Watercolorist and multimedia creator Miriam Schulman may have given up her career on Wall Street, but she’s far from a starving artist. A Scarsdale resident for 21 years, she rakes in six figures annually teaching art workshops and selling her work online.
Her podcast “The Inspiration Place,” which debuted in August, fights against the starving artist myth by showcasing artists, thought leaders and self-developers who live comfortably in the six- to seven-figure income bracket.
Guests include “How to Sell Your Art Online” author Cory Huff; therapist, workshop facilitator and writer Rebecca Ching and pop artist Ashley Longshore.
Schulman’s podcast marries the practical with the psychological, as industry experts dish up thoughts on pricing art, building a social media presence and developing an “abundance mindset.”
“I want to … help people with their own journey of stepping in that role, of becoming a professional artist,” she said.
Schulman, 49, grew up with a somewhat mobile home address. She and her mother bounced from Miami to Atlanta to Boston after her father died when she was 5. In the midst of constant change, “[Art] really helped ground me,” she said.
Yet Schulman’s interests in math and computers, coupled with her fear of financial struggle, soon threw her career into flux. She left Dartmouth College in 1990 with a degree in art history, a minor in engineering and little direction.
“Really, when I graduated I had a degree in nothing,” she said. “I couldn’t work as an engineer, I couldn’t work as an artist because I was neither here nor there.”
For the next year, Schulman worked odd jobs in the art world and tried to break into graphic design. “None of them were really working out,” she said.
Under the weight of student loans, she decided engineering was a safer route, but continued painting in her spare time. “It was scary,” she said. “The world is telling you, ‘You can’t do this, you’re not going to make money.’”
In 1992, she graduated with a master’s of science from M.I.T. and started her career in computer modeling on Wall Street. A year later, she married Ron Schulman, and in 1998 the couple had their first child, Talia.
In 2001, Schulman was pregnant with her second child, Seth, and on extended maternity leave while working at a hedge fund in Greenwich Village. On Sept. 11, two hijacked airplanes crashed into her former workplace, the World Trade Center, killing 2,977 people.
“When that happened, I just decided there was no way I wanted to go back to Wall Street,” Schulman said. “If you need a sign from the universe, watching your former building go down in flames, that’s a big sign. Life is too short; it sounds really cliché, but this is what happened.”
Schulman was in the building when the center was first targeted with a bomb in 1993. “I just remember how we were all encouraged to go back to our desks and keep working,” she said. “It was … that culture of, ‘you keep working,’ that I just couldn’t make myself go back to.”
So she made the leap to professional artist and never looked back. She began selling paintings both at the Scarsdale Art Association and to local parents who commissioned portraits of their children.
She didn’t start off making six figures, but was earning a couple of thousand dollars per piece within the first few years.
“I hear the echoes of what I was being told when I was in college,” Schulman said. “[But] if you want to do art, give yourself the tools to become an artist.”
With that mission in mind, Schulman decided a podcast was the best medium to reach a new audience, despite her background in blogging and authoring articles for Professional Artists Magazine.
An avid podcast listener herself — Amy Porterfield and Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier” are some of her favorites — Schulman felt there was a gap in art-specific podcasts. According to her, most business podcasts were limited to industries like weight loss.
“Not everyone could translate that advice to building an art business,” she said.
The art podcasts that did exist focused on artists’ individual journeys.
“I’m following my curiosity,” Schulman said. “Always, the question on my mind is, what value would a conversation with this person have for artists?”
New episodes of “The Inspiration Place” air weekly and are available on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and Spotify.