How Art Inspired Purpose

In the short time that I’ve been alive, I have experienced many victories and losses that have led to finding a purpose in life. Out of that purpose I hope to inspire others to search for what I have been able to find.
My journey as an artist is young (5 years) and it has led me to 8000 sales through my art business and many things I never dreamed of. I have no formal education in art and everything I know is self-taught. I am forever learning in life.
Growing up I had a dream of working in sports where I graduated from Penn State in Sports Journalism and then worked for the Philadelphia Flyers. I experienced events at both stops that made me see that journalism was not my destiny. It was at this point I experienced the greatest loss of my life. My mom passed away when I was 24 years old from Breast Cancer and it is something I live with every single day. In the two years after, I was truly lost mentally and scared to live life. It was in this time that one day I was searching through old photos and I found my mom’s art portfolio. I always had the ability to create art but I never took it seriously until I found that portfolio.
I was someone that always talked but never had action behind words. True Mouth Karate. Finding that portfolio changed my destiny and it pushed me to finally start drawing again. In an instance I found a purpose to stop feeling sorry for myself over the loss of my mom. The most difficult thing to ask myself was, “Is this how she would have wanted me to live on?” The answer at that point was absolutely not. My mom was the nicest person (still to this day) that I have ever met in this world so to live on in her memory is everything to me. She fought cancer until she couldn’t anymore and she never gave up. So I have adopted “Never Give Up” as my mantra for living. No matter what happens in art or struggles in life I will never give up.
Starting to draw again led me to painting. Painting led me to Photoshop and watching YouTube videos of how to learn it and many other things. Friends started to buy my artwork and then ‘friends of friends’ also bought from me. Next thing I know someone tells me about Etsy and I created a shop in 2017. One sale led to another and before I know it I have 200 paintings, 700 listings, and 1000 five-star reviews. In 2020, I made over $150,000 in sales revenue from Etsy and I will always be grateful for anyone that supports my work. For someone to like something I’ve made enough to buy it is the highest compliment.
The adventure to success was not without many failures and things to overcome. Many times people would tell me the art world is too difficult and words of discouragement to cast some doubt. There were countless times I reached out to people regarding jobs, opportunities, or promotion of any kind for help that resulted in rejection. I have learned that rejection or no responses have only added gasoline on my fire to succeed. What does not kill me has made me stronger.
In the beginning I made a painting of a famous basketball player, Joel Embiid. I received many compliments so I thought it was a good idea to try to reach out to his agent for some kind of promotion or to give him a copy. The agent responded with “Thanks for reaching out. Joel’s not interested.” Clearly Joel never saw anything and I laughed at the response. I even took it so far as to print it out and frame it on my wall as a lesson in motivation.
Once the momentum of drawing/painting ignited that fire and purpose, I have never lost that Day 1 motivation. I believe every day is a gift and a chance to do something inspirational - big or small.
I do not make art for the purpose of money. Money is temporary in this world. I do it because I love it and it has opened my mind to so many things. Living on in the memory of my mom made me see that leaving a legacy of helping others is something worth living for. I have a few paintings that I made and all of the proceeds go to different Charities. This is worth more to me than any sale.
It has always been a goal from the beginning to start a foundation in honor of my mom. I want to do it in the right way and I am still working on figuring out what cause is the right path. I want to help people and live for something more than just myself.
The takeaway for whoever is reading this is that you should look at my story. I am not special. I am not the best at making art or supremely talented like a lot of others. I bust my butt, keep my faith, and I will never let myself give up. Quitting is the only way you lose in life. If I can do it, then you can do something you are passionate about in life. You have one opportunity at this life and you are on the clock with an uncertain amount of time. So what will you do with that time? I believe in you.