June 14

Karl Saar, Artist, The Artist’s Dilemma


Karl Saar is a sculptor working predominately in steel, aluminum, and bronze. He has been a self-employed sculptor and furniture builder since 1998. Karl says “I don’t really have a cohesive reason for why I make what I make. I believe my subject matter is driven by experimenting with techniques in the shop which leads to an idea. Sometimes a found object, pop culture, or even a client requesting specific criteria in a piece can inform what I produce.”

Podcast Highlights:

  • The three faces of art: illusion, delusion, and authentic self 
  • Stay true to who you are. This is where greatness lives
  • Art is all about evoking emotions within others

Contact Karl:

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone, this is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the no limit selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster, get ready for another episode.

Umar Hameed 0:34
Today I'm privileged to have Carl SAR. He's a sculptor and artist. And this is the first artists we've had. Carl, welcome to the program. Thank

Karl Saar 0:42
you for having me. Artists, business people, they seem to be in two different camps. And as artists you have to create, you have to express but then you also have to feed your family. Tell me about that experience of the business side of art. It's, it's been a struggle for me to be frank with you. I'm actually currently transitioning my business into more sculpture in our four years for the bulk of my time, the 2025 years I've been doing this, I've been taking commercial jobs and doing boring handrails at the National Aquarium, you would never, you'd never think an artist did that. Because I can work with metal. And I thought that's what I should do. So more like a tradesperson almost in my trades person. But the problem with that is, is I set my shop up like an artist, right? Instead of a person that focused on making railings or making boxes for computers, it was never a really successful business model to kind of try to keep dipping into that world. Right. And once I get done with this Job's gonna give me some money off time to play time to make my dragon sculpture, whatever. Yeah. So it's been, it's been fine. It's I'm fortunate to have my wife who's grap. She's an artist as well. She's a graphic designer. But that's an easier business world to slip into as an artist than a truly a fine artist,

Umar Hameed 2:04
for sure. And what's kind of interesting how we met was in a garage sale, it was your garage sale, and I was walking by and I saw this cheer that you had made that I'll put a picture on the podcast notes. That was gorgeous. The Star Trek character, the Star Trek here, and I took it home and I hit it because my wife's birthday was like three or four months in the future. And then on the day I revealed it. She said, What's this shit? Does this look like anything that looks in our house? It's like, I don't know. We have beautiful things. This is gorgeous. Why wouldn't it fit? So beauty is in the eye of the beholder. True, true.

Karl Saar 2:39
And the old Carl would have felt very bad about that your that your wife had that reaction and said, What can I do? How can I make this up to you? But the new Carla's saying, let's talk about something your wife would like?

Umar Hameed 2:50
Yeah, that's amazing. Oh,

Karl Saar 2:51
yeah. So I'm kind of getting that, you know, I it's been an interesting sort of personal soul searching thing of, you know, realizing how self deprecating I am. And I think a lot of artists have this where you, you know, with social media, you see other people's work and like, I am nowhere near as good as this guy, right? And it starts to affect how you price your work. And, you know, can I really get $75 an hour for something that I spent 215 hours on? Who's right, hate me for that, you know,

Umar Hameed 3:19
and what's amazing is sometimes the artists that you're looking at that you're looking at drooling at, they're looking at your site going, Man, I wish I could do something like that. That

Karl Saar 3:28
would be awesome. Exactly. And Instagram has shown me that ness is you know, that's of all the platforms, you know.

Umar Hameed 3:34
So in the work that I do, I've come across, at least this reality for me that we have three faces, we have this face that I call the illusion that we show other people. And some people show other people look at me, I'm pretty, I'm smart, I'm brilliant. And other people show, you know, look at me, I'm broken. I'm tragic. I can't do anything, right. But whatever that thing is, the illusion is that we show the outside world, then we have this delusion of who we think we are. And it could be I'm an artist on this on that. And it's quite different than what we show the outside world. And then we have that third space. The authentic you who you are deep down. My hypothesis is great art comes when you tap into that place of the actual you inside. Kind of your thoughts on that?

Karl Saar 4:21
Yes, well, I think you just hit it dead on that's what I've been working on and try and do not think about what people want to see and just do what I want to see do what's in me. And it's a difficult thing because this is a part of you that you're putting out there. Right and, and and there's judgment with that, you know, yes. Why are you making a dragon? Why are you making this piston into a weird, you know, weirdo head, you know, like, why aren't you doing real art? You know, there's, there's all these kind of stigmas that I think frankly, I put on myself, I think a lot of people that are successful at this, they can turn that off and they're just doing what they want to do. You know, my wife has told me this time and time again, she's said, you just need to start, just start doing stuff. Don't think about it, just do it and let it come out. And it could be all junk. But one of those things could be the one that you're like, Oh, that's, you know, that hit for me.

Umar Hameed 5:16
Right? It's very much, how can you stay true to yourself? And one of the things that artists have a lot of difficulty is somewhere along the way, they've got it in the head that you know, true art and being commercial are two different things. Yes. And so money is bad. If you're selling your stuff at a certain price, then you're selling out. And I think you almost need to separate those two things and say, you know, how can I create that emotion that feeling that idea that's within me, manifest it in the world so people can see and make that one part of the journey? Right, and then almost have another part of the journey? That is okay. How do we put value on this thing that I created? in a way that's fear to me? Right, exactly. Because oftentimes, we're our worst enemies.

Unknown Speaker 6:00
Yes. Yeah,

Umar Hameed 6:01
totally. There's a quote that says, you know, we've met the enemy, and the enemy is us.

Unknown Speaker 6:05
Well, that's a tattoo that

Karl Saar 6:08
kind of live that every day. But yeah, I mean, when you think about the incredible things you can get for $400, you can go and get a machine that will wash your clothes, with any temperature you want. And in any size and different spin things in here, I'm making this this inanimate object that's going to sit on someone's shelf, and I'm expecting them to pay me 15 times that, you know, like, right, that's the kind of struggle I have in it, you can't be like, you know, you have to think, obviously, there's a ton of washing machines out there. There's only one drag in the way I'm gonna make that drag. Absolutely. But it's still, there's something in there that says, Well, you could never do that. How dare you charge like this?

Umar Hameed 6:50
You know, what's kind of interesting, you could go and be selling something the buyer that's looking at it goes $15,000. And the person that saying it is thinking, is that all right? What the artist is thinking, oh my god, I'm charging way too much. And you and they make a different meaning out of it. Yes. our beliefs from childhood define who we are as human beings, your parents, what were their thoughts about art and artists?

Karl Saar 7:13
That's very fun. I mean, first of all, where I come from factory Ville, Pennsylvania, yes, outside of scran. It's a very blue collar, small, small town. And, surprisingly, a fair amount of artistic people have come out of our little town, my class, I think we had seven kids go to art school night, and my mother is artistic. She became the town Barber, my dad was a he was a manager of a paper mill for Procter and Gamble, ex marine Vietnam vet. And when I was graduating high school, I was deciding whether I wanted to join the Marine Corps, or go to art school, and he said, please go to art school, right? I want you to be a grunt or whatever it is. So that kind of

Unknown Speaker 7:55
confidence Yeah,

Karl Saar 7:56
a lot of support. And, you know, especially coming from him, that was a huge for me, you know, and then so I went, I started on the path. But I think that's also been a little bit of a problem for me is that having that upbringing trying to make it into a blue collar job, instead of just appreciating that I'm an artist and right, and accepting it and just going for it, I keep kind of pulling myself back to, you know, trying to do fabrication work or things like that. And it's, again, I keep coming back to the struggle that I feel like I'm kind of getting on the other side of now. It's a journey.

Umar Hameed 8:29
Yeah, even when you get to the other side, there's still going to be the next plateau that you need to get to. And that's part of the joy of being human is is doing those transformations. And the part that sucks is realizing that you need to transform right. Yeah, so tell me about a couple things. Number one, what has been the best sale you've ever made? Something you created and you got this return whatever that return was and you went Wow,

Karl Saar 8:55
that was actually last October. A friend of mine has been trying for years to get me to do the antique Automobile Club show in Hershey. They have 9000 vendors in the parking lot around Hershey park right and I was one of them and I didn't expect anything from it. He said it's car guys. They're gonna love this stuff. A couple of my pieces have car parts that I embellish and I bet cheer I

Umar Hameed 9:16
purchased from you has

Karl Saar 9:18
yes it has it has a rotor brake rotor. There it is. So yeah, there's some great parts on cars that just give me ideas. I went up there and it's a week we're living in his van in the parking right for like a week. And I had a sale a day, little like $400 items, which was great for me. It was like, okay, I've covered my cost of the of the show. On Thursday. A big storm was coming and I was fretting like how do I I don't want my sculptures to get soaked. You know, we've got tarps but I decided to pull the plug we drove home from Hershey. And by the time I got home at 10 o'clock at night I told my wife I'm getting up before and going back right setup I just for some reason feeling wrong. I had a feeling and I said out there the whole day and nothing happened. So I'm packing up and this gentleman comes up. And he just couldn't stop looking at this piece of called Billy brain bucket. And it was a piece that I spent probably over 200 hours building, he just had to have it. And it was a, it was a $7,000 item. But it wasn't the cost of it, it was just that, that was one that I really kind of took a step out of out of normal on night. So I was really excited that someone got everything I did, he totally got everything I did on that piece. He was just like the perfect customer for like, he wasn't buying it just to resell it or whatever. Like this was a guy that dug it, and it's going in his personal collection. So that was that was just like a really important piece for nice, you know, and then somehow I started going back into, you know, starting to do fabrication work. I didn't know why I didn't write that high.

Umar Hameed 10:50
Because our beliefs define who we are. And what happens is sometimes people are like, you know, this is not gonna work, it's not gonna work, and it does work. And they go, you know what they tell their friends, I don't believe it, because they actually don't believe it happened, it becomes so uncomfortable that they go back to that old behavior, because that's where the comfort is. And that's where their foundation is. But the good news is, there's technology out there that allows you to identify those limiting beliefs, and break through those. And when you break through those, the very thing that was holding you back becomes that part of your psyche that drives you forward in that new direction. And that's what excites me is that we're at this watershed moment of humanity, where we understand how the mind works in an elegant manner that allows us to get spectacular results. Tell me about a particular time where you where you got stuck, you're trying the creative juices, just stop and tell me about that. And how you got unstuck.

Karl Saar 11:47
That's, honestly, almost every project I had, that happens to me, it's never, you know, I'll post pictures online and stuff. And it looks like a seamless process. I just had it from the beginning to the end. But I will go through I mean, every sculpture I've said this before, has its acne filled adolescence that I just, you're doing something ugly, and you just keep cutting it apart and re welding it and getting it getting it there. So that's the way to get through it is to sometimes put it away for I put stuff down for half a year and then come back to it. And it's it's constantly in the back of my head. And finally, something unlocks. And I'll get an idea. Yeah, that that happens more often than not. And I had a couple pieces that I wasted time and I wasted a lot of tools and consumables, pushing it and pushing it. And I've kind of learned to let let stuff pile up. The danger of that is I forget my friend told me something about his I think it's called idea debt or where I've got a lot of ideas started. And they're piling up downstairs. A bunch that I need to finish, you know, I keep getting a new idea of starting it. And then I don't know if I get bored. Or if I get stuck, and I put it down and I don't get back to it. So

Umar Hameed 12:59
sometimes you get an epiphany to rework something in a magical way. And sometimes you get a notion that this might work on one of those two things, you get a feeling where you just know this is the right thing to do. Yes. What's that feeling for you? When you get an idea? You just get this feeling that this is the right thing to do. And we're in your body? Do you feel that feeling?

Karl Saar 13:18
That's a good question. Man. That's going deep.

Umar Hameed 13:20
Yeah. So go down to one of those specific memories, where you had one of those epiphanies when you think of that epiphany, let me know when you got it. Okay, go back to that event, wherever you were and see what have you saw back then? Hear what have you heard your own ideas, music in the background? When you do those two things, you get to re experience what you were feeling in your body. Were in your body. Did you feel that knowingness of? I got it? Is it possible

Karl Saar 13:46
that it was it was in my mind and my heart at the same time solely

Umar Hameed 13:50
because it was just it fit?

Karl Saar 13:53
It was it was an idea. It was a part that I was struggling on. In fact, it was on the piece I just told you about that I saw that guy. It was I was trying to figure out how he was the figure is riding a unicycle that he built out of out of beautiful, antique motorcycle parts, right. And I couldn't figure out whether to put a seat on it or not, and what the seat should look like. I honestly struggled with that for probably three days, trying different things in different shapes. And then I just kind of went back to a pun I, I sort of went back to motorcycle parts. And there's different engine styles like a panhead or, or shovelhead. So I thought, well, if he's riding a shovel, and I fabricated this little shovel, and it was like, oh, it fits perfect. It kind of looks like a seat. It's a hidden little joke in there. And it just, I felt really good when that happened. Like I felt like I have no question that this is the right thing to put on this. So

Umar Hameed 14:45
this is something you should pay attention to. So I'll give you some science in the background. Then I'll come make the point is that in your head, you have 86 billion neurons that allow you to think but you've heard people say my heart tells me because it's a 40,000 neural neurons around your heart. And sometimes your heart focused and sometimes we're head focus when you get that feeling in both. That's when you know that the feeling side of things and the logic side of things are aligning. Just look for that feeling. Again, if you get a totally insane idea, but your heart or your mind tells you it's the right one, go run with it.

Karl Saar 15:18
Right, right. Is that a common thing or

Umar Hameed 15:20
not? People aren't unique. I had this stockbroker come in, she was working on some business issues. One day she asked me, Umar, how can I tell the difference between a sense of knowing or just an idea that pops in my head to go get a stock? And I said, Okay, have you ever had an experience of knowing something that you should know? She goes, Yeah, the day my dad died, we got rushed to the hospital, my dad was rushed to the hospital. He was in surgery. When my mother and I arrived. Sometime during the morning, I knew he had died. And the doctor came in two hours later and said, Hey, The surgery went fine. But at 836 this morning, we lost your dad for two minutes. And that's the exact moment she knew he died, and said, okay, just like I did with you go back to that moment. Be there. See what you saw. Hear what you heard, what did you feel because I felt this really kind of warm feeling right here when I had the sense of knowing I said, Okay, great. Take a deep breath, let that feeling go. Tell me about another time he had a sense of knowing. And she goes, Well, this other time I had this sense of knowing tells me the story. And I said, Okay, go back to it. See what you saw. Hear what you heard. Notice what you were feeling in your body goes, Oh, my God, it was the same feeling. So now, you know, when you get this thought, and you accompanied with this feeling. This is a sense of knowing and run with it. And if you just get a thought without the feeling, then it's just an idea. And you can gauge whether to go or not. What I love about my work is to get people insights into the human psyche, right? So they understand, oh, my God, this is how this amazing gift. Because it's not just the mind, the logic, it's it's the heart, and it's the soul. All three of them, combined, make us human. And now we have the toolkit to go in and get that deeper understanding. Right, right. And that's what art is supposed to do is to help break through the logic, that thing that you created inspires emotional response in them. And sometimes it responses What's this shit? Right? Right. Yeah. And other times, it's like, moving and powerful, right. And that's the magic of art. And

Karl Saar 17:22
that's an incredible thing to experience from the artists side of it to move somebody like that, yeah, a guy show up that you don't know and say, This chair is beautiful, I got to have it, you know, and walk away with it. And it's like, wow, that person like, liked what I created that much that they, you know, want to do? Leave with it. So it's maybe that's the thing that you're constantly constantly trying to live up to that, you know, thing in my head, every piece has got to be that and then all of a sudden, they become precious, and they become this act, I need to keep topping, you know, and you get inside your own head a little bit too.

Umar Hameed 17:54
Yeah. Because you know, is this good enough. And I think really the place where and this is going to be total BS, by the way, because I'm making it up.

Karl Saar 18:02
Lot of arts, like

Umar Hameed 18:05
there's this state of flow where you lose time, and you just are working on something. And it's just, it's almost like your logic gets out of the way and your hands are just moving of their own accord. And it's almost like a connection from your heart to the work that you're doing. I think if you if you can reach that place in the work that you do, then something amazing is gonna come out of it. That half the people are gonna say, what's this crap, right, but the other people will be moved right route only to tears, but to open their wallet. Right? Right. Exactly.

Unknown Speaker 18:35
Hopefully, that's.

Karl Saar 18:37
But it shouldn't be all about money. But that's just a fact of life. I mean, we live in this world, you need money to, you know, get along in the world. So I hate that it always comes back to it. But but it does.

Umar Hameed 18:48
Let me share an exercise that was life changing for me. As you're sitting there, no one else can see you. In a moment, I want you to lift up your left arm to the side, just lift it up and notice what it feels like when you do that. And go ahead and put it down. And now I want you to do something weird. I want you to ask your heart to move your left arm up and notice how it feels different when you do that. Get your heart to lift it and bring it back down. Did you feel a difference in the two motions?

Unknown Speaker 19:23
I did?

Umar Hameed 19:24
What was it I could see the difference in the second one was more flow and it was less lower. It was like

Karl Saar 19:30
yeah, it wasn't a rushed getting it up there was kind of a slower like just raising it up with my and it was

Umar Hameed 19:36
more smoothness in that motion. It kind

Karl Saar 19:38
of felt like my heart was pushing blood and like

Umar Hameed 19:41
making hydraulic Yeah, Ram or something like that first time I had that exercise done. It was like, Oh my God. That is not just about the mind, right. It's also about our heart. So if we're doing work where we combine the two that something special comes out of it. And carbs before we wind this thing if you're about to ask

Karl Saar 20:02
a question to say, but how do you it's to me hearing things like that, which are great. How do I stay mindful of that, when I get distracted by the work or distracted by that, this is what I'm going to do,

Umar Hameed 20:13
I am going to share an exercise with you. And this is going to take a little while listeners know which is okay. But it'll be worth the effort listening to it, Carl. And when I say call people listening, you can follow along on this exercise, there have been a million songs written about the heart. Very few about deliver. But there's a reason for that, because the heart isn't just the, the organ that pumps the blood, we attribute that connection to the divine. When we love someone, it's not, you know, I love you with my penis, it's, it's that heartfelt thing, because it's a spiritual connection. So I want you to follow along on this thought experiment. And what I want you to do is I want you to imagine that your heart, not the physical pump, but that spiritual imagine is stepping up onto one of your hands could be your right hand or your left hand and you lift your hand up, pumps it up. And imagine your heart sitting on top of it. And if you imagine that spiritual side of you of your heart, it's got some weight to it, right. And it does light, medium or heavy, heavy. And it's got a texture, what's the texture of it? Hard to tell it does have a texture?

Karl Saar 21:24
Yeah, I'm kind of leathery.

Umar Hameed 21:28
Yeah. Which is okay. And this part of you ask it? What is your greatest desire for me? This is you, Carl, asking your heart, the spiritual side of you. What does it want for you? What's the greatest gift it wants for you?

Karl Saar 21:49
wants me to be confident in me.

Umar Hameed 21:51
Yeah. And I want you to ask your heart. What is your greatest fear for me?

Unknown Speaker 21:58
Boy, that's

Karl Saar 22:00
a tough it's a tough one.

Umar Hameed 22:01
Yeah. Saying too much or not enough. It's,

Karl Saar 22:04
it's saying too much. Okay. It's about it's about loss. And it's about the end. It's right. Who I have, at the end what I have at the end night, not material possessions, but people people,

Umar Hameed 22:19
you I want you to ask me the last question. The last question I want you to ask is, what's your name? And it's going to give you what its name is?

Umar Hameed 22:36
Or what name would you like to give it? Don't say, Carl's Jr. No,

Unknown Speaker 22:43
I'm gonna

Umar Hameed 22:44
say the thing is, it's not like it's not a name. And who wants to, I keep seeing the word strength in my head, let's just call it strength is what it wants. Thank you put it down. And now I want you to do this experiment. I want you to say the word strength inside your mind. And notice how quickly your heart says yes. Pretty quickly, guys. So the next time you're thinking about a particular problem that you're trying to solve, your mind is going to come up front and center and give you the answer. Sometimes it's not the right answer is stuck, then all you have to do is say the name of your heart, in your case, its strength, it's gonna say yes, and say, What do you think about it, and it's going to give you a different perspective, immediately. And you can take that perspective into your thinking. And almost always it gets you unstuck. It may not be the answer, but it'll give you insights that allow you to get to the answer really quickly. All right. So report back, let me know how

Karl Saar 23:42
well yeah, this is great. I'm gonna owe you another chair.

Umar Hameed 23:47
So I'll tell you one last story on this, then we'll wind this up. Okay. I was doing I was at a conference in Brazil, teaching people, humanists. And I taught them this exercise. And as I was leaving the presentation, everyone's really happy except for this one German lady and she looks really upset. said, Hey, everything, okay? She goes, No, when I asked my heart, what's his name, and he gave me this nonsense name is not a real name. And it's really upsetting as an okay. And the next morning, I saw her after breakfast, and she's smiling. He says, I gotta tell you that this nonsense name, I went into Google, German, Google. And I put in phonetically what it said, and it is from ancient Germany, like the eighth century, and this word means courage. Really. So it's not a nonsense word. But I've never come across it before, but it gave me something that validated This is going on. Right. That's the juice that keeps me going. Carl, thank you so much for sitting down with me. Thank you, Mark. This has been great. It's

Unknown Speaker 24:47
been like a therapy session.

Umar Hameed 24:53
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my blog. website at no limit selling.com I've got a free mind training course there that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro linguistic programming. And that is the fastest way to get better results.


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