Ep.45: Dina Brodsky on being a full time artist and mother of a toddler

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Nov 06, 2017 •  Interviews

Dina Brodsky is a contemporary artist with love for painting realistic miniatures, originally from Boston, now living and working in New York City. She was educated at University of Massachusetts Amherst and the New York Academy of Art, where she received her MFA. She has taught privately, and in several institutions including the Castle Hill Center for the Arts, the Long Island Academy of Fine Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is most known, among others, for her series Cycling Guide to Liliput capturing moments from her travels and Secret Life of Trees. She is also a mother of 2 step kids and 1 toddler who joined us in the 2nd half of our interview 🙂

Get in touch with Dina

Key Takeaways

“Just keep going, no matter what! Just put in those 10’000 hours!”

Resources mentioned

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Special thanks to Dina for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Dina Brodsky, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello, everyone and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life where it’s all about how you can turn your creative passion into a profession. My name is Iva, and my guest today is a contemporary artists with love for painting realistic miniatures. Originally from Boston, now living and working in New York City. She was educated at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the New York academic of art, where she received MFA. She has still privately and in several institutions, including the Castle Hill center for the art, the Long Island academic of fine art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She’s most known among others for the theory cycling guide to Liliput, capturing moments from her travels, and The Secret Life of trees. She’s also a mother of two stepkids and one toddler who join us for a second half of our conversation. So please welcome Dina Brodsky, and let’s get to the interview. So welcome, everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have my guest here today. Dina Brodsky. Hi. Hi, everyone. I’m super excited to have you here. Because your artworks are super amazing. And let’s start maybe with your background, like, what was your creative outlet when you were a child, maybe board games or

Dina Brodsky  

so I think when I was a child and also like to collect bugs, I’m not sure how creative it is and, and to array and document everything. So it you know, I would play with the bugs. And then I would write down which kind you know that you know if it was an ant or a ladybug, or I didn’t know, my parents were probably really freaked out by this, but

Iva Mikles  

but it’s really fun. Yeah, so you were also drawing the bucks or No,

Dina Brodsky  

no, no, I, I was a documentary of things. I like to make lists. Sounds very boring. Maybe it’s a very boring child.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, no. And it was kind of like the biggest decisions you had to do in order to follow your artistic patient. You know, like, if you can take us through that story.

Dina Brodsky  

You know, I think I basically I got very, very lucky, where I had no idea what I wanted to do at all, I thought that what I wanted to do was hitchhike around Europe, maybe permanently, I was at I did not want to go to university. And so my parents basically, they wanted me to go to at least try University. And instead of this, in retrospect, very stupid plan of hitchhiking around Europe. And, and I was thinking, What could I do for six months before I drop out? And that would be easy. And I was thinking art, you know, that seems easy, you know, like, like, all we do is drink and you know, hang out. So I signed up for an art class. And and it was amazing. And within two weeks, it was I was staying up till three in the morning, do it you know, like, like, literally I wasn’t very good. But I kind of knew that this was what I want to do every day basically for the rest of my life. And, you know, later I did not drop out of university. But at some point I ended up hitchhiking around Europe anyway, because I felt like I needed to fulfill that, that fantasy. But by that point I was drawing and it was me it was really wonderful. So I think I got lucky where I found something by accident that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Iva Mikles  

So what was in those art classes that kind of like drawn you into it? Was it the oil painting or pencil sketches?

Dina Brodsky  

You know, what I ended up love falling in love was was oil painting, but those first assignments, it was charcoal, which, in retrospect, I kind of hated it was very hard that I think it was basically just relief, realizing I could make something with my hands. I fell in love with that. And it was the only thing I knew right away. It was something that I could do for 12 hours in a row. I didn’t need to sleep I didn’t need to eat and I never felt that way about anything.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. What do you think was kind of like a best advice you ever received when you started your art career? Um,

Dina Brodsky  

okay, I’m not sure I got I don’t think I got very much good advice when I I think the worst advice was actually to stop and the worst advice was I As the worst advice is actually to just just try to express myself without learning to draw first. And I remember I had professors, so I’d say, you know, just express yourself, just, you know, draw how you feel. And, and that’s terrible advice. Because it’s like someone you know, you’re you’re trying to, you want to write a French poem, and you don’t know any French and someone has, like, just express yourself that no one would ever say that right? You know, right, that we’re, you know, like, like us, they would say, learn French first and, you know, read a lot of French books, you know, and then maybe, maybe write a French poem, or you didn’t know, no one would ever tell a doctor, you know, or surgeon, you know, just express yourself, like, like, don’t learn how you know, these. That would be terrible doctor and terrible advice. But for some reason, people tell artists this. And I think art, I mean, it’s just like anything else. You need to spend a lot of years trying to learn things first.

Iva Mikles  

Would you think it’s your was or was your mentor or someone who inspired you in the most to pursue your career?

Dina Brodsky  

So I had I got, I had several very, very good professors, but one of them was the man that allowed me into the art department in the first place. And I his name was Paul bear Bay, and he was retiring that year. So he said, he didn’t actually care who got it. But But he basically he looked at me, and he said, Well, you know, you look like you’re, you’re like your work. But so I think you and he was, he was incredibly literate, he read a lot of books, he kind of, you know, had me look at a lot of artwork. And after that I got, you know, once every year or two, I would have a professor that was just fantastic. And I would follow them around like a puppy, you know, begging them for information.

Iva Mikles  

Do you have like, favorite books you’ll learn from as well or something like,

Dina Brodsky  

I think I, I stole the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci from my university library. And they were amazed and I never gave him back. And they were completely amazing that it was wonderful. Hear that. So DaVinci, he was so smart. And he actually expressed themselves very, very clearly. And so that was, I think that was what I learned from an undergraduate. And then I went to graduate school at the New York Academy of Art. And I actually had professors there who all knew everything about everything. So after I got there, I didn’t need to steal books from libraries anymore.

Iva Mikles  

And how did you get to you know, like, doing the exhibitions, and you’re also a curator, correct me if I’m wrong. So how did it progress? Like, what did you do after school to, you know, get where you are now,

Dina Brodsky  

after school, I, after graduate school, I went back to live with my parents, and I was 24. And I had no job. And I kept trying to find a job. I wanted to be university professor, but no one really wanted me to do that. Maybe because I was too young. But so I kept applying first it was university jobs. And then it was maybe high school teaching jobs. And then maybe I think I was applying to work at Starbucks or so ice cream. And it just no one wanted me at all. And Starbucks, no, no, Starbucks did not want me. So I think I went back to visit New York for a weekend and my, one of my old professors, then, you know, he asked me if I wanted to be a studio assistant, for a friend of his. So I, you know, and I said, Yes, any job, you know, I will take any job.

Iva Mikles  

You were outside of New York at the time, right?

Dina Brodsky  

I have my parents were living in Boston. And so and I mean, they wanted me to find a job and move back out is a thought that a 24 I should not be living at home. But so I found this job back in New York, and I moved back there. And I did that for, you know, like, I started exhibiting first and kind of smaller, get, you know, small group shows, and, you know, smaller galleries. But because that Job was a stable paycheck. It allowed me to kind of, you know, it allowed me to just find myself as an artist and kind of make enough work to show and you know, like late like, it gave me faint financial stability, which at that point was a huge thing.

Iva Mikles  

And then you were working as an assistant full time and then you were drawing like in the evenings.

Dina Brodsky  

So it was a part time job. So I’d work I would work 312 hour days. And then for what and then I would for wireless going by, I would sleep in the studio. And then I would go back to Boston, which is like a four and a half hour bus ride. And I was trying to get enough work together for a show. So then I’d paint the other four days. So for awhile, it was kind of stressful, or it was just a lot of taking the bus back and forth between Boston and New York until I moved back to New York permanently. I had that show and it went well. And any bit like it allowed me to pay off a little bit of my student loans. And then I kept that job and I think I got another I got a teaching job and some private students also. But basically, I was already I was selling work and I was making work, you know. And, you know, says the studio assistant job first, it was three days a week, and then when I was more established, it was two days. And then somehow, my, my, my employer was nice enough to let me cut down to one day. So aside basically, slowly, it took me eight years to be yours. Wow, it was it was it was, it was a long time. But I think I was scared to just, you know, I was scared to depend on just my art. So I never became a professor. Like I wanted to. But during that time, I became a pinker. And I mean, that’s, that’s literally Good to

Iva Mikles  

hear this perfect. And so how do you combine your income streams now, because you are selling also art prints? Right? You have Patreon? So how does your structure look like? What do you have?

Dina Brodsky  

I’m a very messy, I basically get a small amount of money from everything.

Iva Mikles  

Because if you lose one, then you know, yeah,

Dina Brodsky  

most of most of it is probably from selling work right now. And I no longer have to have this baby who’s now a toddler. And once he was born, I I could only do one thing and him. So it was painting. And so I stopped teaching and I stopped whatever working as a studio assistant or doing whatever else I was doing for money. So now it’s several income streams. But most of them cut you know, it’s some variety of paintings

Iva Mikles  

in the US sell paintings in the galleries as a physical paintings, or do you sell them like online? Or

Dina Brodsky  

so? Probably right now, half and half. Instagram has been really wonderful for just, you know, because they make these tiny paintings. It was actually very hard to find an audience for. But now more galleries are willing to show them. I think probably because they have a large Instagram following, honestly. But this is they think I must know something I must know what I’m doing. But so about half sell through galleries, and then whatever doesn’t sell what the gallery I sell by myself later.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, perfect. And so how do you do the networking? You know now like, because you mentioned social media, and also for the galleries? Is it connections from school or you go for some events like shows,

Dina Brodsky  

I feel like I almost never go anywhere anymore. I think you’re supposed to. So I also along with baby, I have two stepkids that I got from my husband. And so there’s three little people. And I basically I only shows ever go to or maybe the ones my friends are in or that I’m in. So I think a lot of before before the life was kids, I would go to a lot more openings. And I was very fortunate that my kind of some of the best artists that I know are the ones they went to school with. And my sister, my sisters are really good artists, and you know, so she, you know, and she went to the same academy. So I think I had many years of that, you know, like, like kind of that school to, you know, draw draw from but now, I think a lot of the newer artists, they discover, actually, I discovered through Instagram, I kind of a lot of my tutorials and my tutorial stuff is half people I know already that I think are good and half people I find and meet online and now I meet some of them in real life too, which is kind of amazing there.

Iva Mikles  

And what about new projects, because I read the value that you started to throw more birds because of your son that you go feeding them. And so what are something

Dina Brodsky  

it’s basically something that says that’s something I can do with him and there’s not very many are kind of are things I can do with him because mostly he just runs around and destroys things. But he does like feeding birds and I take him to the zoo and I take him to the Museum of Natural History. Because that’s kind of what I do while he sleeps. Most of the time I draw birds because I do it with watercolor ballpoint pen, I do it with kind of non toxic stuff that doesn’t take a long time to set up or clean up or whatever. And then I’ve got this ongoing before I became pregnant with him. I was working on the series called cycling guide to Liliput which were these tiny little pink, you know round paintings. For wildlife stop paint eight, it was oil and they were very time intensive. And so for a while I stopped doing them altogether. But this year I got back to a little bit of time when I had some amount of childcare and by September my son will be in daycare, three days a week. So I’ll actually have, I’ll have three days to actually paint. I love oil paint, like I still, I still love it, I still, it’s still probably the thing I’m most kind of into. So I can’t wait to get back into that and actually finish during the times that I didn’t do it, I kind of I read a lot about miniature painting and I, you know, try to look at as much as, you know, as many miniatures as possible. So I feel like I learned a lot. And so the miniatures, actually the ones I’m doing now, they’re much slower, but I feel like actually got better. So I want to finish it. And I want to, you know, like, I want it like I want to keep that project going. And actually just took on a show in London and November, which will be the next kind of chapter of that project. That I think I meant to not show them for a year until I fully put it together. But then I was talking to the gallery, and I really liked them. And I felt like I you know, felt like I couldn’t say no, and I really want to go to London and this will give me a chance to I think travel there and draw for a few days.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, that’s really nice. Because then you can also see different places and you like to draw outside.

Dina Brodsky  

It’ll be November, so I don’t think it’ll be I think it’ll probably be raining. Yeah, was an umbrella. But I actually fell in love. I love having a child, I will have children, but I also really love to travel. So I think sometimes I fear I have been doing things that kind of give me an excuse to keep keep traveling a little bit. So is a CES show in London is kind of a way to, and I feel like I can get you know, like like, maybe get some inspiration for the neck. You know, like like, whatever whatever is the next thing is Yeah, definitely.

Iva Mikles  

And so how do you approach the simplifying you know, when you are doing outside, actually, and because you use also pencil or it’s only ballpoint,

Dina Brodsky  

it’s ballpoint? I never got I just I never learned how to use pencil properly. So but ballpoint was always kind of my my thing.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, wow. Okay, because then, how long does it take you to do? Like, is it few hours to do some of these sketches, or

Dina Brodsky  

some of them? I guess a quicker ones kind of outside or maybe two hours. And ideally, what I like is maybe six hours. So I like I like to spend two days in one play, you know, go back the next day and kind of finish it properly, you know, put the detail in and finish properly the

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so how do you approach the observation? Because like a lot of people are saying that’s the kind of hardest part to learn how to look at things.

Dina Brodsky  

You know, I think you just do it all to it. I mean, I really did it all the time, I carried a sketchbook around every day, from the time I was 18. Like from from my first one, I don’t think there have been that many days in my life where it wasn’t at least with me. And sometimes they’ll draw something from the you know, sometimes they wouldn’t, but it’s always there. And when I travel, I drop as much as possible. When I’m in New York, I try to make more finished work. And I think I get you know, I don’t have that much free time. But sketchbook is what I do for free time. And the more you look at things, the easier it gets. And the more you draw, the easier it gets. Some hands 35 Right now, I guess I’ve you know, like from the time I was 18 Like, it’s a lot of years, you know, that’s like almost 20 years. Really?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because for some people, you know, or like also for our audience, it’s really hard to kind of start somewhere. Because when you look at this theme, you know, and then you’re like, oh my god, there are so many things and where should I start? So is it something you do outline? Or do you start with, like, should

Dina Brodsky  

I start with, you know, just a horizon line, just, you know, like, like, we’re, you know, like, like just just where all the lines will converge. And you know, if it’s something like a street scenes and a vanishing point, because that kind of sets up a little bit of structure. And then I think you’re supposed to sketch out the major shapes, but like, like, you know, all at once and then go into the detail, but I tend to start with you know, I have the vanishing point. And then I just start with basically the most detailed thing in the background and kind of go out from there.

Iva Mikles  

Okay, so you go from the background kind of before?

Dina Brodsky  

Yeah. Yeah, yes. I think I start with basically the tiniest, most detailed thing and I don’t know how long I’ll have in that place. But I try you know, like, it might be two hours it might be you know, six hours but I just keep going there.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so do you have like a favorite pen or a favorite brand of oils or favorite pens?

Dina Brodsky  

Yes. Yes, I have all of these because I am a complete dork and I spend years looking for the perfect you know, pen. So it but but it’s luckily it’s very easily available and it’s called the zebra pen zebra 301 F And they’re I don’t know if in America they sell them at Staples, they sell them on Amazon for $12 for 12 pens or yet, you know, they’re it’s not a fancy pen. And then for oil paint, there’s just a little company in New York called the sorry, paint where they, you know, it’s basically husband and wife that handmake all of it and you know, things that husband travels a lot kind of, you know, looking for the perfect pigment. And it’s amazing. Like, it’s really amazing. And they just, they love it so much. And they care so much that I try to buy their paint whenever whenever I can afford it.

Iva Mikles  

A visa will also online for people around the world.

Dina Brodsky  

Yes, yes. They’re, they’re amazing. Like, they’re really I mean, I actually, I believe that you can make something beautiful with anything. But and you know, you don’t need paint that good. But if you know, it’s maybe $1 or two more than just a normal tube of pain. It’s totally it’s totally worth it.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. And so as we were discussing the tools and how do you spell the brand name?

Dina Brodsky  

For the oil pan for sorry? Yeah, VA s Ara. Okay,

Iva Mikles  

so it’s not like silent letters or something.

Dina Brodsky  

And for the for the pen, it’s zebra 301 F. Yeah, yeah. Oh, good.

Iva Mikles  

Good. And so what about like, we talked about the project and something which is coming up? And how do you decide what to say when to say no to projects, because you cannot do everything at once. So what is going in your head? You know, like this discussion.

Dina Brodsky  

It’s very unfortunate. I, you know, spent most of my life a little bit financially stressed out or not even stressed out, just kind of I, I just wasn’t making very much money. So for most of my life, I said yes to everything, like, no matter how crazy it sounds, but I’m so I’m just recently now learning to say no. And I mean, now usually, if it seems like something that someone else is that I know, could do better, I will just recommend a friend. They know a lot of artists, and you know, if someone wants to commission me to draw a tree, I could probably do that very well. If they want to commission me to draw their child, then I can direct them to maybe 10 people who could do it better than I can. So, so basically, now I try to you know, like, I don’t say yes to everything, I just say yes to the things I’m good at.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, so let’s continue and we have guests as well. So hello. And so we were talking about the new project. And you were mentioning like if you save up some project for future if you have too many projects, and it can be interesting for next year for example.

Dina Brodsky  

You know, right now, what I like is working on one project at a time and I’ve recently found that I can never quite finish anything like these, you know, miniatures I want to keep doing them and I did this tree drawn project which is kind of finished but then I still draw trees just for fun. And then you know like the birds I do it like so really sick I probably would be better off just picking one but I feel like like I love all of it. So say just try to break up break it up into different parts of the day you know lower or like the week like so if someone if I have someone to watch him I can pay I can pay do oil painting if I don’t then I haven’t you know he takes his three hour naps. I say can I can do something well, you know, like like in three hours while he sleeps.

Iva Mikles  

So how do you design your day? How does it look like normally as you mentioned, like the nerves and when you wake up do you do like research or do the drawing or do you spend time together or how

Dina Brodsky  

you know what my days look like right now as I wake up at five in the morning because that’s when he wakes up and then I read this book called Little blue truck maybe about 10 times and then I feed him breakfast and you know we go like we’re in a little beach town right now we go to the beach but so right now was the only time I have to do anything is really well he’s asleep and you know, either during the daytime or after nine in the evening when he falls asleep but the but in New York, I would have to three times a week I would have a nanny come to watch him for six hours a day. And so that was you know, so basically while he’s awake, I can’t really do any fee, you know, like, like, I can take him places together to look at birds. But that’s really that’s that it’s kind of research now. They think that’s why this word project exists.

Iva Mikles  

But it really is they’re doing with you maybe

Dina Brodsky  

at some point. I mean he’s Um, if you’ve ever been around like a, you know, year and a half old child like flaky, he mostly runs around destroying everything in his in his past, etc he he never. He’s, he’s he’s not into the drawing phase yet, but but maybe in another year or two in the future. So when, so when I do have someone to watch him, I’m almost crazily organized and you know, I have everything set up in advance I see I become kind of crazily organized and productive. So I think when when I’m with him, I think about what I want to paint a lot. And, and then when, basically, the second he’s not my responsibility, I go on the sixth hour, like I just, you know, it’s just me and paint. Sometimes I listen to audiobooks, but really, you know, I don’t check social media, I don’t, you know, like, like, like, I basically, it’s basically a very, no, you know, I no longer get distracted, because I feel like I have so little time now.

Iva Mikles  

Like, focus on on it.

Dina Brodsky  

And then I have these, like, well, they had this magical bike trip, which is what I used to do, you know, before before before him for much longer, but my days, there would be, you know, I’d wake up, I’d sleep in a forest somewhere, and then I would bike for the next day, I’d wake up very early and bike maybe two or three hours to the next big town, and then find a place with European cars, a little coffee, because I, you know, coffee tastes better in Europe. And then I would spend the next you know, two to six hours with my cappuccino drawing everything in front of me. And then I would you know, basically and then I would bike for the rest of the day. So those were my kind of like, that’s my vacation. Lysa

Iva Mikles  

would you plan to put all of these like travel sketches in a book? Maybe in the future?

Dina Brodsky  

I don’t know. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s kind of maybe the best one. So it’s easy are in sketchbooks, and before Instagram, actually, almost no one would ever see them after they were finished. So I have all these sketchbooks, you know from from, you know, that are my diaries from the last however many years I’ve been doing it. I never actually because it’s my actual diary. Like, like, you know, and I just write down what I’m thinking. It’s in Russian, and it’s very tiny. So no one can really read it. But I feel like if it was a book, I’m not sure I’d be okay with someone, you know, reading the story of my life.

Iva Mikles  

So maybe just the drawings like taking out of it. Or

Dina Brodsky  

maybe I honestly never really thought of them as a finished thing. Like I love doing it. It’s how I spend my free time, you know, like my free time, but I never thought that I would do anything more with them. And I’m actually really happy that kind of Instagram gave me a like, like an audience for this. I have an excuse to do more of what I love.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so what do you think is like your biggest inspiration or something strange, which inspires you, because you mentioned the bugs in is the threat of travel trips and stuff around.

Dina Brodsky  

It’s, it’s everything, it’s you know, it really is when I have time, it’s everything that doesn’t move. But when I travel, there’s something about that, I don’t know, bicycling to a new place each day. And I don’t know, I love Europe, I love old buildings. And I don’t really see a I mean, I love America too. But I don’t see much of that here. And I think in America, I’m much more in a routine, and much more in a kind of, you know, so when I travel, it’s like, it’s also associated with adventure. And, you know, I used to read a lot of fantasy. So I think it’s, you know, I get to feel like I’m a character and one of the fantasy books. Yeah. And

Iva Mikles  

do you implement fantasy, also to some of your sketches? Sometimes when you are observing, you add details and stuff?

Dina Brodsky  

Um, you know, with the paintings, yes. With the sketches, I think I get very addicted to what’s in front of me. So I feel like I’m almost not making up anything, I just, you know, sit there and stare at things and try to you know, like, like, like, I want it to be, you know, like, I think I want to catch that moment, or I want to catch the like, like that days that um, you know, like, not just the building but everything that happened to me that day. And so, yes, yeah, there’s somehow there’s this crazy part of me that thinks that if I draw every single brick, then you know, I will I will own that day forever.

Iva Mikles  

That it will stay there. Yeah. And what do you think was something like what do you wish you knew before you started the whole art career? Some like advice you would give to young self?

Dina Brodsky  

Yes, I feel good. I feel like there’s a lot and you know, my very young self, I think I would have told her to be nicer. Like, like I was, so I was very determined. And I was very convinced that I was right about everything. And I think I wish I you know, I only released started making friends with the people that I was in school with the people I worked with, and recognizing how kind of beautiful and complicated people are. Like, like that happened when I was maybe in my mid 20s. And before that, I was, honestly think I was I was kind of unbearable. And I wish I could go back and just, you know, said be nicer guy, you know, be nicer to your professors be nicer to you know, the people around you. Not even because they can do something for you, but but actually, just because being nice was kind of like, it’s a virtue in and of itself.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so when you mentioned like this advice to young self, and what would be maybe your dream scenario, if you think like, five to 10 years in advance, and just, you know, like, you cannot fail and you’re not afraid of anything.

Dina Brodsky  

You know, I think just keep keep doing it. Like, like, I feel like I like the way it is right now is pretty wonderful. And I think all I want is for nothing bad to happen. And to just I think my dreams today, like I think in a way, it means there’s things about my life that maybe I changed a little bit, but in a way, I’m kind of living my dream. Like, I want to do exactly what I’m doing. I don’t know, maybe I want to have three weeks of traveling instead of you know, two weeks. But yeah, but that’s a very minor, you know, the minor detail. Like, I think I just want, you know, I want the kids to grow up to be good people. I want myself to like, just keep keep being, like, I want very much to be a good person facing my dreams are more more about that. Like, I feel like life has miraculously kind of permitted me too. I didn’t know. drop drop, like drop birds and you know, paint little miniatures and kind of make a living of it. So all I want is to do more of it. Yeah. And

Iva Mikles  

do you have like a favorite quote, you live by or you like?

Dina Brodsky  

Um, yes, there’s one I like it’s from Star Trek. I don’t like Star Trek, actually, at all, but it’s, but the quote is survival is insufficient. And basically, it’s not, it’s not enough just to survive, like we’re not, you know, like, like, we have people want more than that. So I think I think maybe it’s maybe it’s that one

Iva Mikles  

better, we should enjoy what we are doing and like, follow the dreams

Dina Brodsky  

and try to do something other than just survive from you know, just just truly pay attention, which is like I think religions difference between survival and like living life.

Iva Mikles  

And they have something which simplifies your life, which is helping you in like everyday life, either software, or tools or something you bought.

Dina Brodsky  

You know, and I actually just lost mine, right? I mean, this this week, but there’s just sounds really silly. But at some point, I worked with this company called Passion Planner on Instagram, and it was just like, kind of like a self help day planner or something. And they basically they sent me, too, so that I would, you know, promote them on Instagram. And I’ve done that before with brands. And I think, you know, I did it for them, because I agreed, because they were paying me. But actually, I kind of fell in love with it. Like, like, you know, and it just, it’s just some something that it especially because my wife is so disjointed right now, like, there’s a big part of my wife and the curatorial part of my wife, and you know, the kind of the painting part of my wife. And so just saying just basically forces you to focus. So and it’s kind of a nice, you know, and that’s the other thing that I really like that, that I didn’t lose, I have this service, you know, that keeps, like tea or coffee warm for, like 12 hours and, and I feel like, ever since I’ve had him I’ve never been able to finish a cup of tea without reheat sticking it in the microwave. 10 times. So now I have the thing that keeps my tea hot. And I feel like that saved me from you know, I don’t even know 10 Microwave trips a day.

Iva Mikles  

So is there like a special brand of this thermos? You’re like,

Dina Brodsky  

I just it was the first one that came up on Amazon. It’s I think it’s a more X but I don’t know I mean, it feels very like boring and a magical to save it, you know, a day planner and but I feel like I feel like the magic is for less practical parts of life. And the practical parts of life should just you know, should just make it Yes, yes. Like like they should just make make it easier to have whatever magical things, you know, happen.

Iva Mikles  

And we didn’t talk about the worst career moment yet because I like to ask this question as well because then our audience and People can learn from it. And maybe what was your key takeaway, if you consider your most difficult or worst career moment so far?

Dina Brodsky  

So, um, I mean, there’s probably a few. But one one that comes to mind was it was this combination, it was the galleries that I’d been working with towards my first solo show in New York. They closed, maybe I think they got maybe evicted from their space three weeks before my solo show was supposed to open. So it was, like everything I’d been working on that year. Like I was just sort of like, well, we got to look for a different place. And I think if that happened, now, I would just say, Oh, I’ll find a different place. But back then it was the only New York gallery I was talking to, and, and so it’s kind of devastated. And a week later, I met this guy in a bus that said that he ran a gallery in New York, and he made you know, he was like, I’ll show your work. And I got very excited about that. And he really, he did have a gallery in New York. And he showed my work and my sister’s work. And he was unfortunately not very honest. So on one hand, it was kind of a good reputable galleries that, you know, we had some opportunities that we wouldn’t have otherwise. But he, you know, he wouldn’t, he would pay us maybe one eight of what he would sell work for at art fairs. He and we were both very young, like, I was probably 26. And my sister was 23. So she was still in grad school. And so we both, you know, like, we didn’t have much money, we didn’t have that many options. And because and we trusted the guy, so we, you know, didn’t like, like, we should have probably signed some forms and did more research, but we didn’t. So he ended up losing kind of maybe another six months of my work. I mean, it was a disaster. So it was it was probably between one gallery closing and the next one being dishonest. It was probably kind of set my art career back by maybe a year and a half. Like it took me a year and a half to just try to, like figure out how to get out of all this. And at some point is like, Okay, well, maybe maybe I should do something else, maybe maybe, kind of maybe this world is just terrible, like the art world. But it’s not. I think maybe that little part of it was but there’s good galleries. And actually, what I’m most grateful for is not even the galleries but the people I met the other painters, there’s good curators, there’s, you know, I like I feel like most of the people I met who I liked and trusted in the art world I met after that moment. But there’s, you know, there’s maybe a year where I was just so frustrated with everything. And I was upset, the six months of my work just disappeared, because I think the guys are lost it or I don’t know, maybe sold it and wasn’t telling me about it. It says as a little bit heartbroken about it, you know, just career wise.

Iva Mikles  

And so what kept you going? Or what was your main motivation at the time?

Dina Brodsky  

I was so angry for what? I have to keep going just saying, No, but I mean, for one thing, I had that studio assistant job that allowed me to pay the rent. But for another, I mean, not painting was just not another, you know, I like it wasn’t an option, it was the only thing that I wanted to do. So I kept doing it. And eventually, things came together and kind of I started putting to curating my own shows. And I think that helped me feel like I had more control over over my career and actually a little bit, you know, and I could help some of my friends out. And then my friends started curating shows too. So kind of, we created this little world, where, which had art that we liked, and we would be honest to each other. And then eventually, we kind of became established enough that people stop treating us like I mean, the way a young artist in the gallery scene get treated is really terrible. So at least we weren’t treating each other that way.

Iva Mikles  

That’s good. And what would you think now is the last question where they want to ask you is how would you like to be remembered for in like 100 years.

Dina Brodsky  

Um, you know, I hope I will be remembered in some way, you know, just as someone who never did anything that I would be ashamed of, either, you know, like, like, I want to be remembered as a good person. But maybe it’s a good person who made a lot of cool sketchbooks. Like like I think is a part of my art that I’m most attached to is actually the part that I don’t sell and you know, and don’t even show all that much. It’s the sketchbooks and I think if any part of what I do could survive I would like it to be that part. Yeah, yeah. I think it’s it’s the most personal and kind of it’s the most true to my my life.

Iva Mikles  

This. Yeah. And you’re nothing that Kevin. Oh, sorry. I’m sorry. Yeah. Oh, I

Dina Brodsky  

don’t know. Yeah, I think I’ve keep trying to keep them. Keep them staring. It’s I’m saying,

Iva Mikles  

so that’s if it’s perfect, then no, we have the just the last like thing. So I’m really happy that you took time and, like actually be able to join us here for the interview. And before we say goodbye, maybe you can share like a key takeaway and last piece of guidance before we say goodbye.

Dina Brodsky  

Just keep I guess, for anyone who wants to be an artist, just keep going, like, like, keep going no matter what, like, keep drawing. I feel like some of the people that I talked to who, you know, they asked me for advice about drawing, but it turns out that what they actually want is advice for how to show work. And shown work will just you know, it’ll, it’ll like, it’s a secondary problem, like, like, I feel like like, like, I feel like what you should really want to do is just draw and paint. Everything else like it really will happen. It’s not going to happen magically. You’ll still have to make it happen. But learn learn to do it first. Like learn to pay learn to draw put in, there’s some book which said it takes 10,000 hours to learn how to do anything well just put in the 10,000 hours. Like everything else really will work itself out there.

Iva Mikles  

Perfect. It’s perfect way to end this and I’m super happy and thank you again so much for being here.

Dina Brodsky  

Okay, thank you so much for doing this. And I’m glad like you know, he he he was patient and

Iva Mikles  

entertainment. And thanks, everyone for joining and I’ll see you in the next episode that I had good luck.

Iva Mikles  

I hope you guys enjoyed this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a little freebie waiting for you. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, hopefully five stars so I can read and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Art Side of Life podcast, because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to inspire each other. And I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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