The Work Seminar

Ep. 6: Jaleh Sadravi - MS in Digital Media Turned Visual Artist

December 08, 2021 Jesse Butts Season 1 Episode 6
The Work Seminar
Ep. 6: Jaleh Sadravi - MS in Digital Media Turned Visual Artist
Show Notes Transcript

There’s the not-unfamiliar route of a fine arts education preceding a media career. And then there’s Jaleh’s path: an MS in digital media turned visual artist who’s amassed over 200k followers on TikTok, and 115k+ on Instagram, since she started painting in October 2020 (!).

But overnight success narratives are rarely that simple. Or sudden. Jaleh’s art is the result and reflection of 10+ years building and serving communities in the nonprofit world, along with creating and advocating for opportunities where none existed.

When she was ready to strike out on her own, Jaleh leaned on the media savvy she picked up in undergrad and grad school (and along the way) to share her work and find an audience. And she’s continually developing new art-adjacent income streams to complement her painting sales.  

Books & other resources mentioned

The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

The How I Built This podcast

Exploring TikTok for careers and post grad school life

Where to find Jaleh

@theartofjaleh on TikTok

@theartofjaleh on Instagram

JSadravi.com

Jaleh’s Etsy Shop

Jaleh’s Art on Patreon

Check out more from The Work Seminar

Visit theworkseminar.com or find @TheWorkSeminar on social media. 

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Jesse Butts:

Welcome to The Work Seminar, the podcast for people with liberal arts advanced degrees considering work outside their fields of study. Hey everyone, thanks for joining me for another episode. I'm your host, Jesse Butts. Today I'm chatting with Jaleh Sadravi, an MS in digital media from Valparaiso turned full-time visual artist. Jaleh, welcome! Glad to have you. It's been way too long since our undergrad days.

Jaleh Sadravi:

Yeah, thank you, Jesse, for having me on your show.

Jesse Butts:

Absolutely. Really glad we could connect.

Jaleh Sadravi:

Yeah.

Jesse Butts:

Before we talk about the path you've taken to the work you're doing now, could you tell us a little bit about the art that you're making?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Sure. So I am a painter, a visual abstract artist. I call myself an abstract artist. I focus on paintings using a technique that some people call scrape art, scrape painting. I use acrylic paints to make depictions of communities of people holding hands, embracing, standing together in a unified way. And so yeah, so now I'm a painter, but I'm also a photographer as well. So I still do photography, which is what I studied in school.

Jesse Butts:

And is that photography, and forgive me if this sounds like a crass distinction, but is that more commercial or more artistic? A little bit of both?

Jaleh Sadravi:

So when I was an undergrad and in graduate school, I studied more commercial. So really working for the marketing department while I was in graduate school and making videos for the new show and commercials and things like that. So it was very commercial. It was not artistic at all. That came much later.

Jesse Butts:

All right, so speaking of what you were studying in grad school, that's a great segue, after undergrad or undergrad plus working, what prompted you to enroll in grad school? What were you...Why did you decide to take that next step?

Jaleh Sadravi:

So I will have to say that, for me, it was definitely a family expectation to go to graduate school. So my grandfather, my father's father had his PhD in literature. And so that kind of set the standard for my father and all his siblings, and so they all have an advanced degree. It's kind of like an expectation. It's like after I finish my bachelor's degree, my dad said, Okay, when are you going to get your masters? So then you can go get your PhD. It wasn't, it wasn't much of a choice. It was kind of again, it was like an expectation. So I was like, Okay, well, I know one day I'm going to get my master's degree. But after undergrad, I graduated in 2008, and that was when the recession hit. And I served instead of working a regular job, I served with AmeriCorps for two years, as an AmeriCorps member with City Year in Columbus. And while I was there, they really emphasize, What are you going to do at life after city? You have to do something, and so many of my friends that were in the program with me were going to graduate school. And I learned about all of these opportunities for people who had served with AmeriCorps to then go to graduate school and even receive credit for their AmeriCorps service years. So what I did was I researched which schools provided funding and provided credit for those AmeriCorps years. So you receive an education award when you do AmeriCorps, and certain universities will match that award. And so that was a key decision in which school I chose.

Jesse Butts:

Were you pretty interested in digital media and wanting to learn more at that point?

Jaleh Sadravi:

I was. I felt like my undergraduate studies at Capital, I felt like I didn't get enough to be competitive in the media field. Our equipment was old. We were still using broadcast cameras from the 80s. It was just not, was not going to get me a job that I needed. You know, I had to teach myself Final Cut Pro, all of these skills that I needed to get a job in the industry that I was looking for. So I was like, I think graduate school would be a good opportunity for me to hone those skills and to gain more and to build more connection, right? Because I didn't take that to heart when people tell you, It's not about what you know, it's about who you know. I should have been connecting more with my professors and getting internships and things like that. I didn't do that in undergrad. And so I looked at graduate school as a chance to connect with my professors to get internships to get better work study jobs, to get graduate assistantships, and it was really, I was just thinking about the whole package. Like I want to learn more skills. But I also want to connect with my classmates and do all of these other things. And so I was able to do that.

Jesse Butts:

Just for a little context for our listeners, when you were mentioning that you didn't feel like your undergrad experience prepared you for the market expectations, what was your major as an undergrad?

Jaleh Sadravi:

So I double majored in communications. And then my second major was in Radio TV Film that was what it was called. Now I think they call it, Capital may call it digital media at something media now. Basically, it was just kind of like a generic media degree where when I started, they were saying, Oh, these are the different career paths you could take. You could become a news journalist because I worked on the TV station for four years. And so that's kind of what I was thinking about doing, becoming a broadcast journalist.

Jesse Butts:

For some context for our listeners, I remember back in those days, that was when you had to turn your TV to channel three, or two, or whatever it was to use video games. That's where Captial's TV station was, if I'm remembering correctly,

Jaleh Sadravi:

Yes, that's correct. That's where it was. Yep. Yep.

Jesse Butts:

I remember watching now and then, but yeah, I feel like probably 90% of the discovery was that as people flipping to channel three to play Halo on their Xbox, or whatever it was at the time. Right, so now that we've established...So as you're going through grad school, I mean, it sounds like you found a program that really was meeting the needs of what you're looking for both from the financial side, but also the skill gap and the ability to network and things like that. So as you were going through grad school and learning these skills and making the connections, what were you feeling as you got near the end? Did you want to work in this field? Or were you not sure what was next? What was going on? What was your state of mind at that point?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Well, so I have to say that I actually rushed my graduate program. So I mentioned that I found a program that allowed me to receive credit for serving in AmeriCorps. So I received six graduate credits. And my program was just a two-year program. And I finished it in one year. So I started in June, and I went through the end of the following June. So I took three semesters of courses to finish everything. And I had to get special permission. So for the whole time I was in the program, I really, I had already learned to advocate for myself in undergrad. And the self-advocacy is what allowed me to be successful in undergrad and to...Uou know, there were no assistantships listed on the website of the department I was in, but I met with the chair. As soon as I got there, I said, Hey, I want to be your graduate assistantship. Can you make something up for me? And he did. And so then he became one of my greatest mentors even to this day. And so I was just feeling really excited that I was able to make these things happen for me. I got a graduate assistantship that was funded. And then I was able to also work. So I was able to work for the marketing department at Valparaiso while I was a student. And so that, again, helped set me up for success when I started applying for jobs after I graduated. And then I was able to get special permission to take independent studies and receive those credits I needed to graduate on time, because some of the courses weren't available in the summer semester. And so they gave me some exceptions. So I was just really excited that I was able to accomplish my goals and still gain the skills that I needed in order to achieve what I wanted to do was, yes, I did want to stay in the media field. And I was studying a lot of, I studied web design. I studied graphic design, I studied marketing, I studied business. And I also wanted to combine some of the skills that I was learning when I did City Year. So City Year's a nonprofit organization, so I thought why not take the nonprofit world and try to work in the media department, communications department at a nonprofit organization. So that was really what I was applying for after graduate school.

Jesse Butts:

So what was your first job after graduate school?

Jaleh Sadravi:

I actually went and taught at Capital.

Jesse Butts:

Really?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Yeah. Yeah, I taught at Capital. I taught advanced video production and electronic media writing. It was really hard because a lot of graduate programs, well, not a lot, but some graduate programs teach with the intention of students then becoming professors, but my program was not like that. So I did not gain any skills in teaching.

Jesse Butts:

No, no pedagogical classes or anything of that nature?

Jaleh Sadravi:

No, so I was so unprepared to be a adjunct professor. I wasn't even an adjunct. I was like, actually a full time, you know...

Jesse Butts:

Oh, wow.

Jaleh Sadravi:

I don't know what they call it. I had a year contract, you know what I mean? So it was really hard. And the

Jesse Butts:

How long were you at Teach for America? students were really mean to me. I was not prepared to teach college. I knew I was at the skill level to teach advanced

Jaleh Sadravi:

So I was at Teach for America for the two years. video production, no problem. And electronic media? Right, no problem. That wasn't the problem. But anyway, so that made me...and also, I felt li e the students, some of th m lacked a lot of skills, l ke college readiness skil s. Especially in my writing cour e I was teaching. So that is wh n I decided to go into Teach f r America because I had friend that I did City Year with t at said, Hey, well, it's not r ally working out teaching at c llege, why don't you come t ach high school in M ssissippi? And so that's what I ended up doing. They encourage you to do to your commitment. And it's crazy, because I was teaching high school English, and I still had my camera with me everywhere. I'd bring my camera into the classroom. I'd make videos. I did, I still, you know, I just couldn't give it up. I love digital media. I love that aspect. And so the second year I was in Teach for America, some of the staff they would see my work, I would post it on my blog, I started a blog. And they said, Why don't we hire you and you can help film,how you're teaching in your class, to teach curriculum. And so I started making videos of my students and just videos of my process and sharing it and that was like a little side job that I had with Teach for America.

Jesse Butts:

So after your Teach for America commitment had ended, what were you feeling at the end of that experience? I mean, you've gone from sharpening your skills in grad school, to teaching and still doing media work on the side. Were you interested to get back into media? Did you want to continue teaching? What were your thoughts at that point?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Definitely wanted to get back into media. I applied for lots of jobs. Again, in the nonprofit world. I kept saying, I want to do nonprofits still. I want to do communications. Maybe I'll...When I was in City Year, I helped write the newsletters and things like that for the organization. So I said, Maybe I could just do that full time. And so I applied for a lot of jobs on the West Coast. And then I couldn't really find a job. No place would hire me. I also applied to a lot of universities in there...to work as, in charge of their student news station or something like that. But I wasn't able to get a position. And so I was actually offered a position to go back and teach at Valpo, at Valparaiso by m mentor, the one that gave me th graduate assistantship because he was leaving his position. He said, Why don't you come over and just finish, you know, t aching my classes. You can j st take over my classes. And I w s like, No, they only wanted t pay me $30,000. And I'm like, t at's for teaching four classes a a college level and managing t e news station. That's not nough money. I don't care if t's in rural Indiana. And so I nstead was offered a job at a onprofit in Seattle. And it was ot a media-related job. Aga n, it was they hired me because of my teaching experien e. But after I was there, for nly 10 months, they realized my skill in media and created position for me that was foc sed on media and videogra hy.

Jesse Butts:

What's been so appealing to you personally about the nonprofit world?

Jaleh Sadravi:

What resonated with me...So my mother was a community organizer. She was an activist in the community. And so I grew up seeing her go to meetings and be on the, she helped start the Civilian Review Board of the Minneapolis Police Department, and she did neighborhood cleanups, and, and just that aspect of taking care of your community. When I was in City Year, we did all kinds of service projects, building playgrounds, and I just saw the good that it was doing for the community. And that's really what I found intriguing about the nonprofit sector. And so that's why I wanted to feel good about what I was doing. I didn't want to go, I had so many friends that were working for corporate organizations or for government employees, and they just didn't seem happy. They weren't happy. They complained about what they did. And I went to work every day when I was working for nonprofits, knowing that what I was doing was contributing to a better society for everyone. And so that's really what intrigued me about nonprofits.

Jesse Butts:

So you're at the nonprofit and 10 months in they, if I'm understanding correctly, they kind of switched your role to something involving media.

Jaleh Sadravi:

Yeah. So while I was, so they hired me as a program supervisor, I was supervising the high school program. But I would take pictures all the time, I would take pictures, I would take video, and I would just share it, you know, internally to our, through our, through my work email. I would just say, Hey, I took pictures of what happened on Friday. I took some videos of the students in the school, and they were like, Wow, this is amazing. And so they hired me as the annual campaign manager. And I was in charge of, kind of just like creating digital newsletters, making videos for the fundraiser, helping raise money. And so that's when I got into fundraising, and telling the story of the organization. So using my media skills to do storytelling.

Jesse Butts:

And I'm curious in this time since you finished grad school, and now you're on your first I guess, non- academic job...

Jaleh Sadravi:

Right.

Jesse Butts:

...The best way to describe it. Have you been painting on the side?

Jaleh Sadravi:

No.

Jesse Butts:

Or is this something that came...

Jaleh Sadravi:

I didn't start painting until last year.

Jesse Butts:

Wow.

Jaleh Sadravi:

So it was not painting,.I was doing photography. So that's when I started doing more, I had kind of, I was still doing a lot of video. But I started doing more photography because I had a mentor that was a photographer, and she was curating an art show. And she asked me to submit some photographs. And so I was doing more photography as an art form at that point.

Jesse Butts:

And I know you mentioned at Valpo and previously your training was commercial and marketing. Did you...For how long had you done artistic photography on the side?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Just since, I mean, I started doing it in about...since 2009 I think I started doing it artistically. Again, that's when I met my mentor who was my supervisor at City Year. And also, I had a friend in graduate school, my good friend till this day, he was a photographer, and he was like, You have this DSLR camera that you're using for video. You should just take photos on it, too. It's a nice camera. And I said, Okay, I'll take some photos on it. And that's really when he was encouraging me to use lynda.com and learn these skills of how to use Photoshop. And I was like, Okay, okay, so in that friendship, that is one thing that I really loved about graduate school, you meet such amazing people who push you to be better academically. And that, I was really grateful for that, for those friendships.

Jesse Butts:

So at this point, you're kind of switching to fundraising, you've been doing photography, it's kind of a passion project on the side. And it's been part of your work. So what happens when you start in a fundraising role? How long are you doing that?

Jaleh Sadravi:

So I just ended that in January. So I started off as an annual campaign manager in 2015. And I stayed there for two years. Left, went to another organization in the same, basically the same role, just more money for another two years. And then I went to another organization for another two years...it was like two years, I just kept doing that. And then I ended up back at the organization that originally hired me when I moved to Seattle, they had changed names, but it was the same company, same office, and I became the development director. So I just moved up in the world. And so instead of directly doing those newsletters and taking the photos, I was managing the people who were doing that. Yeah, I was able to use some professional development funding to take fundraising courses. And yeah, I just kind of like was self-taught in terms of fundraising and learning how to be successful at it.

Jesse Butts:

So as you are in fundraising and then you mentioned moving a couple different organizations and a couple different, moving, pardon the cliche, but moving up the ladder, as you're going along. Are you enjoying the work and the advancement? Is that something like, you know, you need another challenge? You're just not sure what, but this looks good? Has kind of this desire to strike out on your own happened yet? Or is everything going really well at this point, with your work in the nonprofit sector, moving up?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Well, it's interesting. I met a woman when I was at a training, fundraising training. And she was saying that so at the time, my boss was leaving. And so I was the annual campaign manager and the development director was leaving, and I was telling the woman who was teaching this fundraising course and she was like, Well, why don't you be the development director? You seem like you have all the skills necessary, you should just do it. And so that's when I started thinking about climbing up the ladder. And it just became really easy. After that I was very confident in myself, and I realized I did have the skill. So it was kind of like a challenge. It was like, Okay, if I work here for two years, then I could say I have this many years of experience, and then I can move up and I can get more money. So every time it was really about increasing my salary, increasing my position, because I had gained more skills. Fundraising came really easy to me. Fundraising is really just about talking to people, getting to know them, because they're giving a gift. Giving gifts is fun. It's not, it's not...When I give a gift to someone, I'm so excited about it. And I think when people change that mentality about fundraising, it can become really easy, or really fun. I guess it's just not, it's not always easy. But yeah, it was fun for me. But also, it was hard work because it takes a lot of time. So you have to, you know, work after hours, you have to go to board meetings, you have to spend a lot of time working with the executive director and making sure that all of the staff know what you're doing. And it just takes a lot of time. And so that was when I was thinking, I don't know if I want to keep doing this. I don't know if I want to keep working in the fundraising world. Because that's, I also had a daughter, my daughter was born n 2017. And it was really hard to work full time and work those hours while raising a child. And so that's when I started thinking about like, how can I shift and change my career and spend more time with my family?

Jesse Butts:

When you were kind of framing things in that way, were you thinking of going out on your own being the next logical step? Or was that kind of some sort of happy accidents that led to that point?

Jaleh Sadravi:

So I was just listening to...Do you know the podcaster Tim Ferriss?

Jesse Butts:

Yes.

Jaleh Sadravi:

So yeah...

Jesse Butts:

For our listeners, oh, sorry. Would you mind give me a brief description for our listeners?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Yeah. So he wrote a book called Four-Hour Workweek. And he is an entrepreneur. And yeah, so you can check out his book. But he was saying that the best time to start a company, to start a new business, is when you're employed. I really took that to heart. And in October of last year, because of the pandemic, I was working remotely, I was a development director at an organization, a nonprofit organization. And I was painting. I had been painting before that, just watercolors, but I branched out because I met another artist who was telling me about a certain type of paint. And so anyway, I started playing around with that. And then I had all suddenly I had all these paintings around me. And I, at the time, I was living in an 800 square foot house. And my husband said, What are you going to do with all these paintings? And I said, Well, I'm going to sell them. And he was like, Aha, yeah, I would love to see you do it. And I said, Okay, I'm gonna sell them. And so that's when I started my business. And I started selling my paintings. And at first it was just to family and friends, and then it was just to random people on the internet. And I, that's when I realized that, hey, maybe I can do this. I can go out on my own.

Jesse Butts:

I'm really curious. You know, earlier, you were talking about lifestyle benefits to changing what you were doing for work for more time and also to... Maybe I'm inferring something here, but did you kind of feel like you were maybe plateauing? Not necessarily, not in your capability, but you'd kind of seen what there was ahead of you. And it didn't look that appealing, like advancing and fundraising or other areas of nonprofit work?

Jaleh Sadravi:

I think that I was just kind of tired of working in the nonprofit world. I felt like the organization that I was working for wasn't doing enough for the community.

Jesse Butts:

Okay.

Jaleh Sadravi:

That's kind of how I felt. That's how I feel. And so I didn't want to continue supporting that mission. You know, I felt like they could be doing more. And they're not listening to the people who are telling them this. And so I felt like, you know, my voice wasn't being heard. I wasn't being...The people around me who had a similar thought, they didn't care. For me, I kind of felt like I wasn't really valued as an employee anymore, and it wasn't challenging anymore. And so what's the point of staying?

Jesse Butts:

So as you were thinking about starting your own business, and this might just be like a wrong dichotomy, but what's going through my mind is...Was it, I love painting so much I want to see how I can make that work as an income stream? Or was it more, I really want independence and I need an income stream? Hey, I'm, you know, the paintings are resonating, let's try that. Maybe, again, maybe that's just not the right way to frame it. But what was your thought process? How were you thinking about going on your own with art?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Well that really was it, Jesse. It was more about finding independence. I wanted to be able to have independence and to find a revenue stream where I was able to work less, but make just as much money as I was making. And so funny enough in November of 2020, my dad who, he used to be a photographer and in college he studied computer science. And so he's always been on top of the latest apps. And he said, Well, why don't you start making TikTok videos? I said, Dad, you're hilarious. I'm not gonna get on TikTok. He's like, I've been on TikTok for four years. I'm like, What?! He was like on TikTok when he was still like Musical.ly or whatever it was called. And he's uh, yeah, if you get 10,000 followers, TikTok will pay you. And so I researched it and I researched the creator program. And I said, Oh, I can actually get paid from TikTok. Maybe this is a way that I can start that revenue stream not just from selling the paintings, because I wasn't selling them for much then. I was selling them for like 60 bucks, 35 bucks. And so I thought would be a way for me to gain regular stream of income. So I posted my video and didn't think much of it, started getting a lot of views, posted more. And again, I was going back to using my skills in digital media. I was filming myself, I was editing the film, I was adding music. And I was filming it in a way because I studied commercial videography, I knew how to make it good. I was just basically marketing myself, just from the videos just on TikTok and so it kind of blew up. I was able to get, you know, 100,000 followers pretty fast. And now I have 200,000 followers. It's been less than a year. And I was able to get a couple brand deals and get paid from the ad revenue from TikTok. And so once I started gaining more money from that ad revenue from TikTok, I said, and from my painting sales, that's when I decided that I was going to quit my full-time job and get a part-time job because I was worried that the income from my art and from TikTok wasn't going to be stable. So I said, I'll just get a part-time job that will pay my mortgage but allow me to still spend time being creative.

Jesse Butts:

And what timeframe is this roughly?

Jaleh Sadravi:

So this was in January 2020. I decided to do this in December, and then in January I quit my job. And so in December, I was applying for part-time jobs because I wanted to make sure I was working part time. So I found another nonprofit, and I was a marketing director at a small nonprofit. They actually were a TV show.

Jesse Butts:

Okay.

Jaleh Sadravi:

I started that in January. But then funny enough, in March of 2020...

Jesse Butts:

Right when the pandemic is starting.

Jaleh Sadravi:

Right when the pandemic starting, they let me go three months in. They say, We don't have the budget to keep you. And that's when I had to focus on my art full time, kind of out of necessity.

Jesse Butts:

There's a lot of really interesting things here to unpack. But one of the places I'm thinking about too, is that I think so many people might think that the only revenue is from that end product. From selling the painting, like you mentioned earlier. But there are so many other things that you mentioned. I mean, you're getting revenue from TikTok, you're getting some, I'm guessing when you say ads, that means that you're posting videos and letting ads ads run on them, like we see in YouTube, for example?

Jaleh Sadravi:

In TikTok, they handle all of that, right. You don't have to select ads running in front of your videos.

Jesse Butts:

But I think that's a really great point is that, if you do decide to strike out on your own as artist, writer, photographer, whatever it might be, you don't have to limit yourself to the income that just selling the piece might generate.

Jaleh Sadravi:

Exactly.

Jesse Butts:

Was your intention then or now, was it always to make the bulk of it from painting? Or did you always, or currently, think, Well, the painting is a nice supplement, but a lot of it will be from these other income streams related to my art?

Jaleh Sadravi:

I was thinking that it would be other income streams related to my art. So as soon as my TikTok started to become successful, then my Instagram became successful. And Instagram has other ways of paying people. They pay you for posting reels or for going live on IGTV. And so it was all these other ways that I was utilizing that I was able to build a revenue stream. And then it became...Someone recommended that I start an Etsy shop. And so I started an Etsy shop. And then every time I had a new painting, I would post a commercial on my Instagram. And I would put the link for people to buy on Etsy, but I wasn't actually...So I used Etsy as passive income too. I still do. I use a drop shipping company. So they handle everything. They handle the printing and the mailing. So it was another form of passive income. So I was really, again, looking for ways that I could spend my time more wisely and make more money. If I filmed that one video, then it would result in you know, hundreds and 1000s of dollars in sales throughout, the year.

Jesse Butts:

And just for clarification, so drop shipping, if I understand ot correctly, that's basically where your paintings or whatever it might be, those are stored at a warehouse. And when someone orders, that warehouse will handle all the fulfillment. So it's not like you're packaging and shipping it from your house, you've provided the paintings or if it's a digital file, they run a print.

Jaleh Sadravi:

Exactly.

Jesse Butts:

So you're completely hands off with that. You're just...It's not as simple as you're just sitting there collecting the income, but in a sense that's how you've set it up.

Jaleh Sadravi:

So I actually sell my original paintings at a much higher price on a different website.

Jesse Butts:

Oh, okay.

Jaleh Sadravi:

My Etsy literally is I take a picture with my phone of my painting, I upload it to the website, and I select canvas print, poster print, T-shirt, and they do everything for me.

Jesse Butts:

Nice.

Jaleh Sadravi:

I don't have to send them anything. And that, again, came from the fact that I was going to the post office every day. I know Miss Donna at the post office in SeaTec, you know what I mean? I got to know the postal workers very well. And it was taking up too much time. So I really want to simplify that and figure out how can I pay someone else to do this, so that I can spend more time with my family.

Jesse Butts:

So as you have made this transition since you know, January, March 2020, your overarching goal of spending more time with family, and less time working, but keeping an income level that you feel comfortable at...Have you been able to achieve that?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Yes, yes, I have been able to. I definitely learned from other artists on social media about how they are able to create other income streams. So I learned about commissioning, you can you know, say that your commissions are open and you take people's requests for certain paintings. So I'm doing that. And that has allowed me to have a better income stream. I also started a Patreon. For people who don't know what Patreon is, it's kind of like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. But it's more of a relationship that you build with the creator. So people pay me a certain amount per month just to allow me to continue to create. And I give them updates every month about new projects that I'm working on. And so all of those things combined have resulted in an income that is the same, if not more, than what I was making when I was full time.

Jesse Butts:

So at this point now, you've doing this for a little bit more than a year and a half if my math...

Jaleh Sadravi:

No less. October 2020 is when I started painting.

Jesse Butts:

Wow. So just for our listeners, we're recording this in early September. So at this point, are you, would you consider yourself a full-time artist? Are there any other side gigs or things are still doing?

Jaleh Sadravi:

No, I'm not doing anything else. I'm just I'm just focusing on my art. I'm getting ready to move actually to Portugal. And I am going to get a studio so that I can create on a much larger scale. So I am like, I'm just getting started. I had my first solo art show featuring my paintings. And this is, I'm excited because I feel like I have gotten to a certain place but I'm just going to grow so much when I move. So yeah, this is just the start of it. It's only been only been 11 months.

Jesse Butts:

Well, yeah, obviously huge congratulations are in order. This is this is really amazing. So I'm curious did you feel like you had to learn something about yourself to find work that fit you? Or was it more that, or did you feel like when you look back, do you feel like you always kind of wanted to strike out on your own and do something maybe not quite like this, but along these lines?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Yeah, I definitely didn't think that I would strike out on my own. I never had dreams of being an entrepreneur, small business owner, anything like that. So I had never thought that that was a possibility for me. It really just happened over time and what I have found to be the most successful for me and I can attribute to my success is to be authentic. To continuously listened to my needs and to honor my values. I value my time and giving more than 50 hours a week to another organization, to an employer, just doesn't align with my values anymore. As I'm older, I definitely see that my time is important. And if I'm spending all of my time making money for someone else, and giving all of my livelihood, and being stressed and not exercising, and feeling guilty when I take a PTO day, that's no way to live. So I couldn't continue to do that. And I needed to find a way out. But also, I felt like I was ignoring that little thing inside me that was like, Oh, but you're creative. You know, you need to honor that creative part of you. I come from a very creative family. I talked a little bit about how my father was a photographer. My sister is an artist, too. My other sister is an artist. My younger brother draws. So my grandmother was an artist. So I have always had that part of me. But I was always told that not how you make money, you can't have a living and be an artist, I was always fed that. And so I think once I stopped listening to that, and once I started listening to, No, you need to express yourself creatively. That is when I have found the most success and the most ease. It has been so much easier and less stressful that I've let myself be authentic, and to really display all of those qualities that I love about myself. And also I will say that I've gone back to those skills that I learned in undergrad. Now I do IGTV lives. If I hadn't taken broadcast journalism classes at Capital or been a host at Skyline Columbus, I would not have been able to talk for 45 minutes uninterrupted without a script. If I hadn't worked on the news station at at Valpo, I wouldn't be able to do these things. So all of those skills I learned in undergraduate and graduate have prepared me for where I am now. And even though I couldn't see it before, I see it now. I'm definitely grateful for those experiences.

Jesse Butts:

A lot of pivotal moments in your life have been, maybe not based on but have certainly related to, meeting new people and connections with other people. Would you mind talking a little bit about what you've learned about the importance of making those connections and meeting people and the role that's played in your work evolution?

Jaleh Sadravi:

That quote about, you know, Don't burn bridges, and, You never know who's gonna come back, and all of that. Again, it's not about what you know, it's about who you know, is so important. So I mentioned I had a mentor when I was in City Year. She's actually the mother of a professor at Capital, Eva George. Dr. Eva George.

Jesse Butts:

I remember Dr. George, yeah.

Jaleh Sadravi:

Yes, her mother's name is Janet George. And so she was my professor, she was my mentor. She was my supervisor while I was at City Year, and she had such a big impact on me still to this day. And she was really encouraging of me to become an artist to start doing photography in artistic way. And I could have just blown that off. But when she invited me to be to submit some photographs, I said, Yes. And so I think having the courage to say yes, and to step out of your comfort zone is so important. You know, I mentioned my mentor at Valpo, who was the chair of the department, and I was just kind of like, do you have a graduate assistantship? For me, I'm not going to take no for an answer. And so he really advocated for me and created this position for me. And then in working full time,one of the people that's a board member of the organization I previously worked for, I met up with her recently, and she bought a painting from me. So you really never know who is going to advocate for you. As you continue on your journey, you can't just ignore people or say, Oh, I didn't like how they treated me. Or, you know, burn bridges. You can't because you never know who is going to be important to you when you're moving forward.

Jesse Butts:

What would your advice be to people looking for work in terms of how important fit is? Do you need to like a job versus love a job? How important is the role of the institution or employer versus the actual work itself?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Well, I think that people need to think about their larger goals. So is their goal to advance? Is their goal

Jesse Butts:

So you made your own. to get to a certain position? Is the position they're applying for going to get them there? I think it's about fit for sure. And when you go to interview for a company, you need to interview them. You need to make sure that your values align with theirs because you may see that salary amount and think, Olau, it's going to be great. I can handle whatever it is, even if we don't completely align and then you get into the role and you hate it. So it's really a battle.Again staying true to yourself, and not sacrificing your values for a high salary, because in the end, you're gonna be miserable. It's not gonna be worth it. And I did want to find a role that I could stay in for 10 years. I just couldn't find t at.

Jaleh Sadravi:

I made my own, right.

Jesse Butts:

There you go. So, so just kind of a note to end because this has been such a great conversation...For those people who are in grad school now, or they're out of grad school, and they're really asking themselves, What should I think about in terms of work outside of my field? Because for some people, that's kind of a big leap, you know, if they haven't really had much professional experience outside of academia or what they studied. What do you recommend people start asking themselves in terms of where to go from here? If they feel, like you mentioned, teaching really wasn't working out that well for you. And obviously, a lot of people teach after grad school. Just your thoughts on what people should be thinking about at this point.

Jaleh Sadravi:

I definitely felt that in after graduate school or in graduate school. Don't be afraid to try new things. There's so many awesome programs out there now. You know, a certificate program at your local community college. You could volunteer and volunteer for organization that you're interested in then transitioning into...I've known a lot of people that volunteered for organizations. And then after a year, they applied for a job there. And they'd already gotten to know the people there. And so they were hired. Also, if you're interested in stepping out of your field, then connect with people who are in the field you want to get into. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people. People that youa shared connection with. So just don't be afraid to try something new if you are looking to change, and then teach yourself those skills that you will need to be successful at. Whatever career it is, I would say a podcast that I really love listening to is How I Built This with Guy Raz because he interviews all of these different entrepreneurs. And so that is really great way to learn about how other people started their journeys. Get on TikTok and watch. Hopefully you'll get on the TikTok that you're looking for about postgraduate life. Once you start liking certain videos ,TikTok will learn what your interests are, and they'll point you in the right direction.

Jesse Butts:

All right, great advice. So if someone is interested in checking out your art, what's the best way to find you?

Jaleh Sadravi:

Yeah, the best way to find me is my Instagram or my TikTok handle, The Art of Jaleh. You can also go to my website, it's just JSadravi.com. And, yeah, please buy something from my Etsy shop.

Jesse Butts:

All right, well, it's been a great conversation. Thanks. Thanks so much for joining me. I appreciate it.

Jaleh Sadravi:

Thank you, Jesse.

Jesse Butts:

Thanks for listening to this episode of The Work Seminar. If you like what you've heard, please take a minute to rate the show on your favorite podcast app. Know someone who'd be a great Work Seminar guest? Or have a suggestion or two for the show? You can reach me at Jesse@theworkseminar.com or @TheWorkSeminar on social. And special thanks, as always, to Jon Camp for the music and Isabel Patino for the cover art and design. Until next time, never cease from exploration.