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Eric Armusik - Have Faith & a Renegade Spirit

The BoldBrush Show: Episode #47

Show Notes:

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In this episode we interviewed Eric Armusik, a representational painter with a passion for complex narrative paintings who is seeking to recreate and celebrate the human experience through large renaissance style works. We spoke about the challenges he faced as a budding representational artist in a time when realism was considered to be dead, his incredible passion project in which he's creating 40 paintings depicting scenes of Dante's Inferno, how he sacrificed sleep in order to build his painting career at the same time as having a day job which he was able to quit, and why believing in yourself to take those steps to grow in your career will pay off in the end for you as well. Finally, we discuss how you can become one of Eric's students and learn directly from him from the basics of painting to helping you grow your artistic career!

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10 Tips for Transitioning From Your Job to Being a Full-Time Artist:


Eric Armusik: 0:00

All that sacrifice and all those staying up those hours, and all that, you know, trying to be clandestine, I had work and do business. Yeah, to get out that that equaled this.And I will never ever regret any of it. I love it. Everything I ever dreamed about, I'm doing right now and I want to grow bigger and bigger and I want to help more people do the same.Because I believe it's achievable. But you have to believe it. You can't just go.People can't achieve that dream anymore. It's just not possible.And then like, it's more possible than ever right now in the world we're in we're all connected. It's not like it was when I got out of college. It's it's so much better. And this is, this is worth doing.

Laura Arango Baier: 0:45

Welcome to BoldBrush show where we believe that fortune favors the bold brush. My name is Laura Arango Baier, and I'm your host. For those of you who are new to the podcast. We are a podcast that covers art marketing techniques, and all sorts of business tips specifically to help artists learn to better sell their work.We interview artists at all stages of their careers as well as others who are in careers tied to the art world in order to hear their advice and insights. On today's episode, we interviewed Eric our music, a representational painter with a passion for complex narrative paintings who is seeking to recreate and celebrate human experience through large Renaissance style works. We spoke about the challenges he faced as a budding representational artist at a time when realism was considered to be dead. His incredible passion project in which he's creating 40 paintings depicting scenes of Dante's Inferno, how he sacrifice sleep in order to build his painting career at the same time as having a day job, which he was able to quit round why believing in yourself to take those steps to grow in your career will pay off in the end for you as well. Finally, we discuss how you can become one of Eric's students and learn directly from him from the basics of painting to helping you grow your artistic career.Hello, Eric, and welcome to the BoldBrush show. How are you today?

Eric Armusik: 1:58

Fantastic, very much. Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today. I'm really, really excited about all of it. Thank you.

Laura Arango Baier: 2:06

Yeah, I'm excited to talk to you because you are doing something that very few people actually even in the realism world do, which is tackling immense paintings, which, you know, as a realist painter myself, you always hear from like people like, Oh, why would you make gigantic paintings, like who has the wall space? But I think, you know, sometimes it's worth being like you had said earlier in our previous conversation, being a renegade and just, you know, going against the system and letting yourself break that glass ceiling. But before we get into that, do you mind giving us a little bit about your background, who you are what you do?

Eric Armusik: 2:45

Sure, sure. I've been in this business for about30 years now, as of next year, I believe, but as a professional,I have during that time drawn and painted, I have taught for about 20 years, students all around the world to do representational and figurative art work. During that time, I probably failed more than most people on my own, trying to establish a brand trying to establish my career in a changing industry, where it was very traditional before before the internet. So many new opportunities have grown since then. And it's enabled me to sell hundreds and hundreds and1000s of dollars of artwork on my own, without galleries. And in the last seven years, I have been embarked upon a epic journey painting, Dante's Inferno. I'm a progressive to the rest of the, the Divine Comedy. But as it is, now, I've been painting 40 paintings for the inferno that encompass all the consoles. And as it stands, now, I'm at painting 15 Out of the 40 each one of them is a four foot by five foot panel on a Luma comp that I've been painting on, which is Jerry's Artarama product. And I've had a just a life changing experience while doing it, and very happy to share that with everybody today.

Laura Arango Baier: 4:18

Wonderful.Yeah. And again, it's it's such an incredible project to be tackling. Because it really is, you know, a passion project for you. It is not something that someone like one day told you like, oh, you should do this for you is really like bringing that mysticism and wonder back into painting that you get when you enter in a renaissance church or a baroque church and you see these immense, gorgeous paintings that are larger than life and that's an incredible project to be doing. Honestly.

Eric Armusik: 4:51

It certainly is.And we've spoken earlier about you know, spending my time in Italy and your time in Italy and just seeing that kind of level of, of artwork is so inspiring.And I think for me it really connected with my upbringing. I grew up in the Northeast section of Pennsylvania, mining town kind of area, not very particularly nice. And a lot of the area, especially the town, I lived in a town called Ashley, by the old mining breakers and huge mountains of column and all this, it was just very dismal.But down at the bottom of every street, it seemed there was a beautiful Catholic Church. And you would walk into these buildings that were built, you know, maybe 100 years prior to my being born. And they were gorgeous. Inside, they just it was like, walking into a museum, the stained glass, the ceilings, the walls, the altar, everything was just immaculately adorned with paintings and sculptures and things like that. So as a kid, you know, you're sitting there kneeling, and just staring everywhere, you know, and then my mind would just wander all over the place and see things and I didn't have a background in art, per se. until college, really, I didn't, I didn't have any training until I entered pensa University at age 17, or whatever it was, at that time, to get some training and get our history, our historical background and stuff are the things that we're seeing. And once that happened, it started to ignite everything as they Oh,I'm used to seeing that I know what that is now. And, you know, the history of maybe the I think it was the transfiguration was on the ceiling of the church that I was at. And then you see Raphael's version of Aeneas.Okay, that's where that's from, you know, and all those things connected. And I think that, you know, that experience for me was was very transformative. So So yeah, that, you know, kind of growing out of all that really kind of engaged in in told me exactly where I was going as an artist, I think at that point.So

Laura Arango Baier: 7:03

yeah, and, you know, I resonate very much with with your experience, because I was, of course, raised Catholic. And I was also the kid was not paying attention to the sermon, I was just looking at the gorgeous paintings. I wonder if that's like something that's it's incredible, you know, the, oh, just visiting a, I mean, a Catholic Church in general, they're very decorated, they're very beautiful. And of course, the striking iconography is one of the things that really gets you when you walk in.

Eric Armusik: 7:37

Yeah, it really affects me even now, you know, be in this business for as many years as I have. Because I, you know, as a kid, I saw that, that old traditional side, and it's kind of mirrored the same with the art world, how and the churches in the last, like, 50to 70 years look totally boring, and not as inspiring, you know, and I kind of sat there, you know, later on going into some other churches in my adulthood.And I'm, like, disinfect the gymnasium. Like, this isn't inspired me at all, like, I, I want to see all those beautiful things. And that's, I think that's what, in connecting you with this too, and going well, if I could do it, why wouldn't I do it?

Laura Arango Baier: 8:19

Exactly my

Eric Armusik: 8:20

contribution to not complaining about the brothel, but fixing the problem, maybe?

Laura Arango Baier: 8:25

Yes, exactly. And, you know, there's also something you know, I'm not particularly you know, aside, like, if you step aside from religion, right, even just these images on their own, they, it's almost like they speak to a higher level of like mysticism.Whether or not you know anything about the religion like it, there's something magical about them. And that's the same feeling you get when you walk into like, a church in Rome, or a church in Florence, where it's just awe inspiring, even if it's not, you know, for someone like even if it's for someone who's more secular, right, it's still like wow, which Yeah, which

Eric Armusik: 9:09

I've seen Yeah, I to that point, I'm sorry to talk. But to that point, I mean,I It's so interesting, even sharing what I do, because you know, I still do practice I'm very my faith and very important to me, but I shared to most people who have nothing to do with the faith, nothing to do with really any Christianity or anything but when you're able to share something that that communicates some kind of beauty to people I transcend all that and it's it's very interesting like at first I would almost be well maybe should I be showing this is it you know, is it is that the audience but it never has really affected me all that much. It it there's so many people that are just I think that the great part about being an artist even Hundreds of years ago is that we put a visual communication out to people. And I think that says something more than what we're dealing with today, even where, you know, some art is, you know, conceptual in nature and very selfish and doesn't communicate to everybody. But real art did before people could even communicate it. And the language wasn't there, they couldn't read or write, but they could see something and understand that visual. And I think that, that, that that still has an importance in our, in our art world today, it's it's so important, like, if you can communicate with whatever you're doing to a larger audience. I mean, I've said it many times,I'd rather people love or hate my art, because they'll have the chance to, but by looking at it, not by what I'm going to tell them, you know, they can they can say, absolutely, you know, moved me or I can't stand that kind of thing. But you've given them a chance to make their own decisions that don't have my bias to it. So,

Laura Arango Baier: 10:55

exactly, yeah. Because it's, it's allowing the image to speak to them directly. Which, you know, to your point about, you know, people not even being able to read or write before, you know, in the time of the Renaissance is very uncommon. They could only understand through images.And that's also how we fundamentally understand the world around us. Which is, which is wonderful. But you mentioned something interesting, which is that you never really thought about being an artist until much later. But did you feel like maybe as a child, you were kind of interested in it, or?

Eric Armusik: 11:32

Yeah, I definitely, as a child, I was always drawing. So I knew from a very early age, I laugh because I would have books in my, on my bookshelf, and I would pull them down, and the first few pages were blank. So I would sit there thinking, Well, I can draw on these because there's no words on it. So I had all these books in my bookshelf, my mother would like lost her mind when she saw them years later. But I would just draw and sketch because I didn't have a sketch pad or anything. You know, I had pencils, maybe crayons, it's a young kid, but I'd be drawn, you know, cookies and dinosaurs and sharks and Spaceman whatever it was. I had no, no idea. But I was always the person that was was drawing. So even in kindergarten was weighing art competitions and things like that. But I guess I knew I would be an artist, but I had no no training, other than what I was able to do. And it was enough to, you know, win contests in school and stuff like that. But even getting into college, I got rejected from one, one university had an art test or something like that. And I had no I had no background in anything I couldn't couldn't draw or paint through. Okay, couldn't tell you any art historical things. But it was in college that I had the opportunity to learn figure drawing first, and then painting at age 20. I picked up a paintbrush filing. And I think that that really kind of solidified everything. I mean, figure drawing work was was super important. I started doing that a little earlier in college. And it was just I thought this is this is what I'm doing. I know, this is what I want to do. And then paint, just it was everything to me. I was like, totally immersed in that.But I can remember as a kid, I mean, I think it was his name.Billy Bill Alexander had the painting painting show on PBS, it was like Bob Ross's teacher, or whatever it was, I can remember like, literally try it,I actually had an art unpadded like age 10. And I'm sitting there trying to work along with him with some colored pencils on a piece out a huge piece of paper trying to draw while he's painting. And I'm like, This guy's crazy. He's like, I can't keep up with him trying to shade and stuff. Like, I just, I didn't have anything. So I was kind of struggling. So when I work with a lot of people now that are in these horrible situations, sometimes financially, and everything else like this, just work with whatever you have, you know, we'll make it work together. And you know, just find what you can to just at least get some kind of start, you know, because I know what that's like I it was very difficult for me. But the experience that I got at that point, I've said it to you before, like I got the introduction to painting, but I didn't get the how do you paint that situation? It was so they put the brush in my hand, but it wasn't so much that they taught me what to do with it, you know, so there was fortunately I had some art history. And then studying in Italy for a while and drawing a lot from the things that inspired me was that really kind of helped usher things along for me to kind of take this whole journey forward as a professional and really spending time in training and training and training and practicing hundreds of 1000s of hours probably at this point, you know, and but that's that that was how I had to go forward and but I guess it was a conglomeration of all those small experiences that got me where I am today. and the determination of all of it. So,

Laura Arango Baier: 15:03

yeah, yeah.And, you know, you mentioned also, and we were talking about this earlier how, you know, just being given that brush and not getting an education in like, how do you render? How do you turn form? How do you draw? And you started, you know, painting and drawing and studying this in a time where realism was considered long gone and dead. I mean, sure, there were people underground, right. Very few people, though, who were trying to maintain the tradition. And of course, those Antilles started popping up maybe in like the early to mid 2000s. But you started in a particularly difficult time, and I commend you, because the institutional pushback can be so challenging to work with. And also, you know, even pushback from the people around you, who are also artists who maybe even look down on realism for whatever reason.Yeah, that must have been really hard to deal with. How did you cope with that?

Eric Armusik: 16:07

It was pretty tough. I guess, deep inside. I mean, you kind of had to have a maverick spirit, you kind of had to be the the kid who rebelled in school, which I already was,I was kind of a person that didn't like to follow the mainstream thing, whatever it was, like, everybody has to do this. Well, I'm gonna go over here and do that. I felt that way deep inside, but it was it was difficult. I mean, I had, I had one professor that I really looked up to say that, you know, if I was to do this particular thing I wanted to do, I would never have a career. And this wasn't a big critique with a lot of other professors around and everybody kind of laughing about it. And mind you, at one moment,I'm showing this piece of art that I spent three, three months working on, which was like a six foot by eight foot painting. And somebody just came in the room and out they they performance art or something. They're an artist, but they're doing a painter, but they're doing performance art, and everybody's going crazy for that 10 minutes, wherever they spent doing their thing. And so I felt like I was in kind of a crazy world like, like, going, Gosh, here I am.And I'm getting closer to graduating. That's that's the kind of advice I got. So, you know, the first few years of getting into the profession here, I am trying to like, toe the line in some way. Maybe, maybe it's me, maybe I'm not getting it, you know. And so it was very hard. I'd say probably the first two or three years of my professional career were wasted just trying to appease other people's tastes, maybe, you know, and asking you, oh, hey, what am I doing wrong, all this kind of stuff. When deep inside I had that I had that spirit in me, I wanted to do the things I wanted to do. Maybe I just didn't have the right direction and things like that at the time. And it wasn't until after that point, I was married right out of school, to love my life. And she's a brilliant writer herself. And she basically told me one day that she said, If I had your talent,I would do whatever I wanted. I why would why would you be, you know, holding yourself back. And she was so right. And she's still the only person on earth I trust. Because she's always been there for me. And I will always be there for her because she's very honest, and will tell me that and it was almost like I got permission, which is start listening my heart again. And you know, I feel that deeply when I work with other students now, because doesn't matter what age they are, maybe they're, you know, 18 years old, or even even before that, or mid career or even later in life, getting a chance to try again, all of those people, they make me realize who I was at that moment. And I go, I don't want them to experience that I don't want them to waste any time on this earth, trying to appease other people, you'll never make everybody happy. You've got to make yourself happy first and go after what it is you believe in.And that's one of the only regrets I had early on is, you know, my confidence. I had confidence but I could it could be shaken quite easily and then add on any kind of failure have in your life. And then all of a sudden, your mind is telling you that? Yeah, they're right. Oh my gosh, they have some insight into my life that I don't and it's, it's it's so ridiculous to to even think that way.

Laura Arango Baier: 19:29

Yeah, yeah.And it's funny because, you know, for you, you were reflecting on yourself, like you were the failure when in actuality the institution failed you, in many ways. And I'm also happy that, you know, you're the love of your life, of course, your wife was able to provide that support and that, you know, like, kind of like a slap in the face saying, no, just do it.Like, who cares? You can do whatever the heck you want in your life. And, and of course, here you are, and I have your students you're working on a massive project, and you've been out This for a very long time.And you can definitely say, I have no regrets except for, you know, maybe not starting sooner which I think that's a very common regret with people who, you know, prevent themselves from pursuing the things that they love. But it's very inspiring, because I resonate a lot, actually, with your situation. Because even though you know, we're now in a time where realism is more accepted.There's still pushback in in schools, in universities, colleges, etc. Like, I got a lot of pushback in high school in my art classes, as well. So I resonate with that. And also with that feeling of who cares,I'm gonna do it anyway. Um, my mom, of course, was one of the people were like, Oh, don't do that. And I was like, I'm gonna show you show your mom. Yeah, you just have to keep going, man. Um, and then you picked recently, of course, this insanely influential thing, which is Dante's Inferno. And, or the Divine Comedy, of course, because that's all of it. Yes.And I'm curious to know why, specifically, the Divine Comedy, why did you decide to dive into that instead of other, you know, stories from the Renaissance?

Eric Armusik: 21:20

Well, maybe it was a little bit time I spent in Italy so that Dante the Getty, inspiration may have found its way through because I love some of my greatest inspirations are Italian art, 17th century work,Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi, all these great artists. So it may have been a little bit of Italian influence,I did read. The first time I read The Divine Comedy was right after college, I had taken some time, right after school and just kind of tried to find out where my work was going. I was thinking at the time, I was going to go into grad school.But I was trying to read through it. And I remember getting this copy of it, my mother had bought me a book of it. And I was looking at reading all this amazing, like, visual things in my head, so much is going on.And this book was horribly illustrated. I don't even want to say the artists, I don't want to put him down or anything. But he was just terribly look like he spent five minutes, you know, just scratching things. They were like, barely sketches. And I'm looking at his whole book.And I'm thinking that's, that's what you got out of this. Yeah.And I'm just feeling I just had moved back to the States after being in Italy for a semester.And after seeing all that, that art everywhere, I mean, every room, every Palace, you go into it, all the churches, and all that time that I spent, and I'm thinking, Why Why aren't artists doing that work anymore? Why aren't? Why aren't we doing Sistine Chapel level artwork, you know, you walk in there, I spent hours in there just staring and I'm like, this is years and decades of work? Why aren't artists doing that anymore? And I guess, you know, deep inside, I was thinking, I really want to, I really want to paint this kind of work. But again, I was just entering into my professional career I didn't have I've done some fairly large artwork at the time, but I hadn't really, really found my grounding yet, you know, and understanding, you know, where do I find models? Where do I find the inspiration? Where do I even get the knowledge because here I am a, you know, a kid reading this book. And at this moment in, I got a very cursory understanding of what it was.And so I guess at that point, I was still kind of figuring out life. And again, I ended up buying a house getting married, buying a house and restoring a house for 20 years. And so there was many things, building a family and all that it just, it kind of got shelved for a little while. And then I did a very big commission can't really talk in detail about it, but it was, it was for a movie. It's something that got shelved for a little while, but it was a very large commission. And it was dealing with kind of damnation, and stuff like that. And I painted it. And at the time, I was it was more directed, you know, outside of my hands by the person who had commissioned it.And I thought, I got so much more I wanted to do with this.And I started thinking back to that whole idea of doing that project and now how to having been in a career for about 25years. I have plenty of models I work with I know people I know materials, I know what to do.And so it's really started to click so I ended up going on and finding looking for someone who could guide me through this. And that person ended up being Dr.Christopher Kleinhenz, who is retired professor from the University of mass Wisconsin Madison. And he had taught Dante's work and a number of medieval authors worked for, like 40 years. So he, we started our conversations right off in the very beginning. He's always been super respectful to me, I respect everything he's done.He's written dozens of books, I think, on the subject, academic level stuff. And he's been so instrumental in helping me figure out how to accurately portray this because I don't want it to be Erica music's version of Dante, Dante's Inferno, I don't, I want it to be a good, very well educated version of that something that would be very, that Dante himself would be happy to see come to life. So in that way, it could be taught if it had to be used in educational settings, maybe high school, college, whatever it could be used in that and, and it's kind of our goal. To do that, as well, he wants to put out more of an academic book that we use my illustrations, I plan on when the series is over doing a book with two of us at a very large art book, it will be narrated by him. So I think that combined would be great. But we're going through x exhibit the work as well. So imagine 40 paintings that are four foot by five foot in a room, that's, that's like160 feet of paintings, just if you were to bump them up to each other, it's going to transform the room, into that entire space into you know, the inferno. And I think at that scale, and that drama, how incredible that experience could be walking through that. And I kind of laugh sometimes, because it's like, you know, if it understands, you know, the, how the in front of begins, is basically virtual. The interests to guide Dante through the in front of so he essentially starts at the inferno goes through all the levels of that comes out goes through the Purgatorio, Purgatory, goes through all the levels that and ends up in heaven. So it's like, in order to get to heaven, he has to go through hell. So he has to go through all levels of hell and understand it. And during that, during that time, it transforms him, he becomes somebody completely different until he eventually ends up in heaven with and is reunited and Beatrice, and she takes him through the rest of the paradisio. But it was almost the same way with Dr. Kleinhenz. and I were I'm essentially done to the wilderness in the beginning, not knowing anything, and he's this virtual character, and he led me through the last seven years to get where I am now.And, you know, it's not just the, you know, in painting all this and embarking on this myself, you know, people need to understand, it's much more than just getting in the studio and painting I mean, I, I do what I do, to provide a living for my family. So I have a family of five that I support with just my artwork, I'm the only one my wife is home with our children, and she's a writer. So we we work together on building this business to provide for our family. So it is a business of commerce. So you have to put in the work to do that. So try doing an immense project. On top of that, at the students with all the marketing, you have to do with large amount of commissions, like the one that's behind me here. It's a very, very busy life. And so that in the last seven years, I produced15, out of the 40 paintings so far, I'm really looking to push a lot harder, maybe by the end of the year to get 20 done. So I'm at least at the halfway point. But it was very much like his struggles, side, number of struggles, even aside from the pandemic, and things like that, in my own life, getting through to this point. So you kind of look back and say, Wow, that was amazing that that journey, you know, going through all of that, but I wouldn't exchange it for the world. It's one of those moments, I just you point to the cloud and say, I want to get that I want to I want to achieve that. So that's that was the heart I know, it was way beyond what I've ever done before what I might be capable of doing. But you have to shoot that high if you're going to do something great. And and I think it's it's exactly the size that needs to be to stretch me even at 30years into this business. It needs to be unachievable, that you need to force yourself that hard to change and to grow and evolve. So that's pretty much the story. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 29:38

Oh, my God, and you bring up such excellent points, specifically the one that really just it makes me so happy to say it is, you know, there I doubt there is a single creative person out there who has ever regretted embarking on a massive project because it is a transformational thing and I actually want it to be ask you, you know, you have 15 paintings done? You have another 25?Essentially, do you find that the you that you were when you started that first painting is different from the you that you are now, you know, how are you also transforming yourself? You know, kind of like how daunting was,

Eric Armusik: 30:19

it definitely is,I feel that you feel very excited that you've achieved something. But there's something more humbling about all of it, you know, because you see that there's sacrifice involved. You see, you know, what, what didn't go right? What forced you to get back in there and work again, you, you see all the people that at the beginning that said you couldn't do it, or someone said something insulting or put you off your game, maybe a little bit here and there. You saw all the kinds of struggles that come up when you decide to embark on something like this. I think even when I achieve it, as I said, I would definitely be different. But I don't feel like at this point even there's like a sense of boasting, it's, it's almost humbling that you can make it, you know, and I think that that's, that's kind of the character you see in Dante and I see myself in that, you know, there's points to me in front of where he's confused, he's afraid. There's even one point Virgil is afraid, you know, in this situation, it's, you know, they don't even know if they're going to get through a certain point, you go through that, and it makes you stronger. And just like some of the other struggles I had, even before I started this, this whole epic series, you know, just dealing with the financial collapse in 2008. And trying to keep a business going, well, the world's falling apart around you, I mean, it, it makes you into a different person when you confront adversity, or that the situations where people say give up, you're not going to do it, you know, you're never going to make it that it's just like making steel, it makes you stronger, you got to go into the fire, to be able to be made stronger. And I try to at least more than anything I wanted to communicate is to other artists that you know, you have to go through those moments. If there is no getting out alive in life.You're all good. You're all gonna go through something. But to live your life in such a way that you're like, Well, I don't want to fail. Failure is about is the most important thing and all this because you through failure, you learn to be stronger, you get tougher skin you get you get more determination, you look for answers, when things aren't working well, you will you will find things in the midst of being absolutely confused and worried you will be become more resourceful and and I love to teach that I love to help people build up you know, their their careers and to be ready to overcome those those setbacks because everybody's gonna get them if you want it, if you want it in this business, even if you want to just sell a little bit, you're going to confront adversity, and you have to be ready to, to handle that pressure and that stress. And, and I guess that's why I'm very glad to go through all do this and kind of see see the worst sides of it. Sometimes I look at some of the worst things that have happened in my business.And they have been many. And I am thankful for them because they were they were more important than that. Then the huge painting sales that I made, the biggest numbers that I that I did is as you know, just individuals selling my artwork, there. Those are great moments.The things that I overcame, are so much bigger, and and I'm thankful for them. So that's that's kind of how I feel about this project and probably every part of my career.

Laura Arango Baier: 33:55

Yeah, yeah.And it's, again, it's extremely inspiring. And it makes me wonder also, because, you know, you've been in this industry for a long time and even you know, through some of the hardest economic moments. How was it for you to go from student to full time artists? What was that transition like for you?

Eric Armusik: 34:18

Right out of school, I as I said, I had a little bit of a kind of a maverick spirit I wanted to I wanted to succeed where everybody said I couldn't but obviously, you know, we're all confronted with the daily needs of having to provide for ourselves and and eventually my case, you know, a family of five. So I kind of had to go into the things that I knew that I could make money with at the time to support me I tried doing something of an artistic situation I thought would have worked out something we would have provided some incriminated didn't. So I had to kind of go into the crutch of my previous profession as a kid working for my father and construction. So I worked with my dad from the time I was nine years old. All weekends, all my holidays and everything else, I spent a lot of time doing that. And that's a whole other story of why I had to do it. Kind of as a kid getting in trouble, did something bad and basically had to work for my father for about two years for free. But I learned a profession and it was very helpful for me and, and I kind of stress this with a lot of people that I do consultations with and career advice and stuff is that, you know, take every experience that you have in your life doesn't matter if you think it's related, and see how that can give you an unforeseen advantages in your career. So for me, I was a carpenter, I trimmed out houses built did concreted roofs, dug ditches, I mean, everything that they needed me to do, I did. But I learned a lot of things about, you know, working with framing wood and doing finish work. And later on in life, I was able to use that for building custom frames doing large tabernacle frames, like I'm actually in the process of doing right now for a church, I have two of them I'm doing. But I relied on that for a little while. And then I was able to kind of get into a profession doing graphic design work for a company and I had a little bit of experience with it. In college, it was kind of on the job training. So I was able to learn Photoshop and a bunch of other things. And while I was doing my day job working for this craft company at first and then a technology company I was working for. I said, I don't want to do this forever. I want I'm doing this for money, now some experience. So I built my business on the outside while I was working. So while I would work all day, I would come home eat dinner, and then I would get in my studio and I would work like five, six hours or so at night until like two in the morning. And I realized that that sacrifice of sleep was necessary because even if it was an extra hour or two, each day, it was getting me that much farther out. So I got you know, kind of a parallel career running, you know, I had my thing I had to do for money and my career was running at the same time. So in a number of years after it, I think it was probably about six, seven years after I really committed myself doing it. I was in a position where I wasn't very good job paying being paid very well. And I left that job to become a full time artist. And by that time I had both careers running. It was like, you know, stepping off an escalator right into another one. And I was right it didn't didn't there was no hiccups or anything. And I actually that first year I made more money in the art career that I moved into than where I was working. So that was another you know, where everybody was telling me you're crazy. What are you gonna do you're gonna ruin your life and you're gonna lose all that you lose all the benefits of working for corporations guy couldn't wait to leave. You're right. And but I think the biggest thing the biggest advice and I think I wrote a blog years ago for BoldBrush for this is, is I think it was like 1010 reasons or things you should do to leave your job or whatever it was but it was really committing myself in the end and going if you're going to leave and you're going to your passion is to be in your career. Don't be a model employee do what you have to to get the employee thing done and satisfy your boss and be everything else but be kind of like a wallflower you know be somebody who not going to bring a lot of attention to you because I spent all my time I would I would take my lunch break sometimes and just go in the car and do marketing I would be sneaking out to make calls to people to do Commission's I was even painting Commission's on the steering wheel of my car in the parking lot. You know, all my friends are like all their work buddies are like, hey come out to, you know, to go out to eat with all of us. It'd be social and like, No, I don't want to be social. I like you guys, but I want I have this dream and I have to achieve it. And at the time I had, you know, two children. And I was watching my daughter everyday look at me in the door, the window there and seeing her dad ate this. I don't want to miss their lives.I want to I want them to grow up in front of me. I want to be a good dad, I want to be home my wife I love being at home, I'm still to every day, I enjoy a nice hour to Coffee with my wife in the morning because it's the greatest part of my life, you know, that all that sacrifice and all those staying up those hours, and all that, you know, trying to be clear and just and I had work and do business.Yeah, to get out that that equaled this. And I will never ever regret any of it. I love it for everything I ever dreamed about. I'm doing right now and I want to grow bigger and bigger and I want to help more people do the same because I I believe it's achievable. But you have to believe it. You can't just go.People can't achieve that dream anymore. It's just not possible.And I'm like, it's more possible than ever. Right now in the world where we're all connected.It's not like it was when I got out of college. It's it's so much better. And this is, this is worth doing, you know?

Laura Arango Baier: 40:20

Yeah. Yeah.And actually, you read my mind, because I was actually going to mention how, you know, you did that, in some of the hardest times to even be attempting to sell paintings. You know, that, you know, like phonebooks, basically and because the internet wasn't really like a thing. It wasn't like the aarC there wasn't fueled up the US there wasn't all of these, you know, opportunities that we have now. Oh my god, so I can imagine how fulfilling one it must have been for you to actually pull through. Like you said, it's so much easier. How BoldBrush re inspire artists to inspire the world, because creating art creates magic. And the world is currently in desperate need of magic. BoldBrush provides artists with free art marketing, creativity, and business ideas and information. This show is an example. We also offer written resources, articles, and a free monthly art contest open to all visual artists. We believe that fortune favors the bold brush.And if you believe that to sign up completely free at BoldBrush That's BOLDBRUSH The BoldBrush Show is sponsored by FASO. Now more than ever, it's crucial to have a website when you're an artist, especially if you want to be a professional in your career. Thankfully, with our special ink forward slash podcasts, you can make that come true. And also get over 50% off your first year on your artists website. Yes, that's basically the price of 12lattes in one year, which I think is a really great deal considering that you get sleek and beautiful website templates that are also mobile friendly e commerce print on demand in certain countries, as well as access to our marketing center that has our brand new art marketing calendar. And the art marketing calendar is something that you won't get with our competitor, the art marketing calendar gives you day by day, step by step guides on what you should be doing today, right now in order to get your artwork out there and seen by the right eyes so that you can make more sales this year. So if you want to change your life and actually meet your sales goal this year, then start now by going to our special link forward slash podcast. That's s a s Forward slash podcast.It's like, it's still hard, of course, because you know, we're in a strange economic situation right now worldwide. But there are still people out there who are living from their work just like you. And, you know, that brings me to a very good question, which is for you, you know, having gone through that, to today, you know, experiencing the boom of, you know, the internet world and all of the opportunities that affords us what has been the most lucrative approach for you to market and sell your work?

Eric Armusik: 43:13

Sure. It's, it's the realization that nobody buys something that they can't see.Now, that's, that's very different from you know, when I left school, a lot of my friends ended up going right to New York City. That was the way to make you know, was to go to the city because you had to be in a place had to be or beatings and you had to be there the galas and talking with people and making connections. Soon after, you know, the internet model became the way that we all communicate.And for me, I moved into an area that was it's a small town 5000People not very, very big, close enough to New York, I can get there in an hour or so. And I can get to Philly if I need to wherever I need to go. But that realization that people aren't going to buy from unless they know that what your art is. So it's our responsibility to really think of, of the internet every day as an opportunity to get in there and to share. I've said this short a lot of people.What people don't understand about marketing is that we all have to do it. It doesn't matter who you are. Coca Cola is the most recognized name in the world. All the languages in the world can say Coca Cola to each other and they know what they're talking about. Now, why would Coca Cola still be doing advertisements today? Why everybody knows why they're doing it. Because you need to keep marketing you need to keep that name out there. You need to keep that brand recognition out there and you need to get it out into the public square where people can see it and make a decision about it. So that's one big thing that I for me, I realized that it was it had to be a habit like just like brushing your teeth you need every day to do some marketing, and you need to create ate that brand out there every day. And the only way you do it is by putting it out there as much as possible. So, you know, like, even when people were trying to, you know, they were trying to sell the whole idea of the Intel logo, you know, and you see that logo on the screen. What do you hear afterwards? Yeah, here's a couple of notes to come after it. How many times did it take before people understood that that sound meant Intel? Not one time, not 10 times maybe? No, but so many times over time that people recognize it. It's the same reason why a lot of artists fail that advertise in a magazine one time I did it, I was that foolish to believe that if I put my art in one magazine, one time, people would just come run into me and oh, my gosh, I saw your work and magazine, guess what, there's tons of people in those magazines to stand out, you need to do it consistently. And I think that I started thinking after a while and I think it's great at first I encourage it to do a lot of group shows with people and to get your your artwork out there.But at some point, you need to start thinking like an individual. And you need to start preparing yourself for creating opportunities where you can be the star, where you can be the only person in the room and sharing your work in such a way that it gets out there consistently, as as a single item, you know, not not like even like in a magazine, where there's so many, you know, a group of people showing up, we're just going to clarify all of that, or even in a group show, you're gonna go right but but if you create some kind of, you know, uniqueness around what you're doing, and put it out there consistently, you will become something that has a lot more of a spotlight on it. And you need to find something that you believe in something that's that's very close to your soul or something you individually you resonate with completely, that you're willing to stand up for and fight. Like, we're not supposed to be people like the see some of these infomercials like, hey, you know, become a real estate guy or something or, you know, sell something that's not you, you know how quickly people give up on that stuff. If you're not, if you're not finding who you are as an artist, and creating something that you truly enjoy, that you're willing to fight for every day, you really need to make that your habit, you're gonna go nowhere. So, you know, you got to really start thinking about that thing and stop overthinking the fact that you need to be original or unique or anything like that. Unique is a word I'm using for something else. But you know, that you got to do something so different that everybody's gonna go, wow, the most original person I've ever seen, we're gonna give you everything, all the attention and all the money and everything else, it's just not going to happen. You need to just think of yourself as you're creating a brand every day, just like Coca Cola, just like anybody else.You're carving a niche into the market by doing what you do best. And I think the sooner you realize that, that's about lucrative. That's a longevity of being lucrative. Don't think about, you know, a couple years ago with a banana with a duct tape on the wall, all of a sudden, everybody's painting versions of that doing artwork about that. It's funny, but it's a one liner, it's a joke, it's a one liner kind of thing. Or when a movie comes out and everybody starts painting or drawing that particular character. It's great. I mean, I'm not saying that's not something that's, you know, fun, and I hope you sell that work and stuff, that's great. But it's a one liner, you need to think about longevity, and you need to think about building something bigger and being consistent. So that's, that's where the word lucrative,I think is applied best is when you start thinking long term.And you could do that on day one.

Laura Arango Baier: 48:45

Yes. Wow, you bring up so many wonderful points. Because for one, it's like the whole idea of being original, I think, you know, that's, first of all, it's a scam. There's nothing new under the sun. I oftentimes, you know,I've I've thought about an idea for painting. And it turns out,Oh, someone did it. But like, maybe 500 years ago, or maybe someone did it yesterday. So there's truly nothing new. So that already relieves a lot of pressure, like just do whatever the hell you want. And then you also brought up an excellent point with, you know, making work that gets you up in the morning, basically, like I find that the work itself should be something that like, you get up in the morning and it's the first thing you want to do.Because it excites you because you know, it doesn't feel heavy.I mean, sure it can be really heavy, but not in the the way of like, making you emotionally exhausted, right. It's something that Oh, I'm so excited that like you know, obviously I have to rest but I get up in the morning like bright and early and get it done. And the final point that I love that you brought up is you know the timelessness aspect of the work.Yes, it's fine to follow the As trends, you know, especially if it's like, Oh, I really love this show, and I'm just gonna do like a one off. But ensuring that your work is I guess it speaks to something higher than just, oh, this this banana on the wall, which is one moment in time that of course, we're going to remember forever as an extremely embarrassing moment in the art world, in my opinion.But oh, my God, yes. But, you know, creating something, and this ties in so well to what you're doing, you know, with, with the church paintings, and also with Dante's Inferno, creating with timelessness in mind, you know, these narratives and these stories that bring us all together as a people or images that inspire us, regardless of religion, which is a much, much higher goal, and much more fulfilling personally.Like how you mentioned, if it's something that is, you know, important to you, as well, it's like all it that's like, triple whammy of everything you should be doing. Which, you know, I believe you even answered my next question, which was, Do you believe that good work basically sells itself?

Eric Armusik: 51:14

Yeah, I thought about that. And I think there's a yes or no, there's, I think there's a no component, which I always tell people all the time.And it said that this fact is very sad, is that in life, we think that the person that's the best at what they do, is the most successful. That's why we educate people, they say, okay, the most more education you have, the more chance you have success. But then there's, you know, people from Harvard that you know, end up plummeting, can't pay their loans back, it's not the best thing that gets you the most success. It's the person that markets it, that wins. So a modelY talented person that markets really well is sadly going to be the person that's super talented and does no marketing. It happens maybe there's exceptions to the rule sometimes. But that's the very sad fact. And I'm, I'm all for the person that's, you know, the meritocracy of the person that's the best should win, you know, to get they put all the work in, but you do have to put a marketing side into it. On the other side, I do believe that as an artist, like, let's just say you're mildly, you know, a person who can mildly market themselves, certain pieces are going to get a lot more attention than others, I have painted some that have truly moved people and in a very short amount of time sold in there still, I'm still known for those pieces, I think they say, even the great masters are really known for like five pieces that they do in their entire career.So you think of a car so are Leonardo da Vinci you think of, there's like five pieces you really know and love. And you're just like, they're the greatest ones. And then you see others that are good. They're they're very beautiful, some of maybe really awesome, but they're not known for those. So that's, that's kind of a hard thing to take, you know, especially when you're the middle of your career like I am. But yeah, I do believe there is kind of two ways of looking at that. I think it's incumbent The first one is more incumbent upon us. And should should motivate us because I think that the double whammy is the mildly talented person that can market really well sells. But what if you're very talented, and you market really well, well, then bam, you've got two things going for you. So all my talented friends like that, they're at the point where they're feeling like they're giving up and everything else, like it's really incumbent upon you to take the rest of that slack and push it, you know, because you know, I believe that that's, that's really the approach in the end like is it take, take full responsibility of everything you do every single day, I'm responsible for not for failing,I'm responsible for succeeding,I take that on so that I don't blame any kind of external factors, even though they might be out there sometimes economically, or whatever else it is, but there's always people out there that are looking to buy, there's always people you know, that will appreciate what you're doing. And even if it's,you know, you don't succeed today, you might be on the road to it tomorrow. You know, you need to have that hopefulness. I mean, for me, my faith is really responsible for a lot of that strength inside I kind of go, I do all I can here and I kind of leave it up to however it's supposed to unfold. And and I think sometimes, you know, for me, it's my faith maybe for other people it's it's other other spiritual means of doing that but, but kind of leaving it open, or you know, you do everything you possibly can but leaving it open for that opportunity to unfold the way it's supposed to brings you peace brings you happiness, you know, you're not trying to micromanage the world. But I think that that's that's the formula is just kind of take responsibility in that and in that just like Thomas Jefferson used to say create your own luck. You know, you you you put in the work you you work very hard at what you do. Luck seems to come to you, you know. And that's, I think that that's a way of taking everything we do and hopefully selling all of it.

Laura Arango Baier: 55:11

Yeah, oh, that's, that's very inspiring.I'm just sitting here super inspired the whole time. I love it. Because I personally, I've been feeling quite stuck with, you know, the direction that I want to continue with next with my work, because, you know, sometimes, when you are schooled a lot, it tends to separate you a lot from yourself and a lot of ways, which is why, you know, I wanted to ask you, what advice would you give to someone who is feeling maybe stuck with their work, or stuck with their sales?

Eric Armusik: 55:50

I think more than anything, as I said in the previous thing, I think it really does come down to our approach. You know, we all have habits that can bring negative things in our lives, you know, we can do a certain thing every day, or even just the negative approach to life, you know, if we just engage everyday with our life telling us a story about how, oh, I can't make it, I didn't come from an artistic family, I didn't, I didn't go to a great school, I don't have any money. Basically, all those things are describing my life.That's where I came from, didn't come from an artist family didn't go to a, you know, an art great art school got rejected from an art school, that probably would have gotten me maybe a little farther. And it's funny, I've gotten two students into that school since then, that have studied with me. So it's kind of funny to get a little bit of payback. But all of those things like all those negative things in my life, could have created that person that said, I'm incapable of doing it. And really, so many people are engaged in that, first and foremost is that you have to change your belief system to believe it's at least possible, like not not know that how it's going to happen, or where it's going to happen. But from that, that early part to just say, Okay, I'm willing to believe I can do it. And from there, you'll you'll take steps, we will take steps in a different energy. You know, you'll want to take daily habitual kind of moves to advance it further. So maybe it's, you've started another social media account, you start doing posts, once a day, maybe it's, you start trying to build up your newsletter list. A couple people a day, you inquire with some people that have been talking with you on social media, and you want to bring them on to turn them from acquaintances to maybe potential collectors someday, you know, it made successful I if I sit around, I mean, 30 years into this business, I could sit around and still wait for someone to acknowledge me. I have plenty even organizations within the realism world that David crown me was anything that's given me some, some Wow,I'm so successful. Now. Because of you, I made myself successful. I waited for many years for galleries to pick me up, I was rejected by every single one of them, and multiple times. And a lot of them said, I like your work, but it's just not our thing, you know. And I sat and waited and waited and waited. At some point, you really need to just take that responsibility, you need to believe that. And in this world, there's many opportunities to the internet, social media came around 1015 years ago, that was another opportunity. And if you're smart, you'll look at where trends are going and try to catch the next train because there'll be more and more opportunities going in the future as well. You know, for me, I would say about seven years ago, I started reading a lot about how important video was. And I determined I said to myself, I'm not comfortable in front of the camera, I don't really care for any of that kind of stuff. But I need to do it.And I needed to get comfortable after a while and start to be when it was learning to talk with people learn to speak with customers, whatever it was all those things. They didn't want to do that they were I was telling myself, I'm not a salesman, I'm not. I'm not a marketer, and all that stuff that got me nowhere they got me unsuccessful. But if you're willing to at least start entertaining, the idea that you can achieve success. And as you can find your own way you just need to have, you need to take daily steps. It's all about actions by belief, first actions and then at least not trying to beat yourself down when things don't happen overnight. It's like growing a plant, you plant the seeds you can't harvest the next day. You know, these are all about small things that built what I have today. And whether it was printing out business cards, the hand and the people to get people to know who I was to go and start another social media account here and there and build that up. It's been a progression. Throughout that time, it's just daily step.Every single day, I nurture This, this, my business as it's my fourth child, you know, it has to be nurtured every day, you have to think in the day, how many posts you're going to do, and you're going to share yourself, if you're just a studio with all his billionaire coming, knock on my door, I'm gonna buy all your art, it's not going to happen, you get my stage, everybody's Aircar music, who, you know, you need to get your work out there in front of people. And it's, it's about a progression to that, you know, take it in chunks, and little by little, and it's that repetition, just like Coca Cola did to get where they are today.And through that, you find your tribe, you find your brand, you learn who you are, I mean, I wrote artists statements when I was a kid, and they were ridiculous, they were just trying to use big words to say nothing. But throughout 10 years of failure, or 20 years, you start to find out who you are, I could write out a statement quite easily I know who I am today, I'm happy with who I am,I've succeeded based on that belief and holding true to what I was. And maybe at one time, it wasn't successful, but I made it successful, you know, so. So I think that that's, that's the biggest thing is, is building all of that and to understand that failure is part of success of setting given, it's, it's all part of it, you don't succeed unless you feel like anybody's ever done anything. And I can't remember the exact quote, but like, you know, nothing achieved is really great without that sacrifice, you know, if you if you got everything easy handed to you, like a trust fund kind of thing. Would you appreciate it? I wouldn't, you know, and I I appreciate every little bit of every painting sale, I'm able to share that with my family and, and do great things for them and, and have the life that I love. That's worth fighting for every single day. And that's why I do it. I love getting up on Monday and staying up late. I love I love this. And anybody can do it, too. I'm not I'm not some special case. It's how it is I think,

Laura Arango Baier: 1:02:16

wow. Again, very inspiring. And I love it.Because the whole idea that you know, it isn't, you know, it's a lot of people they think it's like, oh, you're just you're just talented or oh, you know, you're just lucky. But it's those people who don't realize that it takes work. It takes time. It isn't, you know, oh, I started yesterday. And now I have 500,000 followers and I sell, sell sell that's it takes it takes a while to really do it. And you know, that ties into the whole you know, Dante's Inferno thing, which actually, it's one of my favorite has one of my favorite quotes, which is that the path to heaven begins in hell, you have to start from like the bottom and like really go up. And it takes time and transformation and self knowledge. And again, failure, which, right, yeah, that's how it is. And you've done it's like

Eric Armusik: 1:03:13

a, like a warrior like, yeah, thank you. Thank you. You're welcome. Yeah, I like going into like almost a water getting trained, like, see all the, you know, scenarios where somebody man is put in a situation and they go through like a bootcamp situation based on how you want to sleep in, you know, like, all that kind of stuff they eat, they treat them like hell, because they're gonna encounter it. And they come out of their different people, and they're stronger, you know, so any people that are suffering with failure, because trust me,I have plenty times early in my career to paint through them in my studio and close the door, I was so pissed, like, not happy, you know. And I had to get back and get back on the horse and try again. And I learned that through time, like, every time I see failure, or if I have failure come in, something doesn't work out. I tell myself,I'm allowed to blow off steam for short time, but I gotta get back in there. That's that's the remedy to get over it, to get back into that, because with every failure sometimes are the seeds of success. And you have to look at it that way. Like if you are feeling at that moment, look at it really well and say,All right, that's how I'm gonna get over it, and maybe prevent it next time, and maybe have a different way of thinking this time. Some of my greatest successes have come from bad failures. And that's consistent with the world, from inventors, to entrepreneurs all through the world. You're not a special case, we're all gonna fail in some way, but you could walk away or you could go hey, this is where I where I achieved. I go over so sorry. atmosphere.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:05:01

No, it's beautiful. I love it. Um, and then I wanted to ask you because of course you have your mentorship program, basically, do you also have any exhibitions or events or anything coming up that you'd like to promote?

Eric Armusik: 1:05:20

At the moment,I'm, as I said, I'm still pretty much locked in with my Dante's Inferno series, I'm hoping to exhibit that I do have contacts with somebody in Florence, about showing that when the entire series is over, it might be even, I haven't announced it, but maybe even at the halfway point, they might want to show it. It was somebody I was actually involved with, before the pandemic, I had two different people, I had somebody in general, and in Florence that were interested in showing the work. But I will definitely be showing there I'm looking to show at some point in the United States, I'm hoping to be finished with it in the next four years, I've set a goal. As I said, I want to get to the halfway point of the series by the end of this year. But at the same time, I'm again, we'll be putting together a book at the end of this series, as well, I'm really not showing my work at the moment. Other than this, I have a lot of different paying commissions, like the one that's behind you here for a number of different churches that I do commissioned work for I do many large scale works. So for the most part, that's where I'm at right now, people are seeing a lot more of my studio than seeing my work being exhibited.But I anticipated getting into the ball at the beginning of the series that there wouldn't be a time off from all of this and, and that's fine, I had been doing very well on the outside.Anyway, the studio has been more filled than ever, and I've had some really great years. But besides that, I've been mentoring students, I have three and five day individual workshops that I do through my studio, where I work individually with students from all over the world that have come here, bed and breakfast, it's next door and people stay there and work with me for a whole week. And I also have my online and in house students that I teach each week for drawing, painting, and our business. So I do a lot of help bring artists into an approach that will bring them to a thriving point in their careers, whether it's full time artist or part time or even just in retirement, or even as a child just preparing for what they'll need to get into college. So I constantly taking on new students for all of that and booking people for the summer at the moment. So it's a very busy studio, to say the least.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:07:48

Yeah, that's awesome, though. So if someone wants to be your student, where can they go?

Eric Armusik: 1:07:55

You can go to my website, Erica, it's On the homepage, there's some information there and you could look under instruction, and they'll show you some of the options that are offered.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:08:11

Perfect. And do you have any other places where people can see your work?

Eric Armusik: 1:08:17

Just about every social media that's out there, everything from tick tock to Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, I'm on just about everything and post fairly regularly. Got some great community of people there, I really enjoy getting in touch with a lot of people, I try to get back with as many people that can comment back and very happy to support your work as well and give advice when needed all the time. Because I've tried to always have this model that if I ever got somewhere, I was gonna be very transparent and try to help as many people as I can, because I didn't feel that same way when I was getting started. So I try to do all I can to at least kind of shared a love and pay it forward. And I'm very glad to do so.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:09:04

Wonderful.Well, thank you so so much for all this amazing, inspiring advice, Eric.

Eric Armusik: 1:09:12

Thank you, Laura.I appreciate the opportunity. I love BoldBrush and festival and everything. This company does do such a great service to artists.So I'm very happy to be part of it.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:09:21

Thank you so much.

The BoldBrush Show. Interviews with today's finest artists and creatives. Watch here or listen on all major podcast services.