Season 5 – epiBLOG 26:
You notice me using the phrase “entrepreneurial artist” in many of my blog posts and when I promote the blog itself on social media. Some of you may wonder why I separate “artists” from “entrepreneurial artists.”
There is a good reason why I do this.
This blog is geared towards the entrepreneurial artist audience. It’s important to distinguish between the two groups, as I believe it’s important to be honest with yourself with who you are as a creative individual in order to move forward effectively. And it all starts in the mind.
Some artists want to create. Some artists want to create and make a living.
My featured artist for this month is a mindset magician. Everything about her attitude, her way of being, and the results that she’s living with as a full time artist speaks volumes.
Today’s topic is my interview with Contemporary Artist Sarah Stieber.
She is the absolute epitome of what it signifies to be an entrepreneurial artist! Working as a full time “creative” directly out of college, she has been able to live this dream for nearly a decade! How amazing is that?
An artist is anyone who creates their art. This can be a writer, a musician, a game designer, a fashion designer, a filmmaker, a chef, an actress, a fine artist… the list can go on.
Any individual working within any of these fields can create. And creating is a beautiful thing. It can be rewarding. Fulfilling. Gratifying.
Take it from the mindset magician.
Sarah’s artistic style is electric realism—which is an “amplification of real life, using a bejeweled palette of brilliant hues and evocative energy to explore spirited reality.”
Her art is absolutely phenomenal. I can just stare at her work all day, and be captivated by the amount of talent and polished skill that has gone into creating each piece.
Sarah isn’t a stranger to success either! She’s been featured in numerous publications—including making the cover in quite a few, like the San Diego Downtown News, San Diego City Beat, and Bogamia Art and Fashion Magazine in Miami.
This contemporary artist is a force to be reckoned with, as she was also acknowledged as “15 Female Artists You Need to Know from Miami Art Week” on CBS’ On Mogul. Sarah was the “featured artists of Art San Diego in 2017 and Artwalk San Diego in 2016, and was awarded ‘Best in Show’ at La Jolla Art Festival in 2015.”
Sarah is opening her very first contemporary art gallery this summer! It’s scheduled to run from Saturday, June 30th through Sunday, August 26th of this year! Her beautiful work will be showcased at the Mee Shim Fine Art Gallery located at 1943 India Street in the adorable Little Italy right here in the San Diego Metropolitan area.
Sarah “will also host immersive programming throughout the summer, collaborating with local businesses, nonprofits, and art leaders.”
It was an honor to interview an artist of this caliber, with this much talent, and with this much passion to connect with people in the community. This is what I learned.
Nitara O: When did you first start painting, and what inspired you to continue?
Sarah S: I made art my whole life. When I was a little girl, I was always drawing. In middle school and high school I was always getting into trouble for drawing or doodling on my paper. (chuckling) I even won a few art contests when I was seven, maybe eight years old. It’s just always been a part of my identity. A way that I would express myself. It allowed me to feel like I was in my own element from a very young age. And your second question was “why do I continue…?”
Nitara O: Yes. What inspires you to continue?
Sarah S: As I’ve gotten older—and, of course, this is my career—it’s so much more than just that personal release and way to express myself… um… it’s also what fulfills me. It sustains me. It’s my vehicle for communicating with the rest of the world. I just love it. It’s that gift that keeps on giving. It’s my life. It’s my purpose.
Nitara O: I definitely understand that… and can relate. How old were you when you first started painting?
Sarah S: I have this distinct memory of painting a rainbow on an easel when I was two years old. Like a little Playschool easel. And thinking about how I would like to be an artist when I grew up.
Nitara O: The mind is a powerful tool. Look what that little seed so many years ago led to for you.
Sarah S: That’s true. And you do have to have the right mindset for this.
Nitara O: I’m not sure how you grew up, but did you use art as a way to escape or as a way to compliment what you experienced from your past?
Sarah S: I would say both. When I was younger, I was really shy. People are surprised by that when I tell them because of how outgoing I am now. But I was really shy. I have all of these memories of when the kids would play on the playground… and I would just be off drawing in the corner. At that age, it was a little bit of an escape into my own internal state. Not necessarily to get away from any particular childhood trauma. I had a pretty healthy childhood. The other side of this, is that it currently gives me an opportunity to engage with the world through my art. I remember getting gratification from winning art contests. In the elementary school that I went to the principal would call on me to design posters for the school.
Nitara O: Wow. That’s impressive. How cool was that?
Sarah S: (chuckling) It wasn’t like I was using Photoshop. I would just draw pictures.
Nitara O: But that’s still so amazing! An adult calling on you in elementary school. Trusting you with a responsibility that involves your talent and skill.
Sarah S: Yeah, it was cool. It really was part of my identity.
Nitara O: You definitely took that on at a young age.
Sarah S: Yeah, but the funny thing is, I remember when I became a teenager, reality kicked in. And life got a little more confusing and dramatic. I tried to be more practical at that time. I remember thinking, “Of course, I’m not going to be an artist when I grow up.” It became this “pie in the sky” that I wasn’t going to pursue. I thought I was going to stray away from it, but I would always come back to it. The obstacle was that I didn’t imagine it being a possibility. For a moment it felt just as rare as becoming a famous rock star. (chuckling). It seemed like such a farfetched idea that I believe I was just trying to protect myself so that I could have a fulfilling and successful life.
Nitara O: And you’re able to have both—your art and a fulfilling and successful life.
Sarah S: Exactly. It’s so crazy. I actually thought I was going to be a therapist when I was in college. It was practical. My friends would always come to me with their problems, and I was thinking that I might as well get paid for that kind of service. So I was a painting major, but I took a lot of psychology courses, thinking I would go on to pursue psychology in grad school. There came a point where I knew I wanted to focus on art as opposed to the mind.
Nitara O: What painting has had the biggest impact on your career so far? And describe the motivation and inspiration for creating that piece.
Sarah S: The first piece that comes to mind was… well, when I was 24… I was commissioned by the Marriot. Gaslamp. In downtown San Diego. To create an 8’ x 7’ center piece/painting that would go right behind the front desk. At that point, I had only been pursuing art for two years. Fresh out of college. It felt like such an exciting and huge honor. The designer wanted me to create something that was not my style. Not so “attention-grabbing,” as my art tends to be. You know, to compliment the hotel. I was thinking that this was a great opportunity, so I was just going to do it. But the CEO of the hospitality company who owned that hotel at that time actually said he liked my paintings. I ended up getting full creative reign. That was really empowering and affirming for what I was doing. Plus, I got to create an 8’ x 7’ painting at such a prominent location in Downtown San Diego.
Nitara O: That’s so amazing to me! Now describe the inspiration and motivation behind that piece.
Sarah S: The content of that painting was meaningful to me because it’s a portrait of my friend Jocelyn. She was about 26 or 27 at that time, and she had gone through colon cancer.
Nitara O: Whoa. Oh, my god. I’m sorry to hear that.
Sarah S: Yeah, it was a big deal. She was in the hospital for weeks. It was just so unexpected and awful. But she got through it. And survived. Got engaged. The doctors warned her that she would never be able to have children—yet she is now married with two children.
Nitara O: Wow—what a story!
Sarah S: She’s just really inspiring to me. When I did the photo shoot and I created that painting, she had gotten through her cancer treatment. It just seemed like she was on this upward path. I was inspired by her strength and resilience. The painting is called Onward and Upward. In the painting she has her arms totally outstretched. She’s smiling. And floating on this giant turtle pool float. I saw the turtles when I was swimming in Hawaii. I love turtles and they inspired this painting as well.
Nitara O: What advice would you give other full time artists—fine artists or artists in different industries—when they experience setbacks or disappointments within their careers?
Sarah S: One of my art heroes—Ashley Longshore—she’s an amazing entrepreneurial artist. She recently bought paintings from me. She gave me advice regarding my gallery. She said, “Keep your hopes high and your expectations low.” I think that’s accurate. People see my career on Instagram, and think everything is all good and that I’m jetting around selling paintings. Like it’s easy. But I work my ass off, and sometimes I’m close to tears with how overwhelmed I am. Setting these shows up and making things happen. I learned to expect to sell zero paintings. (chuckling) It’s like you have to be a little delusional to keep on going. You’re going to be working way harder than what you’re going to get out of it. Every experience is either going to teach you something, be great marketing, or you’re going to meet someone who will buy a painting from you five years from now for like $10,000. Every time I felt like I had a setback, I had a huge show and was out money… years later, people reached out to me. If you show up and give it your all—this delusional confidence—the rewards will come to you.
Nitara O: Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experience with all of us. It’s been a pleasure.
Sarah S: The pleasure is all mine. Thank you for having me.
Today’s LESSON is to remain in the mindset of an entrepreneur. The success of anyone—artist or otherwise—is determined by the mindset of the individual. Do you believe you can make a living doing what you love? Or do you believe that you have to have a job that you don’t like and create art whenever life will “give” you the time to do so? Either way, you’re right.
FUN ASSIGNMENT: Here are some options to try in order to keep your mind focused on what can help you to move forward: (1) Meditate. Research the different ways you can mediate, and choose the one that resonates with you to keep your mind focused. (2) Read self and professional development books. I recommend The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz or Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. (3) Keep a grateful attitude. Anytime you feel like getting angry because things aren’t going your way, force yourself to think about anything that is actually working in your life, or to think about the great people in your life, or anything that you’re sincerely appreciative of. Being grateful changes the mindset, and the “good stuff” gets enhanced to overpower what you consider to be the “bad stuff.”
Sarah Stieber is a San Diego-based contemporary artist. Sarah is opening her very first contemporary art gallery this summer! It’s scheduled to run from Saturday, June 30th through Sunday, August 26th of this year! Her beautiful work will be showcased at the Mee Shim Fine Art Gallery located at 1943 India Street in the adorable Little Italy right here in the San Diego Metropolitan area.
Please contact Nitara Osbourne if you’re a full time artist, and would like to be interviewed in The UnCloseted Professor Blog or if you would like help developing your life story into a non-fiction book or movie script. InfiniteWriterAgency@gmail.com.