It was hot and sticky. The odor of paint was pronounced enough to get a few bystanders a bit high off the fumes. But they didn’t care. They were witnesses to Timmy Sneaks spray painting a Lamborghini that would later fetch three times the car’s original price. “Pretty rad,” said a Miami local who stopped to eyeball a car painted earlier by Sneaks and now parked on a side street.

Art Basel–Miami features some of the best works commercially available from nearly 250 leading galleries. But some of the cool “underground” artistry takes place in the city’s streets. Sneaks, a Boston native, was hired by Miami Exotics to paint a brand new Lamborghini Huracan. When I asked him what he’s thinking about before he paints, he said his mind was, “A blank page… a fresh easel.”

Taking after many great artists, Timmy Sneaks took on a professional name. “The name Timmy Sneaks comes from my love of old gangster movies like Casino and Goodfellas,” he explained. “They all had nicknames like Billy Bats, Johnny Roastbeef, Freddy No Nose, Nicky Eyes, Jimmy Two Times and so on. Finally, one of my friends just combined my first name with something I loved, which was sneakers. And from there it just stuck.”

Sneaks grew up in Malden, Massachusetts, where his parents instilled him with a strong work ethic that would later fuel his artistic success. It was while he was in high school in Massachusetts that Sneaks realized that art was his passion. He then attended Savannah College of Art and Design where he had planned to study Industrial Design, considered to be a “safe” rout that still involved art.  “I quickly realized I hated the idea of being safe,” he reflected.

Sneaks soon switched his major to illustration, and he set out to prove that there is money to be made in the art world. Instead of living the normal college life of studying and partying, Sneaks spent his nights working hard at his craft. He told his manager early on that he was willing to do “whatever it takes,” a phrase which has since become his motto.

Coming out of college, Sneaks had no idea what direction his art would take him. But he pushed forward, and he’s since carved out a niche that’s attracted the attention of stars such as Rob Kardashian, Kevin Hart, Robinson Cano, Scott Disick, Deangelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Karim Benzima, Meghan Trainor and others. Sneaks’s client roster reads like a Who’s Who list of professional athletes and Hollywood stars.

By putting in the hard work and ignoring the starving artist stereotype, Sneaks has created a distinct style that places him among the best contemporary artists.

Here’s How to Make Money As An Artist in 2017

1. Do you what you love.

Sneaks says he could’ve done practically anything and many of the people around him “took jobs just to… take jobs.” Sneaks followed his passion to not just become financially successful but to also make his mark on the world of art. Don’t ask if your passions are realistic or not. Just go.

2. Ignore the haters.

“The bigger you get, the more people hate,” says Sneaks. Once people comment on your work–whether you’re an artist, author, podcaster or have raised to create the next hardware blockbuster– you’re going to attract antagonists. Smile and walk your way to the bank. “I’m out for dead Presidents to represent me,” Sneaks adds.

3.  Celebrate your victories.

“All too often I see entrepreneurs make wins–big and small–and not take adequate time to take in the peace,” says Sneaks.

4. Find good friends and keep them.

Only a handful of people will really stick with you through thick and thin. “I’ve seen enough of conditional friends who want to see you act or be a certain way or hide you, “says Sneaks. “It just means they’re insecure,” he adds. For the ones who are authentic and want to see you do your best no matter what: Keep them close and return to them twofold what they give you.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Jordan French

Jordan French is a Fast 50 and Inc. 500 serial entrepreneur. A biomedical engineer and intellectual-property attorney by education and aerospace engineer by training, French has successfully launched five different businesses ranging from 3D printing to real estate data services. Named a top “growth hacker” by CIO Magazine, French is among the most well-connected Millennials and on the leadership team at FOWNDERS, the social-impact startup accelerator based in Newark, New Jersey.

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