Networking is key. This might not be a point a lot of artists will like, because, like myself, a lot of us are introverts and would rather spend the day locked away working on something creative. However, I’ve come to learn that networking is a huge part of growing your audience and the opportunity for selling work or attracting clients. When we look at some of the most successful artists, those were all master networkers who went out of their way to meet and get to know people. Don’t use introversion as an excuse to build relationships and get your name out there. You never know who is watching and who will come to hire you for the next grand opportunity.
As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist” I had the pleasure of interviewing Volta Voloshin-Smith.
As the founder and artist behind Color Snack Creative Studio, Volta brings original concepts and brands to life through watercolor illustrations, animations and creative workshops.
Her vibrant designs enable brands to use color & connect with consumers in a meaningful and engaging way, while her original artwork is collected by collectors all over the world. She recently authored her first book on how to paint watercolor foods, expected to be out in May of 2021.
Thank you so much for joining us. What is the “backstory” behind what brought you to this point in your career?
I felt that I was always an artist at heart but didn’t pursue an art career until 4 years ago. Being an immigrant from Moldova, I often followed the advice of my parents. I am incredibly indebted and grateful to my parents for bringing me to America. Their guidance to pursue a more traditional career path has taught me many things that I now use in my creative business.
Even though I studied business and worked in the marketing world for almost a decade, I always kept coming back to my desire to create and be an artist. My journey to myself began when I picked up the book The Artist Way by Julia Cameron and started doing some of the explorative exercises. It was then that I picked up a set of watercolors, absolutely randomly, and fell in the love with the medium.
7 more years would pass before I could dare to embrace a brand-new journey for myself, that didn’t include the security of a corporate or agency job.
The experience that helped me cement my desire to switch my career trajectory was a turbulent flight home from California. During that experience, I kept thinking that my time might come to an end without me even trying to pursue the one thing that set my soul on fire. That wake-up call was the final nudge that I needed to start taking steps towards a more fulfilling life.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
One of the most interesting stories of my career is the creation of my Watercolor Meditation class. I created that concept in 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic. I found that combining deep breaths and watercolor techniques could help alleviate stress and anxiety and I was eager to share that with others.
It just so happened that this particular workshop concept led me to land one of my biggest clients, Michaels. I was hired to do a series of workshops for their corporate wellness program.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just wrapped up a really huge project and one that made me feel the most aligned. I authored my very first book which delves into the process of painting watercolor foods. My ultimate intention with it is that it inspires others to pick up watercolors and experiment while painting delicious foods.
I am also working on few collaborative projects, one of which is a series of affirmation cards to help creatives stay inspired and aligned with their practice and dreams.
My favorite ongoing project has been doing the weekly Watercolor Happy Hour live show, with my husband. The premise of the live show is that we share how to make a cocktail and then how to paint it with watercolors.
This year I am also launching a series of monthly watercolor workshops and I am excited to have some dedicated time to connect with others and share my love of watercolors with them.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Lila Smith — I had the pleasure of meeting Lila about a year into my entrepreneurial journey. I am so glad because Lila has helped me see the value in what I have to offer and gain the confidence to go after large and well-known clients. Lila is my mentor and also a close friend, and she is extremely talented in the art of communication. Her Say Things Better program helps clients all over the world level up their communication.
Chef Reyna Duong — I met chef Reyna by creating an illustration for a flyer for her Vietnamese restaurant. Throughout our time working together we became close friends and she is a person that always inspires me to speak up and step into my power. Chef Reyna’s commitment to inclusion and celebrating diverse abilities is woven throughout everything she does as a chef and as a leader in the Dallas community.
Bree Clarke — Bree is another really important and interesting person that I’ve met on my entrepreneurial journey. She is a prolific writer who shares her story and inspires her community to keep growing and challenging the status quo. Recently, Bree opened the first-ever Black-owned plant shop where at the core of her business is the healing power of plants and setting an example for younger generations to come.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?
Food and fresh produce are my biggest inspiration. I attribute that to having spent my early childhood summers visiting my grandmother in Ukraine. I would help her tend to the garden and then when the fruits or vegetables were ripe, I would help with the harvest and of course eating food made from those fresh delicious ingredients. I have a strong connection to the beauty and color of fresh produce, and that is why one of my favorite places to go to cheer up is the local Dallas Farmers Market.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I love supporting local education initiatives so I’ve made it a mission to contribute as much as possible to local school projects via Donor’s Choose. I found that it is one of the best ways to contribute to positively to a society I like to live in, a society that values the important and healing power of the arts.
I’ve also heard many stories of people who have been so inspired that they started living a more creative life. I want to keep showing up and sharing with others that a lucrative creative life is possible and bust the myth of the starving artist. I aim to empower others to find the joy of their life and step into their power by pursuing that unapologetically.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Learn to rest, not to quit. A lot of things clicked for me when I first saw that phrase. Prior to that I was experiencing a lot of burnout and discouragement from trying to get my art business off the ground. I would keep overworking myself to the point of exhaustion, which a lot of times also led me to thinking that I should give up. When in fact, all I needed was a good rest to reset my mental state and then return back to work.
Scheduling time to rest is absolutely essential, especially when starting a new business. No matter how much we want something to succeed, it won’t be possible if we don’t allow ourselves to rest.
2. Find a community. I remember feeling incredibly lonely my first two years into my creative entrepreneurship journey. At the time, I didn’t have friends or a community of people who understood the risks and challenges that you have to go through as an entrepreneur. Slowly, I started networking and meeting people that were going through similar things and that helped a lot in not feeling lonely. Eventually, I joined a community of female artists, The Art Queens, where the intersection of art and entrepreneurship was the perfect place for me to find my people.
Remember that you don’t have to go at it alone, and developing relationships with people who are on a similar journey as you will help a lot when you encounter challenges.
3. Believe and commit. I came to learn that mindset is a huge component in succeeding. The belief that we have in ourselves and our abilities is probably going to determine our success. The commitment to our mission and journey has to be stronger than the excuses or challenges that will come up along the way. Building a resilient mindset will help weather the storms and provide fuel o to keep going. That is why the WHY of our business or what we do must be strong and rooted in strong emotion.
4. Networking is key. This might not be a point a lot of artists will like, because, like myself, a lot of us are introverts and would rather spend the day locked away working on something creative. However, I’ve come to learn that networking is a huge part of growing your audience and the opportunity for selling work or attracting clients. When we look at some of the most successful artists, those were all master networkers who went out of their way to meet and get to know people. Don’t use introversion as an excuse to build relationships and get your name out there. You never know who is watching and who will come to hire you for the next grand opportunity.
5. There are many ways to make money with art. This is something I didn’t understand at first. I thought there were only a few specific avenues of making money from art and that if they didn’t align with me, I would just have to get over it. However, the current technological advances and the internet have completely shifted how artists can make money. I encourage any beginning artist to try out different approaches to making money with art to see what resonates with them.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire a movement it would be to teach the healing and relaxing power of art. No matter the career path or discipline, art can benefit all of us in helping us have a better mental health relationship.
We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.
I would love to have lunch with Kathrin Zenkina. She’s also an immigrant from Eastern Europe who has achieved astronomical growth with her business. She’s a huge inspiration and I love learning from her.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
The best way to connect with me is through Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/colorsnack/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!