Ep.27: Art is craft and science with Proko

Iva Mikles
Ep.27: Art is craft and science with Proko

Stan Prokopenko is an artist, teacher, and owner of Proko.com, a resource for artists to get good art instruction videos.

I try to make the Proko tutorials entertaining while keeping them educational. I feel that if you’re having fun and enjoying the learning process, you learn better. You retain more information, you pay more attention, you’re much more likely to continue learning and more likely to go back and re-watch tutorials. And it will leave you more inspired and motivated to go practice. If fun and informative had a baby they would name it Proko.

Great value
Anatomy of the Human Body

Learn human anatomy from one of the masters!

In this course, you will learn all the anatomy you need to draw the human forms accurately and make them look like real people!


Stan studied at the Watts Atelier of the Arts in Encinitas, California, where he got most of his art training. In 2007 he became a teacher at the Watts Atelier of the Arts and hs taught drawing and painting classes on numerous topics such as portrait, figure, quick sketch, and plein air landscape.

In the past, Stan created a five-minute animated short film, “A Game of Pool”, which featured on all American Airlines flights in September through December of 2004.

Get in touch with Stan

Great value
Anatomy of the Human Body

Learn human anatomy from one of the masters!

In this course, you will learn all the anatomy you need to draw the human forms accurately and make them look like real people!


Key Takeaways

“Don’t forget to have fun, don’t forget to enjoy what you are doing. If you are struggling, just try to figure out what got you into this in the first place. Most artists are artists because they loved it in the beginning. “

  • Most of the colleges are bad at teaching. They teach to be free and do what you feel, but you can’t have an idea w/o executing it. Art is craft and science. He is glad he didn’t go to those colleges.
  • Start with drawing, even when you want to paint. It’s easier to learn basics with drawing, because you are not distracted by color (that you can learn later)
  • When you start, you will be frustrated because things fall into each other. You just have to start somewhere. He started painting landscapes when he was 13. At home he drew things around him, anything, cup, action figure so he could get the proportions right
  • The best is to draw things you are interested in. You need to like it not to give up – once you are comfortable there, you can go more complex

Resources mentioned

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

All artworks by Stan Prokopenko, used with permission

Click Here For The Episode Transcript

Announcer  0:03  

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  0:32  

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 an amazing painter, teacher, animator and graphic designer from California since the age 13. He devoted his life to art, and during high school he got internship at Sony Online Entertainment to animate for the upcoming video game Everquest two in 2003. He began studying The worlds of arts in Encinitas, California, where he got most of these arts training. His focus shifted from animation to fine art painting. And few years later, he became a teacher there and he has still drawing and painting classes on numerous topics such as portrayed figure, quick sketch, and plain air landscape. He’s the creator of broca.com and online tutorials platform featuring video instructions about anatomy, figure drawing, portraits, and caricature. If you want to try some of these courses, stay tuned until the end of the video where he shares the code of 20% discount of any of his courses. So please welcome Stan prokopenko and let’s just jump into interview everyone to the next episode of The Art side of life and I’m super happy to have my guest here. Hi, Stan. Hi, how are you doing? 

Stan Prokopenko  1:53  

Good, good and how are you? I’m doing well tired But 

Iva  1:58  

baby keeping you up

Stan Prokopenko  1:59  

Yeah, but he’s a month, one month old now. 

Iva  2:03  

Yeah, yeah. So it’s like a lot of creativity bringing through your tiredness, no creativity. And so it’s about babies. And how were you, baby? Did you have like a creative outlet as a child or, like very creative right away?

Stan Prokopenko  2:24  

Yeah, my mom tells me that when I was little, she would just give me paper and pencil, and it would keep me busy for a few hours. So that that was her way of making me just do my own thing. So So yeah, I was drawing at a very early age, but I was just doodling.

Iva  2:41  

Yeah, well, I mean that. I mean, it started right. Yeah,

Stan Prokopenko  2:45  

I’m sure it had. It developed a little part of my brain early on. So

Iva  2:49  

in which I kind of the biggest like turning points of the decisions you had to do when you were like taking this like okay, I want to take this professionally.

Stan Prokopenko  3:00  

It was in high school. So I had, I had two really good teachers in high school that I think changed my life because they gave me the resources I needed to make a decision, first of all, to become an artist and also to get the skills. So the first teacher was my animation teacher. He got me really excited about art. I actually ended up taking animation every semester in high school because he made animation so fun. And then I think about sophomore junior year in high school, I took drawing and painting class, and that teacher introduced me to the watts of Tilly, which was a school in the area, it’s only about half an hour from my house. And that’s a school for adults. So it wasn’t like a high school program or anything. It was just a school and until a program and I started taking classes there on the weekends. And then I ended up staying there for 10 years.

Iva  4:02  

Oh, so cool. And do you remember the conversation you had with your parents when you told him I want to take this professionally?

Unknown Speaker  4:11  


Stan Prokopenko  4:14  

No, I don’t. And I think that conversation I mean, I’ve always I was always interested in drawing and painting. So I don’t think I ever told them like, yep, this is it. This is what I’m doing. I think they just they kind of saw the transition, the slow transition and the interest. Now, did you ever have to, like sacrifice something in order to pursue your passion? Yeah. I mean, for me, it wasn’t a sacrifice because I it was an easy decision, but I had to make a decision. So I was in karate for about, I don’t know, 10 or 12 years or something as a kid. And in high school. I my karate instructor and wanted me to get really serious about it, and start training for competitions, international stuff, and I was like, while I kind of want I do this drawing thing. I don’t have time to train every day for four hours. You know, because that’s how what it would take if I had to if I wanted to do international competitions. I’d have to come in every day for like four hours. And I’m like, now Nevermind. I’m gonna draw.

Iva  5:16  

So yeah, it did. You actually, like decided to go to school when you were deciding between sport and join.

Stan Prokopenko  5:24  

Yeah, that was around the same time. Yeah, that’s, that’s around the time I started going to the watts of tilia. Yeah,

Iva  5:29  

yeah. Wow, cool. Yeah, I had actually the similar experience. I was also doing the sport professionally, then I was like, oh, okay, so I don’t want to do this, like forever.

Stan Prokopenko  5:38  

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, as a kid, it once it gets that serious. It kind of takes the fun away from it. And so I didn’t really like it anymore. The Karate. It was just too too much training and like, Oh, you gotta win this competition. Like, I want to do my own creative stuff.

Iva  5:58  

Yeah, did you like that? mentor or someone who inspired you the most to create something inside of these two teachers.

Stan Prokopenko  6:08  

A mentor? Well, I mean, as an adult or as a young adult, the teachers that wants to tell you where my best mentors I also had a few mentors as like, you know, friends, people that I met as acquaintances throughout just like non art things. And they helped me out a lot just in making just life decisions and stuff. But yeah, definitely I had a lot of adults in my life that I always went to for help when I wanted to make decisions and just get advice from

Iva  6:47  

so what would you say was like a best advice you ever received? about your career?

Unknown Speaker  6:57  

Jeez, that’s such a big question.

Stan Prokopenko  7:01  

best advice

so much.

Iva  7:08  

I think

Stan Prokopenko  7:09  

I mean, there’s so many I don’t think I could single out one of them. I mean, like for in karate, for example, just the training was very good to, to transition into art, which I think a lot of people who don’t have the discipline from early on approach art is just something that’s just fun and it’s something that I do just to enjoy myself. But coming from a competitive, athletic background. You know, you you go into it thinking, Okay, I could put a lot of time and effort into this and I could train like I did with karate, and I could get really good. And so just that discipline applied to art really helped me

Yeah, I guess that’s one thing.

Iva  8:01  

And what about like, the worst advice or something? Maybe you see that people give to young artists now, because you know, you are around students as well, a lot. So, do you have experience in that?

Stan Prokopenko  8:16  

Okay, I guess in general, it’s kind of a more of a pet peeve of mine. And it could work for some people. It’s just like, I don’t know, in America, a lot of most of the call art colleges are really bad at training people how to draw and paint a lot of them approach it as just, you know, be free and do what you feel. And it’s like, well, yeah, there is that side of art. There’s the creativity side of it, but you can’t. You can’t have just an idea without being able to execute it. And art is also a science and there’s a craft that you have to get good at and when you Go to school and you pay sometimes $60,000 a year to learn and all they do is tell you to feel it kind of makes me mad. I’m glad I didn’t go to those colleges. Because I would have been I’d be in debt without any knowledge of how to drop. But so that I think that’s the worst thing right now about the art world is the horrible training in our colleges. And

Iva  9:31  

how do you approach learning when you want to build up your skills and what do you teach? Where Where do you usually suggest people to start or like, Okay, this is the starting point, and then you develop this way

Stan Prokopenko  9:46  

for drawing, yeah, or just an art. So, well, first I recommend even if you want to paint, I recommend you start withdrawing because it’s they overlap a lot. All the fundamentals you can learn with drawing, and it’s a lot easier to learn it with drawing, because you’re not distracted by color, and the application of paint, those are advanced topics. color and application of paint are things that you should worry about later once you have the fundamentals already comfortable. So just developing your ITC, you know, composition perspective, light, how shade light and shade works, all of that stuff. You know, you could learn it with just drawing and it’s so much cheaper because all you need is a pencil on a piece of paper and you don’t have to pay for, you know, hundreds of dollars for oil paints and canvas and all that that gets really expensive. So yeah, start with drawing. And personally, I like the human body. So and I think a lot of people, when they look at art, they also really, they like to look at the human body and I don’t mean like the nude body. You could just be a face, it could be hands, it can be whatever It’s just that, you know, we all connect better when we see an actual person or rather than, like a train or something, you know. So and I feel like if you can draw the body or portrait, you can draw anything because it’s so difficult to draw a face well. So I recommend starting with just studying the body and study how to draw.

Iva  11:23  

Yeah, yeah. So something also which interests you, right. So you are more drawn to it. So as you say, like either characters because we can identify with them better.

Stan Prokopenko  11:34  

Yeah, characters. Okay. Yeah. I mean, you mean like character design or?

Iva  11:40  

Yeah, like, as you said, like humans in general, like, rather than starting just with a tree, but just started with you can you can do trees.

Stan Prokopenko  11:49  

I think starting with the human body, that’s probably just my own personal opinion. I don’t see I don’t think that’s like everybody needs to start with the human body, but I don’t think so. I think more just fundamental Like, develop your I learned perspective composition, gesture shading and you can learn all that stuff by drawing, you know boxes and trees and animals or whatever you like. It doesn’t have to be the body I just think that it’s a good place to it’s a good subject to start from those people

Iva  12:21  

and what did you learn over the years about the observation when you are like just about to draw something because it can be really overwhelming for someone who just starting out and like okay, I have this giant scene or the whole human there and like oh, there is perspective there is light there is every every day. How do you you know, like, what is maybe the best learning you kind of like found out about the observing

Stan Prokopenko  12:45  

of just observation. Yeah, how to get like the measurement, the proportions correct.

Iva  12:50  

Or just, you know, like, how to explain it like how to start you know, when you are like, okay, I want to learn how to observe things. So would you just like break it in like, okay, time I’m learning about perspective. In this time, I’m learning about light. And in this way,

Stan Prokopenko  13:07  

yeah, that’s tough because there’s so many things to learn. And they all kind of depend on each other. expect that when you start, you’re going to be really frustrated because there’s so many gaps in your knowledge. And like, it’s like you’re you’re learning how to shade but your proportions are all off. And so that’s frustrating, or you start with proportions, but then you’re everything looks flat, because you have no idea how light and shadow works. It’s going to be frustrating. I think. Just try to have fun with it. I don’t think there’s any specific order of what to learn in order to optimize it, and to be not frustrated. I started with what I start with. Well, it’s kind of hard to say I started painting landscapes when I was like 13, because I had a friend who painted and I kind of went out a few times with him

went out for my parents friend he painted. And so that was

it was painting. So that kind of made it difficult, but it was landscape. So that was a little easier. And then I at home, I like to just draw things around me. So a cup, you know, a bowl of cereal or something, an action figure, whatever it was that I was around me, I just kind of drew it and all I really cared about at that moment was getting the proportions right. I don’t know why that’s all I cared about, but I just wanted to really capture that shape. It was it was like an obsession. But a lot of other things. Were not correcting that but I didn’t know that they weren’t correct cuz i was i was young and I just I didn’t really have a good idea. So

I think the best approach is to

is to draw the things that you’re interested in. Because if you just do the things that I’m telling you to do, you’re going to not like it. And you might give up. So, so I think, develop your eye by drawing the things that you like to draw. And then once you kind of come a little bit more comfortable with it, then you can start getting a little more serious and get more disciplined with specific subjects.

That make does that?

Iva  15:41  

Yeah, yeah. Makes sense. In so when you are creating your own artworks, do you have like a favorite pencil or a favorite tool like oh, this is my I have a lot of favorites. Yeah.

Stan Prokopenko  15:55  

I have a favorite for every medium basically. So for graphi I recently started liking the blackwing pencils. They’re the they’re animated pencils back in the day and they recently brought them back. They’re really an I feel really nice. I also like the I don’t know how to pronounce it as Stadler, Stadler, Fiddler. It’s spelled really weird to, they have a thick mechanical pencil, where you put really thick lead into it, it’s blue, and it’s got metal on both ends. I really like those mechanical pencils, because they’re thick, and you can sharpen them really long. Not like, you know, like normal mechanical pencils that you use in like math class or something. They’re really thin and you get only a point. With these. They’re thick and so you can sharpen them to have a little bit of a side as well. And I like those four when I’m trying to get things really detailed. Like if I’m drawing A long portrait that I want to make it really finished the polished all use those because I could really get into the the the crevices of the paper and I could really get clean cross hatching with those. So as a graphite for charcoal and charcoal i think is my preferred drawing medium. I like the contest I’ve made a video about my drawing supplies as well.


let’s see painting oil. That’s my go to.

I like wash.

Iva  17:37  

You’re using a lot of different materials and we can for those of the lingo notes for your video about the art supplies if like our audience want to check out what do you actually use? And when you’re creating your stuff is there like the vision or mission you’re always trying to communicate? Like kind of what is your branding?

Stan Prokopenko  17:56  

Um, so when I’m when I’m drawing

Iva  17:58  

Yeah, how would you do Describe your brand or so how people know your art style or my art style. Is there something you know in your creations that is always there?

Stan Prokopenko  18:12  

I don’t think so. I think it’s still developing my art style still developing it

I wouldn’t even know because

if you look at my drawings

I don’t know five years ago they look a little different than they look now.

I mean, I like clean, light and shadow, more direct light.

I like good edge work.

Where you know not everything is not just the wishy it’s you have very clean sharp edges and you got very good soft edges where they need to be.

draftsmanship is important for me

where things are controlled. But then every once in a while

there’s a little bit of controlled chaos as well.

Yeah, it’s kind of hard to describe your own stuff.

Yeah. If you look at my paintings, a lot of the subject matter that I did was of like Ukrainian village Atlanta farm life, that, but that’s not really a style that’s more of a subject matter. But

Iva  19:32  

it was interest to you, you know, so it’s kind of like, you know, like, if you really like landscape then it will be always there and then you want to talk about I don’t know, like nature there.

Stan Prokopenko  19:44  


Iva  19:45  

Maybe you just don’t know. And how do you design your day? What is something maybe your routine or now as you said, Now you have a small baby, so it’s definitely different.

Stan Prokopenko  19:59  

Every went out the window.

I don’t have a routine anymore. But let’s say one month ago

Okay, so I mean right now I have an office with with the team. So my routine has changed a little bit over the past few years because I have people to help me and I have an office to go to. So I have a very strict you know, schedule that strict. I could not go if I it’s my office, I don’t have to go. But I stick to it. You know, I go in, I’ll wake up I’ll have breakfast.

Get you know, get washed up and everything and then

I lately I’ve actually been walking to work. My, my, my office is about three miles away. So it’s a perfect like one hour walk. And that really gets me my brain working. I’m very active after that hour walk. I come in. I’ll work for eight to 10 hours. Go home.

And hanging out with my wife.

While I’m working, it’s we have a we use the scrum method. So we have everything that we want to get done ever, like in a list. And there’s, and it’s rated by like, how important is it or not? How important how, how, how complicated is the task. And so there’s a point value assigned. And so if, if I have if I’m just kind of working, and I come up with an idea, and I think, Oh, I really got to do this, instead of just starting on doing that thing. I just put it in the list. Because it might not be the most important thing to do right now. It it’s just the thing I thought of right now. So I put it on the list. I give it a value. And then every Monday we evaluate Okay, what should we do this week? And we we take those things and we put it on the list for this week. And We know if we can get all those done because we have points assigned to them. And we know how much we can get done every week, we kind of after doing it for a year, you kind of figure out, Okay, this is how much I could do. So you put only the amount you can do for that week. And and you focus on those high priority things, not the things that you are urgent, you have to have a good balance between urgent tasks and important tasks. So that’s like the more science mind of me that like it has to stay organized. But of course, you know, I’m an artist, every once in a while, just get it and I just have to run with it. So I’ll get distracted and I just like do, I just won’t stick to that list and I’ll do whatever I want. And that works sometimes. You know if you know how to balance that out those two sides some really good things going to happen because staying strict with the things that really needs to get done while at the same time really exploring the things that are your mind is just kind of randomly creating those two can make some really interesting things happen in your life.

Iva  23:17  

How long does it usually take you to create the are either drawing or painting, like on average,

Stan Prokopenko  23:25  

like a really serious drawing or painting that I was put into a gallery, I would say

between 10 and 30 hours.

Iva  23:38  

And so and now can you share some exciting projects you’re working on now or something coming up in the future, which is not secret anymore?

Stan Prokopenko  23:49  

Yeah, well, we have a lot of things we’re working on.

As far as tutorials where we’re kind of perspective course that we’ve been working on for like, four years. Now I’m working on the basics course a beginners course for artists, I realized I don’t really have that I started right out with figure drawing portrait drawing. But it kind of requires people to know some of the basics. So I’m about halfway through creating the beginners course. So somebody who has no experience in drawing, and they want to start, this will be the course for them. That one we’re hoping to release sometime next year. We’re also working on a I’m calling it the Masterpiece Series, where I’m going to various artists studios, and I’m recording them creating a work of art. And it’s not I’m not going in to the studios to record like a tutorial. It’s more of I’m going to come in and I’m just going to record you paint. Just paint how you regularly paint. Like if if you are Going to put something in a gallery? How would you do it? And I just want to record the process. So I’ve been doing that I’ve recorded Aaron westerberg is a really good artist. And we’re editing that now. I have a few more artists lined up. They’re not set yet, so I don’t want to say anything about them. But I wanted to make that a regular thing. Just releasing those, you know, and those would be like, really long videos, because it’s like, you know, some people it could take like, like me 10 to 30 hours to do one painting. That would be what I felt.

Iva  25:36  

So you will have to split it up into some digestible blink. Yeah, I guess.

Stan Prokopenko  25:40  

Yeah, I think we haven’t we haven’t finished editing the first one. So I don’t know exactly what it’s going to be like. But my idea is we’ll have two versions will have like, maybe a two hour version where we condense the whole thing into something that you can watch in one or two sittings. And then if you want to really go in and watch it Real time, we’ll have that footage available as well. So it’s like, you know, the, if it’s a 15 hour painting, you’re not going to sit there for 15 hours, just watching. You might watch for two hours. And you might think, Oh, I really like how he painted that I. And then you go to the real time footage, and you watch just that portion of how he painted the art. Yeah. Yeah.

Iva  26:25  

Would you have also the artists speaking there as well? Maybe something like a documentary? Yeah. So you can like switching between like painting and speaking?

Stan Prokopenko  26:34  

Yeah, we’re, what I did with Aaron westerberg was, I interviewed him before and after each sitting. So every time he painted, and I asked him, like, what are you going to do? that he would do it? And then I asked, okay, so what did you do? And he would talk about it all. And so what I think I’ll do is I’ll take that interview, and just kind of overlay it over the video. He’s speaking.

Iva  27:01  

Oh, nice. Yeah. He’s painting. Oh, yeah, I’m yeah, I can have some as well. Maybe you said like anything. Okay. Anyway, so it was supposed to be painting. And when you have so many different projects, how do you decide you know to like, okay, now I will work on this project what is going on in your head when you have to say no to project?

Stan Prokopenko  27:20  

Yeah, yeah, we have, like I was saying we have a list of all the things we want to do. There’s too many. There’s way too many things were done. We just can’t do them. But we discuss it as a group. We just and we all talk about Okay, why do we think this is the thing we should do now? Or why this should probably be put off to later. It’s just a discussion that we have and we decide based on what we need at that moment, and what we want as a company. Yeah, and that’s me talking croco like the company. As a for myself as an artist. I I kind of just do what makes me happy.

Iva  27:58  

And how did you find people to work with, I mean, like if you are happy with them or whether they like your friends or did you find them somewhere online? Or how does that work for you?

Stan Prokopenko  28:09  

Well, I slowly built it up as as income from selling tutorials slowly grew. I slowly hired help. Like when I was able to afford one person. I hired one person to help me with editing. And I found that the first one I found through a friend is actually Marshall vanderhoof. He’s, he’s a good friend of mine. He’s a teacher, and he has a lot of students that he knows because he teaches at a pretty good, good college.

And so he recommended this one student and I

say you want to help me with editing and he said yes. And we did that. Is that allows me to focus more, more of my time on things that are a little more maybe more important and less urgent and So that helps the company grow. And then I have more income and then I add more employees. So it just natural growth of a company.

Iva  29:08  

So how did you start it though? Because you mentioned that you started to sell your tutorials. How did that happen? Or what was the first step to sell the tutorials? And how did you grow from that? Okay, so

Stan Prokopenko  29:22  

the first thing I had was a blog, where and that was, like, eight years ago, maybe I started a blog, and that was when I was teaching at the watts tilia. I would just write stuff, make a little tutorial posted on my website, just for just to kind of help me practice teaching. And those tutorials became popular. I kind of got a following. There was I don’t think there was a face but ya know, there was a Facebook now right? What am I talking about? There was Facebook, but I wasn’t really growing my facebook at all. I just had a personal Facebook. It was more of my blog that was growing and people had RSS feeds back in the day. And that’s what became popular and I collected that I’m a good mailing list. And then I decided when YouTube started becoming pretty big, I decided to turn my blog posts into videos. And as soon as I started doing those, those became much more popular than my blog posts and start started focusing on those. And my blog posts were all about portrait drawing so that I just turned those blog posts into videos. So my first videos, were all about portrait drawing. And they were all free. I wasn’t really trying to make money at that point, because I had my teaching job. And this was just kind of the trying to get the word out trying to get my name out there. And eventually, people started asking like, Hey, can I buy a DVD of all these videos? And a lot of people requested this so then I thought, Okay, fine. I’ll put put all these videos on a DVD. It’s the same exact content you can get for free on YouTube. But if you want a DVD version of it, here you go. And a lot of people ended up buying it.

Iva  30:54  

Yeah, people. So for convenience.

Stan Prokopenko  30:57  

Yeah, exactly. So then I thought, Okay, well, there’s some money in this. So I will start a figure drawing course. And I’ll have some content for free and a little bit more content that’s only available if you pay on my website. So they just they log in and they view the premium version. And people bought those and it just kind of slowly grew from there.

Iva  31:21  

Cool. Cool. Yeah. Because then you didn’t like some people decide for Patreon, right? First and yeah, so you right away started on your website?

Stan Prokopenko  31:29  

Yeah. When when I started that, I don’t think Patreon was really that big yet.

Iva  31:34  

Yeah. Because it’s like, I don’t know how many years now. But yeah,

Stan Prokopenko  31:38  

yeah. Yeah, I think I started maybe four or five years ago on YouTube. And Patreon maybe started like three years ago. I don’t know. I didn’t hear about Patreon until I was I already had a business model setup. So it didn’t make sense for me to switch.

Iva  31:55  

Now cool and now you have like the one main income is from the courses and Your company right? Or do you just sell like your art prints on the side? Or, or this is one main as you said, it’s pretty much

Stan Prokopenko  32:07  

tutorials. Yeah, perfect. Yeah. Good for you.

I’d like to thank more. I’d like to, I’d like to have a little more time painting but right now, I’ve decided I’m going to focus more time on teaching other people how to paint and grow my grow my company, so that I can paint whatever I want to paint so that I don’t have to rely on selling my paintings. I can have this company that makes money and then I could just paint because I love painting. It’s not something I want to do to make money. It’s something I just that I just want to do. And I I learned from painting commissions because I used to do a lot of commissions for people portrait portrait painting, and I really didn’t enjoy those. Like it’s great painting for an income. It’s better than You know, working for, you know, a fast food restaurant or something. But as a creative, it’s just, it’s not as enjoyable as just coming up with your own idea and going with it. You know, somebody sends you a photo that’s badly lit of their grandchild or something, and you have to paint it. It’s really, it’s kind of annoying. So I stopped doing that. So I just want to paint whatever I want to paint it. But right now I’m not. I’m waiting for my company to be a little more stable without me. Where I can work on it half of the time, and then work on my own stuff out. Perfect.

Iva  33:39  

Yeah. And is there something you wish you knew before you started the whole art career or your company? There’s something I wish I knew. Yeah.

Maybe like oh, by two young self, you know?

Stan Prokopenko  33:57  

Yeah. Well, this is more of a business advice. It’s not Really advice for artists, it’s basically don’t be afraid to delegate. Because when most people when they’re starting a company, they think that they’re the only ones that can do what they do. Which is this natural at all. There’s plenty of very talented, very skilled people out there that know what to do. So I always thought like, okay, I could I could hire someone to help me with editing, but I can’t hire someone to help me with scripts because the script of the video that’s like the most important part, and then I just tried it and she ends up writing scripts better than I am, and then I do so like,

Iva  34:36  

it is the best game. Yeah.

Stan Prokopenko  34:38  

So don’t be afraid to delegate. Just try it. You might hire someone who might not be as good as you. And if it doesn’t work out, try again, hire somebody else. Eventually you’ll find people there are people that can do what you do. It’s not that you know, cannot bet you make

Iva  35:01  

No, no. It’s Yeah, that’s totally true. Because sometimes we feel like oh, but then you know, like, but you can free up your time so you can actually do more of you are the best it may be.

Stan Prokopenko  35:14  

Yeah, and I don’t mean delegate everything. I mean, start by delegating the things you don’t want to do. Start delegating the things that will free up your time to do things that you really enjoy and the things that you’re really good at the things you are the best at. Just leave those things, everything else just delegate that stuff. And

Iva  35:35  

can you also care like, maybe the most difficult moment or the like the worst career moment so far and what do you learn from it?

Unknown Speaker  35:45  

Worst career moment.

Stan Prokopenko  35:49  

Oh, man.

Unknown Speaker  35:51  

You’re making me think

Stan Prokopenko  35:58  

you mean like financial Or in like, in what way

Iva  36:02  

it doesn’t really matter. It can be you know, like after school where you were not sure what to do or it can be also like you had the bed client or basically doesn’t matter something you remember like, okay, I hit that time and then I overcame this time with this solution.

Announcer  36:20  


Stan Prokopenko  36:27  

Yeah, well one thing I kind of mentioned already was the Commission’s

I really didn’t enjoy those and

one reason was because a lot of the photos people would give me were not very good photos to paint from, you know, personally I like to draw and paint from life from the the natural source that’s the best way to paint is just to look at the actual thing right in front of you. The next best thing if you don’t have that luxury is a photograph, but if it’s a bad photograph is this This is such a pain. It’s so different from drawing from life or painting from life.

And so what I did

halfway through my, you know, my commission career is I, I started saying no to people that had only bad photographs. I was like, No, I, I’m not going to paint this, I’m sorry. And that helped, because then the photos were better. And they were a little bit easier to, to get information out of so that I can make artistic decisions. And but I was still not enjoying them. Because they were still not my own photos. They’re not my ideas. And then I just said no, eventually, and now I just do what I like to do.

Iva  37:49  

Do you still have like down days as well? And maybe if you do, how do you motivate yourself to continue?

Stan Prokopenko  37:55  

Like when I’m just not feeling Yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah. Yeah, for some reason it’s like every once in a while just like forget how to draw. It could just be maybe I’m struggling with something in my personal life or something and then like my brain is just not functioning 100% or I maybe I just need to exercise a little bit more and maybe I need to get more sleep. Yeah, sometimes it’s really frustrating because things just don’t come out the way they usually do. That I think the best thing for me, I guess the best thing to do is try to struggle through it for a few hours. Sometimes it you get past it and you just find your groove. But after a few hours, if it’s just not happening, I just, I go do something else. And I come back to it.

Iva  38:48  

Do you something maybe which simplifies your life if you have a hard time either organizing or creating something something maybe bold recently as like, this is like the best thing ever. for organizing, it doesn’t matter for what these just like something which simplifies your life in a good way.

Stan Prokopenko  39:06  

Simplify well a good computer for me, is, is very important because, I mean, I do a lot of things on the computer editing videos and stuff. And if it’s slow the creative processes, it’s like equivalent to a bad photograph. And when you’re painting, if the computer is lagging it, it destroys the whole creative process because you’re waiting for the computer rather than the computer waiting for you. And when you’re waiting for the computer, it stops it stops you from continuing the flow. So I’m always making sure my computer is fast enough. So PC

Iva  39:45  

or Mac

Stan Prokopenko  39:49  

Yeah, laptop, Mac, desktop PC.

Iva  39:54  

It’s so hard to decide. I was looking for PCs Now recently and like for for editing video especially and then it’s like Go big graphic card which I don’t know what then. Yeah, so many options.

Stan Prokopenko  40:05  

Yeah, I mean for for laptop, I like Mac because they have the best laptops. They’re, they’re very well made. They’re fast. But I don’t like to edit on my laptop. This is just for the on the go, well, stuff but when I’m in my office and I need to edit my 4k videos that are just extremely huge and I need a PC which I can customize to be very powerful. A Macintosh that’s equivalent

would cost me like $12,000 that’s

Iva  40:37  

Wow. So you when you were deciding what PC to get you actually put it together like I want to have this memory ram then this graphic. Yeah.

Stan Prokopenko  40:46  

Yeah, when I was younger, I would do it. I would build it myself, because it’s cheap, cheaper to just buy on parts and put it together. Nowadays I go through a company that builds custom PCs. It’s a little bit more expensive, but it’s still cheaper than a Mac. desktop Mac. So yeah, fugit PUG et. Cool. And they have very good customer service. You just tell them what you need what you do, and they’ll recommend things and they’re very good.

Iva  41:15  

Very nice. Yes. Good. And when you’re editing videos, do you work with Premiere Pro or some other program?

Stan Prokopenko  41:24  

Yes, yeah, I use Creative Cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud for most, most of everything.

Iva  41:31  

Okay, cool. Yeah. And what about some books? Can you recommend some books? Maybe to the Learn from either artistic book or life books?

Stan Prokopenko  41:45  

Yeah. So Loomis, all of his books are great.

For anatomy, I use vishay. That’s all our IC h er. That’s the name of the artist. Goldfinger anatomies good Bridgeman. For those that already have a little bit experience with anatomy. Bridgeman is good to then take that anatomy and simplify it into blocky forms. But if you don’t understand the general kind of muscle layout, the blocky forums that he met, he shows you will just confuse you. Because he’s not always accurate. It’s more for us, he simplifies it. So that’s the important thing.

Let’s see.

Oh, James Gurney has really good color and light. How to draw or what is imaginative realism. I have a I have a list of my favorite books actually. I’m pretty good at comm slash books. Perfect. So yeah, if you want to go there, but those are the main I’m probably missing some really important ones but they’re on there. If anyone’s gonna

Iva  43:00  

Oh, nice. And let’s talk about the future. And I have two last questions. And the first one is about the near future, you know, five to 10 years what would be your dream scenario if everything goes according to plan?

Stan Prokopenko  43:15  

How 510 years well, I’m so right now I’m developing a new website for Proko, which would be more of like an online school like a full on school, where we have discussions for every lesson. And we’re basically hopefully, the website would have everything that an artist would need to learn with a lot of guests instructors, not just me, with and with a community where people can talk about things and help each other and critique each other and get together if they need to. So that’s For broco that’s what I want for myself. I want to be able to have time to paint more to explore my own creativity a little bit more. Yeah, because I have a lot of visions of paintings that I want to do and then you know that but then I have employees and stuff that

I have. Yeah. So I have to make sure that the company’s

Announcer  44:27  

working and just go Yeah.

Iva  44:30  

If you think about like, far, far future and like hundred years, what would you like to be remembered for?

Stan Prokopenko  44:42  

I guess,

maybe bringing art education and good quality art education to everybody. Making it affordable and approachable enough for anybody to be able to master drawing and painting perfect. That’s very difficult, but hopefully that will happen.

Iva  45:04  

Yeah, I believe that I’m looking forward to see your website and courses and everything grow.

Stan Prokopenko  45:10  

Now, thank you. And if, if you if your subscribers or your viewers want I could give them like a discount code for the courses if they want to check them out. Let’s see, what should the discount code be? Right side of way, or what do you want it? I could I could do whatever,

Iva  45:32  

you can just do a polka.com slash art side of life discount

Stan Prokopenko  45:38  

code, it’d be like, yeah,

Iva  45:40  

the coupon code

Stan Prokopenko  45:46  

right side of life. You’ll you’ll get you’ll get 20% off of whatever course they want on there.

Iva  45:52  

Perfect. Thank you so much. This amazing. Perfect. Thank you so much for being here. And Joining us and sharing your experience it was so much fun.

Stan Prokopenko  46:03  

Oh, you’re welcome was great. And thank you for

Announcer  46:06  


Iva  46:06  

Yeah, my pleasure. And before we say goodbye, maybe you can share the last advice or a key takeaway, and then we finish the interview.

Stan Prokopenko  46:16  

Uh, yeah, I guess just for artists, don’t forget to have fun. Don’t forget to enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re struggling. Just try to figure out what you got into this in the first place for you know, you probably most artists or artists because they loved it at one point or another. So try to keep that. Try to figure out what that is that you love about it and don’t lose it.

Iva  46:43  

Awesome. Yeah, very nice to end then. Things again, you know, so good. And thanks, everyone for watching or listening. And don’t forget to check out the website for the courses and don’t forget to also inspire each other and help each other to succeed. So See you in the next episode.

Stan Prokopenko  47:02  

All right, bye, everybody.

Iva  47:06  

Hope you guys enjoyed this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode art side of life.com. Just type a guest name in the third 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 our side of life podcast, because I post new interview every single word day. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to art side of life.com slash 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  47:45  

Thanks for listening to the art side of life podcast at WWW dot art side of life.com


Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am a full-time self-taught artist behind Art Side of Life® and a Top Teacher on Skillshare. I have 15 years of experience in the creative field as a concept designer, illustrator, art director, and now freelance artist, content creator, and art instructor. My goal is to help you get your creative groove on with Procreate and make awesome art through practical classes, tutorials, Procreate brushes, and guides on art tools, supplies and resources. About me »

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Hey there!

I am Iva (rhymes with viva), and I'm the artist behind Art Side of Life. I'm all about helping you get your creative groove on with Procreate and make awesome art! So on my website, I share Procreate classes, tutorials, brushes, and guides on art tools, supplies, and resources such as these interviews. Ready to create and make amazing art? Then explore, join and have fun ♡

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