If you live your life in the moment, help others, and have fun, the universe will take care of you.
Jonas Gerard was born in Casablanca in 1954 and moved to the United States with his mother and sister at the age of 13. When they immigrated here, he was able to see the Statue of Liberty up close and personal. Jonas attended high school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After graduation, he served in the US Army for six months of active duty, and then another eight years as a reservist. Jonas always had a love for art and learned to draw and paint when he was only six years old. Jonas Gerard began selling his art when he was 16 years old around Washington Square at many street fairs.
Jonas Gerard went to technical college to become a mechanical engineer. He had received a job with AT&T and decided that being an engineer was not what his passion was. Also, at that time, Jonas was making more money with his artwork. Jonas opened an art gallery in 1961 where he began to create and sell his art. Jonas and his family then moved to the Miami area and lived there for 20 years, before finally settling in Asheville, North Carolina. This is where Jonas Gerard Fine Art began. Jonas has two galleries in the art distract and still runs them to this day.
Jonas Gerard is not married and is the dedicated father of one daughter.
Where did the idea for Jonas Gerard Fine Art come from?
My mother was a professional embroiderer, where she created many beautiful garments for clients from all over. When she was running her business, my mom had the name of her company near the front door. So, as part of the tradition, I decided to do the same, because of the name recognition that my mother experienced when she ran her business. But also, I wanted a place where I can display my passion for paintings and introduce my artwork to people from all over the world.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Well, I never have a typical day, because each day it varies greatly depending on what I am doing. Every day is different, depending on if I worked all night or slept. Also, meetings and other personal appointments can determine things too, so my days are never the same. However, I do have a lot of great assistants, who help me keep things organized. A lot of my work is done at night because that is when I am most creative.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have no idea how I bring ideas to life because my paintings are not ideas, they’re how I express myself. What I do know is that the canvas speaks to me, and from there, I come up with creative ways to express these thoughts into an array of colors and shapes. These all come together to create beautifully crafted paintings that have been admired by art lovers for more than 50 years.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I don’t have a particular trend, as I create what I think feels right and not what others think will sell well. This is important to all creative types, such as writers, other artists, sculptors, coming up with things that feel like it should be created on their canvas of choice. I come up with an idea and then build onto those ideas. Anything that is “trendy” where a person does the same thing all over again, becomes boring after a while. I make things exciting by doing something different, which then makes the finished work more rewarding. I am always looking for something that stands out, something that catches my attention, to find new ways to twist the norms and create work that I am proud of.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One of the things I do to make myself more productive is just being myself. I don’t have to do anything specific to make myself more productive. I love being around people and creating something that I am passionate about, for them. I am always excited about my work and love it when art lovers participate in the process. My love of conversation and the vibe of my intuition is another habit of mine that has helped me with my productivity. Also, a little bit of caffeine helps, especially when sleep isn’t much of an option.
What advice would you give your younger self?
There is a lot that I could have told myself from when I was younger. One of the things that I should have thought about is not to worry about copying images when I first learned how to paint. I was very much into learning how to reproduce pictures to develop my work. I like taking a lot of images in black and white so that I can put my array of colors into the photos. I also love taking pictures of people, to help with portraits for those clients. I did it because the money was good, and of course who doesn’t like money? However, I was not happy doing these types of portraits. My wife liked them because they helped us with many things, like buying a house.
Another thing I should have told myself is that I should have learned how to save a little bit more. I never had a rainy-day fund or anything similar to saving money. I never cared about investing in the stock market. I did invest a lot of what I made back into my artwork and eventually my galleries.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
People have a hard time believing that you can become successful in doing the things that you love. Others try something that they enjoy and fail miserably at it when trying to make it into a career, so eventually they become discouraged. So, when I tell people that I have been very successful with my artwork, and nobody believed that it would happen, you can make them believe you can be successful doing something you love.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Believe in yourself. I don’t believe in luck, in struggling, or not being able to pay my bills. I have always been taking care of myself and try to help others whenever I can. Ever since I was in my teens, I have been able to take care for myself. There was a guy who came up to me when I was 20 and asked me to borrow some money to help him pay for his rent. All I had was $20 in my wallet, and I gave it to him anyway. Why? Because it is good to help others, especially when they are down on their luck, and they can pay it forward.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Not being afraid is the one strategy that has helped me grow my business. Everyone always worries about the ‘what if’ and eventually, that fear causes their success to dwindle. I don’t know what fear is, other than how to spell out the word, because I have eliminated it from my life. But if you live your life in the moment, help others, and have fun, the universe will take care of you.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Sometimes I get stuck in a particular vice, and I am stubborn in my prices. I don’t give in; I don’t buy it. But the other day, I bought something that I thought was a great price, but I learned later on, that I could have bought it for less. There was also a gallery that I went to a long time ago that didn’t work out. I was selling my work out of this gallery, and though some of the money went out for rent, they eventually were ripping me off, due to bankruptcy. I asked for my cut of the money for several weeks, but the owners were making up excuses about why I wasn’t getting paid. This kind of thing happened in several galleries, so now the only way I display my work in a gallery is if I own it.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
What I am going to say is to find an occupation that you love, and the money will come. There is an actual book with the same name. Whether it is cooking or selling shoes, if you like it, then pursue it. Make sure to research, develop a marketing plan, and get your name out there to sell your products or services to your customers.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I had spent recently was helping my grandson with his wedding. I also like to donate money to charity, because it feels good to be of help to my brothers and sisters who may be in need. I love giving to different local charities, and I do it anonymously.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The one piece of software that I use is called Color Corrector. The software allows you to photograph a painting, and other pieces, where you can correct the colors of each piece of art that you create, so the results are better and more accurate to the original work that’s uploaded. Several companies make the software for different price points that work with software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. I use various techniques to get the best results on anything I display to the public.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I have a lot of books that were published years ago that are visual. However, books that I read, I cannot recommend, because of my severe dyslexia. However, there is a massive library of books that I have for my staff that are self-help books from authors such as Zig Ziggler and others. But honestly, no direct science tells a person what steps they should take to make their business successful.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is by Picasso, which is I think very interesting. “A painter can paint a yellow circle at the corner of a page and call it the sun. An artist will paint a yellow circle in the same corner, and he can feel the sun.” He also said: “if you can erase what you’ve learned, then you can become a good artist.” Another important one is: “when you think you’ve finished, you are.” These quotes are great because they represent the real artists in us.
● You have to be truthful to yourself at all times; you’re always in the hot seat
● If you want to know who I am, look at my paintings
● If you’re not true to yourself, then stop what you’re doing, because you will get negative feedback.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.