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10 Questions with Graeme Stevenson - Colour In Your Life Presenter and CEO

Colour In Your Life hits the USA in 2016

G’day, it’s Frankie here.  Part of the privilege of this job is coming up with ideas for content that you will find useful/interesting/amusing.  And when those ideas actually eventuate, well!  Today I was lucky enough to have that happen, with an interview with Graeme Stevenson from the hit TV show Colour In Your Life.  So let’s have a peek into the mind of Graeme :)

Q:  What are the three most important character traits when trying to make a living from your art?

Persistance.  You’re not going to get anywhere without it.  Integrity in what you do, and in the product you’re producing.  It’s also a willingness to go one step further where nobody else is prepared to do that.  Just because you’re told “no" today, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a “no" tomorrow.  You need to focus on a goal and move towards it.  And re-evaulate what you’re doing.  Constantly reevaluate.

Q:  Are you getting more notoriety from your own artwork now that you’re a celebrity?

I haven’t painted a lot lately.  I’m hoping to do more painting in LA at the end of the year.  When the Global Financial Crisis happened years ago, I started really thinking about how I could help other people to help me, to help them :)  This was how Colour In Your Life came about.  So yes, there is a flow on effect from the show to my art.

Graeme Stevenson WIP
Graeme Stevenson's painting "Bear Family"

Q:  Do you have any time to make art these days?  What do you do to satisfy your creative urge? G rating please :)

No I don’t, and I would like to but business has completely taken over.  As we build the business, I’d like to paint one large, major painting a year when I get the chance to do so.  Hopefully the growth of the business will enable me to get a manager so I can just walk back into the studio whenever I’d like to, but I don’t see this happening for 2-3 years.  

Q:  Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently 5 years ago?

In the beginning there wasn’t any support - I bankrolled it myself.  In retrospect the money could’ve been far better spent.  I’d have gone and filmed the best dozen artists in the country and we would have had instant credibility.  I did the reverse and worked with mid-stream artists and start-up careers.  I could’ve fast tracked it a little more if I’d filmed more prominent artists.  Once we had Joseph Zbukvic on the show, it took off.

The website would’ve been designed a little bit differently - the whole thing was trial and error in many respects.  We were breaking new ground.   Having a Marketing Manager earlier on would’ve been good - but it just wasn’t viable back then with the financial situation.  

Who knew how to fly a plane in 1900?

Q:  What would rate as your top experience in life thus far?

My family. That’s the only thing of any value to anybody isn’t it?  I’m very lucky to still have my parents as an emotional backup - and they’ve enabled me to live the life I wanted.  I always knew I had a safe place to land.

Q:  What is the best story you’ve had come out of a Colour In Your Life experience?

There’s a lot.  One of the most powerful ones - there was a lady who had lost her husband and son, she was basically alone, depressed, and contemplating suicide.  Colour In Your Life was the highlight of her week.  She wrote a letter thanking me for saving her life.  I phoned her and said “I didn’t think an art show would save someone’s life”.  She then started playing with paints.  I phoned the art schools in the area she lived and explained her story, and they welcomed her to come down and join them.  She made some new friends and now paints every day.  

We did a workshop in the Junee Jail because the inmates had been watching the show and the head of the rec centre in the jail called me up and invited me in.  After the workshop, it went from 25 artists that painted, to 200 that now paint in the jail (out of the 880 inmates).  Colour In Your Life has bought the various factions together i.e. the Asians, Maoris and Aboriginals.  They’ll watch the show now and the Aboriginals and Maories are talking to each other and comparing notes on painting technique.  I got a call after that from the corrections minister asking what was going on as lots of prisoners now wanted art supplies!  It’s a great result as the prisoners have something positive to focus on and cause far less trouble.

Q:  What do you believe the real power of your TV show is?

Allowing people to understand themselves better.  Art does that.  It applies to any age group, any race.  We’re told “you can’t, you shouldn’t, you won’t”.  Art allows you to tap into yourself, and purge yourself of negative feelings - it opens up a door for you.

Q:  How do you deal with creepy stalkers?

The problem is they’re all over 70!!  Haha, just joking.  95% of the time the girls in the office take the messages.  I physically don’t have the time.  It’s a bit weird getting public recognition - people yelling out “PUT SOME COLOUR IN YOUR LIFE!!”.  Not too creepy though - nothing I can’t handle.

upcoming prize pack giveaway with Staedtler and Colour In Your Life.  See CIYL Facebook page for details.

Q:  Where do you see yourself and the CIYL team in 5 years time?

We’re pretty much on the nose with our current 5 year plan.  We’re leaving for the US on 1st December (It was about 5 years ago we started putting this together).  In 5 years' time we’re hoping Colour In Your Life will be licensed to countries all over the world with the format we use, so that other people can also make a living out of doing this, all the while bringing it back to a central database.  Our mission statement is “To build a library of the minds of artists for future generations”.

Q:  Tell us something no one knows about you.

At 10 years of age I was the only Protestant boy at Marist Brothers Catholic College in Canberra. Out of 1400 Catholic boys I was the first Protestant they’d ever let in.  I was consequently always in fights and was caned almost every day.  This experience pretty much moulded the way I saw the world - I was really angry with the world until I was about 30.

Thanks so much to Graeme for taking the time to chat with me via Skype today.  You can follow Colour In Your Life at:

Twitter @ArtToColourLife. 

Instagram @Art_For_Colour_In_Your_Life

And make sure you subscribe to the Youtube channel right here.

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