Charly Palmer

Getting Your Ego Out of The Way & Discovering The Freedom To Create: An Interview with Artist, Charly Palmer

Getting Your Ego Out of The Way & Discovering The Freedom To Create: An Interview with Artist, Charly Palmer

Do you remember that initial spark of creativity or that idea that ushered you on your journey to become an artist? For many of us, that spark was so long ago that we feel like we were born with it. Sometimes we can lose sight of our creative spark or it may even dim over the years - here to give us a powerful perspective from an impressive and seasoned career is the artist, Charly Palmer. 

Charly Palmer was born in 1960 in Fayette, Alabama and raised in Milwaukee. Eventually, he moved to Chicago to study Art and Design at the American Academy of Art and School of the Art Institute. As a graphic designer and illustrator, he has run a successful design studio with a Fortune 500 clientele. As an instructor, Charly teaches design and illustration and painting at the post-secondary level—most recently—Spelman College. These days, Charly devotes his life to his creative goals and has established himself as a fine artist. 

I can’t wait for you to learn from Charly’s depth and breadth of experience both as a commercial artist and making the shift to fine art. Make sure to catch images of Charly’s artwork located at the end of this post. 

Transitioning to Fine Art 

When Charly first started as an artist, he was drawn to work as a commercial artist - he wanted to create movie posters. It is quite poetic that when Charly first started his art education, it was at a fine art school which he left for a school focused on graphic design and illustration that was located across the street. After years in the commercial art world, Charly decided it was time to make the shift - he wanted to create fine art. Following his dreams - Charly jumped in and was a bit unprepared in the process - the transition from the security of work in the commercial sector to start from scratch as a fine artist wasn’t easy. 

Looking back, Charly is convinced that the change was absolutely worth it - experiencing the joy and freedom to create the art that he wants when he wants is exactly what he was looking for. Have you had a similar shift in your career? What was that process like for you? 

Responding to criticism and praise 

As you’ve heard me talk about before - the artist’s worst critic is often the person staring back in the mirror. It’s also a temptation for the artist to let in all the praise but deflect all the criticism - is that the best response or is there a better way to handle both? According to Charly, what has worked for him over the years is to get his ego out of the way. From his perspective - it all comes down to seeing yourself as a conduit of creativity - if people don’t like what you’ve created, that’s fine - if they love it and praise you for it, that’s fine too. If you truly want to create the art you were meant to create, it doesn’t matter if people love it or hate it. What do you think of Charly’s perspective?

Don’t play it safe!

Basking in the freedom that comes from setting the ego aside, Charly encourages artists to put it all on the line - don’t play it safe! I get it, taking risks is scary - what if you put your heart out there and no one responds? That’s ok - if you feel like you have something within you that needs to come out and get on the canvas - do it! Even if no one responds, that artwork is for you - you created to because you answered the call. I loved hearing Charly’s story of creating a whole series of paintings on accident - he was working in a vertical position and was putting a wash over something when he fell in love with the drips on the canvas! 

Outline of this episode

  • [4:30] I welcome my guest, Charly Palmer. 
  • [12:15] How do you know a painting is done? 
  • [14:50] What is Charly working on right now? 
  • [18:15] Why Charly works on multiple projects at the same time. 
  • [21:15] Charly talks about why he loves working on children’s books. 
  • [31:15] How does Charly keep all the plates spinning? 
  • [38:15] What is it about painting that fascinates Charly? 
  • [42:30] Responding to criticism and praise.
  • [48:30] Don’t play it safe! 
  • [55:15] Surprised by your own work. 
  • [1:00:15] What is the reward for painting? 
  • [1:02:00] Art that Charly would like to own. 
  • This Episode Sponsored by: 

    Trekell is hosting their second annual juried Pet Portrait competition. To enter, all you need to do is purchase one of their official 2020 Pet Portrait Panels and create your entry on it! All mediums are welcome! Entries must be submitted by September 2nd, 2020. Click here for all the details!

    Artists mentioned in this episode

    Resources Mentioned in this episode


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    Voting Line

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  • THIS podcast was SOOO GOOD for the SOUL! Happy Birthday Charly! Love the vibrancy and aliveness of your work, a great reminder to stay true to oneself – Thanks Antrese, great show

    • Hey Lisa! I totally agree with your comments about Charly’s work! So glad you enjoyed this conversation 🙂

  • Truly an amazing interview, Antrese.

    Thank you Charly for sharing your insights and time, especially on your birthday. The artists you mentor are super lucky!!
    Happy belated Birthday!

  • This was a fabulous interview! So much of what you talked about resonated so deeply. When I was about 67, I woke myself up with a clear voice saying “I just want to play with color.” It was that moment that I knew I wanted to be an artist. That has taken me on a journey I could not have imagined. Like both of you, my mind never stops and I think about painting almost constantly. I loved the discussion about ego and it will forever shut up the chatter about having started so late and comparing myself to much younger artists. I believe this is a gift that I will have until I die at 120 (If Im really lucky). So, I get
    the concept of cherishing each day. And I am now going to stop struggling about finding a mentor and know one will appear when I am ready.

    Thank you Antrese for bringing these diverse artists to our homes and studios. You are doing us a great service! And thank you Charly for sharing your wisdom and humor!

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