THE WORK OF ART
Q & A with RAW Founder and CEO Heidi Luerra about her new book The Work of Art
By Taryn Newton-Gill
The business of art ain’t for the weak of heart.
This isn’t news to Heidi Luerra, who a decade ago was a budding fashion designer working her butt off to get her collection seen, and happened to build a global platform for emerging artists in the process.
Now, like a painter stepping back from her canvas to take in the whole, Heidi reflects on what she’s created – and learned – in her freshman book, The Work of Art, A No-Nonsense Field Guide for Creative Entrepreneurs (shipping mid-September). #shamelessplug
Why did you write this book?
I wrote this book for creative entrepreneurs and artists that are contemplating or wanting to level up in their careers. I've worked with artists and creative entrepreneurs for a long time, and being one myself, I feel like I can relate to their struggles: self-doubt, wishing someone would save me, being taken advantage of. I think some of these things are just [a part of] life, but I'm sharing them all in The Work of Art.
Had you written anything before, or wanted to?
This is my first book, but I've been writing my whole life, really. When I was in third grade I wanted to be a writer, but abandoned that idea as I got older and drawn to fashion. Through a winding road I’ve come back to my roots.
What was the writing process like for you?
HELL (kidding!). But some days it was tough. I have truly been on an artist's journey through this process. Some days I felt proud and excited, and others I wanted to throw the whole thing into a fire! The process has been a continued exercise in patience with myself, and my words. I often had to take the very advice I included in The Work of Art for artists. I've rode the self-doubt wave a ton throughout the past two years but, intrinsically, writing this book has reminded me how much I enjoy the art of writing. I've sacrificed a lot of time to get it right and to be thoughtful about my advice, stories, and message.
When fear or the artists’ syndrome of “this is shit” was getting to you, what helped keep you going?
I think the biggest thing to remember is that everything is temporary. Both pain and zeal come and go. After owning and running a business for a decade you train your brain not to get too high or too low. When shit has gotten real, I come back to my center and remember why I'm doing what I do.
What was the hardest thing to write about?
I wrote a chapter on mental health. This chapter was a toughie for me personally. However, it's so ingrained in the artistic lifestyle (and all lifestyles for that matter) that I knew I had to struggle through it. It's important.
What’s something that people will learn about you in this book that they may not already know?
I think readers will get a chance to understand where I came from, how my experiences have shaped me. My main motivation is to ensure that the messy mistakes that I've made can be avoided.
You started out in fashion, which ultimately led you to creating RAW. How did you know that RAW was the better path for you?
Creating a platform is my true calling. I could have continued in fashion, and I loved it, but ultimately it wasn't as fulfilling for me as providing an opportunity for others. I think my foundational talents are (and always have been) work ethic and vision. While I had my clothing line, I experienced the need to have an outlet myself. Going through the work it took to market, sell, and put that collection out there provided me with a vision. I guess I took that whole "be the change you want to see" thing literally!
What are the three most common errors you see artists make when first starting out?
1. Not knowing what you want. If you don't know what you're truly after, it's easy to feel lost and unhappy.
2. Not understanding that things take investment (in both time and money).
3. Not understanding that patience is your best friend. The creative career journey is a marathon, not a sprint.
What are the three biggest pieces of advice you want to give to artists?
1. Get clear about exactly what you want (I have an exercise in my book that helps with this process).
2. Once you know what you want, create a specific plan. (Also have a guide in The Work of Art about this).
3. Work hard, sacrifice, and persist.
What message do you want artists to take away from your book?
That ultimately every creative person has the ability to change the world. While passion and excitement for what you do is absolutely essential, so is understanding how to sustain yourself long-term. If I can do it, so can anyone!
“Creativity is a gift and a tool that can be used to untangle complex societal, political, and emotional issues. Creativity solves problems and generates change. It pushes us forward, refines us, and inspires us to innovate.” – Heidi Luerra, Author, The Work of Art
Get your copy of 'The Work of Art' on Amazon here.
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