Something Out of Nothing


Lately I’ve been listening to the NPR podcast “How I Built This.” The stories are really inspirational and engaging, but what I wasn’t expecting was to see so much of what my life is like today, reflected in other people’s stories. Listening to the stories from companies like Air BnB, Kate Spade, Angie’s List, and more, I was surprised by what was consistent in all of these stories.

Every person spoke about their venture taking a minimum 3 years to get off the ground, using their home to some ridiculous capacity because there were no other options, and going humbling/menial tasks where you practically have to get down on your knees and scrub the floor yourself while singing for your supper.  Hearing Kate Spade explain how she was at one point, packing and shipping all of her hand bags herself from inside her apartment certainly sounded familiar!

Most of the time I’m too busy to do any amount of thoughtful reflection on Art Prof. However, this week I was at the Goetemann Artist Residency at the Rocky Neck Art Colony in Gloucester, MA and I actually had some quiet hours to think more philosophically than usual.

When I first started thinking about Art Prof 3 years ago, I remember almost everyone who I mentioned the idea to responded with: “Why don’t you just teach a course on Lynda.com?” or “How about trying to teach on Skillshare?” Yes, those certainly would have been the more practical routes, but in my mind, none of those were ever options that I seriously entertained.

This past week I’ve had to say goodbye to an incredible team of summer interns who did amazing work all summer and produced really exciting new content for Artprof.org.  We produced a short documentary on this summer’s interns, and one intern commented how he was fascinated by watching how you “create something out of nothing.”

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Project Idea video on linoleum printmaking with intern Anjali Shankar


There are days where I want to tear my hair out with frustration when things are difficult.  I’ve had a few situations that were really upsetting and extremely difficult for a number of reasons, but for the most part, those are rare blips in the scheme of things.

The rest of the time?  My actions can’t keep up with my mind, and I feel an intense urgency working on Art Prof that I have never even come close to experiencing with any of my other work. I always swore that I would ever go near sleeping the hours of a RISD freshman ever again, but apparently, if the work you’re doing is compelling enough, you’ll do ANYTHING to make it happen.

Art Prof has been incredibly humbling, more so than anything else I’ve ever experienced. I’m not someone who hesitates much about doing what I have to do to make something happen, but Art Prof has brought this to a whole new level. I’ve had to trust complete strangers, ask for favors that I really should know better than to ask for, dealt with people who wanted us to fail, had the doors slammed in my face, (metaphorically) increased my rejection rate about 50000%, and received deafening silence from more groups and people than I can count.

And yet somehow, I’m having the time of my life.  

I wake up everyday with so much excitement for what I’ll do next, to the point where I’m actually bummed out when it’s time to go to bed and I have to stop working.

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ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. Artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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