Q&A: What advice was hard to stomach but you now appreciate?

Why is it that you don’t recognize a “blessing in disguise” until you’ve had some distance from it?

We’ve been thinking about taking a step back to reflect on challenging situations that, while bittersweet in the moment, we’re thankful for in the long run. And that’s the impetus for the second edition of #ArtistAdvice. Here, Minted artists Kelly Ventura and Olivia Raufman answer the question What advice was hard to stomach at first but now you’re thankful for?

Kelly Ventura
Milford, Michigan
Kelly’s Minted Artist Store • kellyventura.com • Instagram @KellyVenturaDesign

Learn to accept hearing no and saying no.

When I was laid off from my full-time job in 2011, it was a blessing in disguise, though it stung to the core. I was seven-plus months pregnant with my second child and wondering what would come next. Once the baby was born, I split my time enjoying those first few months in newborn bliss and slowly building my freelance business.

I submitted my portfolio to several dream companies in hopes of a collaboration and repeatedly heard the word, “No.” Rather than wallow in the rejection, I pushed forward and worked hard to develop my style. I knew that’s what was missing in my submission—my voice, style, a certain unique perspective that those retailers were craving. A year later, after painting and patterning my heart out, I showed at Surtex, landed several of those dream clients that rejected me previously, and now feel more confident about my place in this big sea of artists.

I have also found it immensely helpful to make sure that projects and collaborations line up with my vision as an artist-designer. At one time, I was saying yes to everything that came my way, and I noticed a decline in my happiness and quality of work. Now that I have a more defined style and brand identity, it’s easier for me to say no to the projects that don’t strengthen my brand and say yes to the right ones.

Hushed” limited-edition print by Kelly Ventura

Soma” limited-edition print by Kelly Ventura

Click through to read Minted artist Olivia Raufman’s response to the question

Olivia Raufman
Carboro, North Carolina
Olivia’s Minted Artist Store •  Instagram @oliviarauf

Keep going.

This was the most common piece of advice I received during design school. Sometimes it was, “this design isn’t working at all, keep going,” which made sense, even if it stung a bit.

The more frustrating scenario was “it’s good, keep going.” Coming from a traditional academic background, the non­linear creative process was a huge shift for me. I wanted to check things off my list and be done with them. If a concept was working, I interpreted it to mean I’d gotten the “right” answer, so why keep thinking about it?

Over the years, I’ve realized that “keep going” can mean many different things. It can mean adding things or taking things away. It can mean exhausting every possible idea in order to reach the best concept or it can mean going down several paths only to return to your original idea. Sometimes it means doing the same thing across many different mediums, or tossing everything and starting over from scratch.

My biggest takeaway, more than a decade later, is that there isn’t one right answer, and even if something is working, something else might work even better. Something else might not just be good, but great.

Casitas” pillow by Olivia Raufman

Friendly Forest” limited-edition print by Olivia Raufman

This is the second edition of #ArtistAdvice, a monthly series that features seasoned advice, insights, and stories from leading Minted artists. Each edition features a different “trigger” question. We’d love to hear from you—how do you feel about Kelly’s and Olivia’s advice? What advice was hard for you to stomach at first, but now you’re thankful for it? Share your thoughts in Comments below, or on social media with the hashtag #ArtistAdvice.

What’s the Best Career Advice You’ve Ever Received?” featuring Eric Beckett and Tanya Lee

Published November 19, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here

  1. There are things that may be considered as blessing in disguise and you only have to look further into it in order to appreciate what it really brings. The artworks you featured here are very lovely. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Susan Asbill

    Great feature, ladies!