We had the good fortune of connecting with Robert Burcar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robert, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Basically, my thought process of going into business for myself as an artist went from a place of being naive, practical, fearful and limited to a place of inspiration, possibility, passion, sharp focus and pure excitement. This thought process certainly didn’t happen overnight. Prior to going into business like so many naive college students, I think I was still in the process of finding my own artistic identity after art school. I had my drawing and painting skills pretty much intact by then but had very little knowledge at the time of the business aspects of how to go about selling my art or earning a living in the arts. Despite many wonderful personal achievements along the way at the time, I was stuck spinning my wheels working a series of lousy, low pay jobs in order to keep a roof over my head. I was washing dishes, bussing tables, delivery driving etc. Eventually I think I became desperate as hell to get out of that situation. Then when I began to really begin concentrating harder on my love for art rather than the reality of my situation, things began picking up. Being around other artists and seeing the possibilities out there changed my whole attitude. I then threw myself into planning and building a career for myself with such enthusiasm and joy.
Do you have a budget? How do you think about your personal finances and how do you make lifestyle and spending decisions?
I used to believe that in order to earn any kind of successful living, one would have to work their fingers to the bone to get anywhere. Too many of the most hard working people in the world literally get paid the most shitty wages unfortunately. I find the work really hard advice to be mostly bullshit now. I’m not saying there isn’t work required to achieve success or whatever but I now prefer the work smarter not harder motto much more. I feel success is more based on passion, focus and a non resistant attitude as much as possible rather than rip your back to shreds shoveling snow out of driveways to earn a living. I also don’t believe in the limited concept that it’s not possible to have a real job in the arts. However I’ve learned that if you want a career in the arts, you must be in the right environment and have the courage to go out and get the work. A degree is a piece of paper, the skills behind the degree and what you do to apply them is far more important.
Risk taking: how do you think about risk, what role has taking risks played in your life/career?
I’ve come to learn that taking risks has played a significant role in my life and has often determined my destiny personally and professionally. As I look back at key points in my life, I’ve found the times when I took risks were during periods of extreme adversity and it felt nearly mandatory to take a risk. More times than not, taking risks has often taken me to bigger and better places. What I’ve learned is that if we stay in our comfort zones for excessive amounts of time doing the same thing, we stop growing or moving forward. We end up missing out on some very fun, adventurous and valuable stuff. If I hadn’t deliberately changed direction in my life or work every so often, I could very well be in a dull place right now. I’d like to work on taking even more risks in the future.
Where are you from and how did your background and upbringing impact who you are today?
Self discipline has been very crucial in helping me succeed but it’s something that I had to take time to learn how to develop and practice properly. We all want to eat the whole elephant at once with high expectations we place on ourselves. I find the best way to build habits is to start with small, simple steps.
My main habits include scheduling at least four painting sessions per week, posting regularly on social media and sending monthly or bi weekly emails to my followers to keep the connection. I keep track and check off my goals as I record and meet them in my planner. The more consistent I’am with tracking and achieving my goals, the better I continue to get at achieving them. I do my best to honor my promises to myself to fulfill each of my important business goals weekly. Sometimes life gets in the way and I fall short every once in a while but I still keep moving forward anyway.
What is the most important factor behind your success / the success of your brand?
The most important factor behind my success so far is consistent dedication and focus. Being willing to do the work and put in the time to do whatever must be done to take business to the next level. Whether it’s finishing a painting, sending out an email to the followers, shipping an order or acting on potential opportunities.
What value or principle matters most to you? Why?
If you want results, you must be willing to put in the time to plan and do the work required, no matter what. You also must be very clear on your intentions.
Work life balance: how has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance?
Work and life balance is not an easy task, I’m single and don’t have a family to support now so I can’t even imagine how challenging it would be then. I have learned from experience that if you take too much on, say yes to everyone, give all your time away to others and leave nothing to yourself, you will end up burned out and hammered. Self care is now my number one priority and taking time to decompress is crucial no matter what others need from me. You must deliberately take time off to rest or you will never get to. Also, I find if you have just a couple priority goals, it’s easier to fulfill and balance them rather than try and do 80 tasks in one day
What’s the end goal? Where do you want to be professionally by the end of your career?
After seeing a few of my artist friends succeed in selling their artwork in festivals, online and in galleries, one day out of nowhere, I just had an aha moment and was like, “What the hell have I been doing all this time? If they can do this, there’s no reason why I can’t.” At the time, I was an underpaid busser and dishwasher and was desperate to get the hell out of that situation. So that was certainly enough fuel, inspiration and motivation to get serious about planning and pursuing my own business.
Why did you pursue an artistic or creative career?
Because I had and still have a very strong desire to make a good body of work for myself to be proud of and to share with others. I wanted to do something that I truly loved doing and something I was also good at doing. I chose a career in the arts because I found just the idea of being visually creative and building a project from scratch far more exciting than any other profession.
Tell us about a book you’ve read and why you like it / what impact it had on you.
What inspires me now is pretty much what inspired me as a child; an intense passion for classic films, classic children’s books, memorabilia and pop culture icons. These subjects and how they make me feel are the main motivators behind my current work.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My name is Robert Burcar, and I’m a multimedia painter. I was born and raised in Helena, Montana. As a child, I was inspired to draw pictures based on children’s books, movies and pop culture icons introduced to me by my family. When I was in kindergarten, I was impressed by how my teacher, Mrs. Watson, decorated her classroom with images she colored with Mr. Sketch watercolor markers. She had a clean, flawless style, and I loved her artistic abilities. I fell in love with Mr. Sketch markers and wanted to be as great at using them as my teacher. That they smelled like candy, spices and fruit made them all the more alluring. After some excessive nagging, my mom bought me my own box of markers. So began my journey toward becoming an artist.
Nevertheless, the journey was often filled with uncertainty. In young adulthood, I worked a series of dead-end, minimum wage jobs. I feared this would always be my life. I knew I had to take action. In 2004, I began studying illustration and fine art at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco where I earned my BFA in drawing and painting. It was during two intensive study-abroads in Umbria, Italy, which I spent immersed in plein air landscape and cityscape painting, that I truly learned to paint.
In 2013, I moved to Monterey, California after landing my first job out of college, working as a wax detail artist at the foundry of world renowned sculpture artist, Richard MacDonald. Meanwhile, I continued to work on my own art consistently, exhibiting and selling my paintings in local shops, shows and festivals. Soon, and with no previous experience, I was offered a job as an art instructor, teaching drawing and painting classes at Open Ground Studios in nearby Seaside. I discovered I had a gift and love for teaching. I’ve continued to teach art classes and private lessons for various organizations for the past six years.
Ready to take a new path in my journey, I moved to Los Angeles in late 2019 where I’ve been working as an Art Instructor and Studio Manager at the Raminfard School of Arts in west LA. When I’m not teaching, I spend most of my time in my North Hollywood home, working on my horror series, Screen Chillers and taking on commissions. As my journey continues to unfold, I remain focused on prosperity and expansion. I continue to paint, developing my series to new, ever changing heights while connecting with fans and collectors worldwide.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’ve only lived in L.A for over a year so there’s still alot of places I haven’t been to but I love walking down in Marina Del Rey looking at the water and boats, I love walking through the community parks in Santa Monica, particularly Clover Park and the Pico Branch library. I love Pico Blvd because it begins very urban and the environment changes and spreads out the further you go down. I’m also very proud that I work on that street when I teach at the Raminfard School of Arts. “Louises” is one of my favorite restaurants, I love their pizza emmensely. I also love the valley where I live, especially Valley Village and Burbank, each neighborhood block brings a brand new flavor of culture. I’m looking forward to exploring more as the city gradually continues to open.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to thank my dear friends artists Katie Crawford, Paul Richmond, Shawn Vales and Anna Marie Bayonito who helped open the door for me.
I want to thank The Abundant Artist Organization for all their amazing resources
I want to thank Denese Sanders and Daniel Raminfard for bringing out the best in my teaching abilities
I want to thank Los Angeles for being so damn good to me