Most consider the business and art worlds diametrically opposed life choices – one rewards pragmatism, the other thrives on passion. But illustrator Rashad Malik Davis has found a way to marry the two.
Davis took life’s more traditional path at first. He graduated college and got a corporate job, but it was unfulfilling, to say the least.
“It paid well, but I was extremely bored and just miserable,” said Davis, 26, who lives in Lawrenceville.
He started to have dreams that pushed him toward his artistic talents as a vocation not just an avocation. Those vivid dreams were the catalyst he needed.
“I was like ‘I have to make a change,’” he said.
It wasn’t as easy as (literally) following his dreams at any cost, however. Davis finds nothing romantic or desirable about life as a starving artist.
“I had to look beyond just the emotional aspect of pursuing a dream and really loving it,” he said. “I had to look at the practical aspects.”
He did some research and came up with a plan. The main takeaway: Diversify. So Ramalik Illustrations was born in February 2017 as more than a business of writing and illustrating books. As other avenues of income, Davis illustrates other people’s children’s books and personal projects, does caricatures, teaches, runs workshops and does presentations in schools.
“I have multiple streams of income just in case one shrivels up a little bit, I’m able to not feel as stressed,” he said.
Focusing on the business side has not overshadowed artistic endeavor, he said. “I don’t really feel like I have to sacrifice one for the other,” he said. “I just feel like sometimes one has to take precedence over the other but it will balance itself out.”
In April, he published his first book, “Carefree, Like Me.” It is the first of a planned seven in a series that will feature a new hero, adventure and emotion in each book.
“Carefree, Like Me” won the children’s book category in the 2017 Best Indie Book Awards, a highlight in the first year of business that Davis has had some “rocky moments.” Still, he has really enjoyed his first year as entrepreneur and full-time artist.
“It’s been a fantastic year of learning and building wealth as well,” he said. “I’ve got great clients, really great opportunities to connect with people and it’s growing rapidly, which is awesome.”
He also has big plans for the future. “2018, I’m hoping to be a big year,” he said. “I want to move into the animation realm. My dream really is to take my art and publicize it on a mass scale and connect to audiences via film and TV. … My main goal is to have a [multi-media] studio of my own that caters to the type of stories that I tell now.”