Hello there. I have been collecting common business related questions for the past few months and I am excited to share some some of my own experiences with you! I wrote my first similar post a year and a half ago, right before my store opening was announced: "Things I Wish I Had Known" If you've never read that post, check it out because I won't be repeating the same information. Also, here is another recent post called "Shop Talk". This is a fun and exciting post for me! I prefer to imagine that I am writing it to my younger self... someone who has the potential to do exactly what they want, but hasn't taken the leap into the unknown quite yet. enjoy....
Q: What would you consider the most important things to do when one is beginning something like your endeavor with Red Velvet Art? What lessons have you learned?
A: I think it's very important to create 'tests' for every major project you are interested in pursuing, including opening a small business. Before I decided to invest in starting my own retail website I spent two years selling my own handmade goods on Etsy. This gave me the chance to not only learn how people would respond to my work, but also to make sure that I enjoyed this kind of work in the long term! It is as important to make sure that you are doing the right thing for you as it is to create a successful brand that people love! It's important to remember that things will always be different when you are actually doing them everyday than they are in your ideal. Starting a smaller scale business as a side project is very very important step toward a career in art or online retail.
Q: Did you have a substantial amount of "start up" money when you began the RVA store?
A: Yes. It was a major undertaking. I invested all of my personal savings in this project and took out a small loan. This is another reason why I highly recommend starting an Etsy shop to aspiring artists, it is a great opportunity with a much smaller upfront investment.
Q: How did you find your shop. Like did you just find it and decide you wanted to open a shop or did you decide you wanted to open a shop and then look for a space? How long did the whole process take. I so want to open my own little shop here in england!
A: I never intended to open a local shop. When I found my loft with this amazing space underneath (which we chose for Jeremy's studio) It just happened to have a cute room up front the perfect size for a little boutique. It was purely coincidence, but has turned out to be a huge learning experience and I've enjoyed having a retail space to decorate.
Q: I'd love to know about your schedule and how you fit everything in when you have so much to focus on... your website, the blogs, the shop, photography, painting, marketing, planning, accounts...as well as normal things like chores, seeing friends/boyfriend, etc. Do you have set times to do things? How did you become someone who thinks of an idea and gets on and does it?! I mean, how are you so productive??!
A: This is a huge challenge, but here's what I do.... every day I have a 'must do' list. These are the things that are top priority like my online class and my blog. I also have things that I'd like to do.. things like vintage shopping or making projects for fun. I fit these in as often as possible, but not every single day. As far as family and my boyfriend are concerned, I almost never skip time with them. I have times to hang out with them set up and I look forward to them! They are a wonderful part of my life and always a top priority. My friends are very understanding and supportive.
I simply don't have high maintenance friends (I seriously can't think of any). I've always believed in making time for the most important things in life. Life shouldn't get in the way of your dreams. Sometimes sacrifices must be made to accomplish things, but those sacrifices don't have to be important relationships! I am very thankful for my group of family and friends who love and support my art. ♥
Q: I think that a lot of times, artists tend to follow trends or make art similar to other artists. I am always inspired by your art though because it seems to be uniquely you. I guess this is kind of a multi-layer question: What things do you do when coming up with your own "trends"? What is the process of your creativity? How do you go about making it happen?
A: I know exactly what you mean. I really believe that every artists that has ever lived is influenced by other artists. The most important key to having 'your own style' is to be influenced by a lot of different artists! I have tons of influences and I love the way I can see just a little bit of each of them in my work. I find it extremely unattractive when I can look at a persons art (or music ect...) and immediately see who they are 'trying to be'. This is a common mistake for new artists and it's totally forgivable (most people aren't intending to 'rip someone off'. They just haven't exposed themselves to enough art and they are trying too hard to be like a certain artist). This is sad because it's not only a little tacky, but it's counterproductive to the creative process! Here are some tips for creating your own style that is distinct and special... Try everything in the beginning (experiment with every style and medium you see that attracts you) don't get in a 'rut' when you are still learning, make a list of the things you love from each of your favorite artists, be a fan (find LOTS of artists that inspire you, not just one or two) and don't start selling your work until you really feel like it is your work. :) xo
Q: did the ONLINE following of your work "just happen" or was it something you conciously did to market your business (blog, twitter, facebook, etc)?
A: This is one of my most commonly asked questions, but it's also difficult for me to answer because I believe that everyone's path is very different. I've been blogging for about five years (I had another blog before this that has since been deleted) so I think it is a combination of time spent, connections made and being a little bit lucky. I spend a lot of time on my blog and for the past year or two I've posted almost every day, so I think that's the biggest thing. After a certain amount of time people know that they can 'trust' my blog for what it is (daily cute posts, inspiration and lots of art/fashion/decor projects!). A lot of new bloggers quit or only post a few times per month. I think the most important tip I can share is to be consistent and true to your own style, even as it evolves! I feel very blessed to have amazing readers who have connected with my blog and work. Don't worry about numbers, think about genuine connections! Focus on creating a blog that you would want to read. :)
Q: Also, is your painting style based on anyone or is it totally your own idea?
A: As I was saying in an answer above, I truly believe that every artist in the world is influenced by others! Inspiration is a great thing when used appropriately. I have tons of favorite artists and painters... a few (just off the top of my head) who I would call 'influences' are Mary Blair, Mark Ryden, Seonna Hong, Jim Houser, Gary Baseman and many more....
I spent about two years developing my painting style before I started to feel like I really knew what I wanted to do. I think that a long period of experimenting and self teaching is a healthy and important stage for every artist.
Q: I am a fashion design student and when I graduate I want to work on my Etsy full-time. When I can dedicate more money and time on it will I be able to support myself on just that?
A: It's certainly possible. Any business venture involves a certain level of risk. If you want to be sure that you can and will be able to support yourself, don't quit your day job until you are doing just that! Taking an art dream full-time prematurely can create a lot of undue pressure and stress. It's best to take wise 'steps' while still being super ambitious and creating your own success!
Q: What's next for rva?
A: I don't want to give anything away just yet. I'll be making some announcements in the next few months. I can tell you that a lot of fun things are going on behind-the-scenes in preparation for our Spring Collection and some other changes that are pretty exciting... :) We have really fun plans for the website this year, expanding in ways we weren't able to last year. yay!