We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Will Eskridge a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Will, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Can you open up about a risk you’ve taken – what it was like taking that risk, why you took the risk and how it turned out?
While my wife had gone back to school to become an educator, I was working a graphic design 9-5 job. It was a fairly secure job with benefits, but I was unhappy. Graphic design was something I fell into years before though it was not my passion nor my calling. Painting is my calling. For years I had worked various 9-5 jobs while painting in the evenings and on the weekends. I had longed to become a full-time artist but did not know what that really meant or how to do it. I had sold work over the years, had the occasional art show, but something was missing. Finally when my wife graduated and accepted a job as a middle school educator, we had a talk. It was now or never. I put in my two weeks notice and began my life long dream of becoming a full time artist. I was 38. I had no plan, no idea how I was going to make it work, but I knew I had to answer my calling. I threw myself into the abyss. It finally dawned on me: To become a full-time artist, you have to become a full-time artist. It was the best thing I ever did and I haven’t looked back.
Will, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Ever since pre-school I have had an affinity for art-making and animals. My dad was a veterinarian and my mom is a creative. All through my years I have drawn, painted, even sculpted. I eventually focused on the offbeat and often misunderstood wildlife like bats, raccoons, and opossums. My paintings celebrate these wonderful creatures by adding “party favors” and a dash of humor through vibrant colors and a pop sensibility. Home to the original “Donut Bat”, my paintings are a fun and positive twist to put smiles on collectors’ faces and alleviate fears about these maligned animals.
I offer originals and prints and I work in a variety of sizes from 6×6 inch “Hit Singles” small works (perfect for the budding collector) to 4×6 feet and beyond. I am currently open for commission work including pet portraits. With the pet portraits I like to add the pets favorite toy or treat to the piece as the party favor to make it even more special.
Fun-loving weirdos, eclectic outcasts, and anyone who likes donuts will find a connection to my paintings.
Any resources you can share with us that might be helpful to other creatives?
Oh yes. Plenty. First and foremost I have to say mastermind calls with other artists and a coach through The Abundant Artist have changed my business and life. The Big Leap and You Are A Badass At Making Money are amazing books for mindset.
Is there something you think non-creatives will struggle to understand about your journey as a creative? Maybe you can provide some insight – you never know who might benefit from the enlightenment.
One of the things I think that might be misconstrued is that because a creative has talent, that it is somehow easy or always fun. This isn’t always the case. Talent can only get you so far. Someone can have all the talent in the world, but if they don’t show up to the easel then what’s the point? It’s not easy showing up everyday and it certainly isn’t always fun. It takes dedication and determination. Painting only when inspiration strikes is not sustainable. You have to show up when inspiration strikes, when it doesn’t strike, and everywhere in between. It can be challenging at times re-adjusting an eye or donut to get it “just right”. Painting can also be a lot of sitting in the studio staring at the canvas. Thought processes are churning as we sift through what to apply next. Do I go for the aqua or the hot pink? Should this whole thing be scrapped and completely painted over? More than half of a successful painting is not the actual process of painting. It is the sketches, the notes, the thinking, years of practice, critique with peers, the subconscious working through your mind while you sleep. For weeks, months, sometimes years. It can be a very rewarding, yet exhausting process to complete just one painting.
This isn’t to say it’s NOT fun, it’s just that there is a lot more that goes on behind-the-scenes to create that one seemingly simple painting.