creative living employee entrepreneur flexibility fuck off fund purpose reclaim your time resources values Dec 15, 2020

Do you want to live as a artist? Listen to this for a goose bump giving description of living in flow!


My guest today is Catherine Hiller. Originally from France, she worked on the business side of advertising and communication in the UK and Australia for 20 years. Painting was always her passion from a young age and she always pursued it outside of work, until six years ago, when she quit her job to become a full-time artist – and have never looked back!


In today’s episode we talk about how that moment she had to leave came quicker than expected, living a creative life and how not worrying about money brings her more:

  • [2.13] Catherine always wanted to be an artist. Her first memory is of when she was three years old, on a rainy day her mum gave her paints, and she was so into it! “You’re always told being an artist is not a job, you cannot make money with.” Catherine went to art school even as you are learning to be an artist you told “be prepared to be unemployed for a long time.” 

  • [2.56] So, she did another degree in English and the worked in advertising for 20 years. Not in the creative side, because I could not bear to be told how to be creative. She quit six years ago and has been working full time as an artist since.

  • [4.00] People still don’t consider it a job. When Catherine went to get an eftpos machine at the bank, there was no box for artist, so she had to tick “painter decorator”, because and artist is not a job. 

  • [5.00] Always painted, the trigger that I have to walk away from advertising. In between jobs she would take creative breaks between jobs. People would say don’t do it, you’ll never get a job in advertising again. She loved her job for many years and the passion tuned into obligation. Stressful and didn’t enjoy it anymore. The more stressed she got the more she painted. She would paint until midnight. The more she painted, the more reaction she got, she sold more work. The thought came if you’re giving it only a tiny part of your time and energy, what if you gave it 100%?

  • [6.37] The trigger to go 100 percent into painting: she got back from Christmas break and was on the first conference call with a client. And she thought: “I don’t care what you are saying, it’s not important anymore.” Said to colleague: “I cannot do this anymore.” The colleague said you’ve got to tell them! 

  • [7.18] Told her brother she has quit, and he said: “Well that’s clever!” And that was the all-round reaction she got. But Catherine felt such a huge weight off her shoulders, but the never looked back.  She decided to dedicate 100 percent of her time to creativity and see where it led her. And if it doesn’t work out, she thought “I can always get another job!”

  • [8.00] You can always go back – there is never any true risk. It’s not irreversible. If you see it as a life changing decision, it’s a bit scary. But not if you look at it as trying something for six months.

  • [8.21] The book, The Artists Way: to cultivate more creativity and being an artist in your life. It speaks about don’t worry about the quality, just create every day, the quality will come. Never worried about will anyone like it or buy it. Some people hate my work and they happily tell me so!

  • [9.46] Catherine calls it the Freedom Fund, I call it the Fuck Off Fund – she always had it. Looks at her expenses and do I really need this. The you strip it back, you have a number you really need to live and that number is not that scary. 

  • [11.25] When you are happy and doing what you love, you don’t need to spend that much. You don’t feel the need. Life becomes a lot more simple and less expensive. You don’t feel the need.

  • [12.40] She feels like she has been on holiday for six years. Feels like a holiday, but it’s not. She doesn’t need to in the same way. She genuinely wants to “go to work”. It’s her biggest joy.

  • [13.40] There is a lot of freedom when you realise you don’t need much money to live on. The shift in money mindset from 9-5, knowing where it’s coming from. Catherine says just don’t worry about it. She doesn’t worry where money is going to come from. The less you worry about it, the more it comes to you. She feels she is doing what she is supposed to be doing and therefore, it just comes back to you.

  • [14.54] Laws of manifestation – you amplify what you focus on. So, if you focus on not having enough money, you attract not having more money.

  • [15.35] Didn’t set out to make money from being an artist. Would have felt rich beyond belief if she could have just been an artist ad covered her bills. If you do it for the right reasons, it pays off.

  • [16.14] That is the shift! The rhetoric is you go to work to make money. You completely shift your reality when you don’t make work about money.

  • [16.54] It’s about priorities. You don’t need more clothes or an expensive car. For Catherine organising her time as she wants to, is what is most important. Time is freedom.

  • [17.38] I said to my boss: “My time is not my own, I don’t have any control over it.” Now I structure my day around the weather, what do I want to do today. It’s only you that is affected by when you work.

  • [18.28] Although we talk about money not being important, Catherine is killing it ad Covid-19 has been great for paintings! 

  • [18.47] In March she panicked for five minutes, but it turned out to be a complete surprise. People were at home more, looking at blank walls, not spending money in restaurants and her website traffic went up 267%. She received enquires like she has never had. Art makes people feel happy.

  • [20.18] “Prisoner of their own mind”: Catherine’s expression for those people who want to leave their career but don’t. Her advice for those people is: first is take your idea of what you want to do, take it from a distant dream to a near reality. What do I want to call my business, what will it look like, is the url available? Put colours to it. Make it real. It’s no longer just daydreaming. Then you work out the figures and then you can take the steps. These steps cost nothing, but gets you excited, make sit real.

  • [22.13] Don’t let money and fear of lack hold you back. And don’t listen to others! People don’t like it when you leave the corporate world, they want you to fail. Because it’s too confronting because they want to leave. Trust you gut.

  • [23.19] Advertising is a left brain, Head job. Now so much in her heart brain, creative space. The difference is she looks forward to every day. Don’t know what’s going to happen, she turns up to her studio and she just lives. She loves her clients. She does all the things she wanted to do when she retired. “Why would I wait that long!!!”

  • [25.25] Living flow – living from a creative space. Catherine can only paint for 2-3 hours per day, feels like it’s not her painting. It just comes through her hand so quickly. She doesn’t feel the time going past. Feels amazing. Catherine paints emotions, she listens to music, dances, gets lost in it, feels so much joy, brings her to tears. She looks like a crazy woman. She never felt tears of joy in advertising writing a brief!

  • [28.14] Catherine’s tips to begin the change: what do you love doing the most. Doesn’t need to be a job. Work back from that. Don’t think about money or status. If I was given $10m tomorrow would I still be doing this job tomorrow. Would you change anything? If yes, then you have to change something. Everything to be gained. Nothing is irreversible.

  • [30.00] There’s a big difference doing a job to just pay the bills, but not use your energy. Then use your energy for something you love.

  • [30.40] Painting and puppies – the future is just about living in the now and carrying on with her creative journey. The other love is dogs. Spending more time giving back and fostering dogs and fund raising for rescue dogs. I just want to paint and be with my dog all day.

You can follow Catherine’s beautiful painting on Instagram or on her website.

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