Introducing the Startist Society
Introducing the Startist Society

Startist Society is a podcast and community for artists who procrastinate starting or making progress on their art business. Learn more about your hosts Laura and Nikki as they introduce the Startist Society to you. Maybe you are like us and have left your corporate job to focus full time on a creative business. Or maybe you’re trying to fit it all in – in between jobs and raising kids. No matter what your circumstances are, what we all have in common is wanting to grow our creative businesses and stop letting fear and procrastination get in our way.

Whether you’re an artist, a writer, a musician, a designer – or simply someone who loves art and wants to know more about the lives and businesses of the people who make the art you love – we invite you to follow along with us and just get started! Are you a Startist too? Come join our Startist movement.

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Laura

0:07
Hi, this is Laura.

Nikki

0:08
And this is Nikki with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting in your own way, and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

0:17
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keep you stuck.

Nikki

0:31
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Laura

0:36
Oh my gosh, Nikki, it’s our first podcast.

Nikki

0:40
I know! Are we ready?

Laura

0:43
I have no idea.

Nikki

0:45
But we’re, we’re just gonna get started.

Laura

0:48
We are.

Nikki

0:49
So maybe we should start by telling people what Startist Society is all about?

Laura

0:53
Well, the Startist Society is a podcast and a community for artists who procrastinate starting or making progress on their art business.

Nikki

1:02
I don’t know anybody like that.

Laura

1:04
No, me neither. Maybe you’re like us, and you’ve left your corporate job to focus full time on a creative business. Or maybe you’re trying to fit it all in in between jobs and raising kids. No matter what your circumstances are, what we all have in common is wanting to grow or create a businesses and stop letting fear and procrastination get in our way.

Nikki

1:28
We’re not coming to you as experts who have “made it” and want to teach beginners how to do exactly what we did and achieve our level of success. We’re in the midst of it with you, or possibly just one little step ahead. We want to take you behind the scenes of our own journey and show you what we’re working on, the lessons we’ve learned, and what we’re experimenting with as we try to make our businesses move ahead.

Laura

1:53
Whether you’re an artist, a writer, a musician, a designer, or just simply somebody who loves art and wants to know more about the lives and businesses of the people who make the art you love. We invite you to follow along with us and just get started. Are you a Startist too? Come join our Startist Movement?

Nikki

2:13
I’m a Startist.

Laura

2:15
I’m a Startist.

Nikki

2:18
So before we tell the story about how we met, Laura, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about your background?

Laura

2:24
Sure. I am an artist and an educator, a surface pattern designer, a musician and a doggy mama living in Dallas, Texas. I’ve been a musician my entire life. And I’ve always loved and enjoyed doing crafts like sewing and cross stitch since I was young. But, I really didn’t discover my love of art until I was 17. I grew up in Kansas, and I left my bubble to study abroad for a summer in Paris…and it literally changed my life.

Nikki

2:59
Paris can do that to you.

Laura

3:01
Paris can totally do that to you. The Musee d’Orsay took my breath away as I looked at all those amazing Impressionist paintings. And I fell in love with the Rodin Museum, the sculptures there and the painting La Jeune Martyre at the Louvre just blew my mind. And you know, the French chocolates and pastries kind of blew my mind as well. So I had a really deep appreciation for music and art. I ended up going the practical route and I studied finance and economics in college in Dallas. After college, I began an analytical career in the travel industry, where I was able to indulge my international travel bug, which was awesome. But I shifted my creativity to developing complex financial models and creating visual basic macros and forecasting operational performance.

Nikki

3:55
Well, that sounds highly creative.

Laura

3:58
Well, I was one heck of a bean counter. And I’m one of those crazy gals who totally digs Excel spreadsheets. I’m such a geek.

Nikki

4:07
You’re such a geek.

Laura

4:10
You might call me a dual-brained creative person because I really enjoy using both sides of my brain equally. But after a while I was kind of missing having a more fun, creative outlet. So I started dabbling in arts and crafts again in 2001 by starting a charity project that made sewn and crocheted hats for cancer patients across the DFW Metroplex called Brimming With Love. And soon after that, I was introduced by a friend to rubber stamping and cardmaking and can I tell you I was so addicted. I mean overnight, I had bought all the supplies and I decided…

Nikki

4:50
Of course you had.

Laura

4:51
Of course I did. So I needed to start making some money at it because I had spent a small fortune.  So I decided to create a side design business, and I began submitting greeting card designs to craft publications. Over 75 of my projects ended up getting published over the next couple of years. I ended up becoming a project designer for a company called Hero Arts rubber stamps. And I also was a designer for a polymer clay company called Polyform. They make Sculpey and Premo polymer clay that you can buy in your local craft stores.

So, I did that for a while. And eventually, I decided to shift my side design gig to focus more on teaching instead.  I received my certification in Copic markers and started teaching at a local arts and crafts store about about 11 years ago.

Nikki

5:46
So you did all of this while you were working your corporate job?

Laura

5:50
Oh, yes. And not just like 40 hours a week, we’re talking like 60/70 hours a week job.

Nikki

5:55
Wow.

Laura

5:56
Yeah, it was intense. So the store that I was working at (where I was teaching on the weekends) has long closed, but I still teach Copic workshops to this day. I teach them on Zoom now, but I’ve held over 120 live workshops…and the community that has been built over that timeframe really is amazing. They totally keep me inspired. I just love working with them and teaching them everything that I’ve learned. So, in recent years, I have expanded from coloring in other people’s stamps and images to creating my own. I’ve explored drawing, encaustic wax art, intuitive and mixed media painting, watercolor, acrylic, oil, fiber arts, and even digital surface pattern design using apps like Procreate and Adobe Illustrator. I really have a passion for learning new things and I don’t think I’ve ever met an art supply that I didn’t love. And you know, this, Nikki, because you’ve seen it.

Nikki

7:08
Oh, I’ve seen it. If I need to shop, I’m coming to your place.

Laura

7:12
Yes, you are. So I truly enjoy sharing the things that I’ve learned with others and I can’t wait to start teaching more classes online in the future. I recently left my corporate job to focus on developing my surface pattern design portfolio and teaching online classes. This podcast is my way of being accountable towards making my dreams come true.

Nikki

7:36
Awesome.

Laura

7:37
So Nikki, that’s a little bit of the last 40 or so years of my life in a nutshell. So why don’t you share with us your journey of how you came to here and give us a little bit about your background?

Nikki

7:50
Well, okay, so my story, Laura is is a lot like yours in some ways and totally opposite in others.

Laura

7:58
Okay

Nikki

7:58
Like you, I consider myself both right -rained and left-brained. I’ve always used them together or gone back and forth between the two. I have been an artist all my life. When I was a kid, I was drawing just as soon as I could hold a pencil, and did ceramics and all kinds of other things. In college, I never considered studying anything but art. But although I was an art major, studying drawing and painting in undergrad, I was probably the only art major to ever take calculus as an elective.

Laura

8:38
Wow, you chose to take calculus?

Nikki

8:41
I did, I loved math. I can’t say I remember any of it. But…

Laura

8:48
You might be a girl after my own heart.

Nikki

8:50
I know. I know. I just sprung that on you. You didn’t know that about me. So in college, and in grad school, I studied drawing, painting, fiber arts, jewelry. I also did some surface design, but that was before you could do it digitally. We were cutting paper and taping it back together. I think, you know we were on the very beginning of Photoshop back then. But I also had a chance to study art in Italy. And so that got my travel bug going for sure.

Laura

9:27
I understand that.

Nikki

9:28
Yeah. So I studied art. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I thought originally I wanted to teach but then after doing some student teaching, I decided that although I like teaching on some level, I didn’t want it to be my full-time job. So my first job out of grad school was designing t-shirts for National Audubon Society and Nature Conservancy.

Laura

9:51
Oooh birds.

Nikki

9:51
Yeah, birds, but not just birds, plants, flowers, all kinds of animals.

Laura

9:59
You got paid to do this?

Nikki

10:00
I did, I did. I got paid to draw plants and animals all day.

Laura

10:04
What an awesome job.

Nikki

10:05
I know. So then after doing that for a little while in rural Alabama, I had to move back to Atlanta. And this was before it was really easy to work remotely. So I taught myself HTML. This was in the mid 90s, mid to late 90s. I taught myself HTML in order to build a website to promote my own design and illustration. And I accidentally got hired by IBM to do a 30 day temp job doing HTML. It was not what I was looking to do. But I started listing it as a skill and got hired by a contracting company to do that for IBM. It was supposed to be a 30 day temp job. And it turned into an accidental 10 year career as a creative director.

Laura

10:54
Wow.

Nikki

10:55
Leading teams of designers and developers on projects like the New York Times website and the the 2000 Sydney Olympics website. So

Laura

11:06
That’s amazing.

Nikki

11:07
It was an amazing job, I got to be creative. I got to really use my left brain and my right brain in that job. So it was fantastic. But, I didn’t make any of my own art while I had that job, except for doodles in meetings and conference rooms. So, I decided about halfway through that, that I you know, I was way off track. It was a great path, but it wasn’t the path I was meant to be on. So I decided to quit my job and go back to making art. I knew I couldn’t afford to do that while still living in Atlanta.

So I moved from Atlanta to Paducah, Kentucky, which is a small adorable river town right where the Ohio and Tennessee rivers meet. And I was looking for a place to move that was a smaller town, more affordable, but still had something going on with art. And I discovered the Artist Relocation Program that Paducah had. I’ll tell more about that program in another episode when I can really sink into it. But suffice it to say that I moved from Atlanta to Paducah joining artists from all over the country who moved here from bigger cities and left jobs to form a little art community here in this small town.

But after I did that, I kept working for IBM for another four years just doing it remotely. But I gained so much time, I was on one long term project working from home with no commute. I finally had time to do other things that I didn’t have time to do when I was in Atlanta, commuting, sitting in traffic quite a lot, traveling for my job.

So I started making art again. And like you, I discovered encaustic, I think I stuck with it a little more than than you did. And I became obsessed. So while I was doing encaustic work and drawing, always drawing, I also continued to do freelance web design projects as I had all along. And I started a community calendar website with a partner that I met here in Paducah. And as that grew to be able to support me, I was finally able to quit my job with IBM. So I ran this community website, it was called iList Paducah and made my art,,, and life was beautiful.

Laura

I bet.

Nikki

I sold iList after about eight years of doing that and continued doing freelance website design and drawing. I had an interest in surface design since I was in grad school, but after doing a few analog repeat patterns, I kind of abandoned it. But in the last three years, I think I kind of got back into doing it. I took a few Skillshare classes and started learning how to do it in Illustrator. And that’s when I did my 100 day project of doing a pattern a day for 100 days.

Laura

14:11
Awesome.

Nikki

14:11
Yeah, I started applying all those illustrations and patterns to print-on-demand products. So that’s another side hustle I’ve got going on. And in the meantime, my branding and web design business continue to grow. And I am currently working on building a…I call it a productized service…a program to create websites for artists.

Laura

14:37
Awesome.

Nikki

14:38
Yeah. Yeah. So that is my current focus, that and just growing my my own art business on the side.

Laura

14:47
And having a podcast.

Nikki

14:48
And now having a podcast. And why do we have a podcast, Laura?

Laura

14:54
Well, we first met in an accountability group that we were randomly assigned in a large course that we had taken together with, I think, four other women. And that is how we first got to know each other, which was maybe about a year ago. Right, Nikki?

Nikki

15:14
It was almost a year ago. So back in the fall, in September, I was driving across the country from Kentucky, to Texas, to San Antonio. And I decided since I realized I’d be driving through Dallas that we needed to meet, because we only knew each other online. So I stayed in Dallas for a weekend and we met.  And we started talking about all the things we talk about in our accountability group in person.

Laura

15:46
And so we were sitting at a Cafe Brazil, having breakfast outside, and anybody who goes through Dallas, who lives in Dallas, you must go to Cafe Brazil…it’s got phenomenal breakfast food,

Nikki

15:59
Oh my gosh, the chilaquiles!

Laura

16:01
I’ve never had a bad thing on their menu there. I’ll just say that. So we were having this conversation, realizing, hey, you know, we should be recording these conversations, because they’re actually pretty cool. These are things that I think other people might be interested in hearing.

Nikki

16:15
Right. And I think we both had entertained the idea of a podcast in the past. I think you took it a little more seriously, and even started recording something?

Laura

16:27
I had an intro, yes, but it never got beyond the intro.

Nikki

16:32
And I hadn’t gotten started, I was just considering that it might be something fun to do. And so sitting in that cafe, on a Sunday morning, when I was about to leave town to continue on to San Antonio, we started tossing around ideas about what we could do with this podcast.

Laura

16:53
Yes, we’re both artists who had successful corporate careers. And despite wanting to pursue our art, we have been letting a lot of things simmer on the back burner for far too long. And we’ve left those corporate jobs to focus on art and really want to give ourselves the push forward and remain accountable…to be able to let those careers blossom.

Nikki

17:19
So we thought that having a podcast would be a great way to be more publicly accountable, than just our private accountability group and conversations. Because if we put it out there, that we’re going to show up weekly on this podcast, and we’re going to have conversations about all the things we’re trying in our business, where we’re struggling, where we’re succeeding, where we need help… then we’re going to actually follow through on it.

Laura

17:52
So Nikki, what can our listeners expect from this podcast moving forward?

Nikki

17:57

What we plan to do is you’ll have a lot of episodes that will be just conversations between the two of us about what we’re doing in our businesses, and also interviews of other people who we consider great examples of Startists who have just gotten out of their own way and gotten started. So some of the topics that we’ll be discussing are…

Laura

18:21
…procrastination, fear, technology concerns, oh there are so many of those.

Nikki

18:27
And that’s where, where I’m excited to be able to help because I’ve been working in technology, specifically, websites, email newsletters, all things tech for the past 25 years. So I’m excited to bring a lot of that to the podcast.

Laura

18:45
I’m excited to hear what you have to say about that. That’s great. But yeah, social media, advertising, websites, all things money. Just really all the things that might be stopping you from moving forward, and just getting started. And accountability is so important to move forward. And we want to invite you to be accountable with us in our Facebook group. So we would love for you to join us there where we will be posting conversation starters so that we can help each other on different topics that we might be discussing from week to week, and any other issues that might be popping up that are getting in your own way.

Nikki

19:25
And you can find our Facebook group by searching Startist Society on Facebook, and we’ll also put a link directly to the group in our show notes.

Laura

19:35
Thanks so much for joining us on this journey. We can’t wait to share more episodes with you. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe and share it with a friend. Visit startistsociety.com to learn more about the podcast and read the show notes. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week when we talk about procrastination.

Nikki

19:55
Are we going to procrastinate on talking about procrastination?

Laura

19:58
No, not this time.

Nikki

20:01
See you next week.

Laura

20:02
See you next week.

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