The Key to Creativity & Purpose with Alex Palting of Hustling Creative
Last year, I met Alex Palting through the Filipino American Theatre Facebook group when she made a post about organizing a concert for charity. What started out as strangers Zooming in from opposite ends of the country became a fellowship built on online rapport and multiple collaborations.
Alex is the founder of Hustling Creative, a company dedicated to empowering the voices of artists worldwide. “Our mission statement is bridging the gap between knowledge and wisdom so artists can hustle with vigor and create with abandon,” Alex explains.
Alex is also a performer, writer, and audiobook producer based in New York City. Since the pandemic, she has hosted and produced two livestreams. She organized a 10-hour virtual concert marathon called Artists Feeding America which featured over 100 artists from around the world and raised enough money to provide 70,000 meals for families across the U.S.
Two months later, Alex produced another livestream called in partnership with RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network). In a span of 10 days, 51 artists joined the cause and reached an audience of 7,000 people.
How and when did your company start?
I started Hustling Creative in 2019 because I felt this frustration at how little artists are equipped to conduct themselves in the real world. I think that although people are encouraged to follow their dreams, they’re not actually given the right tools to get there. It’s a lot to ask of someone to dedicate their life to making the world a beautiful place if they don’t know how they’re going to pay their electricity bills or whether they’re going to have a lifestyle that can support a family. Being a 23-year-old, I didn’t know what that other way was but I thought that there is a middle path between being Beyoncé or a basement band or at the Guggenheim or a garage painter.
I find it’s uncommon for someone our age to dwell on these thoughts.
I don’t think it was, to be honest. Starting the business was really more out of self-preservation than this big superhero move. When I first started out in the industry, I was worried about the risk of waking up at 40 years old and having nothing to show for this huge leap of faith. I thought, what if I can find a way to harvest this, learn from my mistakes, and let other people learn along with me? What if I can make something that allows me to grow with my community? If I can make something that will be a teaching tool not only for me but also for other people, then it won’t actually have been a waste.
What are some of the services your company offers?
The three main products we have right now are online event production, marketing design, and, most recently, business coaching. I opened a coaching studio during COVID for artists who are starting their own businesses, whether it’s a side hustle or a product that they’ve been putting off. It’s incredibly fulfilling for me to watch people find belief in themselves to launch their own projects and to be there to support them.
Where did you get inspiration from for your first livestream?
I had just gotten a call from my agent that I was made my first off-Broadway offer… then New York shut down. I just kind of had to do something, and my first instinct was to set up a camera, sit at the piano, and sing. And as I scrolled through my Facebook feed, literally everyone was doing just that. At that time, I read an article about how many kids were missing their one reliable meal of the day. So the fundraiser really just fused those two things together – how we can make ourselves feel better by doing better for other people. It just so happened that my mom’s friend was the director of giving at Feeding America so really it was a divine moment that the concert was for them.
How about your second?
My business partner and I had been running this program for about a month called Kicking Coron@$$ and it was this virtual stage combat workout that would sometimes have a dozen participants and sometimes a thousand. We wanted to make a second fundraiser about celebrating bodies and movement. As far as choosing RAINN as the nonprofit,we thought about the flip side of celebrating our bodies. Who are the people suffering most from the pandemic? People who are trapped in unsafe situations where staying at home doesn’t necessarily mean safe at home.
In those moments of uncertainty, what pushed you to go through with the project?
Honestly, my reason was kind of selfish. I wanted to do it because helping people makes me feel good – it’s what makes me feel alive and vibrant. And I know that we are living through a historic moment so when things got tough I would imagine telling future generations about this moment. Where will I say that I was and what do I want to tell my grandkids I was doing?
What was the most memorable part about doing the events?
I loved meeting and getting on the phone with people from all over the world. In March, I posted this call for artists, not thinking it would get any attention, but I woke up to 80 message requests in my inbox! I remember I was on a call with someone from the UK and New Zealand at 3 a.m. my time and thinking, “This is pretty cool.” I thought that no matter how the livestream turns out, I could say I was meeting people from all over the world, getting them to collaborate with each other, and giving them a purpose. And if nothing else, one dollar makes 11 meals. I would have given one child food for a school week. But life just comes back in abundance and everyone who volunteered to perform surpassed my goal by making over 70,000 meals.
Is there any advice you’d like to give to those who feel stuck at this time in their life?
One thing that gives me anxiety during quarantine is having so much time. Since I’m not spread too thin very much anymore, I start comparing myself to what I think my best version of myself is; I start thinking that I should be this or that. There’s a lot to be said for asking with curiosity where that “should” voice inside is coming from – whether it brings you peace, whether it’s good for you, whether it takes you something new. Not to say that I believe in good vibes only or no negativity, but if the voice you speak to yourself with doesn’t give you life and peace, ask yourself why you listen to it. Comparing yourself to a fictional version of yourself is worse than comparing to real-life people. So don’t!
I don’t think work is the answer to everything (sorry, Tolstoy); however, I do think there is something to be said about staying moving as much as you can when you are going through hell. If you can actively do whatever keeps you creatively alive or keeps the fire going, that’s great. If you can just find a way to move your body, eat food that’s good for you, and get the sleep you need every day, even better.
–Precious Ringor, Content Creator