Live, Breathe, Eat, Sleep Your Work: Ken Done Interview (Video)

Ken Done wakes up in the night with ideas he can't wait to try. He even paints on his dining room table. While they are both past what some call “retirement age,” Mr. Done and his wife, Judy, have over 100 employees working for The Ken Done Group of Companies based in Sydney, Australia. He is a painter while she designs clothing and accessories that incorporate his art.


KEN: For an artist to start his gallery is just saying, 'It's too inconvenient to wait till I'm dead for people to say, "Gee, he was really good, you know?"' And if you go to any gallery around the world, say it's a Monet exhibition or a Van Gogh exhibition, there'll be some stuff that you can buy that's come from their work.

HATTIE: Right. Stationery, whatever.

KEN: But what you can't do is call up Van Gogh and say, 'Mate, they love these sunflower hats.' You can't do that because he is, what we in the trade, call dead. So I just think it's interesting to...there's no reason why artists shouldn't make some money while they're alive.

KEN: (in his studio) Good. I've been working on this picture for about two years, but sometimes the last five minutes is the key part.

KEN: (Voiceover) Art, in a sense, teaches you more about failure than success, because you always want to go further. You always have the challenge, or I always feel, anyway, I have the challenge of getting better. No one has a charmed life. There's always great hills and valleys whatever you do, and there's always a fantastic amount of work. I mean, no matter how much talent you have, it's got to do with drive and a certain amount of God-given skill. But in the end, you really have to work hard at it.

KEN: (Voiceover) You don't start off at the top, do you? So, therefore, you have to see it; there's a path. And almost inevitably, that path will involve a degree of failure. But you have to have the passion to do it. You have to want to do it. You have to wake up in the middle of the night and think, 'Geez, I've got to get that better' or 'I've got to do that.' It doesn't drop out of the sky. Yeah, I reckon that's about it. I'll have a look.

KEN: I'm 62. I've got not enough time left to worry about anything else other than trying to be a good painter.
That's all that interests me, really.

KEN: And it's one of those things that maybe in your 60s or 70s is when you're at your most productive.

KEN: (in his studio) Always got to clean your brushes.
(Voiceover) You have to get the best out of every day. If you life this day well, then the memories that you have of this day is great and the expectation that you have of the next day is great.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) When you wake up in the morning, first thoughts?

KEN: (Voiceover) I'm ready to go to work. When I woke up this morning, I said to Judy, 'I'm into the studio.' I wanted to go in and work. I wanted to work this morning. I want to work every day. I want to play every day.

HATTIE: You're having fun.

KEN: Absolutely. That's how it should be.

This video serves as an illustration of giving your all at work in "There is No Way to Know What Comes Afterwards (Eccl 9:1-11:6)" in Ecclesiastes and Work at