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Ep.197: Evolve Artist Program with Kevin Murphy

By Iva Mikles •  Last Updated: Jun 18, 2019 •  Interviews • Podcast Episodes  •  Popular Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Kevin Murphy, an internationally recognized award-winning portrait painter and illustrator.

We talk about his art education program Evolve Artist, a comprehensive home-study art program that gives students a clear path to artistic mastery with oil paint.

At a fraction of the costs, it challenges the traditional Art schools education and delivers consistent results to the students over and over again.

Understanding that technical proficiency is the underpinning of all good art, Evolve offers a rigorous program to develop these skills. Employing a unique approach of contemporary methods built upon the traditions of the old masters, Evolve provides an education that quickly delivers results to its students.

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

All artworks by Kevin Murphy, used with permission.

Best art supplies and art tools for oil painting:

Click Here for the Episode Transcript

Iva  0:08  

So welcome guys to another episode of The Art Side of Life and I’m super happy to have Kevin here. 

Kevin Murphy  0:12  

Hi, everybody.

Iva  0:15  

I’m super happy that you joined us today here because we want to talk about the new age of education online as everyone can have a better chance to choose the courses and before we get to that I would like to hear more about you and your career. Like how you go to art and why did you actually decided to, to go for traditional paintings.

Kevin Murphy  0:38  

well look traditional painting I went that route because back when I was learning there was no digital art. Excuse me. So I was about a basically My story starts I graduated high school barely I was a terrible student. And I went straight from high school into a career in construction. I did that for About three years. And about the three year mark, I was starting to get tired of those very early mornings in the very cold winters. And so I decided I’d been reading a lot of science fiction and fantasy books. And I’d really fallen in love with the art on the covers. And I decided I wanted to do that for a living. And so I went into work one day. I went to work, and I packed up all my tools, gave them to one of the apprentices figuring if I if I kept them, I might go back. And so I did the proverbial burning of the ships. I left construction. And I went to the School of Visual Arts for one semester. It was, it was an expensive lesson. The lesson was that I wasn’t going to get the education that I wanted there. And it’s not that you can that you couldn’t get it there but I couldn’t seem to find the path. I didn’t know what I was looking for. And the school wasn’t very helpful. And so I went out on my own. I did that for about a year and then realized that That I couldn’t get where I needed to be by myself I needed. I needed somebody who knew what they were doing. I got in touch with Dorian Vidal, who was a very famous Illustrator. His father is world renowned illustrator, Boris. And Dorian was kind enough to let me come out to his house and let me watch him work. I went out there. I did a little bit of work in his house a couple of days. And within a year, I was a working professional working on book covers, and I spent the next eight years doing that.

Iva  2:31  

Oh, yeah. So so he helped you with getting into the industry and understanding all the skills in the easy and like just around the star, just

Kevin Murphy  2:40  

just the painting, not the business end of it. Just the just the how to paint and I didn’t get an education from him. But he opened doors for me, he gave me an idea of what was necessary, gave me some some foundations for how to get into a painting. What the what the quality needed to be to even be considered. And you know, at the time when I first went out to him, I thought my work was a lot better than it was. I assumed, you know, you see these, these book covers, and they’re, you know, they’re this big, and the painting is very big. And so when they photograph it and they scale it down, that all of your mistakes are hidden, but the reality is that the work is much better. The paintings are much better than the printed book covers. And unless you see what the originals look like, you really don’t have any idea what what you’re competing against in order to get work. And so just being in his in his studio and seeing what the originals looks like was an education for me.

Iva  3:38  

And how was it for you to do the first commission or first page?

Kevin Murphy  3:44  

That was that was it was incredible.

I I actually, at the time when I got my first book cover, I had been working for about a year I guess, and I was working long days. 1516 sometimes 17 hours, a Day I would I wasn’t doing anything but painting and sleeping, painting and sleeping, but it’s all I was doing. And at one point, I was still living with my parents even though I had I had worked. I had money in the bank, I was kind of paying my own way. But I was living with my parents still at the time. I think I was 20. I was 2020 no 21. I graduated high school very early. So I, you know, my mother came to me one day and told me that I didn’t look like it was going to happen. So I needed to start seriously thinking about getting another job. And I told her that I was committed to doing this and I was not going to get another job. And that was that. And she wanted me to leave, I could leave. But I was not getting another job if I didn’t have to because I was committed to doing this and I thought I was close. And I walked out of the room and went back to work. And two weeks later I got my first commission and publishing company at a major point. bushing company in New York book company hired me to do. It wasn’t a new author he was he was established, but he wasn’t a big name. And the portfolio that I’d submitted, I had done a few special things with it that made it stand out. And so the art director remembered me when this new job came up, and I did a mediocre job on the paintings, there were all kinds of issues. But you know, considering the pressure of producing that first painting, it worked out really it worked out really well for me, and I got that job. And by the time that was delivered, another job came in for a video game company. And I think I mean, pretty much that kind of trickled in. But there was never any break. Like as I was finishing one, another job came in, and then I’d finished that one, and another job would come in. And eventually I had two or three jobs sitting in queue and I went for about eight years like that. At one point, I was booked something like 18 months in advance. And it’s a really nice place to be and, and look, I mean, some of it is luck. You have to have the skills. But if you’re terribly unlucky, you’re not in the places to meet the people you need to meet. You kind of you’re always missing. You know, you’re constantly catching the red lights as you as you drive. And I got I got lucky I got in at just the right time. Had I come say three years later, I probably wouldn’t have had the career that I had. Had I like I did it on my own for the first five years. And then I got an agent. And the agent opened up doors for me on a number of projects, but eventually to the cover that I did for the Rolling Stones. Had I not had that agent, that particular agent at that particular time that project I wouldn’t even known it existed. And and so I just, you know, I just got lucky along the way. And I wasn’t like I was sitting around doing nothing. I was actively pursuing all of these things. But I but there is some luck involved in it. Again, it’s a little bit of luck. A lot of hard work.

Iva  6:58  

Yeah, because you have to be ready To present or do actually the assignments, so you have to have something to show. And if there is opportunity you can take Yeah, you have to be also ready to take it right, as you mentioned.

Kevin Murphy  7:11  

Yes. Well, in large part, the Rolling Stones cover came to me. And it was probably probably one of the most coveted illustrations maybe of the decade, it was such a huge thing. And that came to me because the designer who did it who did the packaging for it, I had done a piece with him, maybe a year earlier. And the piece came back to us something like 23 times for corrections, not because there was a problem with the artwork, but because it was a merger between MTV and Viacom. And they didn’t give the department to one of them. They had a few people from Viacom, and a few people from MTV on this thing either like 50 year olds and 23 year olds, basically doing a tug of war back and forth. And the painting came back to me like I said about 23 times and I never complained I just came back, I did the work in a timely manner, we sent it back and I came back, I just kept doing that. And so when the Rolling Stones piece came up, there was an expectation that it was not going to be easy. That they that, you know, again, when you’re working with some with with something with a group that’s so influential, they’re accustomed to, you know, on demand getting what they want, which is very, you know, it’s expected and, and so though we that was the package or assumed that this thing was going to be a very, very rough ride. And the last thing he needed was an illustrator who was going to be difficult. And so that was a that was a big part in why the piece came to me. He knew that whatever was necessary would get done and it would be done without me complaining.

Iva  8:44  

Didn’t make sense. Yeah, because I heard from many artists that there are like, three aspects of either you are easy to work with you barely very own time, or the artwork is amazing, or the combination of those So as many of

Kevin Murphy  8:58  

these years better Yes, the more the more boxes you can check, the more successful you’ll be. If you have relationships with the art directors because they like you, you they know who you are, you’d like to go to their birthday party you like you know them personally. Because it’s not just business to them. They’re people like anyone else. And so if you are an agreeable person, and you obviously have come common interests, you’ll work in the same industry. So if if they like you, you can you can develop a, I wouldn’t say a friendship, but a business relationship with them. That is more than just that. And in case some cases, even friendships. And so, you know, when the really nice jobs come up, who do you think they’re going to? And that’s actually one of the challenges if you are new to the industry. How do you compete with the relationships that the artists have with the art directors? Some of these artists have been working with an art director for 1520 years, even as an art director moves from one into the industry to another. They bring their favorite artists, their friends with them So as a new artist, how do you compete with that? And the answer is you have to be better than the people they’re using. You have to bring something new to the game. And that’s, that’s challenging. That’s what it’s what’s one of the reasons why it’s so hard to break in. Because you’re competing not just with somebody who’s delivered paintings for 15 or 20 years on time, but also has relationships with these art directors. So overcoming that it’s more than just being the equal of these artists. Yes, yes. To bring something new.

Iva  10:29  

Yeah. And the community definitely helps. So with you, Oh, absolutely. A thing. That’s like one of the most important things then. So that’s what I would like to hear about, like, how was the transition for you to start the teaching and the school and what kind of inspired you to do that the first place?

Kevin Murphy  10:49  

Well, well, let me just kind of fast forward through how I got to the school. Yeah, so I did illustration for about eight years, and I got out of that I have about 253 Published illustrations. And then from there, I got into doing portrait work kind of accidentally. And that’s snowballed into into a full time career. But also, when I was getting out of illustration, I found that a publishing company with a couple of friends, and we handled, I handled the art direction. And so we did that for about seven years while I was doing portrait work. And that publishing company, we did about 150 titles, including Game of Thrones. So for your listeners, I was involved in the limited editions of Game of Thrones. So those are like gold binding and all kinds of, you know, all the fun stuff, like cool stuff, like 775 drawings and color paintings in the book and all that. So and that was fun. I got to work on that project for about six years. So there’s a lot of fun, challenging at times, but but a lot of fun. And I got to work with some artists that I was, you know, that I was, I personally was a fan of and so that was very nice. And from there, I did When we shut the publishing company down, I was a stay at home dad for about five years. My painting painting allowed me to be at home my wife went out and she kept her job and kept continued to work just as she had been doing. And I stayed home with the kids for five years. At that five year mark, I’m now looking at my my oldest one getting ready to go to school. And so I started thinking, Well, what do I want to do? And portraiture kind of ramping that back up and doing it full time when I was doing the stay at home dad thing, I only did it part time. And so I was only taking bigger paintings. So I’d be out of town just a couple of times a year. And then I could spend a lot of time in my studio working on these, you know, four and five figure paintings. So

when I was looking at going back to work full time.

If I got back into doing portraiture full time, it would have meant died in and out of town almost every weekend out of the year, or the very busy travel And when I was home, I would have been scrambling getting my work done. And I didn’t want to do that I enjoyed spending time with the kids too much. And so I started thinking about what I could do closer to home. And eventually, I decided to open up a school. And the school is something it’s something dorium My, my, the guy who taught me something, he when I told him that I had open to school, he said, you know, you had mentioned that to me 20 years ago, way back when we when we first met. And what it is, is that for me, growing up where I was, and it was, it was impossible to find a clear road to the education that I needed. In order to become the professional. I wanted to be in work in the industry. I wanted to be it like where do you go like you can go to an art college, but they’re not specific to a thing. There. You know, you have 1000 classes in which teachers The one who can offer you the insight in this particular thing that you need, and how do you know that that’s one of that’s a linchpin to the career that you wanted? The the the education is in college unless you unless you have somebody that really kind of steer you. It’s so convoluted, it’s hard to figure out, you don’t want to get into a school and get into your third year and you realize there was a class in your first year with a particular teacher that you should have taken. And there’s nobody to tell you really, they have guidance counselors, but it’s, again, it’s, it’s impossible to really figure out unless you go into the school, kind of being hand held by somebody who knows the ropes. And, and so and that’s if you’re in a school, if you can get into a school that actually has the teachers who have the information. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the people teaching this stuff, don’t have professional grade skills. So if they’re teaching you how to paint, they’re not top notch professional painters, the likelihood that you’re learning the kind of skills that you need to be able to compete is so small. So like I used to go in and lecture at like Parsons and Pratt and the School of Visual Arts in New York, and I would Always do the same, I would always start my lectures with the same thing I bring a few paintings and, and let the students kind of Google at the paintings like the quality of the work, like the richness of the paint, the the just all of the things that make it an elevated professional illustration. And then once everybody gets settled down, the first thing I would ask them if anybody had told them while they were in college, had anyone told them what to expect when they got out when they graduated. And of course, nobody really they didn’t know really what I was asking for, but they didn’t have an answer. And I would tell them, I will tell you what’s waiting for you when you graduate? I am, I am your competition. As you stand up here looking at these paintings, being so impressed. I am your competition and I’m waiting for you. Me and all of the guys like me, are we’re not we’re not planning on giving you the work, the jobs we’ve worked so hard to get. We’re not planning on surrendering the relationships. We’ve developed the 1015 years that we have as a head start, you have to take that from us. And if you’re in if you’re in your third year, and you’re not already thinking like that you are so far behind your behind the curve. It’s not that it’s insurmountable. But you need to start early. And you have to think that way right from the beginning, you are going to get in the trenches and fight for these jobs. And anyone who doesn’t think like that isn’t going to be able to make a living, you’re not going to be able to and it doesn’t mean you have to be like vicious and nasty. Because that doesn’t work either. But you have to have an intensity about you and intent of being the best at what you do.

Iva  16:40  

When you

Kevin Murphy  16:42  

land. Yeah. Again, if you don’t know, if you don’t know what you’re getting into, you know, you know, if they they take you and they they run you through some exercise and you do that for four years, and then they throw you out into a boxing ring with my Tyson you’re going to get killed. And that’s what most people who go to college do. Then doing jumping jacks and jogging around a track, not realizing that it’s a bare knuckles brawl when they graduate for food, you’re fighting for food and for a roof over your head. And you have to you have to approach even the exercises you do in school with that intensity. If you don’t you the struggle happens when you graduate and the safety and that is taken away. But the college college is the kiddie pool.

Iva  17:26  

So So when you think about your your students, what is the thing they mentioned the most often they appreciate about your classes and teaching the most like what comes up all the time?

Kevin Murphy  17:40  

Yeah, well, we have a couple of things. One is that they have direct access to the source of the information. I’m always available. I have instructors who I’ve trained from the ground up, they’re always available people can get on people can send an email and it will be at a live chat like this the next day. So if somebody’s struggling with something where are available. The way that the way that the evolve program works is it’s a correspondence school. So it’s not like you sign up, and you just do this stuff on your own. Every single day, there’s a homework assignment. And you work at your own pace. So you can do what you can do one every three days. But every single piece of work that you do you photograph with your phone, and send it to us through our homework tool, and we check it. Somebody who knows what they’re looking at, checks it and writes back to you, to tell you what’s done, well, what might be an issue, things to look forward to one, the next one, you can’t move into the second piece until the first one has been approved. So you don’t get to do anything on you’re wrong. You’re never alone in the program, which is a big thing. You know, there’s tons of tons of free content on YouTube. But the thing is, you go out there and it’s like, you know which ones are good, which ones are good fit for you which ones at the right level for you. And once you watch it, like if you’re if you misunderstand something Tough luck. There’s nobody to speak to. There’s nobody to tell you. Oh, no, no, do this this way. Not that way. So with the program with the evolve program, what we’ve done is we’ve we’ve created a very, very straight road to walk down. And we kind of walk with you the whole way. There there, everything and everything’s a very small step. So like, again, everybody, I think anyone who’s gone to an art college had knows this, like you go into a drawing class, they sit you down, and they say, here’s a live human being, draw them or paint them and listen. Like, this doesn’t feel like an education. It feels like trial by fire. You know, I don’t know how, you know, I don’t know how to how to paint or draw. And the truth is, I don’t even know how to see I’m looking but I can’t make sense of anything. I don’t understand any of it. And, you know, you can, you can kind of fumble around with it. And if you do it long enough, you’ll start to make some sense of it. But you you’re climbing a mountain when you could be taking a stroll through a valley and a proper education. Makes it that you don’t have to do that heavy climb, those those climbs are precarious. And you know, more more potential careers are dashed on on those rocks than just about anything else. And so the idea is that if, if you can take the information and break it down into smaller enough parts and give it one at a time, it’s easy to learn. And so when when I talk about art, I always talk about it as a language. It’s no different than learning. So if you want to learn to speak, let’s say French vs. You don’t speak French, but you want to learn to speak French. There’s an alphabet. And it doesn’t matter that you speak fluent Japanese, the alphabets different, it’s utilized differently, x, you know, this accent marks and all these other things. So, doesn’t matter that you can that you’ve done another language, you need to French, you gotta do it from the ground up. There’s no jumping into conversation. There’s an alphabet. And from the alphabet, there’s a vocabulary, the spelling and vocabulary. There’s pronunciation. Then there’s grammar. And from grammar, then you start, you start just speaking. And eventually, when you develop the language strong enough, you create poetry. And that’s basically what finished artists, it’s poetry. So there are steps, the expectation that you’re going to step into a space and start with poetry, without the underpinnings of an alphabet and a vocabulary is, it is, I mean, to me, it’s just foolish. But most education is an art. That’s exactly what they are. There’s an expectation that you’ll be able to pick up the entire language by starting with poetry. There’s another way I explained it, like imagine, imagine if you if you wanted to learn how to read but you didn’t know how.

And somebody stood up on a stage and read Shakespeare eloquently with a resonant voice and they they just beautifully do do some Shakespeare. And, you know, you stand there and you watch them and it’s like, Well, that doesn’t look that hard. They look, you know, they’re they’re reading from the book. But if you go home and you try to do what they just did, it would be impossible if you don’t know how to read. And even if you stop them again, art school, it looks something like this. So somebody is up there reading Shakespeare, and you put up your hand and they stopped for a moment say yes. What What would you What do you want to know? I’m wondering how you’re doing that you would ask? Well, I look at the words, I read them with my voice. And then they go back to doing it you like Okay, that was an answer to my question. It was an answer, but it doesn’t help me. And until you get home and start trying to read Shakespeare the way that person’s doing it on your own with no help. You don’t realize that it’s not possible without all of the underpinnings. This person couldn’t be doing what they’re doing. Had they not taken public, public speaking classes, had they not possibly done acting classes had they not learned the language from the alphabet all the way up. It doesn’t you know, when somebody does something Well, it doesn’t look difficult. And that’s one of what’s one of the things. You watch. You go, you watch a YouTube video, some of these some of these artists that work. They’re incredible. They make a mixture and they put three marks down. It’s like, Whoa, it’s a portrait. It’s like, wow, that’s not that that didn’t look hard at all. It’s just three strokes, and you go home and you like 200 million strokes in and you just have nothing but a mess. You know, you feel like Well, I don’t have any talent. But the truth is, you just don’t like you can you can take the brush and try to mimic what they’re doing. But everything they’re doing has 100 or 1000 pieces of information that is in here, helping them years of experience. I think Monet said he had he had he had an event at a very expensive restaurant. I think it was Monet and a very large crowd of people. And at the end of the night, the owner of the restaurant came over and asked him for a sketch in exchange for the bill, thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars, but he would take a sketch on a small piece of paper. It took many moments to draw. And the guy was happy to write off of, I mean, I don’t even know probably $10,000 dinner bill for a piece of paper with a pen sketch. And one of Monet’s friends was just floored by the idea that a five minute sketch would cover a meal like that. And Monet corrected me said, it wasn’t a five minute sketch, it was 40 years of education. To make the five minute sketch I couldn’t have done it without the 40 years of experience and practice. Yeah. And so what we’ve tried to do is we tried to create a program that strips away everything but the most but all opinion. So as a, you know, every single person teaching the program and everyone learning it is going to be exactly the same thing. There’s no opinion. There’s no experience necessary. It’s a technical thing. It’s like math. I don’t care how experienced you are at math. One plus one is always too. It’s always too because because it’s analytical. And so what we’ve done with evolve is We’ve created an analytical approach to making art. Once you understand the analytical approach, you can use it to be as creative as you want to be. Because you understand the components, you understand that one plus one equals two, and two plus two equals four. And so the keeping it analytical is the key to getting the success. And if you look at the evolve program, hundreds of students going through it, every one of them is within a certain quality range. And it’s all dependent on the students. Some students are meticulous, and some are less meticulous, some are in more of a rush. We can’t control that. But there were students that are in the program to show you just how how little opinion matters and how analytical the program is. I have students in the program who have never painted before who are producing paintings in the earlier stages, equal to the quality of what I can produce within the same set of rules. It shows you the power of what those rules offer. Now, if they were going to compete with me On a painting that didn’t have any boundaries and just create, I would run over them. But within the rules where we’re developing understanding, they can match the quality of my work. And that’s, that’s how it should be. I have my opinions in what they’re doing are irrelevant. Everything’s everything is by the numbers. And so anybody who can who can do basic math, one plus one is two can do our program,

Iva  26:27  

like understanding physics of life and color and objects and layout composition and all of these how it works technically.

Kevin Murphy  26:36  

Yes, right. Again, and again, you know, so, you know, you can talk about one of the one of the funny things like he had talked to people about color temperature. Yeah. And I can tell you, I’ve had students, you can’t make somebody see it, you can’t shake somebody’s hard enough to make them see it. They see it, when they see it, and once they see it, they now see it everywhere. And they And usually once they can see it, they can’t believe that it was they were blind to it their whole life. And what it is, is we open our eyes, we can see, we never think about what we’re seeing, or how the brain takes in the our eyes, taking the information, how our brain processes it, but you know, with with neuroscience and all these other things, all the technology that we have, we started to get a much greater understanding of exactly how these things work. And with that understanding, we’re now able if we care to, to teach it based on that information. And so that’s and that’s what we try to do. And again, the evolve program is constantly changing. It’s constantly evolving, as we come across things where students and not that they’re not seeing it the way that we’re explaining it. We augment the program, we we try to figure out what is the common thing that’s being missed? Where did we fall short? And that’s another thing I get in the program, as long as a student is putting in an earnest effort,

okay, as long as they’re really working. I don’t believe that our students can fail, a teacher can fail. Because it is the teacher’s job to figure out how to get the information to the student in a way they understand it. If I tell you something, and it doesn’t make sense to you that way, I have not taught you. It is my job as the teacher to figure out how to make it make sense to you, no matter how many ways I have to approach it from but it’s my job. So as long as you’re honestly trying, you are not capable of failing by as a teacher. And when you when you approach education from that standpoint, it is always on you as the teacher to figure out better ways to break it down into make it sense that to make sense of it. Just even for the one student who doesn’t get it the way you taught everybody else. And, and again, everybody they everyone learns differently. And I can tell you, I have like in the online program. I have I have office hours, so people anywhere in the world who We’re in the program are able to sit down and have a chat with me just like this. Now those are set hours every week, I do a chat every Tuesday night, I have an anybody who needs to reach out to me can get in touch with our customer service and they will connect them to me for a chat. I’ll sit there and watch people work. I’ll sit there for an hour and watch them work if I have to, to figure out where the problem might be and what they’re doing, but they’re not getting the result. The program, the program is designed to make sure that everybody who does it that that that puts in the energy gets the result. You know, for me, I grew up I grew up fairly poor. And because of art, I have had this incredible life. I’ve had a life growing up. I didn’t even know the world that I live in existed. And it’s only because of art. Art has done this for me. And if not for art, I would have spent my life as a construction worker which is fine, but the life that I have now is For me is a better life. And and I wake up every day. I love what I do. I’ve spent 30 years not wanting to sleep, I don’t need vacations from my life. I wake up every day, I don’t want to go on vacation. I want to be here doing what I do, because I love it. I look forward to it every day. I miss it. I go on vacation, I miss this. I miss being in the studio. I miss painting, I miss teaching it, you know. Um, so, you know, for me, you know, starting this program was all about giving other people access to this if this is their dream, giving them the shortest, least expensive path to bringing that dream to fruition. You know, the the world’s been so good to me. How could I not share what I figured out? And again, I don’t I don’t own. Like I’ve had so many people over the years even though I didn’t go to school for this. I’ve had so many people over the years. Paint painters who know a lot more More than I do, just simply, they’ve been around longer, they’ve done more, who have been so generous with the information that they have with what they’ve learned. It’s a tradition within the arts. And it goes all the way back to the beginning. artists have always shared what they know, they take apprentices and they train them, and they go out and start their own schools, or their rooms, you know, studios, and then they do the same thing. And the cycles continued, basically, since the beginning of art. And it’s nice to be part of that tradition. I don’t own this information. And if I, if I don’t share it, it dies with me all the things I’ve learned. And even if there’s one thing that I figured out, that nobody else knows, to take that with me, it’s, it’s just not right. It’s not right. And so sharing is sharing is key.

Iva  31:47  

Yeah, and definitely, as you mentioned, as well that you meet the work while you’re on holiday, and if some people are super unhappy in, like work or the job they don’t want to do, even though these things Seems like maybe big investment at the beginning. But if you can transform your life into something you really want to do, and you actually like help them from step by step like learning the skills and also breaking into industry and all of these that you can start a new career and new life, you would actually love that. It’s like, you know, invaluable investment there.

Kevin Murphy  32:22  

Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things, one of the things with the above program is that we’re trying to make sure that we cover everything. So we teach drawing and painting. But later on, we also teach how to prep a panel, how to stretch a canvas, how to do your own photoshoots. And everything from we don’t just where we don’t go from the angle where we assume that you have a professional studio, how to do a photoshoot with a cell phone, and the lights you have at home, if you can’t, if you have access to nothing else, right and so putting all that stuff together, showing the students how to start a career and again, I can sit down with individual students and fine tune things for them. But we give a general explanation of how do you build a career, people’s expectations of what a career looks like are, they’re skewed by the high end of what art sales in the US. I think something like 70% of all art sales are $5,000 or less. That’s not a lot of money. But if you’re able to make one sale every month, you talking about $60,000 a year, that’s not bad. And $5,000 let’s say you do two paintings a day or 20 $500 per painting. You might not start there, but that’s not that hard to get to you can build your way there. And, and again, so we don’t necessarily. We teach the students how to get there and I have students that are doing it. I have high school kids, that that make them a pretty substantial money doing portraits for local people. And I show them how to open up that door, how to make money and how to raise their prices. Again, like, how much do you charge? That’s a very simple thing. I mean, just, you know, this is what this is something I hear it all the time. P artists don’t know how much to charge. And so like it’s like what I do with my students and say like, let’s say we have a kid and even adult. So I have a kid who maybe they work and they make $10 an hour somewhere. So they already give their time away for $10 an hour. Better better to be making paintings at $10 an hour then doing some menial job that doesn’t further your education or your skills. For an adult who wants to transition out of a job they don’t like. Let’s say they make $40 an hour. If it takes 10 hours to do a portrait. You can sell the portrait for $400 which might seem like a measly amount of money for a portrait. But you’re already giving your time away for that amount of money. Wouldn’t you rather be doing portraits than doing something you hate? And I think something like like 80% of the people in the United States Don’t like their job. And about 50% absolutely hate what they do hate it. They dread waking up every morning and they do it five days a week and go to something they hate. Like, why would you do that to yourself? But again, like if you if you think about, if you think about, again, if you’re making $150,000 a year, yeah, breaking into the art field at that level is going to be very, very hard. But if you’re in a job that you hate, and you’re making 5060 $70,000 a year, you could be two or three years away from that kind of income and the artist just know how to tackle it. It’s not it’s not as difficult as it seems. It’s having the right plan, understanding how to think about it. And again, these are things we try to cover everything so that anybody in our program who’s looking to go out into a career. It doesn’t matter what end of the industry you want to go into, but that we’re giving you, we’re giving you the information that you need to the best of our ability to have the odds on your side and then it you know, people, people are afraid to make the jump. You know, unfortunately, when you hear artists, generally the word starving goes in front of it. But the truth is that if you have real skills, you know what you’re doing? People appreciate art. Yeah, definitely. The art industry is I think it’s like $50 billion a year. 50 billion. It’s, I mean, it’s some staggering number. It’s not hard to bite off a small piece of it and have a nice life. And again, if you make let’s say, you make $60,000 a year and you hate your job. Well, how would you feel about making $50,000 a year and loving your job? Half of your waking day is spent at your work? Wouldn’t it be nice if you loved what you did?

Iva  36:43  

Yeah. Or even more than half of your day. So that’s,

Kevin Murphy  36:48  

yeah, so many, so many artists are willing to live a very lean financial life because they love what they do and they’d rather be happy My argument is that if you think it through, you don’t have to sacrifice the income for the happiness. But you have to have that you have to make sense of the business end of it. And unfortunately, a lot of artists don’t do that. A lot of artists, they spend their time in their studio because it’s what they love to do. And they have no business acumen. And they have agents, the agents are the ones who do the business for them. But in the process, they giving away half of what they earn. And they’re at the mercy of the gallery or the agent or you don’t have to go that road, especially with the internet. But even not even using the internet, you can do it locally. It’s not that hard to do. You have to be creative, and you can’t you know, once you get the ball rolling, you have to then think how to grow what you’re doing. But again, if you have an idea of how this works, it’s not that hard to see the path. Then it’s just a matter of getting in getting in and doing the work

Iva  37:53  

and having the right mentor as you

Kevin Murphy  37:56  

will be taught. It always helps. It always helps and one of the things I With evolve is, once you’re a student in the program will always be here for you five years from now, if you need something, you just reach out to us. We’re here. And again, like the students have access to me. We get it all the time. People are stunned that they’ll write and they’ll have a question. And the next thing, I’m setting up a chat with them, like, you know, it’s the strangest thing to them. To me, it’s very natural. If we, and again, if I have somebody in one of my instructors who can easily handle the question, they’ll take care of it. But for somebody that we were seeing that it’s going to be more intensive conversation. I take care of those. I take care of as many as I can. But the idea is that once the program is completely finished, and all of the things are done, that we’re are eating up my time, that’ll be my entire job is being there for the students being there so that I can help them along the way. And again, I mean for us, you know, the Student Success is really is our concern. That’s what that’s what we want. We want 100% success rate. We don’t want any Anybody to go through our program and not get what they wanted? Again, we can’t do the work for them to do the work. But we’re dedicated to their success. And to that end, you know, to the degree that in the we, in the first block, if you if you do the block, and you are not happy if we didn’t meet your expectations and what we promised will give you your money back. We don’t because we we know what the program is. We know what the program is. And and as long as you’re willing to do the work if you decide after you’re done with that first block that that we over promised, we’re okay with that. And you get no fight from us. We’ll write the check immediately. You don’t have to return anything it just, you know, because we know what the program is. We know what we’re offering.

Iva  39:47  

And so people who don’t know we can maybe mentioned that you send out high quality paint Oh, we the box and it’s you start with a tool so people don’t have to spend time like thinking what to use and it’s in The price of the car? Yes,

Kevin Murphy  40:01  

yes. Yeah, actually, half of the price of the program is the materials. And we have, we have the best materials you can buy. And you know, I get asked this question all the time. So, you know, do do good materials make a better artist? And the answer is no. But bad materials can make a mess of a good artist, right? So bad materials can stand in the way of doing the work. So you can do everything right. And if you’re working with a low grade material, not get the result. When you’re learning, you have to use good material. So that when you do a technique, right, you get the result and you know, that’s how it’s done. You don’t mean because if you do something and you do it right, but the material doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do you think you’re doing something wrong. So you start changing the process to get the material to give you the result. Now your process is so messed up because of the material. So we work with old Holland for anybody Who’s not familiar old Holland, they’re paint manufacturer in the Netherlands and they’ve been around since the mid 1600s. They are the oldest paint manufacturer in the world. And the end the brand was put together by old masters, the Dutch masters and and so Vermeer, like the girl with a Pearl Earring, you go into a museum and you will get a Vermeer, you’re looking at old Holland paint. And some of the giants like even today, Jeff Koons sort of highest paid painters in the world. They use old Holland, odd nerdrum he’s, he’s, they call him the modern day. Rembrandt. He’s what he’s probably the highest paid figure painter in the world. His work is extraordinary. He’s He’s an old Holland guy. Right and so you look around the surrounding artists use old Holland. And so you know in and if you go into the store, you will get sticker shock you will get the cost of the paint, but I can tell you that it’s worth every penny if you know how to use it. That’s part of the education how to use paint so you’re not wasting it. But you know, we make sure we source all of the material ourselves. And so when you sign up for the program, a box of material it shows up at your door and I think like one of the boxes like 35 pounds, it’s a wreck on it, it’s just it’s a it is a it is a heavy lift. And but it’s like 1518 tubes of paint, and, you know, probably like 25, brushes, Canvas, paper, photographs, tear sheets, and it’s everything you could possibly need to do the program. You don’t have to go to the store, everything you need, it shows up at your door, and you do the program between that box and the internet. Everything is done that way. And you never have to step out of your home for anything related to the program.

Iva  42:47  

And you can see also the artworks of other students, right.

So you can learn from their mistakes as well so you can kind of bounce some of these ideas.

Kevin Murphy  42:57  

Yeah, well, the program we we’ve tried to weave tried to create. So I may have actually passed over this. The the evolve program is actually designed off of a school that I opened in New Jersey. So I have I have a school that is 10. It’ll be 10 years old in September. And I put the program together in the school and I teach it. And then when I met Mitch, Mitch asked me if I would digitize the program, so that’s how it evolve came to be. And so the, in trying to create a similar environment, because obviously, if you’re working in your own home, you’re alone. So what we have is we have chat rooms where people will meet up, they’ll do their homework together. So we’ll have 1015 people in a chat room, all doing different parts of the program, hanging out talking, they’ll get people from all around the world we have, we have one woman in Hong Kong, and so here in in New Jersey, New York or this area, we have a group that does what they call midnight tea, and we didn’t put together they did There’s about five people from this area that jump in. And they start at midnight. And cat from from Hong Kong, it’s new. So she jumps in. So we have people in the East Coast and United States, in a classroom with somebody in Hong Kong, and they’re all painting. They’re all working on the different parts of the program. And it’s nice because you can be in the program, maybe for three weeks, you’re working on the fourth exercise of the eighth exercise. And somebody in the room did that one three weeks ago, they know you’re having a problem. They know exactly what you’re talking about, because they just did it. And then you have somebody who’s been in the program for a year, and they’re already down in like block six and they’re painting and they have other insights. You can see what they’re working on. It’s, it’s it’s just great. But we have I mean, we have so many things that we do this with I guess, we have, I do a chat and Piper, the head instructor. Do we do chats Tuesday and Thursday nights. And that’s it’s a it’s a lecture and then it’s q&a for the students. And that the q&a is are there on topic and then we do off topic. So any question you have will answer it while we’re here. We also both have office hours Monday and Tuesday. Anybody can Skype is just on a calendar, you click in, you click the time you want, and you’ve got one on one time with the instructors. Then we have the chat rooms. We’ve had, we had a big party here in Hillsborough, people came to New Jersey, where I don’t know about 20 people, I guess, came in we had a nice party. In fact, the owner of old Holland, he had he was in the United States on business. So he was there as well. He gave a nice lecture on the history of the company, which is incredible. Anybody who’s not familiar with old Holland, should go out to the website and look that like I said, I mean that they are the oldest paint manufacturer in the world. They make the greatest paint, nobody even comes close. And we have this wonderful relationship with them. And it’s just, they they have the same goals as us to offer the finest of what they do and to give access to everybody. So, so they make it, they make it accessible to us, so that we can get it to our students. They without without what, without the their generosity, we wouldn’t be able to move that paint along. And so they are as committed to the success of these students as we are. And it’s it’s, it’s just wonderful we find every place we go and we’re talking to the manufacturers of these materials, that they really just him talking to the same kind of thinking that their businesses and that they don’t make money, but they’re interested in people’s success. They love art, they, you know, and so it’s nice to It’s nice to see that blazer, working with old Tom has just been incredible. It’s just, you know, for me, and especially like for me, for 30 years I’ve been painting I’ve always been a fan of their paint to have them connected to my program, the way that it is, is just, it’s a dream come true. For me and and for the students

Iva  46:53  

exactly, because it’s easier for them to progress with their skills. So definitely helpful. So for everyone who wants to check it out. There will be a link in the description and we have a discount for the course. So it will be super awesome guys if you check it out. And also I would like to know from you as well what will be your dream in five to 10 years, you know, either with the program or with the artwork because we always like kind of end up discussions with these type of question.

Kevin Murphy  47:21  

Well, I’ve got a few things actually. So like for the program, I would like I don’t I don’t view the program as as just an education. I I see its potential as a movement. I think that art education around the world is sorely lacking. And, and I think that what we’re offering, if it were if it were implemented at the high school level, and treated with the same respect as a math class or a science class, every single student coming out of high school one would have a greater appreciation for the labor of making art which creates people who now appreciate Just to view it, because you understand what goes into it. But imagine, imagine a society of people who actually has a skill, not a professional level skill, but who, you know, you go to school, I don’t care who you are, you can do basic math. I would love to see this program give access to everybody. I can’t I can’t imagine how many people they love art when they’re young. But they just give up on it because they they just, they never they never find a place to learn. They get frustrated with it, other things then catch their attention. Where had they been taught at the beginning, and they saw the progress that they would have stuck with it. How many potential Michelangelo’s have fallen by the wayside because they didn’t have access? And what an incredible world I mean, you talk about adding beauty to the world. Imagine, you know, even if even if a 10th of the people in the world have access to something like this as a mandatory thing through high school, the amount of beauty that would be added to the world through the art they created, which is be just a just an incredible thing. And to be part of that, for me, you know, I mean, it’s a small part, but to be part of it would be incredible. So that for evolve. Again, I see it as a movement, more than just an art education. And we’re looking at just the very beginnings of it. We’re already talking to school systems, like in New York and New Jersey as a starting point. But our plan it was at the beginning is to spread it all around the United States. And then out into the rest of the world. I mean, we have students in 30 countries right now. But you know, as we’re trying to get into the school system, it’s easiest to do it where I am these because I can hand holding, but um, and then for me, I want to get back to painting I spent, though, almost my entire adult life while I’ve been painting, I’ve been painting for other people. I started out as an illustrator. And once I got out of that, then I did portrait work. And so all of those pieces are commissioned when they’re done, they go out the door. I don’t see them anymore and You know, I just I’d like to do some paintings for myself. I have lots of ideas. But there’s always there’s always business in the way I don’t have time. So I want to do some paintings myself. As things move down the road I, I’m a, I’m more a fan of other people’s art than I am my own. And so I can see eventually building a collection. I have other people’s art on the wall behind me here. This is Boris that’s an original. This is Rick young, very good. Anybody who doesn’t who doesn’t know who he is, he will come up on Facebook, Rick young, his drawings are absolutely gorgeous. And then this is one of my students down here. But that one’s mine. But I would love I love art. And so I want to be surrounded by it. And I like my art, but I love the art of other people. I just the so much genius out there and just to kind of be served Surrounded by it all the time would be would be an absolute dream. And I plan on doing a lot of traveling, and the traveling will be connected to evolve. We want to do seminars all around the world. And so I’ll be, yeah, I mean, my idea is that I’ll spend like a month in one country will do a seminar there, and then I’ll enjoy the culture for a month, and then move someplace else for a month and do that all the time. Because I won’t have any reason to be kind of landlocked here in the US. It’d be nice to be able to get out and really take in the world like that.

Iva  51:30  

And people can join your workshop. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, super exciting.

Kevin Murphy  51:35  

So yeah, we would very likely we do workshops, we probably do one workshop for our students. And then one workshop for anybody who’s not a student that’s interested in seeing what we did. And so but, but these these are things are all there. They’re there in the works. We’re piecing them all together. We actually have a group of students in Europe. And we were we were trying to put together a trip there in In August, to meet up with them we have about I think we have five people in Europe that were absolutely in. And then we have about 10 people in the US who said they would travel there for but my schedule, I’ve got too much going on and I thought it was going to be able to manage it, but I’m not so we don’t have to canceling it a little put it on the schedule for next year. And but we want to go and spend time with our students traveling here. Oh, yeah, absolutely. Like I said, I mean, we have a lot going on. We have some big things coming up. We’re getting ready to launch into website was so many advancements in the program right now, really, that are going to hit in September. So you know, for for all of your listeners. September 2019. If you come out, if you go and you look at our stuff, come back out again. In the second week of September, you’re gonna have a very, very different impression of what we’re doing here. And yeah, and if you can go to the website, evolve artists calm and Just get on our mailing list. And we’ll keep you up to date on things we’re doing. It’ll give you access to a few things. You’ll get some, some little tidbits of education along the way. And you know, maybe you’ll find the the program is of interest to you.

Iva  53:13  

Yeah, definitely. And I will also add that to the end, some of the students have evolve interview parts. So people listening now can also check out what other students are saying and what was their experience. And also always easy to go through the link in the description. So it’s, if you forget how to spell something or just click on the link there and hope you guys will find this super interesting because I think this is amazing. And so hope you check it out and have also this interview was inspirational for you guys. So let us know what you think also in the comments, and thank you so much for being here listening and thank you, Kevin, for being here so much. Thank you for having me. So let’s listen now to me. Artist reviews by previous students. What is your dream as an artist?

Unknown Speaker  54:05  

Why won’t create fabulous portraits ever like to give them as gifts my family members, but I see myself integrating like I love anime so integrate in anime until like some realism to some crazy type stuff. I don’t know where I am right now just having fun. So the sky’s the limit. I mean, I can go I feel now confident enough to go in any direction that I want. So how is evolve helping you achieve your dream this beyond beyond my expectations. I mean, everything that I’ve learned in the last three months has been fabulous. I feel like I can do anything at Matter of fact, I’ve been canceling accounts to other things that I’m doing because this is all I want to do. So I’m very happy with the program. I don’t see myself going anywhere else. What does it all mean to you? It’s the first Filming of something that I always wanted to do since I was sitting in a big living room as a little kid coloring in the color book and staying in the lines, you know, because in making the colors bold because I like the way that look. It just in cap, it encapsulates everything you know, going to the museum, seeing beautiful paintings, sketching while sitting on the couch, you know, it fulfills everything that I may want to do whatever I decide to do is just great. So, oh, my God is open up a world of opportunity. And I’m happy to be here.

Iva  55:40  

What is your dream as an artist?

Unknown Speaker  55:42  

my dream with my art is to get everything that’s in my head out of Canvas. I feel like my whole life I’ve had ideas for paintings and pictures and I’ve just never been able to put them down in a way that meant anything to anybody else but me. So I’m hoping to develop my skill enough to get pictures and frames, you know, professionally done,

Iva  56:07  

how is evolve helping you achieve your dream.

Unknown Speaker  56:10  

It’s the community of people. The value of what you get with along with the class working at home is tremendous. Everything is professional, and the support I get in the school and from the community on Facebook.

Iva  56:25  

What does it all mean to you?

Unknown Speaker  56:27  

My escape plan from corporate america something that I could share with my family, my kids, my friends. That’s just a personal goal.

Iva  56:40  

What is your dream as an artist,

Unknown Speaker  56:42  

because I had gotten into our way back in high school, and then I kind of dropped it when I went to college and started pursuing my career. It was always a part of me that I kind of was missing. And I wasn’t sure what it was that I was missing, but I knew it was something so for me getting back into art is kind of like it’s going back to that original dream I had of like being an artist and having recognition as an artist and you know, having producing artwork that my family is proud of that I’m proud of. I can say like, oh, did you do that? It’s like, Yeah, actually, I did do that. I in fact, have done a bunch of these and like being able to share that, that pride of having created something like that,

Iva  57:25  

how is evolve helping you achieve your dream?

Unknown Speaker  57:28  

evolve for me was about putting something in my reach. realism was something that was always just like so far away, and the techniques behind it and oil painting and everything else was just so hard for me to even understand like what I needed to achieve. evolve. Set is more about like, this is a process that you follow, and anyone can do this. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be trained by masters even though I mean you really are being trained by a master but you being trained at level, that’s approachable, that’s attainable. What does it all mean to you, to me evolve is it’s equal parts the community we have people that are, you know, just cheerleaders for everyone doesn’t matter what stage you’re on, it doesn’t matter what you’re getting stuck on. You have people that are like, No, you can keep going. And this is great, you’re doing things really well. So you can kind of take that success, you can share it with other people. And again, because you’re seeing results, you’re putting things down, you’re actually doing paintings. So it’s not just a game of, you know, all will, I’m sure someday I’ll be able to create something amazing. You’re going through and finishing a painting, your maybe you know, month or a couple months into the program or like I did this I made this already. I can’t wait to see what I’m going to build. Now what I’m going to make next what I’m going to paint next and being able to share That that joy and success with a whole community of people that support you.

Iva  59:05  

What is your dream as an artist,

Unknown Speaker  59:07  

I feel like my dreams a little bit different that I grew up in this little tiny village where I felt like I had limited opportunity. And I want to be able to almost have a time machine and take back an art curriculum to that seven year old version of myself that wanted to be an artist and say, this is the thing. Put your faith in this, this will get you to where you want to go. And so my dream is to be able to be involved in in bringing program and helping create a program that can do that for people that are in that same situation where you don’t know who to turn to that this is this is the answer that you’ve been looking for.

Iva  59:41  

Always evolve

Unknown Speaker  59:42  

helping you achieve your dream, the dream is to be able to go and take a viable curriculum to kids who want to achieve mastery with their art. And so the evolve program is helping me is giving me the tool that I need to go back to these high schools and say like if you’re if you have students who want to who want to be creative? This is the answer, and doesn’t just stop there. Because there’s a lot of people who want to learn realistic art skills. And what this program is so good at is taking you from the ground level, absolutely nothing and then taking all the way to mastery. What does evolve mean to you, I think evolve is is the answer that if you’ve been wanting to learn how to create realistic art, it’s the answer that will give you that foundational level that will teach you not just how to make art but also how to think and how to have the discipline and you know, important things like slowing down so that you can actually create great work and not rushing through things. So yeah, for me, it’s it’s really the answer and I’m so excited to be part of that and to help bring that message to whoever wants to learn art.

Iva  1:00:47  

So here you have it, guys. Thank you so much for listening. Hope you enjoyed this episode. And let me know what you think in the comments or Instagram, YouTube or anywhere you Want to go for the social media bye

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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