Art entrepreneurship is back en vogue with non-fungible tokens, cover art, and the excitement of repopulating personal spaces in the wake of the latest pandemic. Not everyone makes it big. But artists need not “starve.” Or at least that’s the thinking of full-time artist Whitney Austin behind the Whitney Austin Collection that emphasizes community and a version of abstract that makes you think. (She also lights up the room with her poses if you check out her Instagram.)
Grit Daily: You had your own adventures before taking the leap and becoming a nationally renowned artist. Share those.
Whitney Austin: Before I became a full time artist I was a radio promotions coordinator for Radio One, a flight attendant & also worked as a director of sales and marketing for an assisted living community. I have always loved to interact with people and express myself- but never imagined that my calling was to be a full time artist. I am so grateful for my experiences because they really helped me remain grounded and allowed me to connect with all types of people.
Grit Daily: What sets your artwork apart from other artists in the industry?
WA: My artwork is a mixture of Afro futurism, 3D-mixed media, abstract portraits and animals. Most of the time I use a paintbrush but I also bounce between finger painting & issuing a plate knife. The main focus of my artwork is to capture the ever changing beauty of the black woman, and I would say that I do push the limit creatively by combining various techniques in order to evoke emotion and energy in my artwork. I generally don’t try to keep myself in a box with one certain style, so this allows me to remain fresh with my ideas & concepts.
Grit Daily: In what ways are you trying to connect with your audience?
WA: I usually host paint classes and art shows (post pandemic) however since then I continue to paint live on my IG and have them join my live sessions to get feedback on paintings that I am working on. Now that the world seems to be getting back to normal, I do plan to have an art show very soon (in the next few months) and get back on the road with my national paint & sip tours.
Grit Daily: Inquiring minds want to know: what is the most important lesson you have learned as a result of your experience?
WA: The most important thing I have learned is that when you are deep into your passion & business, there will always be additional challenges & levels to reach…regardless of how much you may have already achieved- there is always growth needed- and it may be the most uncomfortable thing ever. It’s easy to get complacent, but when you naturally want to strive for more, you will have to dig deep within yourself to find a newer version of yourself in order to accomplish those goals. I am currently at that level right now, shifting into a greater artist, entrepreneur and influencer…this will cause me to be more disciplined & even eliminate distractions to reach new heights.
Grit Daily: What is one conventional wisdom about pursuing your dream career that’s just plain wrong?
WA:That artists starve. This is a very old mindset that needs to end ASAP. Especially for black artists, we feel that it’s even harder for us to gain recognition because the majority of art galleries cater to white artists. I have found that we can create our own lane by using social media, partnering with local businesses, opening our own art galleries, printing artwork in house and understanding the power of marketing your own website. There is room for us…we may have to do more on the back end however artists don’t need to starve.
Speaking of love, do you love Grit Daily’s content and feature coverage? Click here to support us with an individual subscription.
Jordan French is the Founder and Executive Editor of Grit Daily. The champion of live journalism, Grit Daily’s team hails from ABC, CBS, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Fox, PopSugar, SF Chronicle, VentureBeat, Verge, Vice, and Vox. An award-winning journalist, he is on the editorial staff at TheStreet.com and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur with one sale. Formerly an engineer and intellectual-property attorney, his third company, BeeHex, rose to fame for its “3D printed pizza for astronauts” and is now a military contractor. A prolific investor, he’s invested in 40+ early stage startups through 2021.