Roy Hermann
January 16, 2022

Volta Voloshin - Visual Content Creator and Visual Storyteller

We’re happy to have Volta Voloshin Smith for another interview on the creation station. Volta is a visual content creator and visual storyteller. Her GIF animation has more than 300 million views on giphy. She is also a watercolor illustrator and an author. Moreover, she teaches 1000s of students and was also chosen to participate in the  LinkedIn Creator Accelerator Programme. 

Welcome Volta and thank you so much for being with us today. 

Thank you so much. I am honored to be here. 

So volta, I am fascinated by your story, because it shows how passion and desire can win against the usual path most people follow. So please tell us a little bit about your story.

Thank you. So, I did not go to art school, even though that is my passion. I have always wanted to pursue art and always felt that I was an artist at heart. But I did go to business school and followed that path for a while, but eventually, I got to a point in my life where I couldn't ignore the call to being an artist. 
I am an immigrant. I'm originally from Moldova. I've lived in the US for about 20 years now. I always wanted to be an artist, but I pursued business and marketing in school and college. And even though I didn't go to art school, I am grateful that I had that detour to do the business and marketing stuff because it's been so helpful in running my business. And not to mention, I love the idea of content creation and geeking out over what's working and what's not working. So I love combining the two, the art and the marketing.

Amazing. So your brand is called Color Snack. How did this name come about? And what can we expect to find in Color Snack?

So, color snack started as a blog around five years ago. While going to business school and working full time, I needed a creative outlet so badly. So that's when I stumbled upon watercolors and rediscovered that medium. Then I saw how happier it made me because it was a much-needed creative break. Even though I was busy doing all the other things, I knew that just a little time in creative work would help me feel better. 
After that, I thought about sharing my work with the world in small snacks of color. Like, five-minute tutorials should be easy and accessible for anyone super busy but still needs that time for themselves. 
So I started to offer a 5 or 10-minute tutorial that you can do, and it's essentially like a snack of color. And by time, when I fell in love with food illustration then it got another meaning to the color snack because I love colorful snacks.

Nice. So what made you pursue a career as a content creator?

Yeah, it was around four or five years ago when I had this moment of realization that I am about to turn 30. This whole time, even though I loved marketing and my job, I did not have the spark I needed with the art. 
So, I decided to give art a try. I found that it's such a great time to be alive as an artist because there are so many different ways that we can be creative and express through many different ways and monetize it. 
So the passion to be an artist and after realizing that people are into content creation and content marketing is huge, I finally combine these two and find out the way to use art as content that not only fulfills me as an artist but can also serve as a need for another business or a person who wants to express something.

Absolutely. How do you get the inspiration for your work?

That's a very good question. Usually, my inspiration is tied to food. So if I'm trying a new dish, or a new dessert and pastry, that's very inspiring to me. It might sound funny that whenever I go out with my husband, he knows that he needs to wait to eat his food because I have to take photos. I need those photos in the future. 
So yeah, food is a huge inspiration for me. But also being close to nature like trees and green things, I feel like that a fuel to my inspiration.

That's great. And when you have a creative block, how do you overcome it?

Well, first I'll take a nap. A little break or even a 20 minutes nap is a kind of reset to my head. A short nap usually helps me to get out of that block.
Moreover, I try to do something different from content creation or even making art or like going to the gym or going out for a walk and not necessarily thinking about finding the solution to that block. But eventually, just giving a little bit of time can help. 

Great. So I also saw on LinkedIn, that you wrote an article, How to Gain creativity and clarity with morning pages. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Well, I love the book “The Artist Way”  by Julia Cameron. I will say that it was one of the main things that got me back into the journey of being an artist. Because that book helped me get back into the inner artists that I have always had inside of me. 
One of the major components of the book, the artist's way, is doing the morning pages. It's a practice where you wake up in the morning, and the very first thing you do is write three pages by hand within your journal. 
It is essentially like a stream of consciousness, and it acts as a way to help you feel more clarity. Moreover, it is also the best way to overcome my anxiety. I have generalized anxiety in writing the pages. It helps me feel calmer because I am writing out all those fears, and whatever it is that I can think of, to make myself relax and calm.
So, I would highly recommend that book to artists and everyone because this is a great practice for anyone in any field. It will activate a certain part of your brain, like writing a stream of consciousness and releasing all those things. And as a result, you feel a little better. So I'm a huge fan of that practice.

I agree. So, what's your process for creating content? Have you developed any methodology? If yes, then would you recommend it to other creators? 

Well, I am a huge fan of content. So I recommend trying different ways of incorporating something that's very natural and comes naturally to you. So for me, that's watercolors, and typically it was all started by my love for food. 
I paint different elements with watercolor. I scan the artwork and then digitize it, like cleaning it up and isolating the different layers. Then I bring that into After Effects. And that's where I compile my final animation. 
So, I would recommend it to all the creators. I think it's a lot of fun to use handmade things. I love the idea of using something analog then finding a way to bring it into the digital world. So you can still show it as a video or a GIF. So, that's my process.

Nice. So creating content is not an easy task. What keeps you motivated?

I love my passion for sharing things with people. And I think what keeps me motivated is my connection with the community. 
I like to share things that have helped me feel better about my mental health or something that I'm learning, like my development journey.
So I think, ultimately, I desire to share those things with others so that maybe they can find something that can make their life a little easier. Because we know that the world can be so hard and life is hard, we should try to make someone's day a little bit better. So, my mission is to uplift and encourage people with the content I share.

Have you ever felt burnout? How did you manage to overcome it?

So burnout is a real problem. I feel it's very common with content creators especially. I suffered a lot of burnout in the first few years of this journey as a freelance entrepreneur. And the best way that I deal with it is to start scheduling my rest times. I try to take Sundays off. Sometimes, if I had to work for events, host a workshop o, 
Just try to add breaks to your schedule. There is a very simple quote that I've seen online many times, “Learn to rest and not quit.” I don't know why it took me long to let that sink in. But eventually, we are not machines. We need rest. 
Even high-performance athletes have recovery periods. So it's like just making sure that you get enough rest. And once I started doing that, I noticed that my burnout episodes were less frequent. So I would say that it works for me. So I hope someone else can find this helpful, too.

And do you get to work with brands and advertisers? And if so, what is your strategy for getting more business opportunities?

My main strategy has just been meeting people and building connections online throughout the years. So engaging with the brand that I want to work with, I always make sure that I spend enough time engaging with their content—maybe offering some really helpful and thoughtful comments.
And I must say that it works because you have to think and understand the other end of the brand is another person. Suppose they see that someone is willing to take the time to offer a comment that goes beyond the surface level. In that case, it's a lot easier for them to feel like, okay, this is a good partner to collaborate with. 
So that's been my strategy is just like meeting people and making connections and being authentic to who I am, rather than trying to be anyone else.

So, what tip would you give aspiring creators?

I would say that stay true to yourself. I have seen a lot of people trying to pretend to be someone they're not. It's not sustainable. I feel like you will not be everyone's cup of tea; not everyone is going to love you. But if you're true to who you are, you will attract the type of people you want in your community. 
So I would say stay true to yourself and be consistent. I think that's a huge thing that if you can show up consistently, that will be key to success. I also realize that confidence will come with experience. The only way to get experienced is to get out there and do the work. 
So if you feel like you do not have the right tools or don't have the experience, but you have it in your heart to do, then go out there and do it, and it will get easier the more you do it.

So if we summarize it, what are three tips every creator should follow? 

Stay true to yourself, be consistent, and know that confidence will come with experience.

Great. And two last questions before we wrap up the interview. So if you just started, what do you be optimizing for?

If I had just started, I would first optimize for realizing or finding out what my key audience is with my content and then finding opportunities to meet those people in real life. 
So I know with the pandemic, that was a little bit harder. But now, hopefully, things will get better soon, and we'll go back to like normal things where we can be in the same room with different people. 
So I would say that attending the networking events and making sure that it aligns with the audience I am trying to build. So that's what I would optimize for.

Great. So, where do you see the greater economy is heading?

I honestly think it's just gonna keep growing. I must say that what a great time to be alive as an artist because right now, you can use all those amazing visual creativity tools to express yourself in more ways than just with painting, for example.
So I think that more artists will realize that it will keep growing. I am very excited to see how it grows and excited to be a part of it.

Absolutely. Okay, Volta, it was a pleasure to have you on the show today. I wish you great success.

Thank you so much, Tal. It's such an honor to speak with you. 

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