Kyle Ma - Mastery Before Marketing
The BoldBrush Show: Episode #41
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For today's episode I'm joined by our CEO Clint Watson to interview Kyle Ma, a 23 year old prodigy who began painting seriously at the age of 10 and is now a successful artist living from his work. Kyle has a deep love of nature which explains why his subject matter is primarily plein air. In this episode, we discuss the importance of taking care of your needs like bills so you can allow your creativity to flow without the stress of making ends meet, why focusing on making a masterpiece is not the right way to go when you're starting a painting, and the importance of mastery before marketing. We also discuss his upcoming workshop at Bluebird Studios in Santa Fe, NM this September.
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Kyle Ma: 0:00
To paint any subject Well, kind of, as I was mentioning earlier, it really requires a firsthand connection to what you're painting. And I think that's why, if you want to be a landscape painter, working from life is important, because in photos, the colors are a little bit off. And that's true, but I think it goes beyond that as well. In the process of painting, you're forced to really look closely at different parts of your subject. Notice things that you probably wouldn't necessarily notice when you're just passing through. And you can see the changes in light changes in in weather over the course of those couple of hours, and really have a better sense of what this place is like, than if you were to just walk up and take a photo. Get back in your car, keep driving.
Laura Arango Baier: 1:08
Welcome to the 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 career, as well as others who are in careers tied to the art world in order to hear their advice and insights. For today's episode, I'm joined by our CEO Clint Watson to interview Kyle mom, a 23 year old prodigy who began painting seriously at the age of 10, and is now successful artists living from his work file has a deep love of nature, which explains why his subject matter is primarily plein air.In this episode, we discuss the importance of taking care of your needs, like bills, so you can allow your creativity to flow without the stress of making ends meet. Why focusing on making a masterpiece is not the right way to go when you're starting a painting and the importance of mastery before marketing. We also discussed his upcoming workshop at bluebird studios in Santa Fe, New Mexico this September. Oh, right.Welcome, Kyle to the BoldBrush show. How are you today?
Kyle Ma: 2:15
Thank you, I'm doing great. How about yourself?
Laura Arango Baier: 2:17
Good, good.Um, this is an exciting episode,because we have Clint our CEO with us. And he is going to,he's gonna give us a little bit more of your interesting background. Because you have a very interesting story about how you got from, you know, just painting because you enjoy it to the level that you're at now,where you literally have brush sets and videos. And I think it's such an incredible story.But before we dive into that,can you please tell us a little bit about yourself? Who you are what you do?
Kyle Ma: 2:49
Yep. So see, I would say I'm originally from Taiwan.And I've always liked drawing and painting as a child. And after going to museums and reading books about the old masters, I decided to take the time and pursue it more seriously. And they're in the fundamentals. And so after I graduated college from UT Austin, with a degree in geology, I decided to, instead of pursuing a career related to geology, I switched over and started doing painting full time. So now I pretty much paint and travel and teach workshops.
Laura Arango Baier: 3:37
That's awesome. And do you mind if I ask before we dive into that?Why geology
Kyle Ma: 3:42
so? Well, part of it coming out of high school, I wasn't exactly sure how this art career would work out, at least jumping into it immediately. And also, it's another thing that I was interested in is learning more about the sciences. I think, in general, I'm more of a math and science guy then. So I looked into possibilities of college majors that would apply my strength in those areas. And also that would allow me to basically learn more about nature and the landscape that we're in. So I decided to study geology.
Laura Arango Baier: 4:28
It's a very interesting choice. And actually, when I when I read that, I was like, Oh, I bet he did it because he wanted to investigate even more into his subjects, which I'm glad that I seemed so my intuition was right. I find that so fascinating that you know, as you know, actually with painting, especially with plein air and like, you know, this button to wet stuff. It's so much about seeing and correct seeing and understanding. And I think oftentimes what some people lack is that understanding they'll just stick to seeing and I think it was very wise of you to Try to understand your subject matter deeper instead of just, you know, just like having it for what it is you wanted to get to know it more, which I think is really awesome.
Kyle Ma: 5:09
Yeah, I'm glad you brought that point up. Because, you know, painting is so much more than just an act of copying what you see. And I think sometimes in Art Education, that's what people are led to believe. But there's, I think, to really create a great painting, whether it's a landscape, figure still life, it always helps to take the time to understand your subjects. And for one to help you paint it better, for example, like understanding how light works, how form works, and understanding anatomy, and but then also, just to add richness to the visual experience, because I know I don't really like when it's just a, take a photo, come back, and then copy that photo, let's say, of a canyon, I much rather take the time, hike around the canyon, explore that place, really get it, get a feel for it, maybe even talk to talk to the locals and understand the land that people there. And then when I come back and have a bunch of photos and sketches to work from trying to design a composition that's not necessarily just directly taken from a photo, but something that I feel summarizes my experience there.
Laura Arango Baier: 6:45
I love that figure trying to capture the essence, which is lovely. Yes,Clint?
Clint Watson: 6:50
Yeah, I'd like to,I'd like to go back to the geology for a minute, if we could. Because obviously, so you have graduated now and have a degree a degree in that field.But if I understand correctly, you've chosen to pursue your professional art career as your profession at this point. Right.Yeah, I think that I think so.What led you to make that decision not to pursue this the science and math side of things and to and to pursue, you know, the visual art side?
Kyle Ma: 7:22
Well, I think a lot of things went into it. I mean, when I was this back in probably middle school or high school, I kind of knew eventually, I wanted to be an artist, or at least pursue it pretty seriously, take more than just a hobby. But in was also, throughout college, I realized that while I enjoyed learning about geology, when I actually worked on a research project, I,it wasn't quite, for me, that whole process of preparing the samples and gathering the the sources and writing up the paper, that whole process just I just did not really enjoy it as much as I thought I would. And then also, I was very fortunate, towards the end of my college, I started getting more opportunities for shows and events. And it got to the point where if, if I did another full time job, that starts to get in the way of opportunities that I had. And, you know, I realized that didn't make sense to try and continue down this geology path. So I started to just focus full time on fine art.
Clint Watson: 8:52
So what I find really interesting about that is a lot of people, and especially when they're younger, really have a desire to pursue some kind of art. And even in 2023 I feel a lot of people are told, you know, they're advised by well meaning people, their parents or their friends or or counselors, whatever the you know, you know, to get a real job quote, unquote, and you can always have your art as a hobby, and you know, have something to fall back on yet. Here you are23. And I mean, I don't think anybody could argue with what you've already accomplished. I mean, you're already teaching workshops, you are already in several well known galleries, your work is obviously selling well. Your your mastery of technique is far more accomplished than most early2020s artists that I've seen.And you're a signature member of, of several of the of the art associations and even some of the very big ones. And so I think that's a serves as a real inspiration to these people that are told, you know, quote, get a real job yet. You're sort of living proof that it is possible that art is a real job. And not only that, it's one that you can be fairly accomplished in, right, you know, right out of college and even before you graduate, and to me that serves as a huge inspiration could serve as a huge inspiration for so many people. I mean, would you have any words of advice or anything you would say to someone who was feeling discouraged, like they were being pushed or not to go that direction? When in their heart?Like you said, you know, I always knew I wanted art to be a serious part of my life.
Kyle Ma: 10:31
Yeah, well, I also think it's important to be practical, because I think the challenge that I find for most people who are trying to when they get out of school, and then do art full time, is finding the time to get really good at painting, while supporting yourself. And I had a pretty early start, I started learning, drawing and painting seriously when I was 10. So I know while I had Middle School, and in high school, college to take care of what I didn't have to worry about was figuring out how to pay the bills. So I think also, when you're early on, in your artistic development, if you try and monetize it too early, I think it can, yes, you hurt your development as a painter. So no,I'm not against this idea of finding and finding some kind of other job until you're able to support yourself with painting as well, as long as you're smart about managing your time. So if we had, say, I were working a full time job right now, then, and then trying to also establish my art career, then I really have to be mindful of how much time I'm able and able to spend on any part of my life. So probably evenings and weekends, then I have to figure out a healthy balance between getting the work done, and then getting in working on my art career while also spending time with family and friends, and then also getting adequate rest. So I guess my advice would be to not feel like you have to have it all figured out. Just always think ahead to what's one step ahead, that I can do what makes the most sense at this moment.And gradually, with your start, begin to see after you take this next step, and then you'll see the next step and the next step forward. And eventually, you'll you're more likely to start transitioning into making a living as a full time artist, rather than just thinking, Okay, now, I'm out of high school. Now I'm out of college, I better figure everything out right now.
Laura Arango Baier: 13:19
Yeah, those are very wise words because that's a lot of pressure to put on yourself. And as most artists do, like, under pressure, it's really hard to be creative and to flow, you know. So yeah, that's a very,
Clint Watson: 13:35
that's a really important point, what you said about the way we say it is, you know, mastery before marketing, and when you start your artistic, creative journey, in any field, obviously, there's a learning curve, there's a lot you have to master in your technique before you're really ready. And that's a vulnerable time to I think, for a lot of artists, because if you try to monetize things too soon, and you start getting feedback, like you have to treat that creative soul inside of you, like a little child and protect it and not let negative feedback, kind of kill it too soon, you know, right. And so, I think that's, you know, that's, that's a really good point you made and you made really good use of your, your teen years to, to become masterful in your technique, and really delve into that. And I, you know, I think that'd be another sort of corollary to what you said for someone young, who wanted a career in the art like think about right now, while you're with your parents, you're not having to pay bills, or you may not be having to work a full time you can't be working a full time job, like there may that's a great time to just not think about the money part. So that when you're when you get further along, you know, you have you have like a musician, let's say you have the chops now, right?You have to have the chops before you're gonna get a gig.That's right. And we see that a lot, I bring it up. Because we see that a lot, we see people really frustrated that they're not selling. And a lot of times, that's one of the reasons is, you know, they may have some a few paintings that have transcended their average level, but on average, you know, maybe they need to go to go, just put in more time on the actual painting side of things.
Kyle Ma: 15:19
Well, what I sometimes see is that, when you, after you take, spend a little bit of time learning about painting, and you might get pretty good at painting a certain thing in a certain style. And then that does, for example, say you were when you when you've been been training, you were practicing still lives and then you, you painted a bunch of peaches, and then now you're pretty good at painting peaches, and then those, those paintings start to sell. And then now you want to expand its I wanted to start painting landscapes, but then you haven't been doing as many landscapes. And those aren't nearly as successful as your paintings of beaches. And you try and get into galleries with those paintings of peaches. And what happens is that those are, the galleries just keep asking you for more of those, you kind of get trapped into painting, just one subject in one style for the rest of your career. And that can be stifling in, if the market, say doesn't respond well, one day to what you've been painting, well, then all your other skills, painting, other things are lagging so far behind that, even if you want to pick up those skills again, then you're not it might take you a couple years before those become marketable.
Laura Arango Baier: 16:58
That's so true. And that's also one of the reasons why I actually just had a conversation this week, and we were talking about, and I mentioned how it can be so risky for people to start working with galleries for that reason, you know, like, you can, sometimes they influence you, right? They know what sells to business, they know what, what, what they want to sell what they can sell.So they'll start telling you like, oh, we want more of this work, we want more of that. But sometimes that doesn't necessarily coincide with the type of work that the artist wants to make. And that can be so detrimental to someone who's just starting out, I think it's, it's so much better to have that breadth of work to have, you know, allow yourself to experiment and to play around and have so, so much more done.Because then that way, when you present stuff to a gallery, say one gallery likes these paintings, maybe another gallery likes the other type of paintings, and you can actually have both, so But you you need to have, like you said the skill to be able to even paint that properly, and to be able to market it properly in the first place. So I completely agree just like, you know, take the time to do it.
Clint Watson: 18:08
I'm sure people have heard of the term captive audience. But I think what a lot of audiences don't think about is it's completely possible for a creator to be captive to their audience. Yes, I call it being a captive creator. And that's this idea. And, you know, I mean, you guys are young. But as someone who's a little more seasoned, I can tell you, if you allow that to happen to your creativity, it will eat you up later in life, you will lose that fire that got you into whatever your chosen creative pursuit is, whether it's visual art, or acting or writing, you know, because there's that yearning that got you into it deep inside yourself. And then you'll find yourself later just churning out what your audience wants. And I mean, it'll, I don't want to be dramatic, but it'll destroy you inside. Yeah, you know, it. I always saw respect people who are willing to even give up the money to, to, you know, to go another direction. You know, I mean, I mean, I've seen it over and over with actors, you know, someone gets typecast as a romcom kind of actor, and then they go and do a completely different super dramatic movie, but they have to give up, you know, I'm thinking of one person, I'm thinking of Matthew McConaughey. McConaughey, I think he he was getting 10 $20million of film and he walked away from it, because he didn't want to be the rom com guy for the rest of his life. You know, and that's, I mean, that's hugely important if you're going to be an artist to feed the inner artist with what it wants to do. Right? Yeah. So anyway,I'm sorry, I took over there. So go ahead.
Laura Arango Baier: 19:41
No, you're good. Actually, I was gonna, I was gonna say that, that brings up the whole idea of treating your inner artists like a child you know, like this, this, you know, a child that just wants to explore and wants to like, do what they want without the worries of the burdens of the day to day life like money and balancing like this. Sleep and talking to friends. And you know, it's like, there's so much to juggle, and it can be so challenging. Yeah, but, um, to bring it back to technique, though, because I think your paintings are so masterful like I love for example, you have this painting of this lemon tree, pretty sure it's a lemon tree, gorgeous, gorgeous, the way you captured the light, it just it feels like it's really there, it feels like the sunlight is literally on the painting. And I love that effect that you have in actually the majority of your paintings, you know, the capturing of that light. And that brings me to asking you, who has who has been like your greatest inspiration or influence for your work.
Kyle Ma: 20:40
That's tough, because there's, I think, you know, any great artist has taken the time to go through a huge amount of work in. And it has taken probably bits from a lot of different artists and made it their own. So, you know, it's tough to just name a few. But in the beginning, I was mainly influenced by the French impressionist. When I was a little kid, that's what I did.Monet was the first artist that I learned. So for a while, when I began to learn to paint Seriously, my goal was to paint like Monet. But throughout the process, I started to be exposed to different artists as well, such as, remember doing a master copy of the last guests. One day for Ray Ha, that painting then led me to explore the Alaska is and Rembrandt calls those painters. And then also, the later discovered the naturalist like the Pysch, Freon those guys, and I really admire Well, first of all that tech were the question was, who influenced your technique the most. And I think the way they model the forms and their precision with the drawing in their sensitivity, it's not very, not a lot of very bright colors are. But when you look at, for example, a patch for and there's this one the patch in the met Park,
Laura Arango Baier: 22:44
and it's just painting,
Kyle Ma: 22:47
it's a painting that you can look at it for a long time and keep discovering new things about it, not at first glance, who you're drawn in from across the hallway. And by this overall composition. As you inspect the painting closer start to see the beautiful modeling and anatomy of the figure. And you see start to notice the same sensitivity to form modeling is applied to all those branches in and it feels very 3d. And then you start to look at the foreground, you see all these texture in details that are all kept very close together in value, but but then, so it's kept really close in value it holds together. And when you step back, it doesn't draw a lot of attention. But when you go up close to it, you start to notice more and more of it. So that brings me to kind of what I'm hoping to achieve in my own work is something that not only draws you in from across the room, but keeps you there in noticing more. So whether that be interesting color and brushwork or details that you don't necessarily notice from a distance, and also the sensitivity to form modeling.Yeah,
Laura Arango Baier: 24:24
that's, that's a really great example.Because I do find that oftentimes, and this can be one of the things that happens a lot with plein air specifically, is that it looks good from far away, right? But then you get close, and it sort of disintegrates. It's sort of just there's nothing to keep you up close, like you'll like it from afar and then from a close it'll be like it's okay. It's a little like it's almost like too abstract. It's not like it's like it's not investigative enough and like a more sensible way, kind of like how you're saying with the departure and that's a really great comparison. And then also I wanted to know why, why plein air, I know that you specifically love to be in nature. But you know, obviously there's like multiple ways of exploring nature as an artist.So why plein air?
Kyle Ma: 25:14
Well, for to paint any subject? Well, kind of, as I was mentioning earlier, it really requires a firsthand connection to what you're painting. And I think that's why, if you want to be a landscape painter working from life is important. That's I think, the part that people tend to neglect when people will talk about, you know why it's important to paint plein air, you know, because in photos, the colors are a little bit off. And that's true, but I think it goes beyond that as well in when you paint plein air, and I'd say you spend about two hours on that painting, you're not just experiencing this still image you're experiencing that place in over those two hour window.In the process of painting, you're forced to really look closely at different parts of your subject. And notice things that you probably wouldn't necessarily notice when you're just passing through. And you can see the changes in like changes in in weather over the course of those couple of hours and really have a better sense of what this place is like than if you were to just walk up and take a photo get back in your car and keep driving.
Laura Arango Baier: 26:44
Yes, it's true, it's more immersive. Yeah, to do it in plein air at BoldBrush. We 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, 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 show.com. That's BOLDBRUSh show.com. The BoldBrush Show is sponsored by fast. So 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 link sasa.com forward slash podcast, 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 12 Latos 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 faster.com forward slash podcast. That's s a s o.com.Forward slash podcast. Yeah.Clint, did you want to say something?
Clint Watson: 28:28
Yes, I had a follow up question about the discussion we just had. But I just want to touch on that a little more. Because I've come to believe there's all are really, like there's so many beautiful things that happen in this world if you just stop and notice. And to me that's it's a huge part of not to get too mystical. But the universe, the force of the universe is creating all of this as a gift for us. And all we have to do is notice it. And so many of us go through our lives, we don't notice these things, you know, you don't notice you don't notice the hummingbird right next to you stopping and hovering over a flower. But if you immerse yourself in that moment, and take yourself out of all the things I got to do today, you'll notice all these little moments are just so magical. And so to me, art is attempting to capture and transmit that energy somehow to other people across space and time. So to your point, how can you really capture this magical moment? If all you do is hurry by and take take a snapshot, right? Like, this is what you're talking about. You're immersing yourself it's almost a form of meditation and communion with with the with reality, so to speak. So it makes total sense that the energy of a plein air painting would be completely beyond what you're likely to get with a photograph. Now granted,I know there's some people that are probably so masterful, maybe they can sort of fake it, I don't know. But anyway, so my My question was regarding you mentioned a lot of very classically known painters, I guess not classical in the sense of classical art, but well known painters from the past that are in museums, how big a part in your teaching yourself or in your learning process of your journey, your journey to mastery, so to speak, did viewing and making copies of older paintings, you know, of those of those some of those great paintings play? You know,I know, some artists don't do that. But I've always been of the belief, you know, you can learn a lot by copying what a another great artists did, and delving yourself into the sort of delving into those details with the brush in hand. So how big a part did that process play for you and developing your own technique and where you are today?
Kyle Ma: 30:50
Certainly a huge part.And I wouldn't say I, I've done maybe as many master copies as some other painters, I've, you know, I've certainly done a few of them. But I think just the process of viewing those masterpieces has been probably one of the biggest things that helped me in my own development.And it's not only about developing my technique by mimicking what I'm seeing, but also, it's about developing my own taste. So I think a big part of being an artist, and not just a painter is figuring out, what do you want to say about whatever you're painting? And this comes from this process of discovery? First of all, what things you're drawn to more than others? So why not take inspiration from the guys that came before us? And look through them? Figuring out which painters, their paintings Do you feel more drawn to than others?Not even necessarily talking about? Who is technically the better painter, and you begin to notice, notice these patterns, when you start to find ways to now make it your own? How do I how do I take parts of what I like from all these different painters that I saw, put that together with your own life experiences, and really come up with something that's authentic.And it's not about trying to be different, and come up with your own unique style, but it's this slow process of gradually developing your taste? Yeah,
Laura Arango Baier: 32:58
that's a great way to put it. I mean, I personally have done maybe, like30 master copies. And of course,I picked paintings just for that same reason, like, I'm drawn to this painting, and I'm going to copy it to investigate why, you know, what is it draws me into this piece. And personally, I think it's one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done. I think it leveled up my skills much more than the, I guess, I don't want to say that.It's gonna sound mean, but I think it leveled up my skills in a much shorter time period than the, like five years I spent at academic art school. Which is, it's a lot for that. But it's for that same reason. Because instead of just building this, this technique, right, you are building like you said, a taste you're building your it's like a map of your own self and the things that draw you into these specific pieces that you want to like, just take and you know, put together into your own remix, to represent your unique inner world, which your unique inner world is really awesome, by the way.
Kyle Ma: 34:06
Thank you. Well,
Clint Watson: 34:07
I'm chuckling because what you're saying completely I've heard it so many times that and I've been trying to get this idea across to artists in our that follow us in our different in our communities and our newsletters, like I keep talking about your truth or your true self or your essence, you know, and people think I'm talking about developing a unique style and what kind of subject matter you should be known for. But that's a niche.That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about what you're talking about, which is what I've experienced myself in my own writing or in my guitar playing, you know, you you hear another guitarist who, like you said, may not be technically even as good as you but you hear something and then you experiment with that. And slowly these different things your tastes get sort of incorporated into your own repertoire, but with your own little unique twist to it, and then you discover Well, I like this part.I don't like that this works for me, this works with my, you know, my predilections, whether it's skill, our taste, or you know, and slowly, all these things will gel, your style will automatically gel out of this eventually. And I guess I'm just restating what you just said, but why I'm chuckling about it is, it's usually an old guy in their 50s that realizes this, like me, you're so far ahead of the game at 23. To already not only understand this is how it works, but to, to already have gone through that process to a great degree. And that's just,I'm just, that's a very wise, that's a bit of wisdom right there that is really valuable to have at this stage of things.
Kyle Ma: 35:45
Thanks. And I actually first got this advice in middle school band was a band camp, I used to play the euphonium. And during that camp, the one of the instructors talks about taking the time to develop your taste, and showing the class different recordings by different euphonium players, playing different pieces, and then talking about taking parts of what we like about each person's playing, and then trying to incorporate that into our own plane. So it's, you know, it's interesting how you can grab these different advice from all these different life experiences that are not necessarily just from painting itself, that you can bring that knowledge into what you do.
Laura Arango Baier: 36:48
That's really awesome. Yeah. And it makes sense. I'm sorry,
Clint Watson: 36:53
teach us more master Kyle.
Laura Arango Baier: 36:58
And, I mean, it makes sense also, that, you know, it's like something that also translates within the arts.And I don't mean the arts just as like acting and music and art as, like painting. I also mean it in like, other senses, like the scientific arts and like, because to me, like, I don't see a difference between like math and art in a lot of ways, because I think they translate into each other, just in the same sense. Um, and also, I think, what, what's really beautiful about the practice of copying and the practice of that self reflection, because I feel like in a lot of ways, understanding your own taste, in that sense, it's so much about self reflection, and getting to know yourself, which is the very first delphic Maxim, by the way.And what I love about that is that it's almost like you're trying to reach truth in your own way, you know, you're trying to reach your truth. Do you feel like your paintings, you know, are you trying to reach that truth within your paintings of not just your subject matter, but also your own personal truth? Do you see them as a reflection of each other?
Kyle Ma: 38:01
Yeah, well, it's always going to be a reflection of myself, as well as the subject, because I'm not copying what I see. But I'm essentially summarizing my own experience in interpretation of the subjects into the painting. And so everything has gone through my, my own filter of what I was drawn to, and what I felt was important about my subject.Yeah. And, you know, I think, sometimes we have to have to be careful with feedback, because everyone will interpret things a little bit differently. And it's, it's hard to know what exactly you paint is gonna resonate with what people so it's not not even about, every time I sit down and paint something, I'm trying to create a masterpiece, I find that that mentality can sometimes backfire, but just trying to summarize my experience and tell a story. And if it and hopefully, it's gonna resonate with someone, sometimes it may not. And have you be okay with that? Yeah, yeah.
Laura Arango Baier: 39:32
And I liked the point you make about the feedback because, you know, if, you know, if someone reaches mastery in something, and their the way that they translate what they see and summarize it, you know, goes through their personal filter. Sometimes I think, you know, the feedback can feel like an attack, you know, on the way that you translate. It's almost like an attack on your identity because like, you have a unique filter, and if someone doesn't like it, it can be really hard to differentiate between like If they're attacking me, because this is a piece of me versus all, they're just not interested in this type of stuff, and I should just leave them, you know. So it's another really good distinction to make. And that's like, you know, the true fan versus like, Well, maybe it's just not for you type of person, you know?
Kyle Ma: 40:16
Yeah. And, to that point, no, without naming any people, I know, painters who are very, very solid skill set. And then throughout their career, they experiment with different ways of painting. And then they're getting feedback from some people love it. Some people say, Hey, I like your hope stuff better. But, you know, I think it would be those people who are getting that feedback, they take the advice and revert back to painting the old way. No, we would be missing out on a lot of unique voices that could potentially emerge. If we let those critics silence us.
Laura Arango Baier: 41:11
I completely agree. Yeah.
Clint Watson: 41:12
Arts a very solitary thing. Really, it's, I mean, in the end, the success of a creation, you're the one who gets to decide if it was a success or not. And you know, you know, if you feel like something you created works, or it doesn't work. And at that point, you know, you lob it over the wall into the market. And at that point, you just have to, you know, if you want to keep your sanity, as an artist, you throw it over the wall, and hopefully someone likes it, and probably someone will, but if they don't, I've already, I've already made my judgment about this, that this is good. And this, this fulfills me when I did it. And I felt that energy and, and is probably one of the most difficult things about our society, for artists, because you have to kind of, you can't not be in the market, really,unless you're just super independently wealthy or something, you know, but art isn't really about, it isn't really about that. You have, you have to be in the market, but you can't be of the market. And as soon as these people allow the market feedback, as soon as you start thinking that way, you're back into that you're back into the captive creator trap, and you start thinking about the market instead of what is your own inspiration and your own voice. And that's a bad path to go down for art.
Kyle Ma: 42:30
Yeah. And like you said, it's tough, because you have to make a living from it.So, you know, if no, sometimes if sales aren't going well, or you get rejected from shows and don't get awards, then that can that can be tough. So have to share, I have to constantly remind myself, if I, you know, try not to compare myself and try try not to look at you know, like, this is the person who won and so they like that, maybe I should be more like that, you know, just keep trying to do my own thing while figuring out a way to continue continuously have income.
Laura Arango Baier: 43:23
Yeah, yeah,you have to be like unshakeable to a certain like, to an extent, you know, you have to be flexible enough to know, like,Okay, this criticism is saying something that maybe I can agree with, I'm gonna take it or this criticism isn't really, you know, gonna help me with my own work. It's really just like,This person doesn't like it, or I just got rejected, because maybe the judges just weren't really into this type of work.And that's okay. I know this, this works. And I know that this sells for me, and I know the people that love my work, will love it no matter what. And that's, that's like, where you have to just put your foot down and say, this is this is it, you know,
Clint Watson: 44:02
you might enjoy a course you're already you already know all of these things. But I recently read a book called the creative act by Rick Rubin. He's a famous record producer. And he's produced some of the biggest artists, you know, music artists, that that there are. But the interesting thing was an everything he writes in this book is exactly what we're saying. But it is interesting that even some of the biggest stars today that he's worked with, he's writing examples of this, like, they come in all upset because, you know, their latest record didn't sell well or somebody said something that day about one song and like, part of his job is to sort of be a therapist and get them past this. So that they so that they can get back to a good place for the next thing they need to record. And you know, it's interesting, you would think people that you know, had millions or 10s of millions of dollars and 10 gold records under their belt would be immune To Das, but they're not. It's just part of an artist.
Laura Arango Baier: 45:03
Yes, yeah.And actually, neither of you are the first people to tell me this either up almost every single artist I've interviewed, I think at one point, I asked one of them, like, do you ever, you know, get over the self doubt, and guy's been painting his whole life. And he said, No, learn to deal with it, you just, you just learned to deal with it in your own way you sit with it, and then you just like, you have that negative voice just talking to you, but you just gotta ignore it move on. But it can be a little bit sad that you never really get over it, you know? So painful. So how do you personally overcome self doubt?When you have those moments, though,
Kyle Ma: 45:43
when I have those moments? Well, I think it's just part of it, I know that I've been well trained. And so I, at least from a technical standpoint, I can, I can be a fairly decent judge on if something in my painting is the technically wrong. And I just have to also be okay with However, other people might perceive my painting, but I also trust that, you know, I'm, you know, I'm human, and I don't think I'm that different from, from anyone. So I don't think like, if something resonates with me, and if I am using my authentic voice, I think it's highly unlikely that nobody's going to resonate with me, and that I'm the only person in this world who sees things this way.So
Laura Arango Baier: 46:52
I completely agree. Yeah, there's always someone out there who will resonate with the work. And I've heard so many stories of artists who are like, I painted this and like this person said, they dreamt about it, you know, or I painted this and all this person, like they got married at that place. So they really wanted it, you know, there's, there's a piece of, you know, that collective unconscious that's within, you know, your authentic voice that other people, and it's like your little tribe of people who like will resonate, and will respond to it. And I think that's so cool. So, I was wondering, since you did have, you know, a very early start, and you did have immediately, like you noticed, okay, my work is selling, this is going great. Was it challenging for you to also incorporate marketing? Like, how did you build your brand and like, establish yourself in the industry?
Kyle Ma: 47:44
Well, we didn't say I'm the most knowledgeable person in this regard. But what I did was big part was just trying to overcome my own shyness, when I was younger, and go to talk to more galleries, more people attend events, conferences, and just try and meet lots of interesting people, and I think you show that you're interested in them, then it's, it's also much more likely that they will sort of take interest in you and have a much more pleasant interaction and get them in, you know, I would hate to turn in, make it sound like, you know, trying to make friendships for the purpose of advancing your career. That's not what I'm advocating. But I think it's making sure that you make an effort to build relationships and cherish the relationships that you've already built. And gradually, you'll get people who, who work with you, and who want to support your work. And it's important to keep building on that relationship show that you appreciate. And not just always try and find the new thing, the next the next gallery and see if maybe, you know, maybe this gallery can is more prestigious, or they can sell sell more, more of my paintings, but you know, making sure I galleries that I already have and the collectors base that I've built, be loyal to them, treat them well. And I think that's kind of what advice I would give and what I follow and I think has served me well.
Laura Arango Baier: 49:55
Yeah, and that's great advice, too, because like, I think people they They underestimate the power of making connections with others. And it's not like you said, it's not just like, Oh,I'm gonna connect to this person because it's convenient. No, it's like I'm connecting with this person, because I love their work. And I believe in what they're doing, or the thing that they're representing.Right. So like, for example, like the portrait Society Conference, right? Like, that's such a great place to connect with other people who are like minded, but you know, different.So you can still learn something, and it can lead to other opportunities. And I spoke to Yeah, I spoke, I've talked to so many artists who are also part of like, you know, communities like that, like the portrait society. And I think that's also like, such a wonderful way of, you know, getting into a bit more of that community where people will support you for who you are, because they love your work.Right? Like, yeah, it's awesome.
Clint Watson: 50:54
You know, that's what you just said, is so important. Because what's crazy,I noticed this, when I was in the gallery business, it takes a crazy small number of true supporters to really make make an artist's career or, or for us as the galleries that it would take a crazy small number to make our show, you know, one particular one person show or even a whole year, I once ran like, a database thing and ran some stats and figured out that20 People accounted for like 80%of ourselves. And that was not20%, like, out of our lists of four or 5000 people that you know, were on our mailing list.And it was a different 20 people over time, but like, I would run it every year and be like, maybe2030 people because some people are just they were so into certain artists or certain pieces that they you know, but I think it's the same for an artist, you know, like, you probably you might know who Jerry salts is. He's a art writer that writes in New York, but he says All you need is 1212loyal supporters. And you got it made. Surely anybody can surely anybody can find 12 supporters and by supporters, it doesn't necessarily mean all 12 are buyers, but they might support you in some other way. You know, it could be. But I mean, it really is true. And what about what you said about, you know, treating, treating everyone who's supported you in some way in the past with the utmost respect, and, you know, they give they give to us, and we give back to them, so to speak.
Kyle Ma: 52:29
Yeah, yeah. Very important. For sure. Yes.
Laura Arango Baier: 52:33
And then, since we're coming to a close, I wanted to ask you, if you have any upcoming workshops, or any, anything you want to promote?
Kyle Ma: 52:42
Sure. So I've got a few workshops coming up, I think I think some of them are full. But there are still spots in one in Santa Fe at the end of September. If I email you the link, and you can leave it in the show notes.
Laura Arango Baier: 53:03
Of course, yeah. We'll include all of those links in the show notes. Are you good?
Clint Watson: 53:07
What about do you have any exhibits of your work coming up?
Kyle Ma: 53:11
I don't have really big ones plan as of right now, just and then various group shows. So with plein air painters of America, I plan on putting in a piece in one of their shows.Here's windows to the Divine, I plan on having one or two pieces in that, but no major solo exhibitions as of now.
Clint Watson: 53:39
Well, I guess we can link to the exhibit, we can link to wherever you want us to link to in the show notes where people you know, so people can find your work in the galleries that represent you or whatever shows you're going to be in and those that want workshops can find that too.
Laura Arango Baier: 53:55
Yeah, yeah.So, Kyle, do you mind telling us your website so people can go find out more of your work?
Kyle Ma: 54:02
Yep. So it's Kyle. Mom,fine. art.com. Then Instagram at Kyle, Casey Ma. Perfect.
Laura Arango Baier: 54:11
Awesome.Thank you so much, Kyle. This was such a great interview. I mean, all the tidbits of information. This was very inspiring.
Kyle Ma: 54:19
Well, thank you. Um,you're a great interviewer. I'm glad we were able to know Delve past just just like the story of in actually talk about, like,authenticity and, you know,things that artists have to think about a lot. Yeah. Yeah.That's great.
Laura Arango Baier: 54:43
Clint Watson: 54:44
Thank you so much,Kyle. It was a lot of there's a lot of great, great moments in this interview.