James Corwin

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am James Corwin and paint wildlife for a living.

What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?

I was struggling for many years on developing my own style and subject matter. Every painting I did looked like it was from a different artist and I hated it. Finally, I reached out for advice from an artist who told me to paint something I love, just for me, regardless if it sells or anyone sees it. So I decided to paint a rhino that I had photographed in Africa. This painting ending up being a turning point in my career because it was well beyond my other art in technicality and it sold for more than any piece had, hours after finishing it. I have been painting wildlife since.

This simple suggestion by my friend was the most helpful to my career, I was just too afraid to do something out of the ordinary, like paint a rhino.

What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.

My greatest mistake is trying to paint the way others do, to copy their style and to paint landscapes. I found that led to little satisfaction and success… I switched to my passion of painting wildlife, shut out the other artists, and focused on developing my own unique style.

Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?

A lot of sales will be made online. This will open the ability to sell art to markets around the world without the need for exhibiting it in person first.

Also I think the demand for original art will increase as AI takes hold. In a future where everything is made by machine, the desire to own something made by a human hand will increase.

What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

You will never become rich selling art. Don’t do art because you can’t have a sustainable living. I know many artists who do very well and I find it quite reasonable to make a salary comparable to doctors and lawyers if you market your art well.

In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?

It is always a challenge to allow myself permission to take time away from work. Since my studio is in my house, it is very easy for me to spend all my time there working. So I am learning to say no to work and enjoy other activities without feeling guilty that I should be working all the time.

What is the one book you recommend most often and why?

I read a lot of business and finance books. It became my MBA. Some that stick out to me are, The Fastlane, Money: Master the Game, and Losing my Virginity.

The Fastlane has great tools for innovating your business and creating passive income.
Money Master the Game is the best book for explaining how to invest this money to grow it.
Losing my Virginity is inspiring to create your lifestyle outside the boundaries.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

Have patience. Too much social media portrays a young desirable millennial lifestyle of travel, lapbook work, and passive cashflow from a business. This is very difficult to achieve and also very misconstrued through imagery. This can be achieved of course, but the best advice is to have patience and don’t rush the process. As millennials we want everything now, but I am constantly beaten down because the universe just doesn’t work like this. So ignore advice that leads you to quick successes and big gains for little effort. Keep you focus like a laser.

What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?

Do not take the path most traveled. Create a new path and leave a trail.