Marketing Your Art the Right Way

Selling Art, Not Selling Out

Juan Sepulveda on Creating vs. Marketing Your Art, the Power of the Right Mindset, and Diversifying Your Income Streams – Cracking Creativity Episode 39

Juan Sepulveda is a painter and the creator of The Winding Stairs Podcast and The Gentleman’s Brotherhood. His art focuses around the lessons and symbols of free masonry. In this episode, Juan talks about marketing and creating art, why you must have the right mindset, and why you need to diversify your income streams.

Here are three things you can learn from Juan:

Marketing and Creating Art Require Different Ways of Thinking

Artists are often opposed to the idea of marketing their work. People often criticized Juan for selling his art because they couldn’t sell theirs too.

If you are having trouble selling your art, you need to separate your artistic creation from your business. It requires to completely separate parts of yourself to be able to sell your art. You need to be able to put on different hats depending on whether you are selling or creating your art.

You can’t let selling get in the way of your creativity. Let your creative side work its magic on the art, but then, when you are done, you have to switch hats. Juan believes you have to be authentic to your inspiration, but you also have to be wiling to sell your work once you are done creating.

Your Mindset Means Everything

Your mindset determines everything about the way you approach the world. Just look at one of the artists you admire the most. They have the same amount of time as us, and sometimes they have even fewer resources, yet they are still able to create something amazing.

Juan believes that you create your own limits. We are the ones who confine or restrict ourselves from achieving our true potential. The good news is, in order to change that, all we have to do is change our mindset.

If your favorite artist can get their painting in a museum, you can too. Learn from those who came before you, and apply those lessons to what you want to accomplish. Just know that you can do it, and you are on the way to achieving it.

Diversify Your Income Streams

If you are relying solely on selling your art to make a living, you are missing out on some great opportunities. Art sales are hardly steady, and if you rely on that income, you can get yourself into some trouble.

Diversifying your sources of income can lead to more stability with your finances and with your life. Juan does not just create art. He also does public speaking and a podcast to help promote himself and his art.

By creating other income streams, you can have a bad month selling your art and not have to worry as much. These other income streams will allow you to rest more easily without worrying about selling your next painting to survive.


  • about Juan Sepulveda
    • always interested in self-development and improvement
    • helps other people in their own journeys
    • Winding Stairs Podcast – mason education and art of self-improvement
      • you don’t have to be free mason to enjoy the show
      • help people become better versions of themselves
    • Gentleman’s Brotherhood – help men become in tune with good manners
      • important for men to learn about the proper way to behave in different circumstances
  • how he became a free mason
    • grew up with an uncle that inspired him
      • was respected and achieved a lot
      • good at speaking and showing compassion/empathy
      • when his grandmother died, a man sang her praises (who was a mason)
      • he became interested in what free masonry was and did some research on it
      • years later, he approached a lodge to find out more
  • perceptions of free masonry without really knowing about it
    • they aren’t apologists for what others say about them
    • perpetual misinformation
    • past five years, they have been putting out the correct information to dispel myths
  • speech about becoming an artist at podcast group
    • was at a crossroads in high school to determine what he would do for the rest of his life
    • aviation vs. visual arts
    • didn’t see the prospects for a good art career, decided he wanted to be a pilot
    • reached out to a respected pilot in his neighborhood
      • pilot was jaded, so he gave Juan objections of why he shouldn’t be a pilot
      • took his words seriously, and shifted gears
      • went back to art
      • education was in marketing, his artistic skills were learned outside of school
      • that moment is when he artistic career took off
  • we are always conveying messages, no matter what you are doing
    • you may be changing other peoples’ lives with your opinions, you have to be aware and responsible for that
  • from marketing to art
    • moved to Florida to find career as an artist
    • asked himself  “What kind of art can I do and make a living from?”
    • decided on animation, so he moved to Florida and worked for Disney
    • wanted to be close to animators
    • as cast member, he could go to workshops from professional animators
    • once he spent enough time exploring it, he recognized that the nature of the process didn’t line up with his artistic aspirations
    • in-betweeners creating the fractions between movements, there was no room for creativity/expression
    • didn’t like the idea repeating the same thing over and over, so he looked into fine art
    • fine art showed was right for him because he could go from concept to execution

“Now that I have my unique creation, made, now it’s time for me to switch hats and become the business man, and see how I can then put this in the hands of people that identify with the message contained in the painting.”

  • things he learned at Disney workshops
    • lead animator for Mulan gave presentation on components of the movie
    • talked about roles of different people in the movie
    • learned about the process they use and examples of what their work looked like

“When you’re at the beginning of any career, you have no idea how things are done. You see the final product and you know that somebody has to draw something, but how does that make it into the film? And they were able to show you the steps in the different roles so that was an eye opener right there.”

  • looking up to someone and admiring them
    • not realizing what it takes to get there
    • spent enough time analyzing whether he could do it and enjoy himself while doing it
    • you have to ask yourself if you will enjoy the daily grind
    • realized he wouldn’t have been happy being an animator

“When people talk about overnight success, well sometimes overnight success takes ten years.”

“I try to pick things that I know I’m going to enjoy. There’s no sense in spending time doing things that you really don’t like.”

  • work for Wylan Galleries
    • worked in framing department and learned a lot
    • saved thousands of dollars by taking position
    • was able to meet artists he idolized at the gallery and saw how they did their work
      • from sketching, to painting, to printing
  • why people stick to things they don’t enjoy
    • responsibility to have structure of 9-5 job
    • more openness to being entrepreneurial
    • being able to do the interview in two different places and share it with people all over the world
    • those who do well recognize there is a business component to art

“There’s a lot more opportunities for people to do their own thing.”

“Some people might feel that obligation to do that, to follow what somebody else has established, especially in the arts, it is tricky to make a living as an artist because there has to be a business component that is injected into it… otherwise there isn’t going to be any living being made”

  • why artists oppose marketing
    • people have criticized him for selling his art
    • some artists view art as inspiration and something bigger than themselves
    • Juan’s painting: Opportunity
      • long hallway, doors lining it
      • solitary man who is devastated in front of one of the doors
      • most doors are closed, only three open
      •  you might have to wait a while before a door opens with the right opportunity
      • once the painting is created, he feels it’s his responsibility to get in front of as many people as possible
      • if he doesn’t, he feels selfish for keeping it to himself
      • message should reach as many people as possible, not just those who can afford it at certain prices
    • if you have an easy feeling about selling, you need to change hats
    • don’t let selling get in the way of creativity, but you must change hats once you’re done
    • you have to wear many hats

“Once it’s created, if you really want to make sure that’s it’s in the hands of people who are going to be affected by it, it has to be marketed. It has to be sold.”

“When you are creating a work of art, completely eliminate from your mind any thoughts of marketing or business… create the painting because you are inspired to create it and be authentic to your inspiration. Now once you put that brush down, it’s business.”

  • making art because it conveys a message and helps people feel something
    • people who buy your art want to because it makes them feel
    • describes his art as “Art with a purpose”
    • his art starts a conversation

“I say art with a purpose because I do have a purpose. I want it to either start a conversation or motivate someone to be introspective. I really want the work to have an affect on the viewer.”

  • telling a story through your art
    • adds extra meaning
    • allows you to start conversations through your work
    • working with two sides of an artist
    • successful artist who sold for thousands of dollars and people working minimum wage
      • one of the artists working minimum wage was as good as the artists making thousands but he regarded selling art as prostitution
      • that belief prevented him from having financial freedom
      • only impediment was his way of looking at it
  • your perception determines reality and mindset means everything
    • pick one of the artists you admire the most
      • they have the same amount of time as us, some even have less resources
    • enjoy it while you are living

“You create your own limits.”

“We confine ourselves many times. We restrict ourselves from achieving our potential, and it’s a mindset thing.”

“If Picasso can put some of those ink drawings in museums, I can do that too.”

  • intermingling free masonry and art
    • sharing stories of morality by telling very specific and memorable stories
      • these stories will be ingrained in the mind of people who hear them
      • they will be represented by symbols
      • life changing lessons
      • square symbol – square of virtue, be upright and men of honor
      • compass – circumscribe passions and desire
      • the power of illustrations that can help you be a better person
    • was inspired by the art and stories of free masonry
    • he wanted to create art to represent that
    • started creating free mason art for himself
      • ink drawings on parchment shaded with charcoal/chalk
      • as he shared it with people, they liked it and wanted copies
      • was already making living as an artist and had the equipment
      • make copies to sell to other members of the organization to help raise funds
      • other lodges started asking about prints
      • if he shared it online, other people might like it too
      • ships his masonic collection around the world
    • inspiration to create then organic growth through sharing

“Free masonry is a science of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.”

  • creating something for yourself and inspiring others
    • he created one painting based on what successfully sold before: using the same colors , theme, etc.
      • tried to create based on a formula instead of on what he was feeling
      • ended up not even finishing it
      • he hated it because he wasn’t being genuine, he was trying to create a formula
      • he cut it, reversed it, and painted on the back of it
    • it is hard to create art using a formula
    • it might work, but do you want to do it?
    • didn’t matter how many times he tried to fix it, it didn’t work
    • be true to yourself and connect to the creative source
  • multiple income streams
    • art sales are not a steady income even for professionals
    • you have months that are good and not so good
    • his income streams have evolved
    • he does public speaking and he sells his paintings
    • invested money in production equipment
    • before, he was doing graphic design, set up for artists, selling painting, etc.
    • if one of your income streams runs dry, you are not struggling

“Having diversified sources of income helps you maintain more of a stability.”

  • things he learned from business classes
    • spend time doing things you are good at, develop your strengths
    • don’t ignore your weaknesses, just mitigate them
    • presentation he have at Central Florida Podcasters meeting
      • practices learning to be a better speaker because it lines up with the things that he likes
      • inspire other people to become a better version of themselves
      • doesn’t want to become complacent
    • jack of all traders has a counter-part: master of none
      • you want to be a master of something
      • pick the things you can be strong at and develop them so you can be a master
      • The Winding Stairs – good example of content marketing
        • provide information and sell afterwards
        • felt a need for a podcast with that specific type of content
        • source to fund podcast would be sale of the art
        • focus of podcast is to show people what he has learned, then let them know he has art to help support the show
        • building equity: Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
          • create things that add value to people, they want you to succeed
          • give so much that people want to help you

“I think that it’s important that you spend a lot of time on solidifying your strengths even more.”

“I think that it’s important for artists to recognize, do a self-assessment of, what are the things that you are strong at? What are the things that have potential for growth in your artistic career? Make sure you put a lot of energy into those things.”

  • artists need to add value or create a conversation
    • sometimes people don’t connect with your painting right away
    • painting creates dialogue, and people become interested in it
    • surrealism not being for everyone – it has its market
      • takes engaging with people to see what provokes their reaction
    • trip to Art Expo in NY – where artists go to be found
      • thousands of people walk by the art
      • it has to capture their attention because there are hundreds of other artists
      • if he didn’t engage with people, they would have kept on walking
        • people did become engaged with talking
        • has kept those connections after the event
  • human connection in art and the ability to create conversations
    • a lot of artists tend to be independent
    • you need to recognize you are not complete
    • you need to find those components in interactions with other people
    • there are people who are better than you
    • you need to connect with them so you can learn from them
    • connect with people who know the business side so you can reach the next level
    • took him a long time to realize that

“I need to connect with these other people who are going to complete me. They’re the puzzle pieces that are missing in this whole big picture, otherwise I’m always going to be an incomplete masterpiece.”

  • The Gentleman’s Brotherhood
    • open to everyone
    • for men who want to become the best version’s of themselves and want to treat people with dignity
    • opening a door for someone and expecting common courtesy
    • wants people to think about these things when someone opens a door for you
    • shows people that you really care and want to be decent to other people
    • wants to create a community
    • being recognized as a part of the Gentleman’s Brotherhood
    • provide content and clarify vision
    • wants to make courtesy common again
    • everything you do has an impact, and your messages have to align with each other
  • morning routine
    • tackling for a long time and goes through continual tweaking
    • has a checklist because he doesn’t want to miss anything
    • reads bible, plays bible as he prepares for the day
    • breakfast, takes kids to school and runs for almost 3 miles
    • then shower, and the studio to work
  • books recommendations
    • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – came to him when he was thinking about being a full-time artist, after mother passed
      • my Paulo Coelho quote art: “People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
    • 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
      • talks about different circumstances in history where power is evident
      • real life examples of how people overcome problems, left a legacy, and were able to change their destiny
      • practical look at history and how people were able to change lives
  • creative people
    • his son inherited artistic traits that Juan inherited from his mother
      • he is able to create things that are recognizable at age 5
      • able to see patience and improvement
      • being in awe of being able to create something
    • mother created something out of nothing
      • despite lack of money, she was able to make something from nothing
    • Casey Neistat – film maker in NY that makes short films
      • film for Nike: Make It Count – made his own film instead of listening to Nike
      • had the ability to be creative instead of being constrained
      • didn’t matter what he did, it would exceed expectations
    • my article featuring Michelangelo creating Sistine Chapel painting

“I don’t always wait for things to be available. I make things available myself.”

  • definition of creativity

“Be able to create something exceptional where you are, with whatever limited resources you have. When you’re able to connect to that inspiration, you can take what you have and create something that can really have an impact on people.”

  • how to be more creative
    • make assessment of things that you are strong at
    • do things you enjoy until the wheels fall off
    • don’t limit yourself to your medium
    • derive inspiration from other stuff (Juan gets it from film)
    • give yourself the ability to think outside of the box

“Try to seek inspiration outside of the confines of your medium because it expands your mind so exponentially.”

The Gentleman’s Brotherhood and The Winding Stairs and

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