This year at We Grow Retreat, we were given the privilege to sit through a presentation given by Artist Kevin-John. His story both inspired and challenged us to think outside the box and cause a ruckus while having fun growing our businesses. Here are 15 life lessons from Celebrity Artist Kevin-John. I hope they inspire you as much as they inspired me.
Life Lessons from Celebrity Artist Kevin-John
1. Start with what you have.
Did you know that Kevin-John didn’t always paint in color? In fact, his first creations were pen and ink. He had a gut feeling they would sell and he was right!
2. Create like it’s your job -because it is.
Don’t wait until you’re inspired. Most of the time, creatives say they can’t do something because they aren’t feeling inspired or creative. This way of thinking needs a perspective shift. Kevin-John said he has always created art as a job. Waiting until you’re “inspired” or feeling “creative” doesn’t pay the bills.Artists can be valuable contributors to the world and don’t have to starve.
3. Dress for the work you want.
Working from home means that you can stay in your pajamas all day or look a hot mess without too much judgment from others unless you have to get out of your car at school pick-up or make a run to Target. Kevin-John reminded us that even though we work from home, we are still working and need to dress for work. If creating is your job, treat it as such.
4. When faced with a challenge, pivot.
As I stated above, Kevin-John began his career creating black and white art. When he was faced with the challenge of adding color to his art, he could have gotten discouraged and let the fact that he is color-blind deter him, but he didn’t. He knew that to continue on this path he needed to pivot and teach himself how to see color.
5. Cause a ruckus.
Do it differently. It’s okay to cause a stir. Kevin-John built his own gallery, did charity events, went to news stations, and asked for newspaper stories about what he was doing. He was basically his own PR person. While other people were content to stay stuck, he took matters into his own hands and paved his own way.
6. Make the first move.
Don’t wait for people to come to you. Make your own opportunities.Don't think that you can just sit back and wait for work to come. There are 100 failures to every one success and the failures are just one step closer to a win.
7. Believe in your brand.
There is no one in the world who cares as much about your brand as you do. Give them a reason to buy what you offer. Shout it from the rooftops. Everyone who knows you should know what you do.
8. It’s okay to work for free – sometimes.
While free doesn’t pay the bills, charity work can lead to bigger and better opportunities. Don’t be afraid to donate your work or time for good. When Kevin-John did this, it led to other sports commissioned pieces.
9. Don’t be afraid of video.
Video is a great way to connect with your audience. It gives them a peek into your life that they wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s a great point of connection. Creating art on camera on ESPN increased his audience and introduced him to new followers.Stop dreading failures they lead you to the wins!
10. It’s all about relationships.
Be kind to everyone. Don’t burn bridges.
11. If you need money, don’t be afraid to do the work.
Many times, I’ve seen creatives pouting about not having any money, but when given opportunities, they refuse. Do the hard work. Kevin-John created one card every 10 minutes which equaled $10 per card.
12. Find a way to monetize what you do.
You have to value your product. If you don’t, others won’t either. What can you offer?
13. Diversify your income.
You should have regular streams of income coming in from different sources. All businesses ebb and flow. When one ebbs, the other will flow.Ensure that your table has more than one leg, otherwise, it will fall.
14. Don’t forget to invest in yourself.
Only you will look out for you. Invest in yourself to take it to the next level even when others around don’t see the potential.
15. Let it go.
Sometimes business ventures don’t work out, and that’s okay. Know when to hold them and when to fold them.
Rocket to The Next Level
In closing, Celebrity Artist Kevin-John left us with a question:
How are you going to use the gifted opportunities? To propel your business forward, creatively think about how you are going to rocket to the next level.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and words of inspiration with us, Kevin-John. It was an honor to meet you.