in Art, Business, Life, Podcast

Creator Series S1 E2 – Stephen McCall

Stephen was born in Ontario, Canada but spent most of his childhood in Venezuela and Bolivia, South America. He attended a boarding school located high in the Andes mountains and spent summers in the Amazon jungle where his parents lived and worked as missionaries with the indigenous Araona tribe. Stephen had a passion for drawing and painting very early on and sold his first original when he was 14. Since that time he has sold hundreds of originals and commission pieces with his art displayed in homes and businesses throughout Canada, United States, Mexico, South and Central America, Europe, Vietnam, and Thailand. He works with various types of media including acrylics and watercolors but graphite and charcoal are his media of choice. “I haven’t had any art training, done any art shows, or even entered an art contest. Other than commission pieces I just draw for me. I see something and get an idea or picture in my head and just start drawing. I have found that if you are passionate and bring some emotion into your work… the story… that is what art is really about… well, people will see that and feel it. Starting with a blank sheet of paper or canvas with simply an image in your mind, then bringing that idea to life… something beautiful, original, and unique… it really is a pretty awesome thing.”

Enjoy my conversation with Stephen!

Shows Notes & Links

Transcript Follows

Madhav SBSS 0:01
Hey, Steve. Hey, how are you? I’m doing awesome. How are you?

Steve 0:05
Not too bad. Not too bad.

Madhav SBSS 0:06
Thank you for taking the time.

Steve 0:08
I know no problem at all. It’s a good time now. Yeah, it’s, it’s good. I got my daughter’s in the other room. So hopefully the keep it quiet enough for us.

Madhav SBSS 0:19
Sure. Yeah. Same here. Actually, I asked my daughter’s to keep quiet. Thank you. Steve. I’m basically I just want to give you a quick background. I mean, I’m basically I’m passionate about art. And I’ve been drawing and amateur artists for a while now, since I was a child, but um, I just love the creative side of things, which I don’t get to do a lot. During my data, daytime job.

Steve 0:51
What do you do for a job?

Madhav SBSS 0:53
I mean, he said, I’m a product manager. So I was a software engineer for a while. And so I’m a programmer. And then I, for the last eight years or so, I’ve been a product manager in a high tech company in Boston. Oh, yeah. Yeah, we still we still live in Boston. I lived there for about 17 years. And then I moved to Austin last year. Okay, nice. It’s beautiful. Here. I love it.

Steve 1:19
Yeah, a little warmer weather down there. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, just love it.

Madhav SBSS 1:26
Yeah, so I’m a product manager in a software company, but very little of this creative as much. Yeah, it’s I have been like, quite have for a while I’ve been like I should do more creative side of things even at least tried. Try it out in nights and weekends and stuff like that. And I’ve done a few podcast recording artists and musicians and isn’t that before but i This time, I after a bunch of years of doing different things, I really want to focus on art, which has been my passion for a while. So I thought, you know, talk to a few artists and interview them try to learn their stories. And that’s where I saw your I came by your profile on online. Peace out you. Definitely, quite a cool number of I mean, great art, at least. I mean, I’ve only seen a little bit on Etsy, but some amazing stuff.

Steve 2:24
I don’t I don’t have a whole lot on there myself. Yeah. You know, it’s it’s hard to, you know, getting on the internet and everything. It’s it’s a big step. Yeah. You know, I I’m still I still have a full time job myself. I see. And, you know, I just recently I’ve been, you know, doing art for a long time, mostly. But I see. But anyway, yeah, I decided just, well, almost two years ago to, you know, start doing prints. My, my family members, my brother, stuff like that. We’re always pushing me to get doing prints, you know, and I never really looked into it, I thought the overhead and you know, the cost was just too great. So I never got into it at all, you know, and then, you know, as an artist, you’re putting in all these hours doing, you know, doing a piece, whether it’s drawing or painting or whatever, you spend hours and hours and hours, and then you sell the thing, and it’s gone. And

Madhav SBSS 3:24
you can’t do it. First of all, let it go to baby. Yeah, we let it go. It’s gone. It’s over. We can do it. Yeah,

Steve 3:30
exactly. You know, so for years, I just, I did drawings and, you know, this started selling them. And as I got going more and more people were buying them and more and more people were asking me to do you know, pictures form like commission work. So, anyway, yeah, it was just a couple years ago that I decided to take the, take the leap and start doing some prints and get online. And, you know, I started my first business when I was 17 years old, and a painting business. I always had a full time job and then always had a business on the side, you know, get your tax breaks and stuff for business. So anyway, I was always doing these other businesses. I tried network marketing and tried, you know, traditional businesses, painting companies and different things like that. And meanwhile, at the same time, I’m doing my art, and I was selling art, but I never ever really pursued it because, you know, I just You always hear the stories about starving artists and stuff, right? That’s nobody ever makes any money at it type of thing. Right? So I never really pursued it and it was just like said a couple years ago that I decided to start putting a little bit more effort a little bit more time into doing my own stuff instead of doing everybody else’s right. Yeah. So it was it was a big step. You know, it takes a lot of confidence. I think your own ease and your work, you know, as, as a hobby artist, I guess you’d call I, you know, you don’t know how to price your stuff, you don’t have to You’re good enough or whatever. And I’ve never, I’ve never done any contests or entered any art contests, I’ve never done any shows. And anyway, just basically word of mouth and started selling the prints online. It didn’t take me very long, I got online, start doing some prints. So my first print online, which was pretty exciting. I read a lot of horror stories online about, you know, people going online and put prints on there trying to sell them and having any luck, you know, for a year, two years selling one or two prints, you know, yep. And so anyway, I consider myself pretty lucky that I’ve been able to, you know, sell some prints online, that two or three different websites where I sell prints from, and some of the originals. My problem was always I do the original drawings or commission work or whatever. And they were always sold pretty quick. Right? Yeah. And I actually took my very first picture of one of my art pieces about two years ago, it’s the first time I’d done it for you know, I sold my first drawing when I was 14. And I’ve been selling them for the last 30 years. And but I’ve never ever taken pictures of my art, and really kept track of what I was selling. But I you know, I didn’t I didn’t really treat it very well.

Madhav SBSS 6:42
Right. I know what you mean. I see. And then. And then like, couple of years ago, you did that the first time and then I guess once you break the ice things start to like, feel better. Oh, this is actually something I can do. It’s not. For some reason, it takes a while. Maybe we’ll get into that. I have a few questions. That’s even I just run through them. But I haven’t started the recording yet. But I will. Just in a second. Is it okay, if I introduce you as Steve McKellar? Is that right? If Am I saying the name right.

Steve 7:20
Steve McCall is fine. You know, on my websites, it’s Steven Berger. I go by Steve. Um,

Madhav SBSS 7:29
and you’re, you’re based in Kitchener? Ontario.

Steve 7:34
Yeah, Kitchener Ontario. I’m just about an hour or so. South of Toronto.

Madhav SBSS 7:40
Okay, so the Toronto I see. I see. Yeah. Cool. So I’ll just briefly introduce you for just in a couple of sentences and let you paint your own side of the story. Okay, do your journey as an artist. And then we’ll, we’ll go from there. I have a bunch of I have like, pretty specific. Nothing fancy, like basic questions. We might I might could run them by if you want in advance or we can just run, run run with them and see how it comes out.

Steve 8:09
Either way, kind of an off the cuff kind of a day. All right. Cool. Let’s

Madhav SBSS 8:13
do it. Let’s do it. So I mean, I tried to try my best to keep up I know your time is precious. I want to make sure I try to keep it to 25 minutes, Max 30. But I shouldn’t be longer I think let’s just start the recording here. Give me one sec. Recording. Yeah. Okay. I got that. Alright, cool. Um, let’s see. Awesome. Hey, I’m very super thrilled to be speaking with our featured guest, Steven mackell. Steven is a freelance artist based in Kitchener, Ontario province. Stephen has been drawing all his life as an amateur artist, and has recently started selling his prints of his art online. And here we are, to speak with him learn about his journey as an artist. Steven, are you prepared to create magic today? Yes, sir. Thank you. I’ve given the creative nation a glimpse into your life as an artist, please take a moment and tell us your side of the story.

Steve 9:30
My side of the story Okay. Um, well, I I started drawing very, very young. Always doodling in school. You know, I did fairly well in school, but I always spent, you know, a lot of the time daydreaming and doodling and stuff like that. I think I started doing like, like full on drawing. When I was both 12 or 13. I actually tried my hand at painting and when I was 14, but any I started, I sold my first drawing when I was 14 years old. It was quite a while ago, but 30 years ago, and was pretty thrilled about that 14 years old, and I sold it for $250. Canadian, was pretty excited about that. That was a big deal, you know, years. But anyway, so after that I started doing a little bit more serious doing drawing whenever I could, when I wasn’t in school, or as I got older, you know, and I had a job and everything when I wasn’t working and and I had some free time I spent a drawing. And basically, people started to hear that I did drawings, they started doing portraits for people, and you know, they’d bring in the old black and white photos of their parents or relatives or pets or whatever. And I started doing some of that started selling some of those commissioned drawings was always much cheaper back then. But prints were not very common back then. That was the old school days when you had to go to the printer, and they’d run the on the printing press and write on 1000 prints or whatever, right? I never really looked into it at that point, seriously. But anyway, I started, I never did any shows or anything, but just through word of mouth, people started hearing that I was doing drawings and, and from there, I actually put a couple drawings up in a couple art stores that are in a small town where I lived before I sold those. And then another guy, he heard that I did some drawings, he came over to have a look. And he was pretty thrilled he owned a restaurant. So I was able to decorate his walls. And basically, he would sold my drawings on consignment kind of thing, right? So I sold 13, or 14 through his restaurant. I think I was about 21 at that point. And anyway, since then, I’ve just been, it’s always been a part time thing for me, I’ve always been passionate about drawing and art was always just a hobby. I never got into it, you know, real serious until just recently. But yeah, I’ve always, I’ve always really liked it. I like the creative aspect. I like to just start with a blank page and start just drawing, and you end up with something, you know, it’s, it’s kind of an awesome process to just be able to create something from nothing.

Madhav SBSS 12:31
Exactly, exactly. It’s a blank canvas staring at you. And after a few hours or a few days of toiling, something beautiful comes out. It’s this amazing process. Yep.

Steve 12:41
Yeah, it really is. I like doing that. And, you know, nowadays I get a lot of the commission work that I do is, you know, based off of pictures, so they’ll give me a photograph or something, and then I draw it. You know, and I don’t mind doing that. But I kind of like the the whole creative aspect of just drawing freehand where you just don’t know what you’re going to draw, you just sit down in front of the drafting table and just start drawing, you know, right? See what you end up with. I prefer that, and that makes it more exciting. And, you know, you can just sit and draw straight for like eight hours. You know, that’s, that’s the fun of it.

Madhav SBSS 13:20
Awesome. Wonderful. Thanks, Steve, for sharing that. It’s such a beautiful journey. Very short. But you’ve described the whole process, I can see how you started out very early on as a teenager. And then I think the passion, I guess once it comes to you, it just stays with you. I think that’s why, you know, this is not something that you’re trying hard to do. It’s just there with you all the time all along.

Steve 13:46
And I think I think people realize pretty early, that they’ve got it or they don’t, right. As far as the passion for art in the drawing or painting, whatever, whatever media you use, you know, it comes on pretty early in, you know, as you get going and you practice your craft and you get better and better and better. Right? At least the hope.

Madhav SBSS 14:11
Yes. Cool. Steven, we’d love to share our start off with an inspirational quote. So everyone listening to us as well gets excited. You know, something that really ties up for you as something that you know, inspires you in your day to day as a creative artist. Is there anything that you’d like to share that sticks out for you from any other artist or designer or anybody else line from them that maybe stands for what you believe in?

Steve 14:45
Um, I think I think the biggest inspiration I had early on from an artist was Robert Bateman. Not sure if you’ve known him or not. He’s a Canadian wildlife artist. My, my dad, he, he was also an artist, just part time, you know, hobbyist kind of a thing. But he was actually really, really, really good. And I remember as a young boy I grew up in, I grew up in the jungle of South America, I grew up Amazon rainforest, my parents were missionaries. So we live with the tribal, you know, an Indian tribe, tribe it was. So anyway, we were way out in the middle of the jungle. And we live with these Indians, they walked around, you know, sometimes buck naked, jump. And the closest civilization we get there by plane, we’d fly out there and a little twin engine plane was two hour flight from the nearest city or you could go by river, and we take a boat and it was two weeks down river to the nearest civilization. So we were way out in the middle of the jungle. And I remember as a kid drawing and stuff and my dad bought me this Robert Bateman book. And it was basically a story of his, you know, life and, you know, all the whole bunch of his art in there and he does beautiful paintings was all wildlife stuff, which was really awesome being out in a jungle, you know, I was into wildlife and stuff like that. So that was my early inspiration. And his work kind of got me passionate about doing wildlife art, which is kind of where I started. And since then, it’s grown into doing kind of whatever I feel like doing I just whether I’m driving here or there, you know, going to a different city. If I’m driving down the side of the road, and I see something that inspires me, I’ll stop take pictures of it or get a good mental picture of it and then get home and start drawing. But it was Robert Bateman I guess.

Madhav SBSS 16:50
And any anything like a quote or something that that you can share from Robert Bateman. His works that’s more

Steve 17:02
inspired was his work was more his work just the you know, like his, his artwork was so realistic, I think I’d never seen them. You know, growing up as a kid realism. Like nowadays you have this hyper realism and, you know, photo realism, you know, back then in the day, 30 years ago, 25 years ago, we didn’t really see that much of it at the time. So Robert Bateman, he’s a realist, you know, that painting a painter. And it just his work was just awesome. I just love the fact that it was so realistic and so lifelike that it that’s that’s all it took for me. I didn’t have any special quotes or anything like that. But it was his got me going.

Madhav SBSS 17:45
That makes sense. I think, as an artist, more than quotes and books and lyrics, I think visual impressions are stronger than anything and just his work, and the natural art, the realistic art that he made. And also, I guess, being close to the nature, at that time during your life, I think definitely helped you appreciate it a lot more probably.

Steve 18:13
Yeah, absolutely. You know, a lot of the images that he had, because he was, you know, in Canada, he’s a Canadian artist. But I was down in South America, this was out in the middle of the Bolivian jungle right down there. And Amazon. I was far from a lot of these, you know, animals down there. But, you know, we lived out there, the Indians, they were, obviously nature, they’re right in tune with nature. So definitely being in nature and everything. It’s just an awesome. It doesn’t take much to get inspired or anything like that. Right. Just outside your door. And right in, right in nature, right? Yeah.

Madhav SBSS 18:54
Yeah. How do you apply some of those memories or lessons, you know, as growing up in the middle of nowhere in you know, in nature, and now you’re back and you’re, you know, in a different world in some sense, but how do you continue or apply some of those early lessons in your day to day life as an artist now?

Steve 19:22
That’s a good question. Um, definitely, it was like an entirely different world where I grew up, I guess it just over time. You kind of move on and stuff you kind of forget a little bit about where you grew up and stuff like that. For me, what I do is I have a bunch of slides from when I was a kid, you know. And I do actually have a bunch of drawings. I don’t post them online. They’re kind of my private collection. But I do have a bunch of drawings from when I was a kid growing up sketchbooks that I still have from when I was a kid. But all these old slides of, you know, the Indians and you know, I mean, they had like the long bow and arrows and the feathers, your nose and you know, all this stuff. And I It doesn’t take much I go through the CDs once in a while and I get inspired and you know, get get back in touch with my my roots sort of speaker and start doing some of those old drawings. But yeah, it was definitely like a different a different world. It seems like a, like a different life almost.

Madhav SBSS 20:35
A different world different life. Absolutely. And I think yeah, you’re right, I think it’s very easy to forget and get lost in this new, crazy, fast paced world. But some of these artifacts are things that you treasure for life, you can look at them get inspired, read, or look at the paintings, or even go back to it. I guess, Richard Bateman that initially inspired you, I guess, those are all different ways for listeners who are, you know, in a similar situation, wanting to do some of the cool, good art that they used to do a few years ago, I guess you can always reconnect, there are different ways to do it.

Steve 21:18
Yeah, absolutely. Reconnecting is, is really important. I mean, there’s a lot of different types of artists, you know, but obviously, if you’re a nature type artist, or wildlife artist, you got to get back out in nature. You can’t sit in an office, you know, or, you know, I can afford working every day your car every day and do great natural arc, or I do, you got to get in the right space.

Unknown Speaker 21:48
Got the right space. And it’s like you

Steve 21:51
say, it’s, you know, looking at videos or pictures, or, you know, a lot of artists, they have their studios, where it’s just their creative space and his art all over the walls, and it’s stuff that it’s their little escape, and they go there, and that’s where they get, you know, their creative juices going, you know what I mean?

Madhav SBSS 22:09
Yep. Yep, I think, right? It’s, it’s that place where that you can reconnect and that can, yeah, let your self Be yourself. And and then from there it goes, you can just get in the zone, I guess. Yeah. Steve love to learn from, you know, some of the dark moments, if you will, or low points in your artistic journey. That sort of set where like a setback of some sort, or failure, or anything of that sort, where, you know, others who are in the same boat with self doubt, or hey, how am I or who am I? Am I this? Am I that good? Putting ourselves sort of, at risk of actually not pursuing what we really love to do, I think, which is a very common thing for many artists, because as you might have mentioned early on, I mean, you know, getting into the profession of art is a pretty challenging thing, especially if you have all these self doubts that a am I going to be able to make it and all that. I was wondering if you have anything that you’d like to share, or you can share with us in terms of any dark moments or low points that you encountered? And then how you came? Sort of? Sure, right. Yeah, yeah.

Steve 23:35
Well, I think, I think the big thing for me, or one of the one of the low points for me, in my, you know, art career, if you want to call it that, I’d gotten away from doing my art, if, you know, you know, where you’re just doing what you like to do. I got away from that. And I started doing commission joins for people, right. And it was a way for me to make some extra money. And I got into doing commission jobs where I was doing portrait after portrait after portrait. And honestly, I just got so sick and tired of drawing people’s, you know, dead relatives. You know, they, they’re bringing you all these portraits and these old photos and you’re trying to be, you know, make it because there’s character in the eyes, you know, the personality shows through in all these. They know these people, you know, their family members, you don’t have a clue who these people are. And they came to you and you know, to get these portraits done, and you put a lot of pressure on yourself doing portraits for people. I remember the one point I had a lineup basically of 16 commissioned portraits to do. And the last one I had was a portrait of 16 people, just the one picture had 16 people in it and You know, I’ll tell you I, I hit a low point there where I just I was just not in the mood to draw. But I got to the point where I had to I taken on these contracts, I wanted to get these things done. And for months and months and months, I just drew and ruined it. And honestly, like work, didn’t enjoy it. I think when you don’t enjoy what you do, it really comes through in your work. You know, I finally made my way through, and I told myself, you know, I’m not gonna do any more of these, I’m not doing any more commission jobs, I’m not doing any more portraits. And I’ll see I just, I was so sick and tired of drawn for other people and drawing what I, you know, when you’re doing stuff that you feel like doing, it makes a big difference. And so at that point, I hit a real low point. And honestly, I packed away the pencils, and I didn’t pick them up for probably three years. Wow. And I just, I was so sick and tired. And I just, it wasn’t at all what I wanted it to be, you know, it just kind of turned out that way, I just got busy doing everybody else’s stuff for them and not for myself, and I just didn’t enjoy it, or I just packed it up. And it wasn’t until I don’t know, maybe five, six years ago that I really started to pick up the pencil again, and you know, started just doing stuff for me. And since then I’ve gotten back into doing some commissioned work, but I’m very picky, I’m very choosy. I charge a bit more. And it tends to deter a lot of the kind of the small work that you know, I don’t really feel like doing anymore. So I guess that was one of the big, low points. I guess the other one much more recently was when I started to get into doing prints online. And, you know, back 1015 years ago, like when I first started drawing 30 years ago, obviously there was no internet and cell phones and technology. It’s it’s come a long way in the last five to 10 years. So one of the one of the things that was hard for me, because, you know, I’m pretty humble. And I think that’s important for an artist, you know, you never really know if your stuffs good enough or whatever. But anyway, when I went online, and I was researching prints and drawings, and I came across a site called Deviant Art, do you? Yeah, I’m sure you’re aware of it. And I mean, all through Deviant Art. And there is just some amazing talent on that website. And one of the things, you know, when you’re starting out back in the day, it was you’re competing against other artists locally, or, you know, whatever. But now with the internet is totally changed everything. You know, like, as an artist, now I’m competing against artists in China, in all through Europe. And you know, I mean, all over the world, international artists, you’re competing against unknown artists, amateur artists, hobby artists, and a lot of the people are just amazing, they have amazing talent. And, you know, you really question whether you’re good enough.

Got, really, when you start looking at your own stuff, versus some of this stuff that’s online now that people have access to, and some of it is like, if you’re a portrait artist, you know, you do a portrait, it might take it on all 5060 hours to do a portrait for somebody. And this person can go online, click on a website, find some artist in China, as well, portrait drawing, and they’ll have it delivered in two to three weeks, and they’ll do it for 200 bucks. And, you know, how do you compete with that? Right? You know, and I got pretty discouraged real quick and took me a lot of, you know, just talking to myself basically self talk, you know, just to continue, just do what I do. Don’t worry about other artists. Don’t worry about all the other talent that’s out there. You know, if I, if I believe honestly, if you just do what you love to do, right? And it’ll come through in your work. And if you like it, I’m telling you guaranteed there’s other people that are gonna like it

Madhav SBSS 29:24
as well. I see. Like, absolutely. I think that’s such a such a beautiful line and lesson right there. You know, with all the internet and accessibility, right? This is a little more overwhelming, unlike the times 40 years ago when you’re an artist in South of France, and that’s that’s it you’re you’re the king and so the same and you look around and you like you have these Instagrams and DeviantArt and you have everywhere people are posting all this beautiful creative, unleashing the creative stuff through you know these It’ll pictures of whatever they do. And sometimes you’re like, wow, I mean, why even bother, there’s so many hundreds and 1000s of these others who are also doing equally well or better than me. But I guess at the end of the day, it comes down to what you just said, you know, if you love what you do, and just put your heads down, and just do it, because you love doing it, and forget about the results, because I think the results will automatically come and they will shine through your art.

Steve 30:28
And, and, you know, when and your stuff is unique, and your stuff is original, you know, and you just got it, you just got to do it. Because I mean, if you if you got in your head to do an elephant drawing for, for example, you know, I mean, you Google elephant drawings, and I mean, there’s just tons of elephant drawings, nothing is very unique anymore, because you’re competing at a, you know, global level. And whatever you think of probably has already been thought of, it’s already been done many, many times, you know, like, I mean, Tiger drawing. I mean, it’s cliche, but, you know, because there’s, you’re, again, you’re competing at a global level, you just got to just do what you do. And don’t worry about that, you know,

Madhav SBSS 31:16
perfect, perfect. Steve, that’s so. so down to earth, but real, I think value in there, in terms of just do what you love to do, and love what you do. And don’t worry about rest of the world and things will fall in place. How about, on the other hand, from low points to? Was there something that really was a magical moment in your journey that whether it was when you started out as a teenager, or I don’t know, but something that, you know, ignited a spark in you as an artist? Maybe it made you?

Steve 31:55
Well, I think, as an artist, the one thing you’re always, at least for me, you know, and several other artists that I know of, that are just kind of starting out. It’s the self confidence, that is a big thing. It’s just having confidence in your work and your talent, your abilities, and the fact that other people are going to be interested in your stuff. And I remember is, this goes back aways, but my brother, he is also an artist, someone he does tattoos and tattoo artists, or art for tattoo artists. He didn’t do the actual tattooing, but he does the art for the tattooist. And anyway, he had done a few few pictures, and he signed up for this, it was kind of a Southern Ontario art tour thing. And, you know, people that were interested in art or buying art, they would get a map and basically tour through people’s homes and different things in southern Ontario. And there was like, it’s like a route they would take. And my brother had signed up for this and it was like a weekend thing. And he told me said, you know, we got three months, he says, I only have like four pieces, I need help, I need some more stuff. I don’t want all these art lovers coming and stopping in my house and I only have like three or four pictures. So get busy, and I’ll put your stuff up for sale there. So anyway, I spent the next two or three months just you know, doing what I do doing some drawings, and few of them I had framed and stuff like that. But anyway, I took them down and dropped them off for him and and he I let him put the prices on his I wish I was considerably cheaper. It’s always nice to get somebody else to price your work. That’s a sleeve. He put up a few of my pieces there. And over the course of the weekend, he sold all of my stuff. And I think that was one of the high points in my journey journey because I think I had 12 pieces total for display. And he ended up selling all of them. And it was that was the weekend there that I got the most I’d ever gotten for one of my drawings. He sold it for $900. And it was interesting I happen to be there with it was a doctor that was he likes art and he toured through my brother’s house. He just I had done this portrait of an old man from when I grew up as a kid in South America. And this old man had wrinkles and everything on his face and this doctor stood there and he just liked it. He just stood there looking at this drawing for like 1520 minutes and I gotta have it I gotta have it. So anyway, he walked out and it was it was really good boost for my confidence as a young artist starting to you know, really try and actually get out there and sell my art that is high.

Madhav SBSS 34:58
And that’s that’s it little bit of an early on in your career that I think give gave you that confidence and that power. Sort of, you know, to say, I can do this, and this is something that people are going to be fine. I like what I’m doing people, there are people who like what I do. And that kind of a confidence booster, I think it’s so important for any artists, you know, especially early on. That’s how did you did you expect? Did you actually expect that all your 12 paintings will be sold out?

Steve 35:37
Actually, no, I had no idea. And that was one of the one of the best things about it was because I had just because you never know what people are gonna, like, you know, like this, this portrait that I ended up selling the most I’ve ever sold a drawing for at that point. It was just a drawing of an old man that I did for me. I know, it was I just like the way it looked, there was something about his eyes and the wrinkles on his face. And, and this guy happened to see the same thing that I did. And, you know, most people really didn’t pay much attention to the drawing. But when he saw it, I just he couldn’t take his eyes off it, he had to have it. And that was, that was a good lesson for me, not just the fact that, you know, it was a confidence booster selling my art. But just the fact that, you know, this, just, I mean, honestly, it wasn’t anything spectacular. It was just a portrait of an old man. And this guy just liked it. And that’s what I’m getting at where, you know, if you do what you like, they’re guaranteed there’s going to be other people that like it too. And that was a great example of that, for me, was a big confidence booster, where now I, I try not to do a whole lot of commission drawings, I just focus on what I like to do, if it inspires me, if I see something and you know, I just got to draw it. Well, probably when it’s done, somebody else is going to like it too. And that’s all I worry about anymore.

Madhav SBSS 37:00
Wonderful, wonderful on that note of if it’s if it inspires me. That’s pretty much all I really care about, and then rest will take care of itself. On that note of inspiration, what is exciting you right now, in your journey, where are you heading?

Steve 37:19
Where am I heading? Well, I am trying to basically, because I’ve only been online for a short time, it hasn’t been been quite two years yet. A lot of my time is still dedicated to commission pieces, doing work for other people. Even though I’m very selective, and I limit the amount of commission work, it still takes up a lot of my time. So what I’m trying to get to now is not doing as much commission work, and spending more time doing what I want to do like truly original work. And getting more pieces on my on my websites, I think the the most I have on my website right now is 17 different items. But some of them are, you know, originals and or prints. So it actually counts as two items, I think there’s only maybe 11 different pictures on my website right now. So my focus, you know, over the next couple years is going to be just trying to get more pieces on on the site. And it just takes time, right time is always is always against us. And, and you know, 75 or 100 hours on a piece, it can take a while. And also, like I know, over the next year, I may only end up getting an extra four or five pieces on my site. That’s what it takes. That’s what it takes, right? But you have to keep getting new material on there on your site in order to keep the customers and in order to keep the viewers looking at your site. If you don’t update and you don’t get new pieces on there, eventually your your views are going to drop off and your sales gonna drop off. So I’m always worried about getting new pieces new and unique, different pieces. That’s

Madhav SBSS 39:09
a unique challenge for any artist. Because as you mentioned, it takes time and you can’t shortcut it. And then how do you if you can share briefly like how do you consistently have the discipline to produce new art so that you can keep things fresh and have people come back to your site? Or is there are the tools you use or techniques you use or any tips that you use that help you to do that consistently?

Steve 39:43
No, I don’t. I don’t really have any tips. It’s always it’s honestly it’s still a struggle for me. I’m always worried about it. Because I get like I say where I’ll have, you know two or three months ahead of where I’m booked with commissioned drawings and I No, I’m not going to have any time to do any original work. So you know, so I might be six months before I get a new piece on my site. And that’s not a good thing. And so it’s always a challenge, I still face that challenge all the time. And I think what you need to do is when you’re setting your schedule, or you are taking commissioned pieces, which most artists, especially starting out, most artists do commissioned pieces, it brings in extra money, or whatever. And I think what you have to do and what I’ve been doing over the last, say, not quite a year, maybe six months or so I was actually scheduling my own piece in there. So I might have, you know, two commissioned jobs, then I’ll schedule my own job. And then I’ll schedule another commission piece, and then my own again, and that way, you’re continuously doing some of your own stuff. If you forget to do your own work, then your site pays for it. Lack of use, or you know, use will drop off and your sales will drop off.

Madhav SBSS 41:05
Wonderful. Yep. If you forget to do your own work, I think that’s such a important line, we have to make time to do the work that represents you or you know, what you feel inside you not what someone else wants you to do, which is also important. But yeah, you have to make time for that. That’s such a nice message right there. Steve, for our listeners, what was holding you back in? Could you share with us, you know, what was holding you back in terms of taking this leap to be a professional artist?

Steve 41:40
Um, I think probably the one word that sums it up is is fear. And it’s, you know, it comes down to self confidence, it comes down to fear of failure, it comes down to, you know, what are other people going to think, Am I good enough? It’s all these self doubts, it’s the self confidence. And, you know, I think I think all of us face, not just artists, but I mean, everybody who’s, you know, athletes or anything, anybody else’s, it’s these, it’s the self doubt, it’s the self confidence that holds you back. And you just got to, again, it comes back to the same what I was saying before, where you just got to do what you love, and, you know, take the plunge,

Madhav SBSS 42:27
take the plunge and, and you’re doing the work.

Steve 42:31
You just have to I mean, really, I mean, there’s not much to it, there, you can set up a website pretty easy. Now, there’s a lot of art websites now that you can join for next to nothing, a lot of them, they charge you through the nose, you know, as far as commission and stuff like 5050 split with the with the websites. I don’t like those websites. But I mean, as far as like, you know, Etsy is a great example where it’s very cheap to get going, it’s relatively cheap to to keep it going. And they don’t charge very much. I think it’s like a 3% or something. commission when you sell something. So it’s a real quick and easy way to get going online. And you can you know, the key, I would say, take good pictures of your work, make sure you take pictures of your work, because I didn’t do that for years. And it cost me a lot to good pictures of your work. And get started, get on the internet, find a site that sees a great example, Deviant Art, there’s a bunch of them there. But you can get on there relatively quick and easy. And honestly, the best way to get over yourself, though, and the fear is just to do it. To get started the perfect

Madhav SBSS 43:47
antidote to fear as an artist is just get started and do the work.

Steve 43:53
Yeah. Most of us, you and me included, you know, we don’t have, you know, art curators, and you know, different people contacting us and all we’d like to do, you know, put your art in a show and we don’t have all that right. So it’s a matter of, you know, trying to get out there get noticed, get the recognition and stuff like that. And the easiest way is just to get out, put your stuff on a website and get lots of views. It only takes most most famous artists only have two or three famous pieces. That’s it. That’s and that’s all it takes. That’s

Madhav SBSS 44:28
all it takes. You don’t have to like someone said you don’t have to have 10 point 10 out of 10 batting average. All you need is striker to and you be good. So, Steven, we’re getting to the last part of the recording just a few rapid fire questions. Okay. Could you recommend one art, too? And one business tip or tool for our listeners? How to, you know, do better art through using maybe a particular To learn to use whether it could be a pen or it could be a digital tool, same thing to make proper business online, like you said, you know, take really good pictures initiate any one tip on business side of things.

Steve 45:13
Okay, as far as the art tip have a good eraser?

Unknown Speaker 45:22
Yeah. Anything that you recommend?

Steve 45:26
Yeah, it’d be, you know, I, most of my stuff is all pencil. I’ve done paintings, I have a whole bunch of, you know, acrylic paints and watercolor paints, I don’t do a whole lot of painting anymore kind of draft or drawing is kind of my thing. And I just, I just use regular pencils, I don’t use cheap quality pencils. I use, you know, good pencils. And basically, I have a good workspace. And, you know, you can, you can draw pretty much anywhere, and it’s fine. But I like to have a good workspace and open workspace, I have music going whenever I’m drawing and good lighting. Anyway, so once you get a piece done, spray it properly, and you know, got a treat your art. Well, I didn’t do that for a long time. I’d have lots of different pieces, and they were all kind of stashed in a cabinet or whatever, I didn’t really take care of them. I didn’t photograph them properly. And you never know really where you’re going to end up. And I wish thinking back over the last 30 years, I wish I wish I would have kept a better record of my drawings, pictures of all my work. You know, back in the day, we didn’t have cell phones with a hammer, stuff like that, right? So you had to have a decent camera and lighting and all this stuff. Now, even if it’s just a photo on your cell phone of what you’re doing just for your own records of what you’ve got, you know, moving forward as an artist, you don’t know where you’re going to end up. And you may end up being where you’re doing lots of prints, and how many originals? Have you done? How many originals? Have you sold? And you know, keeping better record of your stuff is important. I think, moving forward. You know, there’s a lot of people that get into doing prints and stuff. And they basically, you know, printed off on their printer at home. I’m not a big fan of that. I’ve seen a lot of garbage work online. It’s one of the problems, I think with the websites nowadays with the art websites, is you know, it’s hard to get recognized on these art sites. Because there’s so many people that have just put up honestly, it’s, you know, pretty garbage. I think it’s it’s, you know, you have young kids that are putting stuff up. I’m not trying to knock kids because there’s a lot of young kids now that are honestly they’re amazing artists. But if their works great, then hey, put it up there. And I’m a big fan of of the sites that have a little bit of a where you got to submit several pictures and it kind of vote to see if it’s good enough in because it limits the amount of art that goes on that website. Fine Art America, I’m not sure if you’re aware of that site. But Fine Art America is a great example. I have stuff on that site. But I mean, if you just do a search for let’s say motorcycle pencil drawing, you’re gonna find hundreds of 1000s of pieces of artwork that deals with motorcycle pencil drawings, it’s hard to get noticed. It really is. And so anyway, take good good pictures of your artwork.

And then find a good printer. I use a professional printer, I take my stuff to a professional printer, and then he does it.

I do the art stuff he does the print stuff. That’s that’s his expertise. I leave the you know, take on what you can take on and don’t take what you shouldn’t write as an artist. Most of us are not great business people write with a whole bunch of great business experience and promotion and all that stuff stick to what you know, and then find somebody who’s good at Direct.

Madhav SBSS 49:28
Don’t Don’t shy away from asking for help from people who basically are experts at what they do and absolutely perfect, perfect. Any book that you recommend anything that pops up your mind book that either it’s creative book or a particular biography of an artist or whichever.

Steve 49:49
Um, I have a lot of books. Most of them pertain to not art per se sure, but I think most of them are about positive self talk

Madhav SBSS 50:02
that any particular title that you would like you really like?

Steve 50:07
Well, I like the power of positive thinking. Thinking, that’s the title of our positive thinking. I have while thinking Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Yeah, it’s a good book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Stephen Covey, I read a lot of those type of books. Sure, because I think I think being right in your own head is important

Madhav SBSS 50:37
thing, right? In your own head.

Steve 50:39
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And, you know, I mean, there’s a, there’s a spot, there’s, there’s room for the artists, that’s all messed up, you know,

Unknown Speaker 50:47
head. It’s important, but

Steve 50:51
it’s a different type of art should it’s my tip, or so my heart. If I’m in a bad mood, if I’m miserable, I don’t draw, I don’t pick up the pencil. I only pick up the pencil when I’m in a good mood when I’m in the creative mood. And reading those books, being in the right space, like mentally in your head is important if that’s the type of art you’re doing. And so those are some of the books that I

Madhav SBSS 51:18
think of any specific artist or, you know, inspiration that you look up to, like a role model.

Steve 51:28
Like a role model, I haven’t. I honestly haven’t gotten a whole lot as far as into the art community. I’m not a member of any art clubs or anything like that. I’m pretty quiet, stay home. And kind of a in my own space and do my own thing. I it’s one of my downfalls, I guess, is not not getting out there socializing in the art community. It’s a great way to get recognition and you know, get your name out there. You know, and I just haven’t done that. I just can’t get into it. I still like Robert Bateman. Yeah, perfect. I still have a lot of his stuff. Like I said, it’s not hard to find amazing artists anymore online. You can google and find amazing artists.

Madhav SBSS 52:18
Find your own creative nation. I think find your own Robert Bateman. Steven. Yeah, calling. Yep, exactly. It’s so easy. Now. You have no excuse to not find that online.

Steve 52:28
Yeah, exactly. They’re not hurt. Fine. Awesome.

Madhav SBSS 52:32
Steve, we’re down to the last question. And this one is a little tricky. If you have one superpower to create anything you want. What would you create and why?

Steve 52:44
As far as art you’re talking about?

Madhav SBSS 52:47
Sure. Anything, anything you have one superpower to create anything you want in this world.

Steve 52:54
If I had a superpower to create anything I wanted, I think it would be time. I think it would be time to give myself more time. I am a father. I have two young girls. While they’re not so young. You know, they’re teenagers now. But I mean, it just happens so quick. And you know, yes. As you get older, you know, you realize how fast time goes, and how much you miss out on. I spent a lot of years just working way too many hours a job, you know, that I didn’t really like doing many things that I didn’t like, you know, for the sake of money. And as you get older and family and kids and stuff like that, even as an artist, I wish I would have you know, dedicated more time just to me, just to creative me, you know me thing to do. I like outdoors. I like to be in nature. I like going on walks and hikes. And you know, I used to go on canoeing trips, fishing trips and stuff with my dad. And you know, now he’s He’s much older and he’s not able to, you know, sit in a canoe for very long while I’m not even able to sit in a canoe. But, um, you know, it’s it’s time

Madhav SBSS 54:21
I followed the great time so you can do all these wonderful things that you want to do. Yeah,

Steve 54:26
it’s the important things not worth

Madhav SBSS 54:31
it. Yes. Steve, before we say goodbye, share with our listeners one parting piece of advice, and then how we can connect with you online.

Steve 54:43
Okay, um, my biggest piece of advice as an artist is do you just do what you do? Do you like to do I as an artist, even for myself, there was times when I go online or what Ever, even over the last few years looking at stuff and thinking all that’s pretty cool. That’s pretty cool. That’s pretty cool. And you see what sells online. And, you know, the one thing that I’ve noticed that sells online the most. And it’s probably the easiest thing to do is do celebrity drawings. Right? It doesn’t matter what site you go to, there’s celebrity drawings on every one of these sites, and they seem to be selling. I don’t know how people put celebrity drawings on their walls. But you know, honestly, for me, I have been tempted to do a celebrity drawing just because it’s so common. That it seems so simple. And you know, what I, I decided not to, don’t do something, just for the sake of money. You’re harder to do, you’re just strictly for money. It takes the joy, it takes a passion out of it. As far as I’m concerned, I’d much rather do something that I’m in the mood to do, if I’m in the mood to draw it. Or if I see something that’s beautiful, and I got to just draw it. And you know, while celebrities, some of them are pretty beautiful. drawing a picture of a celebrity is just, you know, I don’t know, it’s just not a thing. So why would i My biggest piece of advice is for young artists starting out, just stay true to yourself, do what you’re passionate about. I know a lady that draws trees, that’s all she she only draws trees, she loves treats. She loves nature. And you know what, she sells her stuff all the time. And all she does is draw trees. And you know, you think this lady would be tempted to draw something else like maybe rock, but draws trees, and I’m Tanya, she loves it. And other people love her stuff. If you do what you’re passionate about, people are gonna notice, and I’m telling you, there’s other people who are passionate about trees are passionate about their

Madhav SBSS 57:00
very powerful lesson, just whatever it is, don’t be distracted. Be true to yourself and just do it. And there will be people who love that stuff as well. Don’t doubt it for a second. That’s awesome. Thank you so much. How do we connect with you online?

Steve 57:18
are connecting with me? Pretty easy. People can you know find me on website at Google my name. It’ll lead them to one of my websites. McCall McCall. MCC al l That takes him to my website. From there my emails on there they can find me on Facebook. I’m pretty much all over they can find me pretty easy.

Madhav SBSS 57:43
Perfect. We’ll post all the links as well. Thank you so much, Steve. Appreciate your time. We will see you on the magical side. Take care

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