Ep.49: Lena Danya on being a full time oil artist and YouTuber

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Nov 10, 2017 •  Interviews

Lena is a full-time fine artist originally from Ukraine, now living in Florida, United States. Since a very early age, she has been influenced by creative people in her family and she knew that art is something she absolutely wants to do for a living.

She is mostly known for painting natural scenes with oil paints, either on birch wood panels or linen canvas. Her ‘Water series’ are especially captivating

She has a very popular YouTube channel and her videos consist of painting and drawing time lapses, tutorials, art talks, and basically anything art related!  Occasionally she also takes her audience with her to gallery shows and artful travels in her “Lena’s Art Diary” series documenting her life as a full-time artist.

Get in touch with Lena

Key Takeaways

“Make as much work as you possibly can, immerse yourself and really awesome things will happen!”

Resources mentioned

💡 Please note: We are supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! For more info, please read our disclosure.

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

All artworks by Lena Danya, used with permission.

Best art supplies and art tools for oil painting:

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 full time fine artist originally from Ukraine now living in Florida, United States. Since a very early age, she has been influenced by creative people in her family, and she knew that art is something she absolutely wants to do for a living. She’s mostly known for painting natural scenes with oil paints, either on big wood panels or linen canvas. Her water series are especially captivating. She has a very popular YouTube channel and her videos consist of painting and drawing timelapses tutorials are dwarfs and basically everything art related. Occasionally, she also takes her audience with her to gallery shows and artful travels in her leaners our diary series, documenting her life as a full time artist. So please welcome Lena Danya and let’s get to the interview. Welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have my guest here, Lena. Hi.

Lena Danya  

Hi, thank you so much for having me.

Iva Mikles  

I’m super excited because your paintings and artworks are just amazing. And let’s talk a bit more. And let’s start with your background first. And I would like to know maybe what was your first creative outlet when you were a kid?

Lena Danya  

Ah, honestly, it was probably the walls. When I was a like a small child and infant, I would draw just on anything, any surface I could find really and a lot of times was the walls. My My parents weren’t too thrilled about that. But I’ve always just been drawing and painting as I was a kid, it was just something I love to do. And I was always the artist in my class when I was in school. And so something that just came very naturally to me. And I never saw my life without making art. I never really knew it whether or not I was going to become a full time artist as a career. But I absolutely knew that I was going to do art no matter what. So

Iva Mikles  

it was there like a moment you decided you want to take this professionally or it was kind of like a gradual thing.

Lena Danya  

I think so yeah, I remember my last year of high school when we were in all of these auditoriums, seminars and meetings and conferences with different schools, and they would tell us about their career options and different paths that we could take. And none of them really involved art. And so that’s I think, when I felt a really big disconnect, and I felt like really sad about that. And I even pursued a more academic path. And I started going to college for a year. And, you know, I thought it would figure out what I want to do with my life, even though I already knew. But it just I’d already started YouTube at that time. And I was sharing, like sketches briefly, I didn’t really think anything of it, I was just kind of doing it for fun, because I liked the YouTube community, and I wanted to contribute something to it. So somewhere down there, like after my year of college, you know, I had a choice, I could continue doing this thing that made me unhappy and pursuing a career path I wasn’t thrilled or excited about and just, it just seemed so daunting. And, and I could just continue doing what I did then, which was working at a restaurant and making art and focusing on YouTube for fun, because at least I was enjoying that I could support myself. And I think yeah, that’s pretty much when I decided like whether or not this works out for me, I’m still gonna do it. And I’ll figure the rest out. And it just kind of aligned in a way that I was able to actually make a living from it.

Iva Mikles  

And how long did it take you to transition when you said you had a side job and taking the art as a like full income.

Lena Danya  

So from the point where I started YouTube, I would say it took three about three years maybe a little bit more for me to then be able to actually live from what I do. But I’ve been putting my work online for longer than that. So I don’t know which timeframe you want to go off of but probably since I was like like a teenager. But as far as like my actual painting goes and since YouTube I’d say took three years of like actively pursuing social media in that way.

Iva Mikles  

Really cool. And was there like a conversation maybe with your parents or friends? You know, like, Okay, now I’m quitting my job and now faking this like full time?

Lena Danya  

Um, there were there was a lot of conversations about that before it actually happened. And they were pretty much all thinking I was crazy. You need to do something sensible. You can’t just pursue art, you need to get a degree and have a real career and then do on the side and then focus on but you need like a stable foundation. And for me in my mind back then I saw my stable foundation being whatever job I had. So if I was bartending, that was my stable foundation, like Mom, I already have it, I don’t need a lot to be happy, like, I’m fine with this. And yeah, I was selling art in the side at the time. So like, I had something to show for it, not anywhere near what I do now. But there was the I had the idea in my head that perhaps this could be more someday. And yeah, at the time, everyone just thought it was the worst idea ever, except for the few friends I made on YouTube, who were very, very supportive of that. And one of them being my friend, don de, also known as Swoozie. On YouTube, he was one of the first friends I made back when I started, and he’d always been supportive of me pursuing this and pursuing my art and doing it through YouTube.

Iva Mikles  

So how did you do the networking on YouTube? Or like kind of finding new projects to work on? Because like, a lot of people are like, oh, so how do I do or make friends online?

Lena Danya  

Yeah, it can be a scary thing sometimes, because you never know if anyone would really be interested. And, well, I messaged some people back and forth, honestly, like I was falling artists and just YouTubers, and I would message them and to tell them that I like what they’re doing or just comment on their videos. And sometimes they respond and we kind of start talking. As far as my friend at dawn date, one of his subscribers actually commented on my video, saying that my videos reminded me of his personality. And I was like, huh, who’s this guy? So I went on his page. And I sent him a message. And I actually really liked his videos. And I sent him a message saying, Hey, we have a mutual follower, apparently. And so we ended up becoming friends. And I met a bunch of other just people online whose work I really liked. And they happen to, you know, check out my work. And they thought what I was doing was interesting. So we kind of talked that way. And I would go to YouTube conventions, I went to playlists live 2011. The first playlists I’ve ever and I met so many friends through there. And I went a few years after that, as well. So I think going to YouTube conventions is definitely a great way to do it. And obviously, connecting with people on a mutual interest.

Iva Mikles  

So this one was one con convention you would recommend or do you also go to what is it VidCon. Or

Lena Danya  

I went also in 2011. I haven’t gone since then. But I would really like to just the things generally aligned in a way it just didn’t work out for me to go the other years, something always would come up or like I was stressed out with something and I just never went again. But I absolutely plan to I would like to. That sounds good. And yeah, they’re really, they’re really great. You meet so many different kinds of creators and people and musicians, writers, actors, dancers, just so many different kinds of people. And it’s great because we all share the common platform of being on YouTube. And you know, we kind of get each other. So it’s great to connect with people

Iva Mikles  

there. Definitely. And maybe we go back to the advice from friends and family and just around you what was maybe your best advice and the worst advice if you can compare?

Lena Danya  

Well, the best advice was probably to never give up as cheesy as that sounds, even though their what their advice was a conflicting for me it was like, well, you should pursue a career in something that’s sensible and reliable and stable, and then pursue art, but at the same time telling me never to give up like, Well, I kind of want to give it my all to succeed. So yeah, that’s probably the two.

Iva Mikles  

And did you have a mentor or someone who inspired you the most like artistically or did you learn from some books or some online schools?

Lena Danya  

Well, just start off like when I was a child, I would say Bob Ross was a huge inspiration for me. And I learned how to paint from him. Like, I didn’t even know about oil painting until I discovered his videos. I had no idea I would go to museums and my mom, we traveled a lot and I would see all these paintings and I had no idea there were an oil until you know, I started watching buy bras and my mom told me Oh, yeah, that’s all okay. And yeah, and as far as artists later on, there was a few I mean, a lot of artists on social media, I was just seeing a lot of evidence that this was possible, and it was contradicting what everybody was telling me and advising me to not pursue it. And I’ve just just so many different artists on social media, honestly, there’s 1000s of them. So just all the evidence that was in front of me that this is past Of all that you can do this. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Do you have like some some books you would recommend maybe, or something you would give as a gift to others?

Lena Danya  

Yeah, um, there’s a few. I really love the book, the artists way by Julia Cameron. And that one was a great inspirational tool for me. I feel like although that one can be perceived as like a spiritual book, I didn’t really approach it from that angle. And I just saw it. Like I took the advice he gave me and the creative exercises it gave me like writing every morning. And that was a huge tool for me to get out whatever nonsense is going on in my head and really focus on being creative and producing art. I like what painting is by James L. Or no, sir. Yeah, art and fear by Ted Orland. And David bales. That was basically like a somewhat short book. But it was like a really long essay about artists and their struggles and their fears about creating in the studio and, you know, pursuing their art and going through blockages and all these inner voices in our mind, to basically stopping us from doing what we love. But it was just an awesome essay regarding artists and their creative process. And as far as like technical painting stuff, drawing on the right side of the brain by Betty Edwards, I think is a great way also filled with drawing exercises to help people improve their skills and be able to see reality and the shapes that they make and just translate that in your brain. So and another book she has is color by Betty Edwards. And that’s more about color theory. So be very applicable to painting.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, perfect. That sounds really good. Now I have to read so many books. Yeah, they’re

Lena Danya  

great. Give them a try.

Iva Mikles  

And what is your biggest inspiration? Or do you have something strange which inspires you? Or like what kind of goes through your artworks every time?

Lena Danya  

I guess I don’t know if it’s strange, maybe the work I’ve recently been doing. But nature, probably just being alive and able to perceive the world. I see painting as my way of expressing that and connecting with it. And just how I process life is painting for me. So basically, everything in anything can really inspire me. But definitely nature is the biggest source for me. And it shows in a lot of my work, there’s always flowers or trees, landscapes and people encompassed by water. And all of that involves nature. So

Iva Mikles  

if you go around, you know, for a walk, did you sketch or do you sketch in your sketchbook like, Oh, I like this flower, or I don’t know, these reflection?

Lena Danya  

Absolutely, um, anything really, that inspires me, I’ll just take a picture of it and maybe end up painting it later. And sometimes I’ll just sketch it right then and there from life. If I go to a park or a museum, I love to just stop and sketch statues or paintings. And yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And if someone would like to do, what do you do now? And what to what should they start with? You know, maybe some mediums or tools? And what do you use now, if you can compare.

Lena Danya  

Um, I think if they wanted to start as far as like, physically making art, they would just have to do it, just get your basic essentials, you know, your brushes, your canvases, mediums, or whatever, whatever medium you prefer, just get those tools. And that’s something to start with, just start making a lot of work. I think in order to be able to survive off of this and do this full time, you definitely need to have a lot of work under you just to because I mean, what else are you going to, if you want to be a full time artist, you know, you need to have a lot of art to the show. And just practicing daily, but most importantly, to get it out there, I would absolutely use social media. And I made a few videos on this topic as well. But basically consistency producing a lot of work on a regular basis and, you know, improving the quality of your work. Most importantly, I would say just not to focus so much on the numbers of social media and I know it can be a little bit discouraging sometimes when you’re putting all this time into your craft and you’re working so hard and you’re not getting the recognition or the response that you want for this art that you’ve you know, attach so much emotion to and time. But it’s important to sort of disconnect from that and focus on the art for the sake of creating the art. And I think that’s ultimately what what worked best for me was letting that natural fascination with creativity and with painting and and perceiving the world and expressing it letting that come through and people will find you if it really connects with them.

Iva Mikles  

And you can also use your account or like YouTube channel as your portfolio if you apply some somewhere or you want to, like do some client work or anything like that?

Lena Danya  

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, documenting yourself on YouTube is is an amazing way to get out there. Because you’re an independent, there’s nobody, you know, telling you how to make your art like with TV, you know, there’s just producers and tools and all this other stuff that we you don’t really have with YouTube, but you have that freedom that you wouldn’t have otherwise. And I think not just YouTube, but Instagram has become a major player in social media. And I think that would be, you know, right up there almost, if not just as important. There’s so many artists who have built careers, you know, using solely Instagram, not even YouTube, but Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, I think are just the three most important networks for art and you can really get a lot done there.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, and with your traditional work, do you also have like a favorite brushes or favorite Canvas type or brand of oils?

Lena Danya  

Um, yes. So with brushes, I am definitely a filbert addict. So I love Filbert brushes. I think they’re my favorite and I use them the most. As far as like brands for brushes. I don’t really have one. I’m not very brand specific. I just find something that’s in a good price range and go with that and you can Yeah, as far as oil paint brand, I love Gamblin and I always have loved Gamblin and most I think about a year ago, they were kind enough to sent me some art materials and actually reached out to them and I said, Hey, I want to make these oil painting tutorials. They don’t really have the tools that I want to use. But I’ve been using your products for a long time. And I would love to share them to my audience. And they were kind enough to want to collaborate with me and they never paid me for any videos or anything like that. But, you know, they did supply me some oil painting materials and I was able to share that with my audience and make painting tutorials to help people with their work. So they have a great introductory set. And yeah, I love Gamblin and for watercolor. I haven’t really worked with watercolor as much, but I do like my Windsor Newton little artists palette set. And so I use that one pretty much for any watercolor painting video I’ve ever done. And I love to paint on wood, like birch wood panels. And that’s like my favorite surface to paint on because I just love how smooth it is. And unfortunately for the bigger pieces I want to do it’s a it’s a little bit harder to get like a really good panel not to mention Yeah, not to mention if you want to ship it across the world you can’t roll it up you know so for the larger paintings I go with Canvas I try to stick to linen because that’s a lot smoother than cotton but I just go for what I can get what’s on sale this week.

Iva Mikles  

Why did you choose the oil so what kind of fascinates you on oils? Mostly if you because you use that like the most of the time if I’m not mistaken right? So what is better on oils than watercolors or acrylics for you? Why do you like it?

Lena Danya  

I think the texture it it kind of reminds me of like really thick kicking cream Yeah, yeah, but also just um, you can get so much vibrancy with the colors and I love being able to change the piece tremendously as I go on and layering I really enjoy the layering process and just the way it can use the medium. Like glazing applying transparent layers. I feel like it’s different from watercolor watercolor is definitely a faster medium. I like to take my time with the details. I love the smell of oil paints, some people might think that’s really weird, but I really liked olive oil paint. And yeah, I just I love the texture and just the feel of it. Watercolor is great but I like to take my time and I think oil just works really well for me because of how slow drying it is.

Iva Mikles  

And how many hours does it usually take you to create one piece like that on average?

Lena Danya  

Um, it depends on numerous factors I guess if we’re gonna go up like an 11 by 14 oil painting with like a portrait we’ll say what some flowers which is what I paint a lot. It could take like 10 to 30 hours. It just depends on how much detail is packed into it. But yeah, and I mean there’s larger paintings that have taken even longer

Iva Mikles  

and do you have like a studio at home or do you have to travel somewhere?

Lena Danya  

I do I have a studio at home are actually in it right now. I’m where I film rebound, my evil there. And this is where I work. I have my table with, where I edit everything here. So, yeah, it’s great to be able to work from home. So you

Iva Mikles  

can also save time and you can have breaks and everything.

Lena Danya  

Yeah, there’s no traffic on the way to work unless my cat is in the way. Like, that’s the only traffic I encountered.

Iva Mikles  

Going around. Yeah,

Lena Danya  

we have a dog. So yeah, I run into traffic sometimes. But yeah, I love it.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, what dog do you have?

Lena Danya  

He’s a husky.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, so cute with the kid.

Lena Danya  

He’s right here actually. A calico cat. So cute. He’s been in a few videos, and she’s always on my Instagram. And I love her. Okay, bye. She needs you know, like being

Iva Mikles  

whatever some projects you’re working on now? Do you have something exciting coming up? You want to share already, which is not confidential? Maybe?

Lena Danya  

Yeah, well, I can’t show any paintings from it, because that’s just a personal choice. But and they’re also so unfinished. So. But that’s my art show that I’m going to have locally where I live. And I’m just putting together a body of work for a local cafe that I’ve been exhibiting my art in for the last few years. And sometimes they do art shows and musicians come in play. So it’s like, it’s a great local venue, and it’s a local business I want to support. So yeah, and we’re doing an art show there. I’m working on a bunch of painting tutorials. And at the moment, that’s my biggest focus. It’s just the art show. So

Iva Mikles  

Oh, really nice. So how do you find new paid projects? Or what do you leave from if you can share what is your main source of income and, or how you combine them.

Lena Danya  

So I would say the bulk it’s honestly about even like in three separate places. So we have my youtube channel revenue from my videos, we have my Patreon page where I post extra content, I post painting references, longer painting demonstration videos about color mixing, and things like that. And then I have my art sales, which probably fluctuates the most out of the three. But those three combined allow me to live from my art, and you know, put money back into the art. And yeah, I sell prints, I sell original paintings, more prints and originals. But yeah, and that’s all those three combined definitely makes it possible.

Iva Mikles  

Really nice. And how do you choose the place to sell your art prints? Is it on your website, or, you know, like other websites like society sales or Etsy or other platforms?

Lena Danya  

I started off using eBay actually, I would do auctions. I was like way back in the day when people messaged me that they wanted to buy my art. And so I said I would do random eBay auctions. So I sold a few pieces that way. Then I switched over to Etsy. And I used Etsy for a couple of years. And then I wanted something just centered around my art not like an online marketplace. And so I had a website. So I have my portfolio website. And then I have my art store website, Lena Donya store.com, two separate domains, but they link both sides together. And that’s where anyone can find my work.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, perfect. Really nice. Yeah. Because sometimes it’s really hard to choose like, where to start or where to sell your artworks and how to print or copy them. You do take pictures by yourself and then printed on your home or do you? Yeah, yeah, anything else

Lena Danya  

do. So it’s a pretty long color proofing process. But I do take all my own pictures. And normally I do it outside of the Sun allows me to if the weather’s great, and the lighting is appropriate, I do you think natural light is best. So that’s when I get the best results for prints. But I also take them in my studio, sometimes I do have softbox lights, and a good lens. That’s great for that. And I take probably like 25 Small, like close ups of each painting. And then I put them together in Photoshop. So I have like a monster Godzilla file. And then I run several test prints to get the right colors to have it matched the original painting. And then that’s the print. But yeah,

Iva Mikles  

and do you have like, like a big printer where you can print like a three or more or

Lena Danya  

our limit is 13 by 19. I have a Canon Fine Art printer and I can’t print larger than 13 by 19. So I am thinking of getting a bigger model. But people usually tend to buy smaller print sizes from me. So I sell more eight and a half by 11 and 11 by 14 is that I do 13 by 19. So I think if you know my market grows to that point, I’ll eventually get something bigger but at the moment

Iva Mikles  

Fine. Yeah. And also, as you said, you can take pictures outside. Well, you have sunny weather Most of the time, which I’m really jealous about. So yeah.

Lena Danya  

Thanks. Well, not lately, we’ve been getting a lot of rain and hurricane threat. So

Iva Mikles  

that’s true. That’s true. So you have the danger there. We don’t have that here. So but you get

Lena Danya  

a lot of sun. Once it’s not in the summer. It’s beautiful weather here. Yeah. And

Iva Mikles  

if we can maybe talk as well about like, Is there something you wish you knew know, before you started?

Lena Danya  

I wish I knew how to organize myself better, or the value of how important it is, or the value of organization and scheduling and things like that, because I feel like starting off, it was very chaotic for me. And I was just sort of thrown into it, like dove in, and wasn’t really sure what I was doing. I’d grown used to somebody telling me what to do my whole life with any job that I’ve had. And so now to be my own boss was just like, what, what am I supposed to do today? How do I? How long is this gonna take me I had no idea how to manage my time. And so I was all over the place. I really, really wish I knew how to do that better or develop that skill. Before going into this because I had learned the hard way. And although I’ve figured that out now, the struggle to get there was real.

Iva Mikles  

So how do you do it? Now? How do you plan to plan like week in advance or a month?

Lena Danya  

Um, I do I keep a monthly will like a yearly log of things and goals and stuff like that. I don’t know if you’ve heard of bullet journaling, that’s helped me out a whole lot. So yeah, I tried to organize my months throughout the year and my goals and what daily and weekly things I have to do in order to get there. But as far as my day goes, I started to use this giant schedule a board that is right in front of me, so I can’t miss it. Because of the note, if it’s in a notebook somewhere, I’ll forget about it. And I won’t get to it. So I have this huge board with my schedule on it. And velcro strips with all the tasks, because that is what I need to like due for my brain to be engaged and interested. I can’t put it away in a notebook. I can’t forget about it. All my tasks are staring at me in the face when I have to do them. So I organized my day from a nine, like 9am to 5pm or 5:30pm. I’m usually done. So

Iva Mikles  

yeah. And do you do something daily, which contributes your success, some meditation or sport or I don’t know something else.

Lena Danya  

Um, I try to eat as healthy as I can. plant based diet, I ride my bike all the time. I think that if anything helps me out a lot, because on my bike rides, I’ve randomly stopped and taking pictures of things and then ended up painting them later. And it also gets me exercising because with art, it’s such a sedentary job. I mean, you can scan and paint, but mostly you’re just sitting all day. So to like hop on my bike and drop off print orders. Getting out there and like being physically active, like really helps get my mind going or refresh my mind to go back to work again.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, that sounds really good. What about like the maybe worst career moment? Have you had something like that? Or like a difficult time? And what would be your takeaway or learning from that?

Lena Danya  

Yeah. So right around the time, maybe three years into doing YouTube, I just as I was starting to do it full time, my YouTube revenue was going up slightly. And like there was progress in that. And so a YouTube network reached out to me and I don’t want to say their name, because I don’t know what the consequences of that aren’t even want to get into that. But a YouTube network reached out to me and they were signed with a lot of very successful YouTubers, prominent YouTubers, and they basically sold me on the idea that my YouTube revenue would be higher. So I’d be making more money for exactly what I’m doing now. But just because the ads on YouTube would be going through their network and their CPM was higher, which was not true, it was actually lower than what I was making. And they took 30% of all my earnings. And they said they were gonna, you know, help my channel grow and like all these promises to work with me and they put me into their beauty category. So I was constantly getting branding promotions for like, lipstick and mascara and like beauty products, skincare products. And I kept reaching out to them like, Hey, I’m an art channel. I appreciate you sending me all these deals, but I’m not interested in any of them. They don’t have anything to do with art. So I just rejected almost everything they sent me and when I wanted to get out of it because it was just really not a beneficial relationship on my end. They there was a loophole in the contract. Because I was naive at the time when I didn’t understand this. And I didn’t have a lawyer check it for me, which was a big mistake. And there was a loophole that said, if you don’t let us know, exactly 30 days before the contract, ending date that you want to get out of the network, then you use, then they renew it for another year. So I remember signing the contract on like, the 30th of August 2013, I think, somewhere at the end of August, and it was actually, the date on the contract was at an earlier day, I just waited on it before signing. So that was their date. And when I told them, they never messaged me back for two weeks until after it already renewed. And then they said, oh, sorry, we can’t renew your contract. And I tried to fight and argue with them and say, like, you can’t do this, I don’t want to be with your network, you haven’t done anything for my channel, I have not grown, I’ve made less money, all the promises you promised were not con through it. And they just, you know, kept trying to win me over. And eventually I just gave up because without lawyers and a bunch of money, I wouldn’t have been able to get out. So it was unfortunate because it was making me stagnate financially. And just being locked, like having something I’d worked so hard to build on my own, be stuck in the clutches of like this Hollywood company that didn’t care about me as a person. Like it was really stifling creatively. And yeah, that was like that whole year after that was just not a fun time. And I posted less on YouTube because like, I was uninspired and I don’t know, I it was really it was ultimately I end up blaming myself, because I wasn’t as careful as I should have been. I had people warning me saying like, hey, look, you don’t actually need this network. Somebody warned me that something similar happened to them that they almost got locked into a contract, or like, watch out, you got to be careful with those 30 days. If it says it in there, you really got to be careful. But again, I was naive and excited. And I wanted it made it seem like they cared about my work and about genuinely working together, which they didn’t know.

Iva Mikles  

So how would you approach it? Now? Would you ask your friends or other YouTubers? Like if this is legit? Or would you ask your lawyer? Or how would you do it?

Lena Danya  

Um, yeah, if I was given that same opportunity now knowing what I know, I would just wouldn’t go with the contract because I learned about, you know, the business of YouTube networks. And there’s not really that many that are worth pursuing, in my opinion. So I am very happy to be an independent creator on YouTube. And I want to keep it that way. So I’ve had those same opportunities come up again, and I just don’t, I don’t pursue them anymore. Because I don’t see a whole lot of value in it. But if I, you know, if something legitimate that truly offered me a good opportunity came up, which I doubt is going to happen as far as networks go. I would absolutely enquire with a lawyer and have them translate everything in that contract because it’s tricky language. Easy to easy to get sucked into something you don’t want to be in.

Iva Mikles  

And what about something cool, you’ll learn from YouTube, if you can share some tips are like, Oh, I really like these and this is good to do when you have a YouTube channel.

Lena Danya  

Um, so I’m not sure I feel like everything I’ve learned over time on YouTube has been helping me but it also changes because all the advice that I’ve been given back in the day on YouTube doesn’t apply anymore. I was always told to keep my videos short because people have short attention spans and they’re not interested in what your

Iva Mikles  

watch time.

Lena Danya  

Yeah, now it’s all about watch time, the longer the better the more people that watch your videos, so that’s changed maybe back then that was the case but I don’t know probably just to be adaptable and grow with the community because nobody’s ever relevant for forever you know, it’s always like a rotating kind of a thing. So just to be genuine to what you love and what you do. I think it’s really the most important part but I guess at one point, somebody told me to put a piece of paper in front of my old lights before I got soft black lights. They said that you don’t even need softbox light so could I do and they had this cheap lamp with like a piece of paper over it to diffuse the light. And no joke that was my lighting for like a year.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, cool. Then I should get also the soft light lamp. That’s

Lena Danya  

if you’re on a budget, but eventually I’m like, What am I doing? And I have like two of those now which are infinitely better.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because they are good when you’re painting and you have the painting account and just like I really do see the colors and everything.

Lena Danya  

Yeah, absolutely. Lighting is so important.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, perfect. And let’s talk about the future. And what would you imagine yourself to be doing in like five to 10 years like your dream scenario? And you’re doing everything or do you want and you cannot fail and just, you know, this is how

Lena Danya  

so many things, save the world number one, no, but um, I want to be doing the same thing that I’m doing right now ultimately, just to always be able to make art and survive off of it. But I do want to grow more with that and expand on to bigger projects possibly work more with film, and document more, more intense art stuff. Work with more artists collaborate with more people definitely do more art shows I want to have more exhibits where I’m just doing my own art my own body of work, so absolutely improve my skills, and just do the best that I can do as far as that goes, I don’t think I have insane an unrealistic goals, I guess, to me, like being an artist full time was the most realistic goal for me. So when I when I got there, I was like, Okay, now what? So, just trying to always, always work basically always find new and exciting projects. And I would like to start some kind of an art materials line Sunday, perhaps for like a traveling artist. I would love to write a book, or two or three, however many my brain decides to conjure, and definitely more film projects. That’s I’ve always loved making videos. And I’ve always had an interest in that. So I would love to collaborate with more people regarding that.

Iva Mikles  

Sounds really good. And now when you already travel, you sketch I love when you are somewhere, right?

Lena Danya  

Yes, yes, absolutely. And I have a video series called Llinas art diary. And that’s where I post a lot of traveling videos. Like anywhere I travel, I go with my sketchbook and I document my sketches. So anytime I bring my sketchbook on a trip or anything, I’ll usually film a little bit of what I’m sketching or any place that inspired me that might end up in a painting later, I usually end up incorporating that in a video. So I just film whenever I feel inspired, and incorporate that into my art. I never know what I’m at what I’m going to end up painting. Like I usually go through my reference materials later on. And figure that out, like, after I’d already been somewhere. Yeah, but

Iva Mikles  

when you travel, do you take like a GoPro or you have a phone? Or how do you feel more videos

Lena Danya  

I filmed on my Canon EOS M. So it’s like a compact DSLR not like the bigger brands, they’re pretty heavy. Yeah, and it’s so annoying to travel with a DSLR. So I decided to get a smaller one. And that way, if I wanted to, I can switch out the lenses for a different kind of ones. But what I love is like the close up blurry background effect with a lot of bokeh and low aperture. So that’s usually what I go for it and the lens I have on that camera allows me to do that. So I now if I’m traveling, I just take that or sometimes I’ll film on my phone. But in the studio, I use a Canon TTY, which is really old at this point. And I’m going to upgrade that soon. So

Iva Mikles  

perfect. And let’s talk about like really far, far future is my last question. And I would like to know, Well, do you vote would you like to be remembered for in like, 100 years?

Lena Danya  

Um, well, in 100 years, I would like to be remembered as someone who loved this earth and cared about the planet. And, you know, it reflected in my work as well. And I would hope that at the same time, people can be inspired to persevere and take opportunities, with the growing technology and the way the world is changing. Things don’t always have to be, you know, under the same paradigm, it’s always going to be changing and I want people to kind of look at how I use my social media to make an art career. Perhaps that’ll be the norm then you know, when you won’t be a big deal, but who knows? Yeah, ultimately, I would just want to be remembered as an artist. That’s all I can ask for somebody. Here’s the name of Lena Donya. Maybe they’ll know what maybe they won’t but if they think of art that’s, that’s really all I want to be remembered for.

Iva Mikles  

Really nice. Thank you so much for being here. It was so much fun.

Lena Danya  

Thank you so much for having For me, I really appreciate it. And I had a great time. Oh, that’s

Iva Mikles  

really good. And before we say goodbye, maybe you can share the last piece of advice or key takeaway, and then we will finish.

Lena Danya  

My last piece of advice is to make as much work as you possibly can, which I’ve said earlier, but honestly, that’s what helped me break all the habits of being an artist block and putting my art down and not finishing my work is just to immerse yourself in the art and create as much as you can, as much as time allows it and just focus on your love and your passion for art. And I think from that, really awesome things can happen.

Iva Mikles  

Amazing. Super cool. Thanks again and thank you everyone for joining and see you in the next episode. Bye guys. Hope you guys enjoy 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.

Recommended:

Ep.16: Building online communities is important for future possibilities with Neimy Kanani

Ep.16: Building online communities is important for future possibilities with Neimy Kanani

Neimy is a digital artist from California, currently studying in Florida. Her characters have vivid colors and beautiful flowy hair.

Ep.134: How to build your credibility with Aiman Akhtar (Fungisaurs)

Ep.134: How to build your credibility with Aiman Akhtar (Fungisaurs)

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Aiman Akhtar, a freelance 3D Artist who specializes in character development and 3D print design. He is the creator of a toy line Fungisaurs, the cute hybrid of dinosaurs and mushrooms.

Ep.159: How to make it as a foreign artist in Japan with Mateusz Urbanowicz

Ep.159: How to make it as a foreign artist in Japan with Mateusz Urbanowicz

Mateusz Urbanowicz, a full-time freelance BG artist, illustrator, animation director. Among other projects he also worked on the movie "Your name".

Ep.124: How to get paid for doing what you love with Nathanna Erica

Ep.124: How to get paid for doing what you love with Nathanna Erica

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Nathanna Erica, an illustrator and paper artist based in São Paulo, Brazil. Her work focuses mainly on Illustration, storytelling, visual development, and character design.

Ep.104: Ben Fiquet on being a video games artist

Ep.104: Ben Fiquet on being a video games artist

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Ben Fiquet, an illustrator, and CEO of Lizardcube game studio. He has worked on different projects with companies like Dreamworks, Chez Eddy, King.com. A recent release is Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap.

Ep.178: About different social platforms with Alpaca Carlesi

Ep.178: About different social platforms with Alpaca Carlesi

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Alpaca Carlesi, a Freelance Illustrator from Chile! She likes to draw in different styles, digital and traditional, especially anime and fanart.