Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ascension Art Series

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be joined by Erik Schultz the talented artist behind the Ascension Art Series.  Thank you for joining us today Erik!

Thank you for having me!

After a rough patch in your life you’ve finally returned to art.  Can you tell us a bit about your journey and why you’ve come to Kickstarter?  

After all of my art submissions were rejected, I fell into a life of drinking, drugs, self-hate and depression. I avoided painting for 14 years to escape that pain, but eventually realized this “safe” life I was living was not enjoyable at all because I wasn’t pursuing what was truly important; my art. Of all the things I love doing, it’s the one thing that I just can’t let go of. And even though there’s an incredible amount of challenge and anxiety involved in the creative process, it ultimately brings me the greatest amount of joy and happiness to make something from nothing. And because of my rough journey, I’m now indebted to be in the service of others, so that I can hopefully add some optimism and beauty to the lives of others.

After finding Kickstarter and checking out a number of the campaigns going on to support creative projects, I realized it was very synchronistic that I stumbled upon it when I did. I feel I’ve arrived at a major cross-roads in life; either continue to live a miserable life “dreaming” of painting each and every day, or actually embrace my art full-time which is what I’ve chosen.

Every artist I’ve known has a favorite medium to work with, yours appears to be oil paintings.  What drew you to oil?  

I never really liked acrylics because they dry too quickly, so when I tried oils for the first time, I immediately fell in love. Plus the versatility and texture of oils can’t be matched, and the depth of color is amazing. And if done right, an oil painting can have a timeless quality.

Can you describe your process?  Your video shows you hand sketching at one point.  

Well I sketch a number of rough compositions with the aid of photo references, and when I settle on something that works, I make a final sketch which I transfer to the canvas. Of course I continue to make changes throughout the painting process, which can be slight and easy or it can be an epic nightmare. I’m going to start doing digital studies to get all the issues out of the way and finalize the image before I even start painting. It’s what the Masters did, and for good reason!

By putting your work out there you’ve opened yourself up to criticism once again, do you think you’re emotionally prepared for that now?  

Great question! Each and every day is an emotional roller-coaster, so it’s pretty rough. But regardless of compliments or criticisms, I’ll still be marching on because I love what I’m doing. So I no longer need any exterior motivation, because it’s all coming from within.

But I will say that compliments and criticisms still affect me, just not like they used to. This time around I’m incredibly grateful for every compliment I get, I don’t take them for granted like I did when I was younger. And as for criticism and rejection, I’ve learned that not everyone will like my work, I can’t please everyone all the time and I’m fine with that.

Can you describe what you have in mind for the two new pieces of art you have planned?   

Well I actually just finished the sketch for painting #2 and will post it on my Kickstarter campaign for anyone to see, that way I don’t have to describe it. It’s a much better image than the first in my opinion. I’m really excited about it.

I’m working out the 3rd image in my head on a daily basis, and it’ll be the most complex. The figure’s body will be coming apart while turning into light at the same time, a kind of “letting go” of pain, in order to accept a greater state of happiness. I’m really excited about this one the most.

You are asking for $2,000 to create two new images.  At $1,000 an image where is all the money going?  Surely canvas, art, and pencils don’t cost that much!  

That’s right. But very few kickstarter campaigns or creative projects are asking for money solely to purchase ‘stuff’. They all require the greatest commodity which is Time. And the artist’s time cost money due to rent and food and basic nonsense like that. So this money will free up my time so that I have a chance at finishing each painting in 4-6 weeks, rather than 4-6 months.

I’m going to put my mean hat on here for a moment and ask, “Why should I back you?”  There are thousands of “starving artists” out there doing lots of art.  Heck I can load up deviantART and search for all sorts of stuff, what makes you so special?  

Oh I don’t think I can “sell” or promote my art like a car or appliance salesman would. If a piece of art speaks to you, whether it’s mine or someone else’s, please support that artist so they can make more of it. Every dollar you spend is the most powerful vote you have these days. You’re voting to see more of whatever you purchase, so vote consciously. And if you don’t have a dollar to spare, then spreading that artists work around, sharing by a social network or whatever, is just as huge, if not more so! So if you like what I’m doing then feel free to support it. I’m confident that I’ll cross paths with the people who enjoy what I’m doing.

You’ve fallen off the art wagon before, what makes you think you’re ready to take on two more commissions?

Because there’s nothing I want more. It took me 14 years of being off the art wagon to learn that lesson, and now that I have that experience, I don’t need to revisit it. And the greatest proof is that I’m working on my art on a daily basis because the fire’s back, and I’m thrilled! Hell, if I were homeless, I’d be painting in the park and would be a happy camper. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

How did you discover Kickstarter?

Oh boy, let me see... I think it was through another artist, they were Tweeting about their Kickstarter campaign so I checked it out. That was a half year ago or so.

A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

Well I’ve just posted a sketch of the new painting I’ll be starting soon. I believe I’ll post day-by-day shots of my painting process... I’m not sure if that would be of tremendous interest, but it’s probably the most appropriate kind of update for a visual artist. I mean I’ll certainly attach this interview to my Kickstarter!

Ascension Art Series -- Kicktraq Mini 

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

I’m mainly spreading the news through Facebook since that’s the strongest network I have at the moment. I’ll reboot my Twitter account, and will join Pinterest as well since I’ve heard good things about it. I did just get one of my favorite actresses to retweet my kickstarter which was a fun thrill! It’s actually been difficult to get the attention of other networks, whether they’re art pages, or spiritual/motivational networks on Facebook, it’s been tough to get through and make contact, but I’ll keep trying. I’ve learned that a huge part of having a successful career is networking and marketing, so I have to pay more attention to that than I have in the past. I’ll check out kicktraq for sure - thanks for the info!

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

Going through the “Kickstarter School” was very helpful. And building a solid network prior to launching your Kickstarter is probably a good bet.
Other than that, I’m a novice, so here’s a grain of salt to take with what I just said.

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Honestly, just keep going after what you love. And what you love shouldn’t be to acquire money or fame or ‘stuff’, but should be the thing that brings you tremendous peace and happiness. But if you give up, then you could spend 14 years wandering in a state of unhappiness like I did. Or worse, that could be how you spend your entire life. So you’ve heard it a million times before, but it’s true; don’t give up on your dreams.

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

Thank you! I really appreciate this!

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