Ep.164: Great tips for art gallery shows with Marc Scheff

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Jul 26, 2018 •  Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Marc Scheff, an artist, educator, and curator from Brooklyn. His work has been featured in ImagineFX, Spectrum, NY Times. He teaches figure drawing Bootcamp and intro Illustration course at Smart school.

Get in touch with Marc

Key Takeaways

“Grit and mental toughness. Every day, make sure you are making something and pay attention to it. If you ever get frustrated, look where you were 5 years ago!”

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 Marc for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Marc Scheff, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer

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

Iva Mikles

Hello everyone, Iva here and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life where I chat with inspiring artists and create variety and related videos. Before we introduce our guests and go to the interview, let’s thank our sponsors. If you’re looking for a top quality print shop and online store to sell your art prints, then you should definitely check out imprint imprint has been helping artists print and sell gallery quality prints of their work all over the world for over a decade. Go to artsideoflife.com/imprint and use promo code artside to get 10% discount. Have you heard of art slicks, I take this subscription box of unique high quality art supplies. Every month you discover new art products, limited edition tools, exclusive supplies, and useful techniques. Go to artsideoflife.com/arts Nex and use promo code artside10 to get 10% discount. If you are a digital artist, you will love AstroPad app which turns your iPad Pro into a virus graphics tablet for your Mac. So you can use all the programs like Photoshop right on your iPad, go to artsideoflife.com/astropad and use promo code artside to get 10% discount. And now let’s go back to the interview. My guest today is Mark chef and in this episode we will also talk about some great tips for exhibiting at art gallery shows. Mark is an artist, educator and curator our director originally from Boston now living in working in Brooklyn, New York. He studied Computer Science at Harvard and working in thriving startup scene in early 2000s in San Francisco, before it collapse, and he restarted his passion for art enrolling at Academy of Art University. Mark’s work has been featured in emerging effects spectrum infected by art, New York Times, The Economist and others. He teaches the figure drawing bootcamp and intro illustration course at Smart school and curates the illustration masterclass. And now please welcome Mark. And let’s go to the interview. So welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have Mark Hi.

Marc Scheff

Hey, how are you?

Iva Mikles

I’m super happy that you joined here. And let’s just talk about your background right away because you do so much stuff, right, and also the colorful background. But what I would like to know, it’s more about like how you go to art first, then you know something about your childhood, then maybe you sure was like, Do you remember how your childhood smelled like,

Marc Scheff

I remember how my childhood smelled like it smelled, it smelled a lot like a doctor’s office. It smelled it because my dad is a pediatrician. And I spent, I feel like I spent a lot of time in his office. My mom was going back to school when I my early some of my earliest memories, she was back in school, so my dad would take me to his office. And that’s actually where he would hand me. You know, he would have these, the drug salesman pharmaceuticals would come by, and they would give him you know, pens and pads and all this stuff with their logo on it. And he would just hand them to me and I’d sit there and I draw all day, you know, while I was hanging out with him. So that’s both where I started to draw and also and also what my childhood smelled like. And if there’s one smell that I loved from from the doctor’s office it was and this is I’ve told this story before but it’s this the I don’t know if anybody remembers these machines that you put a cup in and there’s two buttons and one does chicken soup, and one does hot chocolate but it comes out of the same thing. Now it seems really gross right? As a kid I was like This is amazing. So cool. Yeah, that was a that was my child

Iva Mikles

lunch and dessert at the same time right?

Marc Scheff

It was amazing. Yeah, I don’t I think they discontinued like okay, yeah,

Iva Mikles

so what is the thing you remember maybe drawing as a first thing when you were like okay, I’m actually proud of this

Marc Scheff

you know, I mean, I did a lot of drawing as a kid just you know doodling and stuff but the first time I remember really being proud of something my either had an older half brother had an older half brother and he he sort of was exposed me to comics and he had this book or gave me this book called How to how to draw comics the Marvel way. I don’t know people probably know this book. And it’s, you know, it’s like how to draw figures and how to draw different expressions. And I remember there’s this one head, and it was this bald guy, kind of a three quarter angle, like destiny was really, it was really angry. And I remember drawing that and I feel and I remember get, I felt like I really got it, you know, freehand at it, you know, looking at the picture. And I remember showing my mom and being so proud of that I had gotten this drawing and she was just really concerned that I was drawing angry people all the time. But I guess that was common.

Iva Mikles

So what kind of influenced you to choose the art as a career? Or maybe when was the turning point when you decide like, Okay, I want to take this seriously?

Marc Scheff

Well, it took a while. I mean, honestly, I went to, I went to school, I went to college and didn’t study, I mean, study art, I studied computer science, because I, I, you know, I grew up in a pretty sheltered, or I don’t know what the word is, like, a very pragmatic kind of household. So, you know, going and being an artist wasn’t really kind of on the on the list. I wasn’t forced. Yeah, yeah, it was very much a hobby, you know, and I took a lot of art in high school, and I had great, a great teachers, I have a few great teachers that I remember from fifth grade, and from high school, and who really supported me, but when I got to college, I thought, well, you don’t do art as a career, you do something else. So I picked computer science, and studied computers and programming and hardware. And I went out to California, in 1999, to San Francisco, and got a job at a you know, at a tech company. But very quickly found myself, you know, pulled towards the visual designers and wanting to sort of spend more time and understand what they were doing. So I was I was sort of learning that on the job. But really what happened was, in, in, in between 2002 1001, this was the tech boom, back then. And people were, I mean, companies were falling apart, left and right. But it was still like there was still a ton of money. So I always had a job line that I got laid off four times in the space of 12 months. With severance pay is, well, well, what that also means is I got hired for time, there was always a job waiting, like I always I always had kind of a you know, something, you know, something, something going so. But by the you know, by the fourth, by the fourth time, I had also started taking art classes at a local art university with the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. And, and I just I thought, well, this is great. I’m doing what I thought I was going to do. I’m earning money. And I’m Art is my hobby. But when I started taking these art classes, it was just like, oh, this is so great. And I started taking more art classes. And suddenly I was every night and weekends and I wasn’t doing a great job of my job and I wasn’t doing a great job of my relationship. I was engaged with someone and I fell apart and what No, I we remained great friends actually, we I she she and her now husband asked me to officiate their wedding, so we’re all good. But ya know, so it was it was really that it was that first class and it’s funny, it was It wasn’t even, I thought it was gonna go back to art school and do computers, you know, I thought I was going to do 3d animation, stuff like that. But when I got back, the first class you had to take was the was the classroom, they, you know, they put a sphere up on the thing with a light and they said, go three hours to draw this ball. Charcoal. I know. And it just seems like you know, I mean, now you’re like, Oh, God, that sounds really boring. But man, it was great. I was like, wow, this is so great. And scan and cubes and triangles. And it wasn’t much more and you know, then we got the cast drawings kind of later on this semester, but I loved it, I just fell in love. I switched my major to illustration like before taking any before actually even getting any art, any actual computer glasses and, and, and then after, you know, this fourth, this fourth year job in the series of jobs that I had i i was i was my boss who I will remain forever grateful to and have since thanked her she kind of offered me a spot on the list to get laid off and get a severance package and I just enrolled full time at our school.

Iva Mikles

That’s really good. So how long did you stay? And then in the art school, or how was the transition for you, you know, to like actually make living with art compared to before?

Marc Scheff

It well that also took a while. I mean, you know, I so I went back to art school and I was still you know, it was a second degree. So I did it in you know, I did it a few years. But I was still working. I was still doing some freelance stuff, computers, you know, tech stuff, building websites, that kind of thing. And I was living in San Francisco and I was, you know, in my mid to late 20s. So I had a group of friends already and I was also trying to do this school thing. And so I was I was As I continue to be I was focused on many different things. And, and, and keeping my feet in all these different areas because because I enjoyed doing all of those, all of those different things. So, you know, art school, I graduated, you know, officially in 2005. And then for the next, I’m gonna say four or so years, I was working at game companies, I was at a, I was the Creative Director at a t shirt startup, I moved to New York and work for some more game companies did a little bit more freelance. When my son was born in 2010, we realized how freaking expensive it is to have kids. So I went back and got it, I got it, I got a visual design job. So I’ve kind of moved, moved around back and forth. And I would say since about, since about 2010, that’s when really everything I’m doing is, is around art or my art. It’s never it’s never been, I’m just going to be completely honest, it’s never been my my income. My My career has never been just about my artwork. Because I’m because because I’ve always had other other projects that I’ve enjoyed doing with other people. And but it’s become since I would say since about 2010. It’s been, it’s been all art related. Whereas before that it was, you know, maybe a little bit more design, maybe a little bit more to do, which is art. But you know, more more focused on on my artwork. Yeah,

Iva Mikles

yeah, like paintings and stuff. Yeah. When you sit down, graphic design visual and the direction because when you do our direction, then you do mostly briefs and thinking and all of that. And you don’t actually that much. So yeah,

Marc Scheff

yeah, yeah. But I enjoy. I mean, I always enjoyed, I always enjoyed those things, and doing those projects, I think, for me doing those, because art can be such a solitary experience, if you’re, if you’re really doing it all on your own on your own, and you’re really you’re really this is your career, it can be a very, unless you work in a studio with other people, you know, you’re you’re here by yourself a lot. So I think during those group projects, for me, it was, in some ways, just a way to keep my own sanity.

Iva Mikles

So then how do you do your networking? Or how do you find the new projects to work on with other people?

Marc Scheff

I mean, I can tell you how some of these projects started. But there’s, there’s no, there’s no short answer. Well, right. I mean, there’s no like, well, if I ever needed a project, I go down to the project space and right, and then I have a project, you know, but it’s about, but there is something and it’s something that I think about a lot and it’s about, and this may sound, you know, woowoo or whatever, but it’s there’s a there’s a way of being open and kind of listening to the world. That where you’re where you’re where you’re constantly, or at least I feel like I’m constantly kind of putting things together from disparate sources. So what’s a good example? Well, okay, so the the gallery that I run now, everyday original, we do, you know, we do one piece of art every day, small piece affordable, that kind of thing. But that started because I was talking to I was talking to somebody at I was at the Society of Illustrators here in New York, talking to my friend, Kyle. And he was saying, oh, man, you should, you know, we’re talking about you making living as an artist, he’s like you should do, you know, like this other guy online and post, you know, he posts this one still life every day and sells it for three or $400. And you’re sort of like, well, three 400? Well, that sounds that sounds pretty good for you know, if you do your you do your morning study and make your you make your 300 bucks, and then you can kind of go do what you want for the day. That sounds great. But that’s not the kind of painter I am and thinking about it. And I had already done this other group project. And it was that, that suggestion, and then and then having done that project, and having had a good experience of that project that we said, Wait a minute, what if we get a group of people and try to do that thing, and I had the tech skills. So I mean, I went home that night, and I knew how to build that kind of website. So I went home that night and basically built a prototype for the website of the website and sent it to my friend Kyle and said, you know, can you work? Can you help me test this out? And now we’ve been going for three and a half, almost three and a half years and and helped a lot of artists and it’s been it’s been great. But it’s that kind of it’s a kind of openness to opportunity and an openness to to taking those risks,

Iva Mikles

and trying out new things. And if it doesn’t work out, then you do something else. And

Marc Scheff

and yeah. I’m curious. I know. I don’t know if I’m supposed to ask questions, but I’m sort of curious how you got the idea for this podcast?

Iva Mikles

Yeah. Because I never like had someone around me when I was like growing up, you know that. They actually make a living from art. So that’s why I wanted to hear more stories and just inspire people. don’t have this opportunity to kind of if you’re not living in LA or other town where there is a lot of other creative people and then you can like yeah, I can do this or I can do that and yeah, yeah it’s how it came to be.

Marc Scheff

Well, well exactly. I mean that’s part of it. It’s you know, so many of us are sitting at home or in our studios or wherever saying well, I would do this but I don’t have it here I would go to a figure drawing workshop but I don’t have it here. And like you I think the answer is to see how you know see there’s no there’s nothing stopping you from making me do you want to do I want I want to do more figure drawing and in someone else just emailed me to introduce me to a friend saying they wanted to do mine so why don’t we just do it here let’s let’s do just could just be the two of us. Why does it have to be a big thing?

Iva Mikles

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community, you will get an exclusive 10% discount on a stupid studio licenses. To get started, go to artsideoflife.com/astra and enter the promo code artside. And now let’s go back to the interview. So when you mentioned like these items, actually that you can sell online, if someone who is listening now they will be like, Oh, can I join this group? Is that possible to join or?

Marc Scheff

Oh, everyday original, we have a submission, we have a submission thing on our website. It’s you know, it is? Yes, it’s possible to join it’s difficult. Because what we do is we have we have a few artists who post every month. So there’s you know, so there’s so there’s a handful of days that I have every month that I can have new people and we have a lot of new people, but I love seeing I love seeing new art, I love going through our submissions and just seeing what people are doing. And and we are going to be we are going to be trying this is one of the pain points honestly, for us is like how do we you know, one of our missions is to is to is to get new artists on the website and get new artists you know, on, you know, selling their work. But we also have to have some of these people on the website who you know, who are probably going to sell their work most of the time because it helps you know, it’s a business and we need to like keep going. So So yeah, there’s this submission form on the website. I’d love to see new stuff from people and where we are right now. We’re going to be doing some experimenting in the fall with how to get more people on the site without totally changing everything, and alienating everybody who’s been following your site, you know,

Iva Mikles

super cool. So we can put the link in the description and then everyone can check it out. And you mentioned that this project, what are the other projects you are working on? If you can give us more examples. So you can get more inspired, inspired?

Marc Scheff

Oh, sure. Well, you know, is another thing. So when I was doing we had well, I’ll start at the end. We have a website, my business partner and I Lauren, we run And this website where we give away a lot of free information for artists on how to run their art career. We have some downloadable PDFs, and we have a blog, it’s really, I think, very useful. That is called Make your art work.com. And there’s also online courses there that you can sign up. And if you sign up for those courses, then you get added to our Facebook group. And that has been kind of a really, I don’t know why I was surprised, but I really didn’t expect it to be what it was, we basically we started this art business bootcamp because we were doing these. Lauren and I were both Lauren’s a creative director at a book publishing company, and I was doing art direction for a video game merchandise company, and we were talking to each other and saying, Well, you know, we get questions from artists all the time. And it’s a lot of the same questions. You know, and it’s new, you know, new artists coming in with the same questions, or even sometimes people who’ve been around a while just wanting to kind of refine their thinking. And we said, Wouldn’t it be great if we just had this information somewhere that people would just have it, you know, and kind of get the cheat sheet. Because then when we talk to people, we can get to some deeper stuff, some really interesting stuff. So we put out these PDFs. And then we started doing live talks. And then we started, like, you know, we people said, Oh, I can’t come all the way to wherever you are. And so we put them online. And so now we have, we’re actually, we’re in the middle of running one of the courses. Now, I don’t know when this podcast is gonna go up. But maybe by the time it comes out, we’ll have an open registration for people to take to get the information and join the Facebook group and the Facebook group. So we decided to do this Facebook group, just as a way of having people stay kind of connected. And it’s turned into this crazy, awesome resource. Those people are people are asking questions. And before we even have a chance to get in there, everybody else in the group is offering information and answers. And they’re creating documents with resources for you know, where to get your printing done, or where you know, where to get other forms of education. And it’s, it’s just sort of grown into this thing. And so now, when you sign up for our course, you get added to this group. And it’s, you know, that, to me is like just this incredible, incredible research. But that’s one of the projects that we do. And it just sort of it grew out of this. I mean, Lauren jokes that it’s like us being lazy, like we wanted to give people information. So we didn’t have to say it over and over again. But but it’s grown into a real resource for people. And it’s been, it’s been a an interesting and not always easy but but rewarding project for us. Yeah, yeah, definitely.

Iva Mikles

Because then you are building a community. And then as you said, they can help each other like if they already had the experience with something. And then if they want to discuss another thing with you, then you can take the topic. And so you have more ins and ins Yeah, definitely.

Marc Scheff

The community, the community aspect is so is so great. And we’ve and we’ve seen, we’ve seen this with our with our group, we’ve seen people take the information to do really well and come back to the group and say, hey, just I wanted to share this when that I had, you know, I went and got more clients or I left my job, and now I’m freelancing, or whatever it is, it’s just so great. And they’re coming back to this community and feeding the community with inspiration. But then also information, someone will say, I just found this great new resource to do giveaways on your website, or to build your mailing list or you know, whatever it is, and it’s I go in there and find all kinds of useful stuff. So it’s really Yeah, I think it’s really great.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, definitely. Because why did you then choose to do it on Facebook or not? Maybe on your own platform?

Marc Scheff

Good question. I asked I had a friend who ran something called art camp. I think it’s just called art camp. No, no, Bradley’s his name Anna and I, I just called him to say like, Okay, so we’re about to do this thing. You’ve done something similar kind of what were your lessons, and he said that he actually tried doing an online forum. But it’s hard to get people to go to another place. They’re already on. So many people are already on Facebook. So they’re already there. It’s another thing they can check very easily rather than going to another whole place. And I think he said that he moved his over to Facebook and found that people were much more interested in engaging. I have a love hate relationship with social media, I think many of us do. There’s so much on there that is that just sort of feeds my own assumptions or my own biases. And I and I get frustrated with that. But what I do now, basically, is I go into social media and I look at these different communities that I’m a part of more than I do, you know, my feed, which are even my own profile, but I’ll check in on this community or I also teach with another online school called Smart school where I teach drawing and illustration. So check that group and I’ll check the business bootcamp group, and you know, we have other courses on the website. So I’ll just go in and check all these groups and interact with my communities that that that have grown Yeah.

Iva Mikles

And so how do you then manage all of that with the time when you are part of so many different projects do you do like process batching like one day days and other days or like you have to evenings for social media. How do you do it?

Marc Scheff

Oh, man, well, I used to, I used to have a lot more time for social media until it drove me crazy. It’s a good question I am a big, I read a lot about and study a lot about habits and, and process and skill building and how people do this stuff. Um, there’s a number of we actually review some of these books, we actually review on our on our website to make your art work website, we have a blog where we repost them, like summaries of the books that we read. And I’m reading a lot of books around. So for example, when I just read was, it’s on my desk in the other room, it’s called, I think it’s called The Little Book of talent. And it’s, and it’s like, a, it’s a cheat sheet size book, you know, with just different ways to build skills. So the way that applies to my schedule, is, is that’s how I, you know, that’s how I try to approach it, I think, well, you know, if I’m trying to build so for example, you know, if I’m trying to build skill, actually making artwork, I need to spend time every day, you know, doing at least a little bit of that and doing all of the kinds of exercises in the book through through my artwork. Similarly, with, you know, as you must know, with this kind of stuff, there’s a whole business aspect to it and a marketing aspect to it. So I tried to give myself what to do is I keep a notebook, I have a notebook, I haven’t, again, all this is in the other room, but I haven’t, I haven’t notebook. And on you know, in that notebook, I have kind of my ongoing list of things that I need to do for each project. And then what I’ll do is in the, in the in the first column, I’ll just start moving stuff over. So every day, I’ll move the three or four things that I really want to get done that day. And it’s usually one kind of in each category of things. So there’s some studio work or some computer work. I’m also a human. So sometimes these things get messed up, you know, sometimes my kids are sick, or, you know, some, you know, something’s broken in the house, and I need to fix it. So there’s, you know, life stuff that gets in the way. But I think the thing, the thing, that really, the thing that makes it work for me, and I was telling my wife this the other day is that I just whatever happens, I just don’t stop. I don’t I think brakes are good, if they’re intentional, you know, like, it’s your if you just if you need to take a break. But that’s not what I’m talking about what I mean, when I mean stopping, it’s like if I’m, if I’m hitting a wall with one activity, I have something else to go to. So I can keep moving forward, I try not to let those things distract me, it can happen where, you know, suddenly, you It’s Wednesday, and you realize you haven’t done anything on one of your major projects, because you’ve been focused so much on on another one. And that’s the part where you can’t get, I think it’s very easy to get frustrated and say, Oh man, I haven’t painted at all for the past two days. And you can kind of let that stop you from painting that day or the next day, and you you can let that kind of snowball. So So I have lots of little tricks for myself to to help me get into different kinds of things. So So for painting, for example, I have a number of different sketchbooks, and some of them are very small. And some of them are just for me to just pick up the pencil and start making something on a page. And once I start in on that mode of thinking, I can usually move on to one of my bigger paintings or resin works.

Iva Mikles

And then you can also like make a gallery show from collection right and these kinds of things.

Marc Scheff

Oh, yeah, no, I have I have I got this I totally stole this idea from from a friend. And I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. I have some sketchbooks you know, I have sketchbooks where set one is for head studies that I like doing head study. One is just for, you know, walking around drawing my kids, if I’m drawing my coffee, or whatever, wherever I am have it’s in my pockets, my wallet, actually, it’s just a sketchbook. And I stole that idea to my friends Matt and Rebecca both both do that. And, and I have one that’s just for thumbnails. So that’s one where if I’m ever you know if I get up or like I’m this weekend, I got up early, my kids were actually kind of occupied doing their own thing. So I pulled out the thumbnails, and I just, you know, I’ll just generate ideas. And then when I have a show that I you know, that I’m putting together, I can go back to this and, and pick out you know, pick out ideas for paintings. And sometimes I go way back, because sometimes, you know, there’s stuff from a year or two years ago, that didn’t make any sense to me then. But now that my thinking and my work has evolved, I can go back and say, Oh, that would make sense. With what I’m doing now. You know, so I like

Iva Mikles

records, right? Yeah, like different elements or different characters if you have a composition already or the color idea or something like that. ABS absolutely, yeah, yeah, perfect. And so when you mentioned that all of these projects and everything and like making a living as an artist, how do you kind of pry already have what to focus on? Do you have the income streams at the same levels? Or do you have one? Which is your main income stream?

Marc Scheff

Yeah, that’s a good question too. So I have, I have a few different income streams. One very broadly is teaching. So that would include the drawing courses, illustration courses that I do with smart school and the stuff that I do with Lauren for the bootcamp. And those are, I would say, those are the real foundation of my income. That’s, that’s where the, that’s where the sort of the security is, as much as anything is, I mean, everything could go away tomorrow, but but I, you know, but I have this work that, you know, I do consistently and I love this work, I love working with people and, and, and helping them, you know, make their way, whether it’s in the work or in the career, and then you know, and then I have my, my artwork. So my artwork is a mix right now of gallery work. And that’s where I’m, that’s where I’m really focused with my artwork. But I still also do some illustration jobs. So, you know, I’ll occasionally get inquiries for illustration jobs and take those jobs. And that’s, you know, and that basically sort of tops off the tops off the income. I don’t know, honestly, if either one would really do it on its own. But that’s also because I’m doing both, I think if I just said, Okay, I’m not teaching anymore, I’m just going to do this work. You know, that could be, that could be full time, full time income, or if I said, I’m, I’m quitting art, and I’m just going to teach, which doesn’t make any sense.

Iva Mikles

Do any art and it’s like,

Marc Scheff

I feel like you need to be doing it a little bit. I, you know, all of all of my favorite teachers were also making work. They know, they may not have been in big galleries or super famous, but they were making work. I mean, I remember in high school, my teacher, Mr. Buckley, he would teach us how to do all kinds of different stuff. And he always had these, I just remember these big sculptures he was doing and they look like, almost like pottery, but they were, they’re huge, like, you know, I don’t know, four feet tall. And they’re, and they were in sections. And he was, you know, carving into them. And he was always making something on his own. And so there’s, I think, for me, anyway, there was just sort of a respect that I had for him, that he was, I didn’t care what he was doing with it. But he was exploring, you know, he was really he was making the work. And, and I think that’s also influenced me, in terms of where my own career is going is that the examples that I had were people who were really they were explorers, they were exploring the media, they were exploring different different ideas and motifs in their work as much for themselves as anybody else. Yeah. And

Iva Mikles

then they know, when you had also this kind of like a mentor, or someone who advise you maybe which areas to try? Or do you have someone you consider mentor?

Marc Scheff

Always Yeah, I have a few people. I mean, the woman who, who I first comes to mind is Rebecca, Rebecca gay, who’s who has done has had a brilliant career in illustration, and now is, is having the same brilliance in in the gallery world. But she’s a great friend, and also a mentor. She’s, she’s the person that I that she’s the person who, cuz she also runs a school, she runs the school that I teach that too, she also has kind of a couple of different things going. So she’s the person that I go to and say, you understand everything, you understand the doing all these different things, and having a family and you know, and having a house and kids and all this stuff. So she’s the one I go to for feedback on that stuff. But there’s a number of people that I also you know, that even in my peer group who I would go to and say, you know, what to bounce ideas off of? I do think having a mentor, I mean, I’ve heard a lot of people say please, you know, go find a mentor, like that’s a really important thing. I think it is, I think it’s a it’s an easy thing to say and, and it’s hard to do. I mean, it’s like us before, you know, you just go to like the mentor shop and kind of pick one and you don’t, which would be really cool. But also probably I think I think these things happen organically, as it did you know, through through real, authentic friendships. I think it can happen other ways. I think you can find an apprenticeship in someone’s studio or you know, maybe on the field, maybe you go I’ve had I’ve had people who I consider mentors at different jobs that I’ve had, you know, who I really look up to and want to learn from, and, and considered friends. And for me, that’s always been that’s always been an aspect of it. And do you have

Iva Mikles

also like a mastermind group or something like because you have like a working partners, right? So you can like talk about different ideas and like bounce off and get feedback. Do you have someone who you always need like once a month or once a week?

Marc Scheff

Well, I have my Lauren, my business partner we meet once a week to talk about you know, All of our projects. And the, you know, it’s funny, there’s, there’s a few, there’s a few of us talking about it who are doing this kind of, we’re doing our own art for we’re also doing this kind of this kind of education. We’ve talked about building a kind of mastermind group for for that. But right now I would say my mastermind, if I had a mastermind group, it would be the people that I’ve organically connected with. So Lauren’s one, Jennifer is this woman who, who works with us on a sort of consulting basis, but she’s also someone that I go to and say, she’s, she’s much more in the sort of, I was, I guess, I would say, marketing side of things. So she’s someone I go to and say, Okay, we’re thinking about launching this new course. Let’s talk about everything. What do we what do we call it? How do we organize it? How do we talk about it online? Do we want to do advertising or not? Let’s try these different things. And we, you know, we sort of make a strategy, a game plan with her. So she’s a little more of a consultant, but she’s also someone who has a lot of experience and is, you know, is someone who is working on her own art. So again, I, I like these people who are like me a little bit who, who have feet in these different worlds, because I think they get it.

Iva Mikles

Yeah. Because then you can combine different skills. And it’s not only about the artwork, but how you can make everything work together.

Marc Scheff

Yeah, yeah. I mean, you understand this as much as anything.

Iva Mikles

else do you do networking? You know, do you go for some special events? Or, you know, like, either the girl throwing classes or some meetups or something like that? Yeah.

Marc Scheff

Well, when I first I guess, I mean, to get back to the first question you asked, I, you know, when I first moved to New York, I didn’t know anybody. So I went to a figure drawing meet up. And I went a couple times and actually met was my friend Martin, Whose wedding I just went to, and, you know, we became friends and stuck together over the course of the last 10 years. So that was, that was a great experience. But but that figure drawing session closed. So I started my own I used I use meetup.com, and start them out figure drawing group, and it grew, and then we handed it off, because I couldn’t run it anymore. And so I ended up someone else. And I don’t actually know if they’re still doing it, because I moved on to other things. But I didn’t have a thing that I could do out there. So I made it. And I and I, that’s, I think that sentence is kind of how I run my life. You know, if I don’t, if I don’t, if I if I want to do a thing, and I don’t see it, I figured out I figured out how to make it. But networking, yeah, so I do I do, I do a couple of events, a year in person, some of these are more focused on where my illustration work, the events that I consistently get to, but now in the past, you know, three or so years that have been well, two years, like two kind of seems like longer than the past two years that I’ve been doing. Really, it seems like a weird thing to say, I’ve only been doing this for two years, the gallery work but Well, yeah, I mean, it feels like it and, and, and I do um, and I do go to events, and I’m lucky I live in I live in Brooklyn, so I can, I can usually make things that are happening in New York and there’s a lot of great galleries here in New York. And, and on Long Island that I that I tried to get to for a different opening and meet people that way. But I also so that’s that the caveat being I think the best way to meet people is through other people. So the people that I really know and get to know is has been through you know, guys like Martin or people like Rebecca or, or even teaching, you know, teaching at this school at the the drawing teaching that I do with smart school. We have special guests, you know, from the industry, you know, people who, you know, gallery owners and art directors and other artists. And so, and I, because of my tech background, I run I run all the tech for the school and make sure the tech runs smoothly. So I actually get to meet all these people. And I get to know a lot of people through this through this community. And, and so I’m doing a lot of networking from from right over there. Which which can be a little crazy making, honestly. So I do try to get out and do some stuff in person. Some I’m trying to get some more kind of gallery shows where friends are showing and that kind of thing right now. Or for

Iva Mikles

example the events like selling the artworks like on the I don’t know festivals that you don’t do right now. Right? Because just like copies of prints or some other product.

Marc Scheff

Yeah, I haven’t. So I’ve done I’ve done that. Some in my in my life. I’m not doing that right now. I’m doing one show in the fall. It’s really about original art in Pennsylvania. But yeah, I haven’t done a lot of that. And I have, truthfully, I have mixed feelings about that I want I want, well, ever everybody wants this, I guess, you know, I want I want people who, who buy my work or reproductions of my work to have, I want them to have something special. And so I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how to build that into my career. And I don’t, for me, right now, it doesn’t, it does not look like going to your local fairs and selling stuff at tables, or even or even some of the higher end fairs. It looks like it looks like working with galleries. And honestly, it looks like finding my audience online and working with people directly. I just, I have a mailing list, I’ll give you the link to that as well. And, and on my mailing list, I’ll offer a very limited editions of stuff that I’m making. And this is stuff that I just I’m having fun with too, like I did a set of T shirts, and I’m only gonna make one set of these T shirts, and they’re these sort of fancy fashion tees with a V neck and I really liked the t shirt. And that’s the thing that I want people to have, I want them to have something that I really like, I don’t want to I don’t necessarily want to go and and run a numbers game. I want it to be special in some way. Obviously, yes, you know, it would be great to be someone who can put something out on their mailing list and sell 2000 prints. But I also when I when I do that I want those even those to be special signed, numbered, you know, I have an embossed stamp that I use, you know something to make it really special for people. So that’s where my thinking is right now with my work. Yeah.

Iva Mikles

And when you are creating your artworks Do you have like special tools you cannot live without you know, like either the special brand or like one brush which is your lucky brush.

Marc Scheff

I absolutely do I do. So the work that I make is all in resin. And here you know what I’m going to I’m going to pull up the camera and just show you this one piece that’s sitting right here so you can see let’s see, sorry guys, this is a little wonky but but this is one of the pieces sitting behind me so so this is a moleskin sketchbook that’s embedded in into the art and and this is I will show you the top of this. This is about you can see it’s about a hand a hand thick. That’s the thickness so I’ll put you back on the stop shaking the camera so so I use I use a kind of brand of resin it’s a two part epoxy resin called Art resin. They have a special formula that that prevents yellowing, when when the resin ages typically resins will age it’s also non toxic, it doesn’t stink, I still wear a mask because I just I’ve got kids and I want to live. So it’s just I mean it’s a life choice. So So I use art resin. For brushes, I typically use Chuck Cal or chuckle I don’t know how to pronounce it. I think Mr. Cal brushes. I really liked their brushes. And they really, you know, they’re another company that you know, they don’t have every single kind of brush under the sun, they have a few different lines. And they I think they really focus on quality and those they’ve learned I mean, I don’t think I’ve thrown one out yet they just last and they use their soap and you know all their in their brush their brush cleaner and their brush, they have a brush restore and it’s really anyway I like their brand because they really they you know they’re focused on quality as well. And art resin is the same way. Yeah, do you

Iva Mikles

also have like a favorite like color or something like that you use all the time.

Marc Scheff

I do use a lot of red. I use a lot of red in my work. And it just yeah, it just happened that when I first started down this kind of fine art route. When I was working in my sketchbook I just I had a red pencil and started using that because I liked the the the depth of color and that you can get with with a with a color over over a graphite. I do. If I’m going to use a pencil I’m absolutely going to use a Blackwing I love the Blackwing pencil Gina Do you know these pencils?

Iva Mikles

I use them as well.

Marc Scheff

I mean, I you know it’s like a joke. And it’s like you know when you see someone making a great drawing all the newbies ask, Oh, what pencil are you using? Like that? Like? Yeah, like like it matters. But I do really like his pencil.

Iva Mikles

I have to say when I tried the first time I was like, This is so much easier. Yeah,

Marc Scheff

yeah, no, it’s like it’s smooth. There’s something I don’t know. It’s some sort of magically but it’s it. But again, you know, it’s another company that that’s all they do. They just make these three or four I don’t know pencils, and they just make sure that they’re are awesome in Chicago and art resin, you know, these these cups, I like these companies that are like we’re gonna do, we’re gonna do this, and it’s going to be kind of the best version of that. I mean, these things may change over time. But But yeah, I do use a lot of red, I’m exploring more color. Now, my last show, my current show, I should say is that that haven gallery is exploring a lot more with color. And, and so I like to take things, you know, it’s a saint, you know, you must, you must know this as well, when you’re when you’re when you’re growing a business. You know, you don’t, you don’t take all your money and buy, you know, a giant ad and hope it works out, you know, you you, you test things out, what what we call the, you know, the MVP, minimum, minimum viable product. Right? Yeah. So you started doing I do that with my art? You know, so we’re, I’ll say, Okay, let’s try. It’s my first show was like, mostly red. And a little bit and a little bit of blue. And then, you know, the next show, the next show had four colors in it. What’s in the studio over here right now is, is, now that I’ve tested that out a little bit and seen it work. I’m going I’m going over the deform a little bit with with color, I’m all in with color for this next go.

Iva Mikles

Yeah. And do you have like specific art process as well, which you like, keep all the time, like, the thumbnails or you directly go to the color? Or how does your art process look like?

Marc Scheff

My, my process, my process is a process of evolution, if that makes sense. Um, there’s a process for illustration, for sure. So the process that I teach is specific, you know, you have you have your concepts, you write some words, you do some thumbnails, you’ve composition, you, you build up a value study, and you’re moving towards a final product. For my work, the gallery work is a little bit more exploration involved, and for me really necessary to making the work and there’s a process of, there’s a process of discovery and illustration, too. But the process of discovery that I’m in over here is honestly can be a little bit more frustrating. Because sometimes you’ll you’ll pick out a bunch of I mean, this is me, I’m over here, I’ll take a bunch of materials and try to do something and it doesn’t, you know, the chemistry doesn’t work out like the, you know, the bubbles, too many bubbles, or too few bubbles, or whatever it is. So, there’s a process over there where I, again, it’s back to sort of the openness to opportunity to the process is mostly me being okay, with a lot of things not working out. So that and looking for those opportunities. So actually, I’m in a good mood today. Because this weekend, I was, I was at my friend Martin’s wedding and talking to a lot of different artists. And then I got, we had some of my friends, Matt and Rebecca stayed at our house. And you know, a lot of really great conversation about art and you know, doing traditional art versus digital art. And that kind of because I used to do a lot of digital art. And my illustration, my illustration work is mostly is digital want to do it. But then I got down into my sketchbook and I had kind of a breakthrough about how to use some of the stuff that I’m making over here. Because the stuff that I’m making right now doesn’t look at all like what I quote unquote want it to look like. But it does look like something and I think I figured out what it’s what I’m supposed to do with it basically.

Iva Mikles

It’s always a good feeling. Yeah. When you’re like, yeah,

Marc Scheff

yeah, that’s very, that’s very much. I feel like that’s very much a traditional media kind of process where where that kind of exploration and discovery can can happen.

Iva Mikles

And what about in a future? Or, you know, like your upcoming project? What is in your like, schedule? Or what are you looking forward to?

Marc Scheff

Well, the kids just got off to school. So basically, I’m just trying to hang on for the summer. I have two kids, they’re both, they’re both great. I don’t they’re both a lot more, they have a lot of energy. So so the summer, I’m not teaching. So I my summer is really focused on making work and spending time, you know, spending time with my kids and my family. But in terms of the work, you know, I’m working towards this show. It’s called a lux con in Pennsylvania in October, I think and I’ll be in there, they have a juried show, and I’ll be in that show. And I am really my that’s kind of my next endpoint for where I want to take this exploration. So my work kind of goes in waves where I will have a show I just have the show open at Haven. And then I’ll probably sleep for a week. And then and then I get into studio and all of the ideas that I had been kind of taking notes on. I’ll pull that out and say okay, well now let’s start exploring. And so right now I’m in the The exploration phase and probably in a week or two, I’ll get into, alright, let’s take these pieces, you know, this stuff that looks like a mess in this stuff, it feels like a mess. And let’s take these pieces and start putting it together into a body of work. So I’ve got a few pieces over here that are designed really to push me and to push my process and my own thinking, both in terms of size and media and subject matter. And I don’t want to make the same. I don’t ever want to make the same thing every single time. Even with the digital work, I want to constantly be exploring new ways of doing that. But with the traditional it’s not to say it’s easier, it’s infinitely more frustrating but but I like that each of my shows there’s something new, there’s something that I’ve taken with done with the media that wasn’t in my previous show. For me, that’s, that’s, that’s life as an artist, that’s that’s the best way you can what are the God the ambrosia

Iva Mikles

being an evolving and learning all the time basically.

Marc Scheff

Well, yeah, learning all the time. I mean, that’s exactly it, I want to be learning all the time, if I get into a place where I’m just making an making and making kind of the same, the same the same that’s, I need more than that for for me. And like I said, right at the, you know, somewhere back in this interview, this this work is it as much for me as it is. For other people. I’m very, very glad that other people enjoy it. And certainly, you know, it’s, it’s, we have to sell our work. So that’s important. But, but for me, it’s art is it’s almost I mean, it’s a kind of therapy in a way for me to explore these ideas about about what I’m looking at. And it’s

Iva Mikles

also a certain lifestyle and being with everyone around you just create this. So that’s awesome. Yeah,

Marc Scheff

yeah, my wife, I mean, my wife has a pig, she’s, I mean, she does other work with these, um, we’re sitting, these are her paintings behind me. They’re all this is just the size of the painting. So she I mean, she’s a painter, my son is absolutely an artist. He’s, he’s, he’s deep into drawing comic books. He’s getting getting very good. So I am surrounded by people who enjoy art my daughter also, but she’s, she’s still in sort of circles right now.

Iva Mikles

Awesome. And far, far future, you know, what would be your dream scenario in like, 10 years, like, you cannot fail, and you can do anything you want to do? And also, what would you like to be remembered for in 100 years? You know, you look really really far.

Marc Scheff

Man. That is a great question. You know, there’s there’s things that I think we all want to be we all want to be remembered for our work? I think, I think I think I mean, I think I can’t think of an artist who doesn’t, doesn’t want their work to be remembered. And, you know, if there’s a legacy I leave with my work, I think, you know, certainly I want people to remember what it looks like.

Marc Scheff

It’s a tough question for me, just because just because because because I do these different things I make I make work. But I also work with people. And so there’s a like, there’s something to be remembered for there as well. I had I had someone come up to me, this was such, I mean, I got a little teary eyed when she told me but someone came up to me, it was showing me her work. And I knew this person. And I had spoken with them before, a few years ago when they were struggling with their work. And then they were a student of mine. And I helped them work through some specific issues with their work. And what she brought to me was awesome. I just looked at her portfolio, and I say, this is this is this is great work. And I was really excited. And she said, Well, you know, it was it was that conversation that you had with me a few years ago? And then it was those things that you pointed out to me and and there’s no way I would even be here if it weren’t for you. I mean, I’m getting Yeah, I’m getting a little verklempt thinking about it. But I don’t know what that is. I don’t I don’t know how to codify that into language but, but to have someone say to you, your work mattered to me, your artwork, you know, I’m wearing my David Bowie shirt here and he and he left so much behind to inspire us in his work. So if someone looks if someone can look back and say, you know it, that that my work made a difference in their lives, whether it’s the the artwork that I’m making, or the fact that I’m making it or how I make it or the or my teaching or reaching out to people making a difference for people that’s, I think, I think that’s that’s a good thing to be remembered for.

Iva Mikles

Because then you can Help someone who wants to create and then you already did it and you know, like how to progress. And so you can share that knowledge and just like, help everyone around you, which is super awesome.

Marc Scheff

Yeah, yeah, I look at someone like I mean, I look at someone like David Bowie whose work I also love. But if you look at his, his museum show is currently here, just down the street from me in Brooklyn, I’ve gone a few times. And, and you look at his work, and, you know, everybody knows some Bowie, a bunch of people know more of it, but nobody knows all of it, because he was constantly exploring and making things and inspiring people through just just his making of the work, he talked to anybody, anybody who worked with him, it was such a great experience. He was he was so you know, he was a visionary. But he was also, you know, he trusted people he worked and he let people, you know, run and, and run with their own ideas. And then, you know, he was, he was out there pushing ideas and culture that were uncomfortable for people at the time, and pushing these ideas of not only, you know, acceptance being certainly certainly one of them, but ideas about how to work as an artist, because there’s a lot of stuff that he made that we’re, you know, you would classify as failures, albums that didn’t work fans that didn’t work, art that never saw, you know, all this stuff that he made, but he never stopped making it. And that has that, just that side of him, never mind the work itself, that aspect of him is what has been an inspiration to me. And so if there’s an aspect, if there’s a side, if there’s something like that, that I can leave behind, you know, for people to be an inspiration for, like a role, a role model, even in a way for people to live up to. Yeah, and that’d be amazing.

Iva Mikles

Definitely, I’m looking forward to see more of your project in the future, and what you will work with and all of that. And because I don’t want to hold you too long, then before we finish, maybe you can share last piece of advice or key takeaway, and then we will slowly.

Marc Scheff

Sure. What do you what do you tell? What do you tell? There’s the question, the question that I have heard is, you know, what do you what would you what would you want to share with other artists out there who are listening to this? And I think, yeah, I think the thing that I would say, and this comes also from, I was an athlete in high school, well, I wasn’t the best athlete, but I did, I did wrestle in high school, I wasn’t great at any other sport. But I just remember from from from wrestling, just learning, grit, and mental toughness, and just not giving up. And you know, when you’re, when you’re out on the mat, and you have six minutes, and you’re in minute, two, and you’ve, you’re out of gas, you know, but you, but you, but you don’t want to let the guy you know, put your back on the ground, and you just, you just you just don’t stop, you just keep you just keep going, you make sure that you leave it all out there, you don’t ever want to get off the mat thing had a little bit left, that could have gone a little bit harder. And so you know, I think about that, in terms of what I want to say to artists and in terms of, you know, making art is, is don’t, don’t ever stop making art, maybe maybe don’t, maybe don’t work on that big piece, maybe work on a little sketchbook just just every day, make sure that you’re making something, make sure that you’re creating something. And also pay attention to that there’s a there’s a mindfulness aspect that I think a lot of us forget about. Because we’re so focused on getting to the next gallery show, getting the next job, getting the bigger thing, getting more money, getting all these different things that we can easily forget where we are where we’ve come. So so the the thing that I I say is, is, you know, keep get in the habit of making work. If you have that habit of making work, whether it’s a tiny little sketch or a big painting, you can’t lose. And if you can, if you ever get frustrated, go and look at what you were doing five years ago, if you were making work every day, you know, even even in a little sketchbook, you’re better than you were five years ago. And to measure yourself against that rather than measure yourself against everybody who’s out there who’s better than you because there’s always going to be people better than you. And you and you in five years is going to be better than you. So look forward to that.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, definitely. And as you mentioned, just like keep doing something every day and you can write a gratitude journal or just write some like small three. Yeah, like okay, this is good. This is what happened or this was before so yeah,

Marc Scheff

definitely. Yeah, whatever. Whatever. Whatever your craft is, I’d say just make sure you’re getting a little bit of that. Every day. I keep this this is my hair off Show. This is the last thing I’ll show you. This is my this is my like this big. This is a little sketchbook I carry around and it’s all So my wallet I keep my credit cards in here. But it’s great because I just have, you know, have a little pen and I and everywhere I go, I can just take a little sketch like, this was my this is you can see this as my kids watching, watching their iPad, having dinner, but you know, I’m sitting there and I’ve got a couple minutes and I say, You know what I gotta make sure to get, I gotta make sure that my hands moving today. And I think that if you have those habits, you know, that’s that’s what builds that’s what builds great careers is the small the small habits.

Iva Mikles

And then you will also remember the moments better because then everything else blends together in.

Marc Scheff

Well, there’s, there’s the upside of that. See, I was just looking through an old one of these. And it was great because I was showing a friend and I realized I had the story of my life. Or that you know, that couple of weeks of my life, which was such a great it was such a great experience to go back and look at that.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, so many great ideas. So yeah, thank you so much again, for being here. It was super inspirational.

Marc Scheff

Well, thank you for having me. I love the podcast and the people you talk to so it’s a real honor to be here. Oh, thank

Iva Mikles

you so much for joining, really joining to share this all this knowledge. So everyone else is now like inspired. And I’m sure so thanks everyone who would like watching or listening and see you guys in the next episode. All right. Hey, guys, thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate you being here. 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 couple of free artists resources ready for you on the website as well. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher so I can region inspire more artists like you. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Continue to inspire each other and I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

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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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