The Art Fight – Chad Little – Ep 41
August 3, 2022
ON TODAY’S EPISODE
I remember it was hard when I started making art. It eventually got easier, but only sorta. The blessing and the curse of this art profession is that you never actually arrive. The more art I make, the less I realize I know. So improving over time and trying to be more attuned to whatever it is you are after always kind of remains a struggle. It is like a small battle in your studio.
And of course, it can easily be stopped by choosing mediocrity or settling for what you have done before. However, if you are up for it, you can hold out for something better and possibly outside your capability. I try for this, and I usually miss it, but regardless this goal is where the juice is. This intersection of faith and momentary brilliance is the sweet spot so many artists are after.
Today, I am talking with the brilliant entrepreneur and artist Chad Little. He is presently smack dab in the middle of this fight. His figurative work is already damn amazing, but as you will discover, he is not interested in staying where he has been. Instead, Chad is groping towards something more sophisticated. More elegant. This inspiring conversation reminded me of the importance of always trying to raise the bar with the art we make.
Listen if you are interested in…
- The past and present art journeys of Chad Little [2:49]
- How Chad mingles realism, abstraction, and design in his work [19:39]
- The role of nostalgia and time in Chad’s art [23:50]
- Exploring Chad’s current art practice, the power of subtlety, and making peace with the process [26:25]
- Staying in the fight, unearthing yourself, and searching for fire [39:06]
- Building momentum and doing the work [47:16]
Diving in head first
I believe artists are specifically suited for business, and Chad Little is a testament to that. As the founder of four different tech start-up companies, Chad knows a thing or two about what it means to be successful. However, he sees little difference between building a company and painting a canvas. Both require the creative process of coming up with something that adds value for people so that you can sell and get something in return. After a successful run in the business world, Chad desired a new challenge. His background had always been in art and design, but now was the time to dive headfirst into it. When it comes to Chad’s approach to art-making, he is far more concerned about the how than the what. The subject matter is irrelevant if he doesn’t know how to paint what he wants to paint. Process is everything to Chad’s art practice. Much of his time is spent trying to understand what the people he admires are doing in their work and how he can translate it to his own. He believes that subject matter and message evolve with a greater understanding of how to bring those things to life on canvas.
Making peace with the process
Every artist chases that “aha” moment. You know the one. Where the painting you’ve been working on for months finally becomes clear. Or you discover the perfect color palette for your next piece. We often romanticize this moment as one that simply happens to us. However, Chad’s art practice perfectly represents how clarity can be earned by doing the work. You can look at a pile of crash-and-burn paintings in the corner of your studio as failure, or you can see them as taking one step closer to whatever it is you’re moving towards. Chad prefers the latter with his self-proclaimed desire to be kinder to himself in his art practice. He’s made peace with the process, acknowledging that some painting will take longer. Some paintings will take you down rabbit trails that end up being covered up. Some paintings will never see the light of day. And all of it is good because all of it is process. Every mark is just another step closer on the journey.
The fight of our lives
Art-making is a lifelong pursuit when we fully give ourselves to it. Committing to the journey means we never stop growing as artists or unearthing new parts of ourselves on the canvas. Chad is a brilliant example of this commitment level. His “just do it until you figure it out” attitude perfectly represents the fight every artist faces when trying to move their work forward. Chad doesn’t want to stay where he’s been. Like me, he’s always trying to push his art practice into unexplored terrain, even when the struggle to do so gets uncomfortable. Sometimes we have to simply sit with the crappy thing we don’t like until inspiration strikes and we break through. I know that is easier said than done, but the key is to step back, take a deep breath, and trust yourself to figure it out. This is the fight of our lives, after all. We can’t just give up. That’s one of the most inspiring things about art! It is the innate desire that creative people have to be in that battle regularly because that is where inspiration comes from. So the next time you’re at an art show or gallery, know that you are standing in the aftermath of many battles. Each canvas represents the individual fight of the artist to bring that painting to life.
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the founder of Art2Life.
With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.