The ColorByFeliks Story
Many of you have expressed curiosity over the years about the path I took as an artist. There are so many variables that make everyone's journey different -- media platforms are always changing, opportunities come and go, we all have different art styles that resonate with different audiences -- so there is no one path to success. There are, however, several principles I've learned through this long and crazy journey that just might resonate with you. With that in mind, I'd love to share my story.
The Struggle Years
Andrea and I spent the first few years of our marriage trying to make a life for ourselves in New York. I'd been encouraged by my modeling agency at the time to really devote myself to my modeling career, and Andrea worked as a nanny while I pursued modeling jobs.
If you don't know about modeling, the jobs come and go and you are basically on call so you never know when you are going to get work. I had to support myself with catering jobs and working as a doorman on the side when I wasn’t modeling.
(One of the only paintings I made while in New York,
in my doorman outfit)
(Painting in New York)
Surviving in such an expensive city, I barely had any time to paint, which is what I truly loved. I didn't think at the time that painting was a possible career path for me, because so many people over the years had told me that you could not make a living as an artist and for a very long time I believed them.
Finally, we got tired of working so hard just to tread water, and we agreed that if Andrea got accepted to college we would go back home. We ended up moving to Bellingham, Washington, where we could be closer to family and have lower bills while I seriously pursued painting. It would also allow Andrea to complete her pre-med degree at Western Washington University.
Even though we'd downsized our cost of living, Bellingham was in many ways a harder struggle than New York.
This is because I was seriously pursuing art now, and our new small town life did not present me with the same kinds of work opportunities that New York did; so I was just picking up jobs wherever I could find them.
In addition, Andrea was a full-time student, which left her very little time for work and for sleep. There were many times when we didn't know how we were going to pay for groceries or rent, yet we somehow always just scraped by. For the first year or so, we survived mainly off of food stamps, random painting sales, and the money we could scrape together from odd jobs. Despite all this struggle, I was happier than I'd ever been in New York because I was finally painting again. I used every spare moment for painting, because I realized the importance of being true to my passion.
It took a while to get off the ground, but I started doing time-lapse videos and that's where I got my first hint that this crazy dream of mine might actually be possible. The early time-lapses were nothing like what you see on my page today; the editing was rough and I didn't even think to add music!
Then one day in 2017, one of my videos started getting traction on Instagram. I watched the view count go up and up, and to be honest, it was a complete shock for Andrea and I. Up until that point, I'd never even considered that I could make a full-time career in art and honestly knew very little about Instagram. I just thought that I could possibly use Instagram to help me get my artwork out into the world and share with more people than at the coffee shops my work was hanging at.
Riding off the interest we were receiving from new viewers, we decided to move to YouTube as well. The decision came because I'd seen people in the comments on Instagram asking about my techniques, so I thought I could use YouTube as a way to share those techniques. I was so naive but excited about the whole process; I didn't even know that monetization existed!
Around this time, Andrea's brother Sebastian also encouraged her to forego medical school to fully focus on running the business side of my art. At the time, that was a huge and scary step for her to step into the unknown and bet on me instead of going with the more stable choice of graduate school especially after she was already accepted into medical school and set to start in a few months. I am so blessed to have a wife who would make such a big decision to help support me; I never asked her to, but I am eternally grateful to have my partner in life as a business partner as well. At this point, we were both fully committed even though we didn't know where we were going or how we'd even pay the bills. It was scary indeed!
Andrea is very business-savvy and eager to learn. She got my Patreon up and running and for a while we were literally surviving off the generosity of our patrons, which I will never forget. Our supporters also encouraged us to keep at it and take the process day-by-day even though we had no idea where it would lead. The funny thing is that even now, with more growth and success behind us, we still apply the exact same philosophy. While we have our plans and desires, we still take things day-by-day, putting one foot in front of the other and trusting God each step of the way to help us do more than we ever could in our own strength.
More to Come
Even after finding some success with doing art as a living, there have been many ups and downs to running this business and making my dream happen with my wife at my side. Next week, I'll go into detail about both our good and bad business decisions and hopefully you can find some valuable information in there that will help you pursue your own dreams.
Leave a comment if you found any of this helpful or encouraging or if you have any questions for me. I am going to be reading through them and will answer some of your questions in my next blog post. Now that we've upgraded our site, I can finally reply to the comments and as always I would love to hear from you all :D
Until next week, keep creating!