Temi Danso: Mechanical Engineer turned Professional Artist
This week’s conversation with Temi was a particularly eye-opening one. Besides Temi, I do not personally know of many artists who are full-time and making a living. Especially without selling many physical art pieces (commissions are not her go-to). Therefore, it was really interesting to talk with Temi about the reality of creating art and the commitment it requires to improve.
Practice makes progress, not perfection
The idea all experts have roughly put 10,000 hours into their craft first stemmed from research in the paper ‘The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance'. To put it plainly, the authors reject the idea that experts’ elite performance can be completely explained by ‘innate talent’. Instead, they suggest elite performance is the product of a decade or more of maximal efforts to improve performance through the use of deliberate practice.
This idea is similar to the saying “practice makes perfect” presenting intentional practice as the key ingredient to achieving perfection in whatever you do. Arguably, no one can ever reach a state of perfection and aiming for such standards may cause discontentment. Additionally, committing 10,000 hours to practice may not necessarily make you an expert, more on this here. Hence why Temi proposed “practice makes progress” referring to the 10+ years of creating art consistently which has propelled her into the position she is in today. It really goes to show, that not many valuable skills are developed overnight but are honed over a long period of intentional practice. Furthermore, it is the value of your skills that get you paid and your ability to solve problems. Thus, how Temi managed to marry her passion with creating income is an inspiration to me and serves as motivation as I still explore my passions.
Lastly, I took some additional time to ask Temi follow-up questions to learn more about her journey. Below are her responses which I think we can all learn from.
Q: What would you advise people who want to make a career switch from a corporate job to being a content creator?
Temi: The first and most important thing is to be sure this is the move you really want to make. It is not a good idea to switch thinking this will be an easier option because unfortunately, you go from working a 9-to-5 job to what feels like working 24/7. It can definitely feel more rewarding in some ways but it is not necessarily easier. While you have your corporate job and you’re trying to be successful in creating content, you will need to work smart on both. Some things that might help with the content creation side are batching content, scheduling posts, being consistent and getting help. This is probably the toughest part of this process and you might have to make some sacrifices during this step but reminding yourself of your future goals will help.
For some practical tips, I would advise you to get help for the parts of the business that you don’t necessarily have to do and to keep a vision board or a visual reminder of your goals because that will keep you focused. When you reach the point where you have built an audience and content creation is becoming very lucrative, it is time to take the leap. Although it is advisable to have at least a few months of savings and important expenses covered first.
Q: Are there any transferable skills you have learnt from studying Engineering that you are applying in your Art Career?
Temi: As an artist, I am both the creative (creating the artwork) and the CEO of my art business. Studying engineering has really improved my problem-solving and analytical reasoning skills, these are both very useful when trying to run a business. Adaptability is another transferable skill I’ve had to develop because there are many unknowns and pivots in my art career and I have to constantly adapt my strategy depending on the opportunities I am presented with. Finally, my communication and project management skills continue to be challenged in my art career. At university, these were developed on a much smaller scale with group projects and so on but now I have to juggle multiple stakeholders, projects and videos all at once!
Q: What makes you and your art valuable?
Temi: I have been sharing my art on the Internet for the past 11 years and I’m grateful when people say they find value in my work. I started by just simply sharing my coloured pencil portrait drawings and now I have videos and courses teaching and showing fellow artists my entire process. Some people find value in the fact that they can see portraits of people that look like them being rendered beautifully while some other people find value in what they can learn from me to expand their skills. I also help fellow artists with art critiques I offer for my subscribers once a month where I look at their art and give them practical tips to improve. With my YouTube videos, some people find value in my humour and the way I present my art and the storytelling. Being able to explore different art mediums and express myself creatively for an audience that appreciates my skills is truly special.
Q: What are your thoughts on the future of art including NFTs?
Temi: Although NFTs have revolutionised the way some artists are able to share and make money with their art, it is currently unsustainable as there are substantial environmental consequences with how they are minted. Additionally, many artists have fallen prey to art theft by scammers using their work for a profit. Popular digital artist, Qinni, died after losing her battle to cancer and unfortunately was a victim of numerous fake NFT listings of her art that her brother constantly has to deal with. This lack of regulation around art theft makes NFTs an easy target for scammers and an unsafe space for some artists.
Listen to the full episode on a platform of your choice: https://linktr.ee/valuablepodcast