I couldn’t get it until finally it’s like now, I feel like everywhere I go I’m just speaking my vision. That’s what it is. You just speak your vision and everything will fall in place. It’ll just come to you and again in the least amount of effort. So now whether or not something shows up, it’s okay because I know who I am.

QUESTION: What got in your way?

Asha: There was a lot of old habits, a lot of influence, big influence from how I was raised growing up and maybe not just my culture but maybe in school, whatever you get in school, everything. I also felt like I was looking for validation outside of me to accept me.

QUESTION: What was limiting your creativity?

Asha: Well you have to act a certain way, you have to dress a certain way growing up and you know, it’s wonderful. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there was also lack of speech or expression. You want to say something but you can’t because you have to perform or you have to be careful because of what people will say, how things are going to look, and you grew up with that all the time and so suddenly you feel like you’re not yourself anymore. Who are you?

QUESTION: Why did you study art?

Asha: Studying the arts was also studying myself. I felt like if I studied art on my own, I was also learning on my own. That means I’m figuring out myself.

QUESTION: Is your art your business?

Asha: You know how art is our business. It’s not a career. It’s not a job. It’s our business. And I believed in that, but I didn’t know how to apply my creative expression as a business, even if I have a business background. So now allowing that in the program to really find your resources together. I do have an art business. I started it. I know what to do. But how can it be that business that people talk about that it doesn’t have to feel like you’re out there working your art. So now with that, I built a new business and when I mentioned that, yes, I have a new business, suddenly my business is looking at it on a whole different perspective. It is not just about me. It is larger than me. I could sort of visualize it, but I couldn’t even grasp it because it feels like it’s large. I don’t know where it’s gonna go, but it feels good. It’s about the art. It’s about what the business of art has to do for others.

QUESTION: What’s your background in art education?

Asha: You know, I worked for an art school. I worked for the Academy of Art University for 10 years. I was an international student advisor. Yeah. I was the pioneer in that department of international students. And they grew from that student body. I also worked for a film school and I also worked for the Sound Design School as the counselor. And I worked for the artist because they have a dream. This is before MAKING Art Making MONEY came about. They have a dream because I had the dream, so I felt their need, and some succeeded and some didn’t, and it’s not for everybody, but there was a passion to do it. So yeah, I was in the education field too, so I know what it feels like.

QUESTION: What would you tell those students now?

Asha: That your art comes from within and that it has to be your… you have to be courageous enough to move forward regardless of whether you succeed or not. Because in your creative field you will find your voice and whatever that is, believe in that. That would be who you are going to be.

QUESTION: What other challenges have you overcome?

Asha: Commitment. It’s commitment. To me, when you schedule, like you said, it’s not about time. I understand it’s about your energy. It’s about your focus. When you schedule it, you make commitments and when you start to commit, you feel more courageous to go about doing it because you set a schedule, you’re no longer an amateur, you’re a professional and professionals, regardless of what happens, they get up and they do their work. You gotta be a professional. You’ve got to think like a professional. Basketball players get hurt, but they still play. Why? That’s their profession, nright? You don’t feel like you have an art business and then you say Monday morning, oh, it’s okay, it’s Monday morning, I can go to the beach. No, you get up and you make your schedule and you follow everything like you were to go to a job or you were entering into a workforce or you were just somebody that does service, whatever it is. Commitment is important because when you commit, you follow through.

QUESTION: What’s been your biggest take away?

Asha: Building confidence in myself and my creative vision was my greatest accomplishment.

QUESTION:Should other artists apply to enroll?

Asha: You cannot do this alone. You cannot do this alone. It’s a game changer. Coming and earning an education that is shortened to a point where you can build confidence and grow with people who are in the same state of mind that you are in, that is what is required for you to push forward. You’re going to need a support. Emotional support is necessary as well. And that is key to you getting to do and push you to do and pursue your goals. You can do anything you want, but how can you stay zoned into the specific thing that you’re looking for? That you need and the community and people that you speak with your study partners? The accountability is there because you have to show up. You have to show up everyday. You have to show up. And when you’re isolated and you’re on your own, you fail.

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