First Youtube Video video🎨✏️

I love sharing my process and behind the scenes on instagram and I take a lot of short video’s daily so it was only a matter of time when I would be brave enough to commit to a longer video’s and I’m so excited to share this first one! It’s been a while in a making and (thinking how to make it). I hope you like it! It’s about my favourite things.. trains, drawing and coffee.


✏️ Live Illustration London Collective ✏️

I’m so excited to announce that I’m now a member of Live Illustration London @lil_collective, a group of experienced and talented live illustrators.

I've been drawing live portraits for some time now and it's one of my favourite things to do. I work mainly with gouache and create full colour originals in 10-15 minutes. 
I've drawn so many wonderful @craftyfoxmarket customers, @costacoffee visitors, charcoal portraits for @boscia press day, taught @pinterestuk inspired workshop at @blogtacular and portrait painting at @vamuseum 
We offer fashion illustration, calligraphy, customisation, etching, portraits, window painting and more. We have brought our creative skills to press days, retail promotions, corporate events and private parties.  It's 5 of us ( @miss_magpie_spy  👩🏽‍🎨 @willagebbie 👩🏼‍🎨  @immieowen 👩🏻‍🎨 @trinitymitchelldesign 👩🏽‍🎨 & me 👩🏼‍🎨) and our skillsets are different but what we have in common is that we are making things entertaining and memorable (be it a PR event, customised product or a portrait). If you are interested to see what we can offer follow us at @lil_collective  or have a look at our updated shiny website here.

Networks and connections

The other day  I went to a panel talk themed Networks. It made me very curious how other creatives and especially freelancers who work on their own find communities to be part of or if they have a support system in place. I did a poll on my instagram and 68% of people didn't have a community or support group. The ones who had support systems in place it was friends 75% and 25% were part of organisations. It was interesting to see that exactly 50% had support systems in place online and the other half offline. 

When I started my career I was pretty much on my own. I didn't know any illustrators (all my uni friends had change of heart or were workin in house) or makers who were making money from this and couldn't ask for advice.  I started selling on etsy and I used teams and forums section a lot. And went for meet ups organised by Etsy where I met several people who became my close friends but our relationship started as sharing experience of being creatives/makers. I also started selling at Crafty Fox Market (pop up Markets) where I met a lot of like minded people (some of whom I knew from Etsy). They also organised some social meet ups where people could come in and mingle, which was super fun! As my career developed and I took it more into real life I made some connections but also I kept in touch with lots of people who I found through instagram. In the beginning all the support network was more unorganised and sporradic. 

But couple of years into my freelance career and after attending numerous business talks I became part of business club (we named it that way ;) with a photographer and pattern designer. We met once in two months in person, talk business plans, vent fears, dream big and give each other advice or just listen. It was the most important thing. All of us were approximately on the same level in development of our careers, we were making money in different ways and our fields were slightly different. Which meant we could give each other a different view on things but still understand every aspect of the business and creative side of things. We have stopped meeting now as our lives and careers became busier.

At the moment I'm part of several groups. First is my friends who I met through Etsy and Crafty Fox, we are good real life friends but can always rely on each other for advice, support or just venting. 

I'm part of a small online group of illustrators (we are based in different places and some of us have never met in real life). Some of us are based in the same cities and we can meet up and talk business or recommend each other for jobs or just overload on coffee and falafels. But we talk all things creative and business, burn outs, contracts, money, negotiation, health. From which chairs to get and what kind of excercises to do for wrist or back pain to how much to charge for jobs and what to look out for in contracts. The most important part of this group is the community and support system. We are ready to lift each other up and celebrate each other achievements and milestones. We are there as friends and colleagues and not as competition. 

I work from a shared studio Kindred Studios, I'm in the room with 6 other people who different things but Kindred Studios is  a community where you can talk to people, make friends and connections. For me it's such a joy to be working alongside other creative people on daily basis.

I'm also part of The Assosiation of Illustrators  (any illustrator can join, you don't have  to be UK based). I don't have an agent and they provide a lot of incredible useful resourses including portfolio reviews, help with pricing and contracts. I strongly recommend considering joining them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if at the moment you feel a bit isolated in your work, they all are based on my experience and are extremely subjective and in general some thoughts on the subject.

📺 Both internet based and real life based communities are equally valid.

If you live in a remote place with no like minded people around you or don't have the opportunity to join your local network because of accessibility or meeting times don't feel that the only way to build support system is to meet people face to face. Choose whatever works for you and your situation, don't feel like you have to do one or another

🙋🏼One person and you is already a network/team :) 

👯Reach out to people who are in the same place as you in their careers. 

If you know of (online or offline) people who are in the same place as you in their careers or are interested in the same things as you, they might feel as isolated as you and want to have that connection both personal and business. Growing together, supporting each other and lifting each other up is an incredible feeling and also incredibly helpful, you can share your experiences and find out shortcuts. It's a great adventure and it's easier and more fun when you have people you can rely on and people you can support.

Be active locally and online

Find local etsy/market anything group. Go to talks, meet ups, join online chats and live streams, FB groups and connect with people on instagram.

Consider getting a studio space

If you feel lonely and isolated consider becoming part of a collective, finding a studio space or a co working space. Some of us work better on our own and some of us need people around us but you will never know without trying and you may make some friends along the way.

Join professional network

Does your profession has an association or maybe a huge FB group? Maybe joining them will benefit you.

Talk to people

Be it online or in real life. We are all people and we all make connections and friends somehow. If you want to say something - say it, if you know someone who might light someone else's work - share the love. I personally believe it takes time to find likeminded people (it certainly took a while for me) but even the most fleeting of connections can be so meaningful. There could be people with who you just chat on instagram about Queer Eye occassionally and there can be people with who you are chatting on daily basis. Both are important.

Don't look for validation from outside

Build it from within. Please do seek constructive cryticism and reviews but do not let anything from outside to affect your personal and professional self worth. I am a strong believer that if you love doing something no one can tell you that you shouldn't draw/crochet/dress making. And sometimes our work doesn't reflect our taste and that's where your support system will help you grow but they can never replace your inner voice which will push you further in your career. 

Last but most important..

Be kind to yourself and people around you. There is space for everyone, we are not competition we are peers. ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

Some resources (a lot of them were recommended by lovely people on instagram, THANK YOU!):

Local Etsy Teams (if you are selling on etsy)

London Local Etsy Team (they are a fabulous bunch)

In Colourful Company

One Girl Band

The Association of Illustrators

Ladies Wine Design

Creative Mornings

Women of Illustration

Freelancing Females

Freelance Circle

SheSays

Instachat

And many MANY more amazing places. Please comment below more networks. And what is your story?

Live Drawing // 10 Minute Portraits

I love drawing portraits! And I LOVE drawing LIVE portraits! I paint them with gouache and watercolours in 10-15 minutes, while people are posing for me ;)

They tell me stories about their life and I always feel like we make such a special connection in these 10 minutes (fleeting connections on a deep and personal level are so magical and specia).

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Last time I was painting portraits at CraftyFox Market this September in Brixton, Spidergirl herself sat for a portrait! How amazing is it?! :)

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You can find me painting portraits 9th and 10th of December at Peckham with CraftyFox Market and 16th at Mercato Metropolitano with CraftyFox Market. And all other upcoming events can be found at my Events page.

🎨✏️STUDIO ✏️🎨

Hey guys! 

How are you?

I'm really good! Have you heard the news (I've been on it non stop for the last couple of months but just in case) about my new studio?

andsmilestudio

For someone who worked from home for the whole of my freelance career getting a studio was a big dream of mine. I've been full time self-employed for the last 4 years and my studio consisted of a corner of a room with lots of storage and cool organising solutions. Which was absolutely fantastic but things changed (I'll go into detail about it at some point in the future) and after a summer trip to Ghent, I came back full of energy, excitement and optimism and stumbled upon a tweet from a fellow illustrator who was looking for studio neighbors. Couldn't believe my luck! Studio in west London, affordable rent, wonderful neighbors, beautiful building, light.. ohh, just a dream! After several months of waiting, I signed the contract and officially became part of Kindred Studios !!! HORRRAYYYYY!!!!

The space took some work, repainting the walls, removing the floors (4 layers and thousands of nails), putting in some plants and thrifted tea trolly it's now dare I say a beauuuutyyyy! The building is filled with artists of all sorts (ceramicists, printmakers, musicians, sculptors and many many more). We even have our own lovely cafe with warm and delicious meals and cakes. Each day at 1 o'clock rings a bell inviting us all to go down to the canteen and share some food. The grand hall is under construction (future events space) and workshop space will be available for hire soon.

Would you like to have a look? Come in! 

I'm sharing the most wonderful room with the most amazing people Matt (illustrator), Diane (printmaker) & Carolina (printmaker). 

It's such a pleasure to work from. Just having a space purely for work and creativity is such a joy! 

Keep an eye on my events page for Open Doors Day!

Do you work from home? Studio? Did you enjoy seeing my space? :)

Getting real on Ig :)

Here is probably the longest instagram post ever but I really wanted to publish it here too, for any of you who might stumble on it later. ;)

Getting real on IG! Couple of days ago talented illustrator @marloesdevee shared her story couple of days ago about where she came from and how long it takes to get somewhere and I was really inspired to share my story and hear more & full versions of your stories too! I absolutely love @instagram but it sure can give you a very skewed perception of reality. We think some people just pop up quickly but often there is A LOT of work behind it. Here is my long version of a story.. 

***************

Here is a video taken by my Dad, I’m 5 years old and obsessed by the fact that I was allowed to play with this massive set of colour pencils (lady who owned it is a designer)! I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember and I always loved drawing and was really encouraged by my family to express my creativity. At the age of 8 I went to art school, three times a week after normal school, we were taught art history, composition, painting, drawing and other subjects. I attended art school pretty much till I was 19 (with maybe 3 years break in teenage years when I decided not to draw ever again ;))). After graduating from art school and highschool I went on to study visual communication at University of Bedfordshire. It was a combined course with graphic designers and illustrators, it was fun experience and our teachers tried to make us experiment and explore. However for the last two years of the course we didn’t have an illustration tutor but guest illustration collective (trust me, sounds awesome but not the same thing :). After graduating in 2009 I ended up working in retail. It was in the middle of recession and I was lucky to land ANY job. But as time went by I couldn’t find any illustration work, any creative work, no side gigs, absolutely nothing. My fire started to fizzle and my dream of becoming and illustrator and drawing for a living from an inspiration and power and motivation became my frustration. It took me around 3 years to finally get the courage to make a leap, quit a full time job, find part time job and start figuring things out. It took me at least half a year to get to the grips before I started working on my etsy shop and I came up with a plan. That if I couldn’t find any creative work, I’ll try and make some work for myself. In 2013 I became full time self employed. And even though it’s a dream job it’s not an easy one. It can be financially stressful, also mentally challenging. I really want to draw more, I dream of one day illustrating a book and having an exhibition of my girls. It’s a journey and I have so many places I want to go with my work and sometimes admin takes over, sometimes running your own business has so many aspects there is not that much time to draw. So here it is.. a very long story and a bit of reality check from what’s happening behind cute pictures. I would love to know yours! What do you do? Where you come from? Where do you want to go? What would you like to share with the world?

<3 <3 <3

 

#gettingrealonIG

Watercolour Portrait Painting Workshop

Around a month ago I taught first Watercolour Painting Workshop. I've done other types before but never with watercolours.

I chose to teach with Kuretake watercolour set because it's my favourite set of watercolours and I truly believe they are one of the best on the market. Selection of 36 beautiful colours, all vibrant and really beautiful pigments. What I loooove love LOVE about this set is that they have an amazing selection of reds, yellows, greens, blues but also some really shiny metallics, YUM! 

The workshop was held in a beautiful photography studio, with one wall of windows so there is A LOT OF LIGHT and it is such a joy to be painting in such a beautiful and light space. It makes all the difference, especially this time of the year, when it's so dark outside and not enough natural light to paint.

It was an absolute pleasure to teach the workshop to a such fantastic bunch of people and to see how people approached the same subjects, used the same materials and the way everyone worked.

It was an interesting mixture of complete beginners, professional illustrators and designers and people who paint for joy. 

The results were sooooo different! There were all sorts of techniques and approaches and a lot of beautiful colours & patterns and I really loved everyones work. 

Next workshop is on the 3rd of December in the same studio full of light. We'll be using Kuretake Watercolours, brush pens, cold pressed water colour paper. For more information and to purchase the ticket, click here.

I would love to meet you and paint with you! 

An Ode to INSTAGRAM

Hello, 

My name is Viktorija and I'm an instagram addict. I downloaded the app the second day it came out and LOVED it instantly. 

My first instagram post, promising huh?! :))

My first instagram post, promising huh?! :))

It was October 2010, I was working full time in luxury retail and wanted to break through into illustration world. Who would have known that the door which will let me do what I love for a living will be opened with help of a peculiar app to share your daily snapshots? 

Here is my instagram story as told in September to Brighton Etsy Team members (thanks for inviting me guys!), this story will be interconnected with advice I'm always happy to give but through the years I find it hard to balance all the aspects of my business. So sometimes the instagram & social media part suffers a bit.

Things I've learned from 6 years of using instagram (and using instagram to build my freelance career).

It might sound obvious to some people but it took me a while to figure it out and actually apply to practice.

As an example from my experience: I started making shrink plastic badges to attract more people to my shop and to spread the word about my work. It's kind of hard to sell prints and postcards (market is saturated), so nice to find a niche. Instagram was my main platform to promote products and to show how they came to life, how I did what I did, the process, behind the scenes. The way I shared things came from an honest place of enjoying the process and need to share! Luckily some wonderful people found my posts interesting and they followed and stuck around.

But I always knew that in the long run I wanted to draw and to build illustration career. And that instagram was helping me to make that a reality. It was a portfolio of sorts and also a fantastic way to spread the word, meet people. So in my case I started to offer portraits, listing them as a product in the shop. Because until we tell people what we offer and what we want to do no one will know, no one can read our minds. 

So think about where you are going, what do you want to do in the future, where do you want to be and have that big picture in your mind every day, every post. 

A bit of contradiction, oops! But hey, life happens, shit happens, fun days happen, we change our minds and sometimes we just can't figure stuff out. So don't be scared, KEEP GOING! There will be days when you feel lost and not sure of what you are doing or what do you want to do or how to get somewhere etc.. just let these thoughts be and keep doing what you love, keep posting, keep snapping, keep making, stay inspired, let go of expectations. We can't be and feel the same way everyday. I go through weeks of ups and weeks of downs, different aspects of my business require different amount of attention and sometimes I just can't handle everything. And it's ok to take time off, it's your business, your instagram account, your rules and your decisions. It's ok and you are doing great! 

Things to remember

  • Things change very fast with instagram (or any internet based business), so embrace the change and be ready for it (also diversify your income).
  • Experiment, try new things!
  • There are as many opinions about instagram as there are people using it
  • But I think the most important aspect is E N J O Y what you do, people will love things which come from a genuine place and I think people really feel if something is not really true or is really tortured (and also what's the point of doing something you hate or feel is a burden?) 
  • PLAN!!! Have a schedule, collect photos, ideas and posts. Think for some time in advance, not word for word but at least know what you'll be posting to keep you going for super busy days or for when you just don't feel like posting.
  • Be kind, make friends, have fun! :)

Update on 100 Days project

I started 100 days project earlier this year around April but life & work got in the way and I had to put it on hold when I had around 30 days left. 

I really enjoyed painting each day when I could find time and decided to finish the project.

It's hard to find 30 spare minutes a day to do something and sooo easy to waste those 30 minutes! 

iPad pro + apple Pencil

I've been using iPad pro + apple pencil since January and hada few people ask me questions about my experience.. so here is a very long answer! :) Hope you find it interesting or useful.

There are a lot of things I absolutely love about iPad pro but I do have to say that I use both my wacom and photoshop + computer and my iPad pro + apple pencil. I use them for slightly different things and they both have pros and cons but today I want to talk about iPad pro! :)

I've been using it since January to draw commissions/portraits & some new designs for prints, business cards and just for fun.

It's PORTABLE! First and very important thing about iPad pro is that you can take it with you everywhere! Comparing it to my wacom cintique with numerous wires, computer, ports, need to be plugged into the socket of course it's a huge benefit and was very important for me to be able to work from my sofa, library or a coffee shop if needed.

Ability to draw directly onto the iPad. Never before I was able to draw directly with a tablet, I would usually start with a paper sketch and then go from there. Maybe it's their amazing screen technology which is so smooth and doesn't feel too glassy, maybe it's the fact that you can put the iPad on your lap or table and turn and tilt as much as you like (the same as you would do with your sketchbook & paper) or everything together. But if feels very nice to use apple pencil on iPad pro. It glides smoothly and very naturally, it imitates the feel of drawing on paper, it's hard to imagine or explain but it's a pleasure to use and it's possible to create a drawing from start to finish on iPad & even sketch!  Apple pencil is a thing of beauty too, perfect lenght and weight, not too thick, just perfect. It feels so good in your hand, muuuuuuch MUCH nicer than any other tablet pen (which are usually rubbery and very thick).

It is possible to finish a drawing/portrait/illustration on iPad pro but all the apps give you an opportunity to export the file in your preferred format (my would be .psd) and you can do any tweaking, prepping files for print or anything else in photoshop (or just back up your files!).

I use Procreate app for iPad. Adobe Draw is also an amazing app (vector drawing app, great fun!) and Adobe Sketch is very very good too! A lot of these apps get frequent updates and get better and better everyday. Both Procreate and Adobe Sketch allow you to use layers, so it gives you room to play and of course export files to photoshop later on.

Procreate have a great selection of brushes, they work perfectly for my style. And people often sell or offer a lot of their own brushes on Procreate forum. As I mentioned before you can export files in any format. Now the app lets you choose your DPI and any size you like. It works really fast too. At the moment you can't import multi layered .psd files but you can import flat images. Also if you save your file as .png with one transparent layer (or flat layer) you can import that too (like if you have a very nice line work, you can scan it in and then work on it in Procreate!) :) One nifty feature is that you can export a video of your work automatically, I'm really in love with this one, Procreate! :) I blogged about it here.

If you are planning to use iPad pro + apple pencil as a replacement for any tablet than you can do it with the help of astropad app. I know a few people are using it that way. However it didn't work for me. I understand I am spoiled and biased with my amazing access to wacom cintique but astropad is not fast enough and does not replace the actual tablet. It doesn't give you the speed the ipad pro gives on it's own or when you use wacom in photoshop. Buuut saying that astropad + ipad pro + apple pencil work for tweaking things in photoshop & doing some basic design work, I did see some amazing illustrators using it that way to draw too (with a bit of lagging but it does work! :). And hopefully things will get better in the future, that would be simply awesome! :)

Wacom tablet + photoshop + Kyle's Brushes is my laptop set up for drawing and it's pretty amazing but iPad Pro + apple pencil + procreate are completely different. Both can be used to draw, just you know.. in different ways! :) My dream set up would be to have some of the amazing Kyle's brushes for iPad pro apps (pro create or any of the adobe apps), hope that will happen some time in the future! ;)  

So to sum it up.. It's portable, pleasure to use, great apps, good fun + if needed files can be exported and finished off in Photoshop. But just imagine the picture, you grab your iPad pro + apple pencil, go to a caffee, grab a seat & a cup of coffee and do some work. Or another scenario, you are tired, it's raining outside and you just walk over to your sofa, snuggle under the blanket and do some commercial work.. cool, huh? I'm a huge fan of iPad pro + apple Pencil and procreate app and it's absolutely worth the investment, AMAZING tools (and not just because you can work from your sofa under a blanket.. promise!)

Here are some things I drew in Procreate app with iPad pro + apple pencil.

Workshop!

This July I taught a fun (even if I say so myself) portrait drawing workshop at We Built This City at Carnaby St, London. 

I love drawing people. I am curious about how we are all different and wonderful at the same time, about what makes us special, what we think about a person without really knowing them and how  that perception changes once you get acquainted. 

I've been drawing people I think always, we all tend to go into head/shoulders phase and I really love doing that, so no surprise I started taking commissions for portraits. I'm not sure how many exactly I drew over the last three years but I would say A LOT. 

My process always starts with looking and finding out how that person makes me feel, how they look like to me and how can I translate that very special thing about them into my style. I think a lot about that (sometimes without even noticing) and I think I accumulated quite a lot of things I wanted to share with people and decided to do a workshop.

It was such a pleasure when the workshop of 12 spaces sold out within 3 days, I was sooo excited to meet everyone & have some fun while drawing people! 

We did some black & white head/shoulder portraits with a tiny spot of colour. It was absolutely amazing to meet all the people and see them create absolutely aweeeesome portraits!!! They were all so good at it! And I truly hope everyone enjoyed their time, they were such curious and talented students. :)

Here are some tools we used on the day & I can't recommend them enough.

Brush Pen (if you don't want to splash on the more expensive one, try this one, it's fun & awesome to use!)

Brush Pen (if you are ready to spend a bit more money, this brush pen is absolutely amazing!)

Paper

Or a lovely sketchbook

for some colour:

Pigment Markers (which we used at the workshop, yay!) 

or some watercolour

I hope it was the first workshop of many more to come. I'm busy organising & finding venues for more portrait drawing workshops. Would you want to attend one? Or maybe you would like to suggest not a portrait drawing but other type of workshop you'd like to attend? 

Please let me know in the comments or

to be the first one to hear about upcoming events & workshops! :)

Do it baby ;)

Today I did something which I am REALLY scared of. ;) 

I was invited along with lovely Becka to do a little talk by Etsy to the Univeristy of Middlesex about how Etsy helped me in my illustration career

I AM PETRIFIED OF PUBLIC SPEAKING!!! In a room full of talented illustration students and their amazing teachers.. in my third language... UGHHHHHH!!!!!! So naturally I was very stressed and forgot a lot of the content but I do hope that I got my message across which is.. go and do some creative stuff peeps! 

Here is my talk as it should have been with some pictures and tips which helped me along the way. ;)

My name is Viktorija and I’m Latvia born, London based illustrator and designer-maker behind AndSmile. 

I feel that I'm still figuring out a lot of things and finding my voice. But I'm really happy where I am right now. In no way I am trying to preach that this is the right way to do things but it's one of many ways and it did work for me. :)

 

My work is sold in over 25 shops around the world (Singapore, Australia, US, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium my goodies even popped up at Royal Academy) & was featured in magazines such as Mollie Makes, Flow, Caboodle and many fabulous blogs. I worked on wedding invitations, brand identities, drew hundreds of portraits, did workshops, collaborated and worked with great companies and met a lot of amazing people along the way. 

I’m having the most amazing time as freelance illustrator and that wouldn’t be happening if I didn’t open an Etsy shop. 

Welcome to my Etsy shop! :)

Welcome to my Etsy shop! :)

I loved drawing since I was little but only at the age of 14 it finally dawned on me that people got paid to do that for a living and I decided to become an illustrator! :) 

I went to study illustration at the University of Bedfordshire, it was an interesting 3 years of exploring, experimenting and trying to find my voice. We had great teachers who invested a lot of time and work into us. But there wasn’t much practical advice of how the industry worked now, how to make money, so basically how to be a commercial artist. So when I graduated in 2009 I still loved drawing but had absolutely no idea what to do with my life or how to find work as an illustrator and I moved to London. :)

 

 

 

When people ask me how I started to do what I do for a living my answer always starts with: “ well, I’ve opened my etsy shop in 2009.” The bit which I skip is that didn’t sell anything. I didn’t invest any time or thought into Etsy Shop and it didn’t work. The second time I opened my Etsy shop it was a different story. It was 2011 and I was absolutely miserable in my luxury retail job and I was planning a great escape into a creative wonderland. In these two years after graduating I’ve tried to find any creative job, tried to build my portfolio, sent work to agencies and did all the stuff I learned in University and it wasn’t successful. I was trapped in my “temporary” job when I realised that if I didn’t change something at that point I probably never would. So I quit my full time job and went part time. And that’s when the light bulb moment happened. ETSY!!!!  If companies didn’t want to commission or hire me maybe my work could appeal to general public? I didn’t need to invest in the website/hosting or time to build a standalone platform. There was a huge customer base, cheap listings, seller handbook and community waiting for me! Completely risk free.

One of the first brooches I ever made! :)

One of the first brooches I ever made! :)

And since I didn’t want to come back to full time luxury retail job I gave ETSY MY ALL!!! I developed a small line of postcards, printed them, took lovely photos, uploaded to etsy and nothing happened. Then I decided to try making wearable illustrations, like brooches & earrings to appeal to a wider audience. They were all about foxes, animals, pandas, people faces.

Some of the first items I sold on Etsy! :)

Some of the first items I sold on Etsy! :)

And I started spending hours, days and months, reading etsy handbook (which is amazing and always up to date), searching etsy forums to find more information, tips and advice on how to develop the shop. I updated the shop, played with names, tags, photos, re arranged the shop and spend hours networking there.

I set up twitter and instagram accounts where I shared my creative process, daily life, drawings, new products and directed everyone to my Etsy shop. And sales started to roll in slowly, each month I sold a little bit more than previous moth. I met more people online, I gained some loyal, returning customers.

Yes, I shared that kind of snapshots :)

Yes, I shared that kind of snapshots :)

And at the same time I spend A LOT of time constantly working on my listings, names & tags, tweaking and playing around. But I was very determined and there was absolutely no way I would quit, so even when I felt down I would keep going.

Some people have spikes in sales, super popular products and it’s amazing! And I hope it’s the case for everyone of you who will start the ETSY shop I wasn’t one of them, my shop grew slowly and gradually over the years, with a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

Lovely blogs who featured my work at some point of my career //  Chiaki Creates  //  Skinny Dip London  //  Tigerlilly Quinn  //  Brownpaperbag  //  Omhg

Lovely blogs who featured my work at some point of my career // Chiaki Creates // Skinny Dip London // Tigerlilly Quinn // Brownpaperbag // Omhg

The beauty of Etsy is that everyone is there! Buyers looking for lovely gifts, shops for new products to stock but also it’s a fabulous directory of illustrators, designers & makers so a lot of bloggers, writers and people in other creative industries are there. My work was kindly featured by many awesome bloggers, I got found through etsy, done some interviews and made fantastic connections. So your etsy shop is not only a place where you sell your work but also where you showcase your work and you can and should use it as a platform to  grow your career from there. Make sure you have great photos, good tags, product descriptions & names. And also more of kind of work you want to do in the future.

Add any relevant information to your about page, link to your portfolio & blog (if you have them), make sure people who are interested in working, buying, commissioning you can find more of your work, your email, information and contact you super easy.

 

Two years ago, in 2013 I realised that my Etsy grew so much that I could only keep up with orders and I realised that it was time to quit my part time job. It was a bit of a risk but I had a feeling that without investing more time in Etsy & my illustration career things would stay where they were. It was summer and from my experience on Etsy I knew that sales would start growing towards Christmas and it was perfect timing to push the shop onto the next level. And so I did, once again I worked as much as I could, posted away on social media, developed new products, took custom commissions, basically said yes to everything! I had the best Christmas at Etsy ever and came January I was ready to see drop in sales and even had an idea that I always could find a part time job if this didn’t work out. However my etsy shop grew so much that come January & February I still had sales, people still wanted to buy wholesale from me, commission custom work and things just kept going.

I made sure I worked on new products & developed collections, explored different drawing styles. I kept updating my etsy shop, worked on about page, banners, wording of the listings, tags, everything! Included all information people might be interested in (how I work, materials, if I did wholesale, would I accept commissions, where to email me, where to find me on twitter, instagram, facebook etc).

So my Etsy shop became not only a showcase of my products but also of my work. I knew that growing Etsy is opening doors for other type of work, for interesting projects, workshops, collaborations and if used correctly could help build a career as an illustrator.  

 

I love freelancing! I love to be my own boss, I am so excited about each working day, about all the amazing and sometimes unexpected opportunities that come my way. But it helps to have a clear vision of what kind of work you want to do and where you want to go.

To be honest I enjoy working on my own but I do have a group of friends/creatives with whom I can discuss any creative or business worries, so having  a business/creative club and support is really important.

Another thing I learned in these years is a tip from Iggy Pop: “ DIVERSIFY YOUR INCOME.” As my career & business is set mainly online and internet is changing constantly we have to adapt with it. So if one income stream dries out it's nice to have a security net and worth working on it in advance. :)

 And etsy is perfect for that! Selling direct to customers is an ace income stream, also a way to spread word about your work. At the moment I sell directly to customers, wholesale my goods, sell at pop up craft fairs, take personal commissions (like portraits or small business logos/headers etc) and commercial work. Freelancing is awesome but it’s so hard to slow down when your job is your passion (it seems to be a widespread problem in illustration/handmade/creative field). Having great work ethics is really important however taking some time off is essential. Also.. do some exercise! I can’t stress that enough. Look after your back/shoulders/wrists, your body will thank you and it will enable you to have a long lasting and fruitful career (as well as happy + healthy life).

 

My top tip is do what you love, don’t wait for someone to give you permission or validation, don’t take any shit or listen to people who tell you that you are not good enough, you will not make it, that it’s just a hobby, there is no money in it, make good work to the best of your abilities, keep going, be nice to people & remember that there is enough space for everyone.

 

THANK YOU FOR READING! :)

One day at andsmile studio ;)

I'm super curious to know what people do all day & how their working day goes, so I thought if anyone is as curious as I am, it will be fun to share my working day! So I did! 

This Monday on instagram I shared LIVE what's happening in the studio and what I am up to. :)) Luckily on that day I had do make some brooches, pack orders, go to a business meeting & post office, so it was a bit more fun than a day of admin work (which also happens ;).

Here is a recap as it happened: