Artists continue to fill the world with beauty and for Steve Nielsen, his life’s work is no exception. Majestic eagles, colorful butterflies, and beyond realistic fish are just a few examples of Steve’s passion and purpose in this world. Today, Steve not only shares his natural vision through his artistic talents, he radiates positivity and inspires the next generation of artists.
PositiveVibesMag: Growing up, who inspired you and how?
Steve Nielsen: Growing up in Northern California, I was inspired by both of my parents, Richard and Jeanette Nielsen. They both used to draw a lot when they were in school, and they had kept some of their old artwork. Looking at their old drawings inspired me before I ever started school. My father used to tell me stories of when he was in school the other kids used to pay him to draw hotrods and rat fink cartoons on their t-shirts. My father was also a full time fishing enthusiast, which got me outdoors and helped me to appreciate nature. So it became very natural to draw and paint wildlife in the great outdoors.
PositiveVibesMag: What was your “a-ha” moment regarding when you decided to follow your passion for art?
Steve Nielsen: I had been working on commissioned art work since 1993 when I started airbrushing, then later in 1998 I started making metal art. It was always a side thing, hobby if you will, that I fit in-between running my other full time business building custom vehicles. I had the a-ha moment in 2013, when I finished my first real fine art sculpture. A life sized polished stainless eagle that had over 2,000 hours invested. I remember feeling once I had finished it, that I could create anything that I put my mind to. Art has been my sole source of income since 2013.
PositiveVibesMag: What achievement are you most proud of and why?
Steve Nielsen: I have a handful of personal favorites, but the stainless steel eagle with over 4,000 feathers, is still my best achievement. It took me four and a half years to complete, while working seven days a week with two other businesses. The eagle proved to me and everyone else that I won’t quit until the project is as good or better than what I’ve envisioned in my mind.
PositiveVibesMag: What do you feel is the most important thing needed in life?
Steve Nielsen: Family, friends, faith, love and happiness, kindness to one another, good health and following your passion are just a few important things I cherish in life. Good health may be one of the most important things you can maintain in life, because without good health you won’t be able to enjoy all of the above.
PositiveVibesMag: What would you tell a group of young artists?
Steve Nielsen: I’ve been very fortunate to create a living doing what I love. I would encourage young artists to never stop pursuing their passion. If an amazing opportunity arises, but it scares you. Always say yes, then go figure it out! For example, all of my best achievements were the ones I had little to no idea how to create, when asked to do it. My passion to create and the ability to envision the final outcome always gets me through any difficulties. I view all projects as a new experiment or opportunity to learn something new. You have to love the journey.
I would also not be where I’m at today without mentors. A mentor can be someone you look up to and want to be like, that gives you sound advice. A mentor can and in most cases will be an author of a good self-help book. Fill your mind with positive words and knowledge from those that have already succeeded in doing what you want to do. Learn their ways and make them your own.
In today’s day and age, you cannot just be a good artist and succeed. Being one of the best in whatever you do is important to stand out, but you will also need to learn how to build your brand, build and retain relationships, become an entrepreneur and start treating your art career like a business. Otherwise it’s really just a hobby.
Using social media to build your brand is a lot easier than the old days of setting up your art at events and trying to get art galleries to sell your work. I can go on and on but I think I’ll leave you with this.
The author of “Art Money Success” by Maria Brophy is the best book I’ve ever read in direct relation to building a successful art business. Maria has been very successful managing, branding and building her famous artist husband, Drew Brophy’s business. She explains in detail pretty much everything you as an artist will need to know to be successful. She also offers to consult one on one.
PositiveVibesMag: What is the biggest obstacle you found to starting your business and how did you overcome it?
Steve Nielsen: There will always be ups and downs in anything we do in life, especially in business. Darren Hardy wrote a book about it, called the “Entrepreneur Roller Coaster.”
Everyone is different, especially the mental side of building a business. I personally have had many hardships in my businesses over the years. One of them being after 9-11-2001. Leading up to 911 I was having the most successful year in my life. After 911 everything fell backwards like a domino effect. I lost everything.
When everything is falling apart and everyone around you is telling you to quit or give up, this is when my ability to stay positive kicks in. Look forward and work hard at finding the solutions to the problem. This can be a very exciting time if you have developed the mind set and ability to push through all of the negativity. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger! Invest in yourself and read books to prepare yourself for the obstacles to come.
PositiveVibesMag: What is the one word you feel best describes you and why?
Steve Nielsen: Passionate is one word that most who know me, would agree describes who I am and how I approach most everything I do. No matter what I set my mind on, I’m always passionate about it. It also helps to do what you love. Do it with passion or don’t do it at all.
PositiveVibesMag: How do you spread positivity?
Steve Nielsen: More than anything, I believe our actions speak louder than words. Lead by example. When others see you making a difference, it often inspires them to do the same. Never belittle someone’s efforts, but rather be encouraging. Be kind to one another. My mother taught me if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all. You never know when a little kindness may have a huge impact in someone’s life.
I get a lot of comments and questions both on my social platforms and private messages. I always make the time to respond to each and every one.
PositiveVibesMag: Anything you feel readers should know about you and your business.
Steve Nielsen: From a very early age, I remember family members, teachers and childhood friends would often say that I’m going to be a great artist when I grow up. I didn’t give it much thought at the time because I was just doing what I loved. It’s incredible to think back and know now how the power of suggestion, over the years has led me to becoming a full time artist. I always followed my passion, and there were more than one. I pursued them all and ended up doing what I was told my entire life.
Go find your passion and identify your why. Your why is very powerful and it’s what motivates you and keeps you up at night! It wakes you up early, excited to hit the floor running! Get to work learning the skills and tools it will take to master what you are passionate about. Now that you have mastered your skills, go teach it, and help others.
The more you help others, the more successful you will become. “If you want to have more, you have to become more. Success is not something you pursue. What you pursue will elude you; it can be like trying to chase butterflies. Success is something you attract by the person you become.” – Jim Rohn
Written by Carolyn Woodruff