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Ruba Athar | Interview

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Times of Youth: In brief, could you enlighten our readers about yourself for those who may be unaware?
 
I belong to Karachi Pakistan, I have done my former and latter education in the British System O-levels and A-levels in pre medical subjects. After which I completed my BBA Honors in Finance and Marketing from an esteemed business institute of Karachi. I started working in the financial sector at a tender age and have gained over 8 years of experience in this sector and also learnt a great deal about business. my father has always been my teacher and will continue to do so as he is a successful businessman and leading financial consultant. During this course I also started acquiring knowledge on Middle Eastern studies or Religious Studies and last year completed my M.A. In the Middle Eastern studies with first division, now ready to peruse my M.phill in the same field. Since the last three years I’ve been operating my startup Tools To Bake and currently ive been married to a loving husband and have settled in Islamabad the capital city of Pakistan. My passion is to work actively in the business sector and to help others as well, My startup has been a big part of my life and will be in the future aswell.
Times of Youth: What is the name of the startup? 
Tools To Bake (TTB)
Times of Youth: What is your startup, what does it do?
Tools To Bake is the pioneer of online stores in Pakistan selling only bake ware goods. We sell both local and imported brands on our website; choose your product, place your order and it will get delivered right at your doorstep. It was founded on the 1st of May 2012, since then it has been working as a strong supplier of bake ware tools all over Pakistan. The main focus is to facilitate and make baking easy, enjoyable and innovative. With just one single initiative of providing bakeware goods TTB branched out into three subsidiary companies;

 TTB Wholesalers- Tools To Bake operates as a wholesaler in order to extend its services to other esteemed organizations in the industry facilitating the field of culinary art by providing ease of access to good quality baking tools available with great ease.
 TTB Culinary art School- In August 2012 Tools To Bake launched its first fully owned subsidiary by the name of “Learn To Decorate”, where we teach new baking skills and techniques and train young bakers to create master pieces.
TTB Ventures- In October 2012 TTB launched its second fully owned subsidiary by the name of “TTB Ventures” where we develop feasibility reports for young entrepreneurs in the industry and help them setup their dream business in the world of culinary art. With the help of our research we give them a cutting edge of how to enter the competitive field of home based bakers.
Times of Youth: Who are the founders and key team members?

 

 
This venture is a brainchild of three sisters, all three work as the active directors of the company

 

Ruba Athar
Zahra Athar
Daniya Athar
Times of Youth: How does your startup stand out against it’s competitors, what makes you different?
What is special and different about TTB is that we are heading towards developing a one stop baking solution for all our clients unlike any other existing business of this nature. TTB has bridged the gap between the culinary field in Pakistan and the advancement at which the rest of the countries in the world have reached within this field.
We provide the Pakistani market with the latest baking and decorating equipment available, imported products like Wilton, PME. We share the latest baking techniques, help provide food consultancy to top restaurants and hotels and Innovative ideas to home-based bakers.
TTB aims to help bring forward all the talent our people have where culinary art is concerned. TTB is strongly moving ahead creating opportunities for other entrepreneurs as well as those who have entered this field providing a healthy competition for TTB and lucrative market of bakeware goods. It’s an avenue which allowed the women of Pakistan to present their talents of baking, before TTB there was no such avenue for people who shared the talent of baking and decorating.
Why TTB is indeed a wining model is for the reason that if you study and share our business model it is enough to motivate all those talented men and women in Pakistan who don’t have enough options to set up industries but have enough talent to start off their home businesses which bring about good earnings and which do contribute to the economic flourishing and import export health of Pakistan.  With just a simple idea of making imported American bakeware tools available for people living in Pakistan TTB has opened doors to the culinary field in Pakistan matching international talent and standards. Restaurants, hotels and local bakeries along with home-based bakers and developing culinary schools, get inspiration from TTB.  Not one but atleast 10 other individuals followed TTBs model and have flourishing online businesses in Pakistan selling bakeware goods. Because of TTBs efforts the brand name WILTON an American company is now known by a major niche in Pakistan who are contributing to the culinary division. Many women have been taught the talent of baking professionally and have been given the confidence to setup their baking business. TTB lets home-based bakers use its platform to reach out to the market and publicize themselves and also help these individuals create business models which would facilitate them in the future. With the efforts and contributions made by TTB and the sustainability it has reached, Pakistan’s culinary art industry is indeed heading towards a promising future.
Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from?
As mentioned earlier this venture is a brainchild of three sisters. Being bakers and having a baking experience of over 10 years the three of us sitting around our kitchen table with just the passion of baking in our heart and smart phones in our hand started this venture. Initially it was started as we saw a gaping hole in the market where culinary goods as in utensils were concerned, tools were not available.  Pakistan being rich in culinary skills was very poor in culinary supplies people who baked were dependent on traveling abroad to fulfill their wish list of items needed to pursue their passion and talent. We saw this gap and filled it up.
Secondly once we had the tools and the expertise it didn’t take us more than half a day to establish a culinary academy to teach enthusiastic passionate students, this further led us helping these individuals establishing their business.
With this research and our educational backgrounds in business, marketing and finance our venture took shape.
Times of Youth: What is your vision for the company?
Tools To Bake’s vision is “To operate as an effective wholesaler in order to establish a strong distribution network in the world of culinary arts in Pakistan. To teach new and innovative ideas and to create individuals who are true professionals in the field of baking. To establish young entrepreneurs in the world of baking and to operate the first ever online store of bake ware goods in Pakistan. Our vision helps us to see ourselves as a one stop baking solution for all customers”.
Times of Youth: What is the actual addressable market?
Initially we started in a niche market for women, housewives, middle to upper class age bracket 30-50 years, but within a span of short time our clients can be found in leading Hotels, Restaurants, culinary art schools, café’s, leading bakeries, social forum’s and other famous home-based businesses which have been setup my TTB itself. In other words TTBs practices gave rise to its own niche market directly or indirectly related to culinary division. TTB has a long list of clientele across Pakistan.
Times of Youth: Can you state, in clear language, the key features of your product or service?
The key features of my product and service can be understood by the following scenario.
Once you join the “TTB Family” by simply clicking the LIKE button on our Fb-page or by sending in an SMS  as an individual you experience the following benefits;
You now have access to culinary tools from America that is we deal in Wilton products www.wilton.com along with tools from all over Pakistan, China and Korea. You can simply place an order and pay Cash on delivery on receiving your product. You have an option of making your purchase by using the following avenues: Online shopping on www.toolstobake.com you are able to enroll yourself in the 4 courses which take you from being a basic baker and decorator to a professional one giving you a cutting edge in the existing industry.
You sign up at TTB Ventures and get a free feasibility report made for your new business which you have been thinking about for years but have not received any facilitation in order to implement it. Counseling sessions with TTBs team gives you the encouragement and confidence along with the strategy to move forward. We understand your hidden talent and bring it forward. Facilitating you towards your venture. After your business has been setup you are introduced at the platform of TTB in order to market your business and TTB helps you throughout your venture. You are also given an opportunity to display TTB products at your business page in order to share the profit of product selling.
These five stages have created many home-based entrepreneur’s in this period of 3 years and have facilitated many bakeries and restaurants in food techniques. Thus, creating a niche within the business sector of Pakistan. TTB opened doors to the niche market catering to culinary artists and many other small online stores sprung up after TTBs efforts.
TTB also opened doors to food designing and food technicalities about which more and more people are now becoming aware of.
TTB opened the doors to home teaching and decorating we encourage and motivate our students to further teach and spread their talents in order to facilitate more house wives towards entrepreneurship.
Being technologically savvy TTB has educated many housewives to use smartphones for online shopping with great ease. Women who are afraid to use the internet shop online with TTB with great ease and joy
TTB has now started giving off its product franchise to leading bakeries and will continue to do so in order to make state of the art baking products available all over Pakistan.
Times of Youth: What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
I am BBA Honors in finance an MA in Islamic Education, and currently starting my Mphill in fall 2016. Being a daughter of a successful business man and Financial Consultant I have been trained and exposed to the financial market and business trends since a very tender age I have over 10 year of active and passive experience in the field of Business and Finance.
The element which got me interested in startups was the ability to believe in the talents I possessed and the exposure I had attained in my formative years, then effectively utilizing this talent and experience in the right direction with confidence. Startups are packed with falvours of success, starting something from scratch and then actually excelling at it gives you a feeling of self-actualization unlike any other work field.
Times of Youth: What are the major product milestones/achievements?
TTB has had an eventful 3 years where the growth has been constant and promising.
One of the main achievements was being selected as a top 100 startup company out of thousands by Pakistans First Startup Expo 2015 and then being awarded fist place in the category of “The Best Home-Based Business Of The Year.
TTBs main target was to cater to the culinary division in order to facilitate product availability to culinary artist whether they are home-based or present in the professional culinary industry. And to bridge the gap between the local culinary industry and the foreign industrial practices. And it has been successful in achieving this target. The evidence showing the fulfillment of TTBs targets lie in the following coverage of social and print media.
TTB has been interviewed by a number of social and print medias discussing its achievements targets and goals the list of evidence is as follows.
TTB was interviewed by the famous magazine “Womens own”, discussing its achievements (article is attached with the mail)
TTB was approached my MasalaTV by Shireen Anwars show masala mornings where the achievements and business model were highlighted for a duration of four shows. (pictures can be seen on FB page)
 TTB had a mainpage coverage in Tribune newspaper highlighting the concept of “TTB Teaparty”
TTB was interviewed by Dalda food magazine “Dalda Flavours” to highlight its innovative ideas in the field of culinary arts and now TTB writes a permanent desert column in “Dalda Flavours”, (Articles are attached with the mail)
TTB helped to design and arranged products for National Institute of Culinary arts and hotel management. www.nicahm.com  (information can be provided on request)
TTB was also invited to judge at the famous Karachi Eat food Festival this year in order to share their culinary experience and techniques.(information is present on the internet)
In terms of revenue/profit and market share it is important to know that soon after its inception TTB expanded and branched out into adjacent revenue streams by the name of TTB ventures, TTB culinary art school, TTB wholesalers these three avenues together with the main business of being an onlinestore of bakeware goods brought it a sustainable cashflow and helped TTB spread far and wide across Pakistan.
Times of Youth: How did you initially raise funding for your company?
Initial investment was made by the three of us out of our own personal savings the goal was to startup with a minimum principal amount and then to generate a rolling investment over the years.
Times of Youth: What early traction has the company gotten (sales, traffic to the company’s website, app downloads, etc., as relevant).
Being technology savvy the speed of execution; time taken from the general idea to setting up operations to generating revenues, to creating subsidiary companies, is significantly less than most businesses, and so with the help of my website and social media forums the reach was significantly more than if I had used any other form of traction. Another pipeline project would be to make an app for TTB.
Times of Youth: What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
the biggest challenge as a startup owner is to keep my startup afloat and alive. Startups have a very erratic growth the exponential rate at which they grow they also die at the same rate sometimes even faster, a number of factors are the cause of that death the first one being boredom as it can set in very fast at any given time. The challenge for me has been to fight for my startups survival for atleast the first 5 years. Coming into my third year I have given my startup a steady base and now need to focus on a steady growth curve, once my five year barrier would be crossed my startup would be strong enough to stay afloat and grow.
Times of Youth: What will the company look like in a year? From any and all perspectives — product, people, team, revenue?
If you talk about a year from now the current year that is, I would say my company would look like a solid venture having a very strong base showing a promising future full of immense potential.  I have tapped a market which still needs to be developed, and my focus is to be the pioneer of developing this market. This year 2015 I have already launched a subsidiary company in Islamabad the capital city, and my base company is in Karachi the metropolitan city of Pakistan.
Product wise I see myself expanding into other product ranges as we order selected ranges based on research of growing pastry trends in a years time I want to introduce some new baking trends and want to expand my product range further.
In terms of team for now, I wont be expanding my team but my eyes are set on my brother who would be graduating from Monash University and I feel he has the potential to further uplift this venture.
Times of Youth: How can investors in your idea make a profit?
TTB is a stable and fast growing business with a lot of opportunities attached to it and many business prospects which are in the pipeline at the moment. We know that TTB operates in a niche which has not been explored before and has not been exhausted but infact is an area having a lot of potential and growth attached to it especially in the coming future.
 Investors who want to invest in TTB would enjoy profits by simply having a cut in the sales on a product item. For eg. TTB already has a customer who buys Tools on wholesale prices, he then keeps a market price for the product this is where we ensure a stable price so that our end consumer does not suffer and makes his sale keeping the profit it makes over his sale. Just as any FMCG market operates.
Apart from this other business prospects are also open to be further discussed as per interest of the investor.
Times of Youth: Finally, If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
My advise to all those who want to start a business would be that the first and foremost step before stepping into or starting any venture or startup is to do a proper market research. Spend all your time effort and initial capital at this research as this would be the answer to your success till the very end and also it would give you information about different expansion avenues. Focus on your core team, it should consist of people who you trust and who would stick through you as there would be a lot of rough patches which you and your team would have to pass through. Know your talent, your strength and your weakness, know yourself inside out before making this decision, you don’t have any support net to fall back on its going to be a one man show only. Utilize your references or contacts well, as initially your startup will arise by word of mouth. Erase the fear of competitors from your heart, you will always find someone who has thought of your idea before you. Know that you are different, believe that you are more capable and focus on your niche to break through and then use your hard work to eventually stand out. When boredom sets in fight it and enjoy your work, be happy and passionate about it.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ToolsToBake/

 

 
Questionnaire was filled by Founder/Owner of Tools To Bake (TTB) – Miss Ruba Athar

 

Times of Youth is an International Youth Magazine read by the youth of more than 82 countries. Times of Youth brings the latest Youth Opportunities, News, Interviews, Fully Funded Scholarships, Paid Internships, Future Stars, Rising Stars, etc. For further details you can email us at: [email protected]

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Future Stars

Muhammad Ali | Interview

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Times of Youth: How would tell our readers about yourself and your work in brief for those who may not be aware?

Muhammad Ali: Right now in this century the most powerful thing is Internet. The world population is 7.2 billion from which 40% of population is using Internet. To spread my work and make others aware about my work I can use Internet on Social Media. The Social Media top listed apps are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram e.t.c.

On Facebook daily 1.23 billion people log in. I mostly uses Facebook for my work to spread on my Facebook page. My friends, teachers also helps me to spread my work along with that my Parents  inspires me to make more videos.

Times of Youth: What makes you come up with so many ideas with such enormous potential to do these magic tricks? Who designs the final concepts?

Muhammad Ali: All the ideas which are shown on my videos are my own mostly, To get these ideas I give myself some free time to think about more and more creative ideas, Sometimes I get help from internet I watch some simple videos and come up with ideas to make it in magical vine. I have seen many magical vines and after watching them I creates a different type of video from it. The final concept is designed by myself I first rehearse my ideas off camera and thinks of final shot! Sometimes I share my ideas with my parents to get if my idea is good or not! My father also helps me in making videos, He gives me ideas!

Times of Youth: When did you decide that making magic tricks video was your calling?

Muhammad Ali: As I have got a great God gifted knowledge about editing I thought of making some magic vines. I decided that this magic vines videos are my calling when I made my first video. I was stunned by my own video that how good it was. To see how others likes my video I posted it on social media and got good views from which I started making vines.

Times of Youth: So, what are your current endeavors in academics?

Muhammad Ali: Right now I am in class 8th and I am studying in The City School, Chenab Campus, Faisalabad, My goals in academics are to be what my parents wants from me to become.

Times of Youth: At the end of it all, what is your real aim in life? 

Muhammad Ali: My real aim of life is to make my parents proud of my work and to make them happy to see my work. My aim is to be a successful person to make my friends and teachers feel good about myself. My aim of life is also to make people smile by watching my videos.

Times of Youth: Considering your enormous intellectual potential, we believe that you have the power to bring a rational change in the world. If given a chance, what would you like to do to make this world place a better place? 

Muhammad Ali: To make this world better place from my work is that to make other kids learn about these editing skills from my work and to educate others to help them for better future. I will try my best to use my videos to make this world a better place.

Times of Youth: Which was your first video? How was the response to it?

Muhammad Ali: My first video about magical vine was that the copy of myself is playing with me. This was my first video and the response I got from this video was awesome everyone appreciated me.

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Future Stars

David Uzumaki | Interview

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Times of Youth: Do tell our readers about your work in brief for those who may be unaware.

Sure thing. Well, my name is David Uzumaki and I am known as “8gaming” online. I have a Facebook page and also am YouTuber that does a variety of things. On my Facebook, I post video game facts and trivia that many people would have not known about before. On YouTube, I dwell deeper in the whole video game world of things. (‘Let’s play…’, funny moment videos, informative gaming videos, etc). Essentially it’s just me having fun with video games.

Times of Youth: When did you decide that being a gamer was your calling?

Quite recently actually. I’d say around 2013 when I started 8gaming. I’ve played for many years before that of course (the earliest I can recall is ‘Sonic on’ of the original Sega system and Crash Bandicoot and Tomb Raider on the PS1). I feel the creation of 8gaming made me a more focused gamer as I invested quite a lot of time in it subsequently increasing my love for the hobby.

Times of Youth: ‘8gaming’ is an unusual name. What made you choose it for your project?

I get this one a lot actually. It’s really simple actually. The 8 represents an infinity symbol so technically you can call me infinite gaming. It represents the never ending love for video games that we all have. However, originally the name was derived from “8fact”. A partner of 9gag who essentially does the same thing but posts more general content. I noticed nobody made an 8gaming page so took the chance to make it.

Times of Youth: How did you conjure up the idea of revealing gaming facts using web and mobile apps as a portal?

I got to give credit where credit is due. 8fact. As I previously said they posted general facts and trivia of life, I simply did the same thing but refined it to video games (which I recently expanded to YouTube).

Times of Youth: From where do you gather all these facts? How authentic are they?

Among the positivity of the ‘m8s’ (what I name my supporters). There is always the one or two who try to disprove everything I say. The facts are gathered in 3 ways:

I simply look for pre-existing facts that are already confirmed (but this is difficult to do now since I’m using everything up)

I use different apps and sites to try and learn something nobody has mentioned before or I would use the said apps to post current interesting information. An example is the built in Google Now Cards installed on my phone which provides me with information about things I regularly search. This sometimes provides sources for posts. I also use an app called “Flipboard” which allows me to specifically look for video game related news which I use on the page.

This is the more interesting method. However, I should tell you a bit more about me. I have a keen intrigue when it comes to Physics. As a hobbyist and in formal education. So I use this knowledge and the knowledge I already have of video games to “create” a fact. An example is when I posted about Portal 2 and compared portals to real life using the knowledge I know from physics. However, this is longer process when it comes to gathering information as I must 100% make sure what I say is 100% coherent in a short manner.

Regarding their authenticity, I wouldn’t post something if it was false and this is something that those few people who say otherwise don’t realize. They can simply confirm the information by researching it themselves so I would never post something non-genuine.

Times of Youth: What is your idea of a perfect game?

One that applies real-life theoretical physics in a world of its own to a finite degree. A light example would be the idea behind Delsin Rowe’s (Infamous Second Son) powers being introduced into a real-world environment. Basically anything that is not about real-life but can be explained by real-life (which is why I don’t like Grand Theft Auto).

Times of Youth: Which has been your most favorite game of all time?

“The Last of Us”

Times of Youth: Any achievement of yours which you’re most proud of?

Definitely! I won a national animation competition twice in Ireland and got to travel to Microsoft to their Games localization division to spend a week with them including the Windows team. Although, I am also more proud of 8gaming as a whole. As one can deduce I am still trying to find myself, still trying to carve myself in the gaming world and I’m only in the early stages of that. There’s still a long journey for me ahead!

Times of Youth: Has your work ever been criticized? How did you handle it?

Yes. A lot. Specifically YouTube. For the main reason being when I first got into YouTube, I was clueless (like any other YouTuber). My videos were frankly sub-par and I was having a hard time getting peoples’ attention. This is due to the size of my Facebook page and people comparing it to my YouTube. They ignore the fact that my Facebook page was once small and are condescending regarding my YouTube. In the back of my head though, I know that the hard times will be over as I experienced it with my Facebook page. Recently, things have been going well with my YouTube and I’m in the budding stage of becoming something noteworthy. It’s only a matter of time until both my YouTube and Facebook are at the same level.

When it comes to handling the critics I simply shrug them off (or so I try) as I’ve been hardened from many in the past. You become so used to the positive comments that one negative comment will get to you. 99% of what they say is lacking in background knowledge and they ramble on about things they don’t understand. This goes for both my YouTube and Facebook. I usually block people who say things that simply don’t make sense and their sole intent is to loathe me.

Times of Youth: What advice would you give to the young emerging gamers who still have a long way to go?

Well, since I’m a young emerging gamer myself and am tasting small snippets of success, I’d say (and I know this is cliche) have fun. I feel my short time on YouTube has thought me this. People can sense when you’re not real. When you don’t like what you’re doing. Plus, it would be a waste of your time and you’ll ultimately get nowhere. Whether this is YouTube, Facebook or even just you as a person. The thing you have to do is find something you like and stick with it. There’s no real specifics I can discuss unless you’re super rich and can just advertise your image everywhere (and even that wouldn’t work so well).

Times of Youth: Any message that you would like to share for the youth via Times Of Youth?

Sure! I wanna first thank you for reading this far and I’ll like to tell you one thing. Don’t give up. Once again, cliche as ever but these sayings exist for a reason. Whatever it is you’re passionate about, you will fail and fail over and over again in the beginning. I mean, I still fail all the time. It’s the fact that you can learn from your mistakes and become a better person.
Side tip: Be original or originally recreate something that already exists, make it better.

Times of Youth: Do tell us how fans and admirers can contact you to share their appreciation and feedback.

I reply to ‘m8s’ on a variety of platforms. My personal Facebook page (David Uzumaki)
Snapchat: m8gaming
Youtube: 8gaming
Twitter: @8gaming
PSN: narutouzumaki16

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Future Stars

Levi Boulis | Interview

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For those who don’t know about you and your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a 20 year old from Ohio exploring the world of art. I did not attend college or study art in a classroom past my high school. Through this journey, I’ve gotten to exhibit in London and Barcelona in the past year. Hopefully many more trips will be taken to exhibit my art through out the world. The opportunities I’ve gotten through art has also helped me grow as a person. It’s forced me to become a more outgoing person, which naturally I keep to myself. At first I was just making art because I loved it, and then some people in the art community took notice. So now It’s become a pursuit of a career.

How would you describe your work to someone who has never known about it?

My work consists of various styles and subject matter, as I experiment a great amount with my art. The majority consists of vibrant colors that highlight the emotion I feel from the subject matter. Some of the subject matter includes portraits, animals, water, and city street views. Older artwork was created mainly with charcoal, which has helped tremendously in creating paintings. My more current artwork is done in oil and acrylics on canvas.

What sparked your initial interest in arts?

There isn’t a specific moment that set off my interest. Most kids have a favorite thing to kill time, and mine just happened to be drawing. I continued to draw more and more, and as I got older I grew in talent due to the practice. In my last year of high school, I really began to take it more seriously, as I was taking many art classes.

At what age did you start doing all this work? Has your family always been supportive of this choice of career?

I’ve always been creating art. At 17, I started making the majority of the artwork that is featured on my website and captured the attention of others. My family has been very supportive during this adventure. They have even let me use a room in the house for a small studio space. I think most parents don’t take the news of their children wanting to become artists very well. To parents, the phrase, “I want to be an artist” can be interpreted as “I’m going to have no money”. But this thinking isn’t always true and my parents recognize that.

If not this, what else would you have taken up as your 2nd career of choice and why?

My second choice would be computer programming. I’ve always been interested in why and how the technology works. Since I have a great interest in this field, I’ve taken it upon myself to study it through free online resources and books. My hope is to integrate my creativity and experiences in art with my programming knowledge, to help other artists.

Do tell us how has your experience has been in your current field so far.

I can tell you right away, that it is not easy. There are plenty of times that I don’t want to do anything creative, or a project that is taking a lot longer than I had planned. Forcing myself to work on projects is very important, because practice is necessary to become better. Another challenge is having ideas. Writers may have writers’ block, but a painter has “painters’ block”. This field is also hard to make an income with, if you’re like me and just create original artwork. Others rely on selling prints or paintings. It’s possible though! All it takes is the right person seeing your artwork to really get things moving forward. All that being said, it has been an incredible experience. Unique opportunities have been made available that are just so exciting to be a part of. Getting to exhibit internationally has got to be my favorite part and also, meeting other crazy artists and people from all over the world united by the love for art.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself as an artist, honestly?

Currently, I would rate myself a 6. It doesn’t seem very high, but there’s a reason for that. There is ALWAYS more room to improve, so I could never reach 10. Some artists are in the studio almost every day. Right now, that’s just not me. I have many things I am interested in. So I can’t dedicate every hour to my art. I have just set a new goal for myself to help me improve, create one new piece of work every 10 days.

Which of your projects are you most proud of and why?

I am most proud of my recent paintings of Barcelona. It challenged me to step away from just doing unrealistic colors and portraits for a time, and try to expand my talent. These paintings included more natural colors, and new subject matter. The biggest part of why I’m so proud of these paintings is I captured the atmosphere I felt while I was there, which is extremely important to me.

Where do you see yourself in next 5 years?

In 5 years, I see myself with a more professional art studio space. Getting the right atmosphere to create my art is very important to becoming better. I hope to be exhibiting at 2 international exhibits a year by that point. Teaching art classes might be something I see myself doing as well. Referencing what I had talked about earlier, I hope to have developed a website to really help artists get discovered and connect them with job opportunities.

What is one question nobody has ever asked you— that you wish they asked you?

“What were you thinking about/what mood were you in while you created this piece of work?” is a question I at least don’t remember being asked before. Most people ask questions such as, “Why did you use this color?” or “How long did it take?”. These questions don’t really have answers that provide any depth to a work of art. Sometimes I choose a color, just because it looks good. The question about what mood or what I was thinking about while painting a particular piece can provide something more than just the visual aspect, and add a better understanding of my work.

Any message to your fans or followers via TIMES OF YOUTH?

I would encourage everyone to pursue their passion relentlessly. I even know many people who have given up on what they love, simply because they doubt themselves. It’s not fair to yourself to limit yourself by fear of failure, and it’s also not fair to everyone else who is prevented from witnessing your unique talents. I firmly believe that choosing a career that you are passionate about will allow you to maximize your potential, because when you’re passionate about something, you will work harder towards it.

Do tell us how can fans contact you to share their appreciation/feedback/suggestions.

Anyone can contact me through my Facebook art page, “Levi Boulis Artist”, or through my website www.leviboulis.com

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