35 – Do You Think It’s Too Late to Get Started?

In this episode, Laura and Nikki talk about a question a lot of us are thinking about these days: Is it too late for me to start taking my art career seriously? Am I too old?

After you hit the big 4-0 mark (or perhaps the 5 or 6-0!) you might question your relevancy in a world that is constantly changing and seems to reward youth, energy, vibrancy, new technologies, etc. You begin to wonder if you’re too old to learn all the tech needed to run a successful business or too old to grow a following on social media when it seems to be full of young, beautiful women.

We are here to show you some great examples of people who didn’t let that fear stop them from starting and growing their art careers later in life!

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Topics discussed

  • Does age matter?
  • Reasons you might think you’re too old to be taken seriously or be able to do all that is required to be a successful artist
  • Shifting your mindset by looking at examples of artists who started later in life or gained success when they were older
  • The flip side – can you be considered too young to be taken seriously as an artist?
  • An example of an artist that made 6 figures by the time she was 21
  • The benefits and advantages of being older and what that experience can bring to your art and career 

Resources Mentioned

Laura

0:04
Hi, this is Laura Lee Griffin.

Nikki

0:06
And this is Nikki May 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

0:15
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

0:30
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Laura

0:37
Nikki, what are we talking about today?

Nikki

0:39
Today we’re talking about a universal question that I think about a lot these days. Is it too late for me to start taking my art career seriously? Am I too old?

Laura

0:50
Yeah, after you hit the big 4-0 mark, or perhaps the big 5 or 6-0, you start questioning your relevancy in the world that is constantly changing and that seems to reward youth, energy, vibrancy, new technologies, etc.

Nikki

1:07
Right?

Laura

1:07
You kind of begin to wonder, am I too old to learn all the technologies you need to run a successful business? Am I too old to grow a following on social media?

Nikki

1:17
Especially when you look at who is really popular on social media? It’s usually just young, beautiful women.

Laura

1:25
And if you’re a young, beautiful woman, more power to you.

Nikki

1:29
Right.

Laura

1:30
But, you know, you start asking other questions like, is my style not fresh enough to be seen by art directors? Do I have to do all the things in order to be seen? And do I have the energy to do all of that?

Nikki

1:41
Do I have to show my old wrinkled face on social media?

Laura

1:47
Yeah, and let’s be honest, I’m also a musician and used to want to do that for a career when I was younger, and the ageism is crazy in that industry. I remember thinking at 25 that I was already too old to make it.

Nikki

2:01
Well, you weren’t then, Laura, but you certainly are now, you old lady. So let’s talk about some artists who will prove to you that you are never too old.

Laura

2:12
Okay. Let’s start with Grandma Moses, who began painting in her 70s and wasn’t spotted by an art dealer until she was 80 years old.

Nikki

2:24
Oh, wow. So we’re mere babes in the woods compared to that, right? Who else can we look to to make me feel better about my advanced age? One of my contemporary heroes, Lisa Congdon, who I’ve talked about probably almost every other episode, didn’t start her art career until she was around 40. And now she has books, products, licensing deals, paintings, classes, even a shop and also a podcast now, too. And one book in particular, that’s all about this topic is called A Glorious Freedom, Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives.

Laura

3:03
Yeah, I own that book, too. And one of the women in it was Laura Ingalls Wilder, who didn’t actually publish Little House in the Big Woods, her first book, until she was 65.

Nikki

3:16
That’s amazing, right?

Laura

3:17
It is totally.

Nikki

3:19
I suppose we should be inclusive here and give a few examples of men who also got later starts. Kandinsky who is known to be one of the originators of abstract art, never even touched a paintbrush until the age of 30. And didn’t achieve fame until his mid 40s.

Laura

3:36
And Stanley Lee, the man who created Spider Man didn’t begin drawing superheroes until he was 43. I mean, where would our world have been if he had decided he was just too old to get started?

Nikki

3:50
Well, we wouldn’t be able to talk about our tingly spidey senses.

Laura

3:54
Dork.

Nikki

3:55
I accept that proudly.

Laura

3:59
And Paul Cezanne didn’t get his first solo show until he was 56.

Nikki

4:05
Wow.

Laura

4:06
Then there was Louise Hay, the queen of New Age, who created her Hay House publishing empire after the age of 50 when she published her first book, You Can Heal Your Life, which eventually went on to sell 35 million copies.

Nikki

4:21
Wow. And let’s end this list with Georgia O’Keeffe, who painted well into her 90s. She lost most of her eyesight at age 85 but not her will to create. She said, at the age of 90, she said I can see what I want to paint. The thing that makes you want to create is still there.

Laura

4:40
Hmm. I love that.

Nikki

4:42
Yeah. And Julia Cameron wrote a book on the topic. It’s called It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond. It’s a version of her hugely popular The Artist’s Way for quote retirees and other creative have souls. In an article she wrote about the book, she said, often our life’s experience gives us a leg up in creating meaningful art. Comfortable in our own skin, we may find the gift of candor as a passion that has been brewing for decades, pushes to the fore with energy and conviction.

Laura

5:19
And, you know, I love all of this when we talk about what it means to be older and how you can still have amazing results. It’s never too late. But on the flip side, those that are young face different challenges, like Will anyone take me seriously? Can I be seen as an expert in my field when I’m in my 20s, or my 30s? And I think one great example of a current artist that has proved this idea wrong, is Kirsty Partridge of the Colored Pencil Academy. And I just recently discovered her online, she started her YouTube tutorial channel when she was only 17 years old.

Nikki

5:59
Wow.

Laura

6:00
And now it’s only roughly five years later, but she has used Patreon and her own learning platform to create a multi six figure annual income. And one glance at her work shows you that she has stellar technical skills for rendering realism with colored pencils. And she has a really great way of teaching others to do the same. So I take her completely seriously as a businesswoman and as an artist, regardless of her young age, because she presents herself so well.

Nikki

6:30
That’s really impressive. Laura, what were you doing when you were 17?

Laura

6:35
I was writing music, but I wasn’t making art.

Nikki

6:39
I was putting Sun-In my hair and bleaching it blonde. But I was making art, I was drawing. Alright, Laura, what are our takeaways from this topic?

Laura

6:55
Well, I think when you catch yourself thinking, it’s too late for me, remember that your life experience gives you a creative advantage. You have experiences to pull inspiration from, and there really is no such thing as being behind. Every day, we have that chance to start something new with a growth mindset and to follow our curiosities and see where they lead.

Nikki

7:19
And really, we only feel as if we’re too old or too young when we compare ourselves to others who we perceive as being so much further along than we are, right? The best advice I can give, and what I need to take myself, is to only compare yourself to yourself. Are you taking the steps that you need to learn and grow and create and make progress on your own creative journey? Do you have a strong desire to make art? Then it’s not too early or too late, right? Unless you’re dead, then it’s too late.

Laura

7:52
But not too late to be discovered. For today’s Startist Society show notes, go to startistsociety.com/toolate. Do you have a great story to share about someone who got started late or had early success? We’d love to hear about it in our Startist Society Facebook group or on Instagram @StartistSociety.

Nikki

8:20
And if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, please be sure to follow Startist Society on your favorite podcast platform. And we’d love for you to leave us a five star rating and review. Reviews always help us reach more Startists like you and keep us inspired to continue creating new episodes.

Laura

8:37
Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

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