We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie Sparaccio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalie, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I didn’t realize the journey to creative success was something that happened purely inside of the self, until I was already so far removed from it.
From the very first time I picked up a camera when I was 13, I knew that authentic connection was the key to successful creation. But somewhere between then and when I dove into working as a full-time photographer two and a half years ago, I confused success with profitability, and my priorities, in turn, sneakily changed. Without noticing it, I started to believe that appealing to the masses was what I needed to do first and foremost to be a successful artist. What once brought me exhilaration and deep connectedness was beginning to bring me an exhausting and depressing battle with my own consciousness.
It didn’t take long for me to realize how much more was at stake in second guessing my intuition as a full-time professional than there was as a part time hobbyist. I had to get comfortable with trial and error, and seeing what landed and what didn’t. If I wanted to really give entrepreneurship a fair and honest shot, I had no choice but to honor my creative impulses, and observe the outcomes with fierce truth and curiosity.
To my pleasant surprise, I found that so many of the creations I once assumed wouldn’t be received by others, were the things that were received the most. And to my horror, vice versa. Through this vulnerable experimentation, I was graced with the gift of taking a chance on my own intuition, and arguably the even greater gift of learning from my downfalls, and building thicker skin in the process.
Almost three years into full-time self-employment, it still is, and forever will be, a journey of trial and error – it is not our job as creators to read minds, or to be likeable and palatable, as economically sound as that may seem. We are all always changing, and so are the things that we find aesthetically pleasing, inspiring, thought-provoking, and whatever else art might be for us. So what are we doing to ourselves when we try to keep up with the senseless task of appealing to the masses? I found that the mental, emotional, and physical cost of pleasing the crowd was only a slight upgrade from that job I hated and left for something more fulfilling.
Something that has become evident throughout my life as an artist, even before it became my job, is that when I honor my creative impulses, I feel that spark that made me fall in love with artmaking in the first place. It has also become evident that when I attempt to negotiate with my intuition, search for external validation over internal satisfaction, and second guess my creative wisdom, it doesn’t take long at all for that exhausting and depressing internal conflict to reemerge.
It has been both an intense and beautiful experience to learn the importance of following your heart. It’s easy to turn on such a concept, because it’s been tossed around enough to lose it’s touch. But I’ve come to realize its corny truth, and I continue to learn to trust and integrate it. The belief that our greatest work is purely an extension of the fullest expressions of our truest selves has become the most important factor behind my success as both an artist, and a human being.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What is a world without spiritual experience? We find it in nature, music, community, ritual, and peaceful time in our company… But what about the seemingly mundane moments in between? What would our worlds look like if every moment was sacred? What would it feel like if we were in intimately touch with what that sacredness meant uniquely to ourselves throughout the ebbs and flows our always ebbing and flowing existence? Imagine a life that was, in itself, a spiritual experience. All of it. The good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. That’s liberation. And we all have access to and deservingness of it.
At the core of everything I do and creative, and everything I have ever done and created, whether intentionally or not, has been the art of cultivating spiritual experience in everyday moments. It has not been an easy to road of crafting this skill, but nothing worth it is ever easy, as they say. I learned this work to survive life’s darkness, I integrate it to magnify its lightness, and I retrace my steps and turn them into art so they get to live in harmony as they journey between their own spectrums.
I currently offer such teachings and experiences through nature, music, and portrait photography; and spiritual mentorship and community. You can find out more at www.natsparaccio.com.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The best time to me, as a traveler, involves making myself at home. This looks like enjoying the quiet of an Airbnb, reading a book in the spot where the natural light shines in the most eloquently, listening to music while making a home cooked meal, and finding a coffee shop to stop at before roaming the neighborhoods and finding the best nearby vegan spots and nature adventures.
If someone were to come visit me on Long Island, New York, that is exactly the experience I would share, and whatever else helps them feel at home.
There would be the two-hour road trip to Montauk, the 45-minute train ride to Brooklyn, coffee shops, vegan spots, nature adventures, home cooked meals, and movies and laughs together in my RV-turned-home.
And of course, let’s be real, the days would start with fresh bagels and end the day with pizza. Welcome to New York. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My friends and mentors Kit & Rosie Volcano, Jayme Rose Gray, and Jessica Jean Muir; and the music that has been inspiring me to cultivate deep, raw, emotional, and spiritual experiences through my creations throughout my life (special thanks to Brand New, Death Cab For Cutie, Manchester Orchestra, Circa Survive, and Foxing).