Over the years, I've interviewed 20+ creatives on Brand Your Passion, worked with hundreds of other creatives, been a creative myself, and spent a lot of my time observing creatives that I love. And I started thinking, what is it that makes these brands successful? What is it that ties them together? So I did some research, looked at the common attributes of the creatives who are kicking ass, and pulled it all together. Let’s talk about the 10 things that successful artists have on lock so that we can all learn from the best and become the successful, wonderful, amazing artists that we wanna be!
The first thing that I noticed that a lot of these artists have is a really easy and clear way to buy from and support them.
Whether they’re physical products, digital products or a Patreon or Ko-Fi subscription, it's really clear and really easy to access. They have links on their social media platforms to the different ways you can support them. They talk about the ways to support them all the time. It's pinned to the top of their Twitter and Instagram pages. And they have an Instagram and Facebook shop so you can shop directly from their social media pages.
Check out some of your favourite artists and see how they're doing it. Find some inspiration and figure out how you can make it really easy and clear for people to support you and buy from you.
Number two is that they are really vocal about their work.
Successful artists are not shy about telling people what they do, what they're working on, what's being released or when things are being launched. They are talking all the time about their work.
If you go to your favourite artists' Instagrams, they are posting about what they're working on. They're posting about their new products, they're talking about the process. They are talking about the new things they're working on. They're talking about their goals for the future. They are talking about their work all the time, and you need to do the same.
Don't be afraid to be vocal about your work. You need to tell people over and over and over and over again what it is that you do so that they remember, so that they know what you do, so that they can go and buy from you.
Number three is that they are posting regularly. They are posting on multiple platforms at least a few times a week and committing to doing that.
Illustrator Renata Paton said that she had to commit to showing up on social media because it's part of her job. She knows that if she doesn’t post, then people can’t see her work or buy it. Because she treats it like her job, she takes it seriously, so she has a content calendar and plans things and does it properly. Just like a social media manager for a startup or another business would take it seriously.
So while you don’t have to post every day, it is important to post consistently, and that when you are posting, you’re doing it intentionally with a strategy and plan in mind.
Number four is that they all have a distinct style or an approach that they are known for. Whether it's the specific art style, the kind of thing that they make, the way that they make a certain thing or their values and approach, that is what sets them apart and that's what people know them for.
Renata Paton is really known for her bright, bold colours, using POSCA pens, and doing a lot of different types of work on rugs, wooden sculptures and other mediums.
Pepper Raccoon, who is also an illustrator and an artist, has a very distinct style. You can see a product of hers out in the wild and just know it's a Pepper Raccoon product. It's really clear and that's what people know her for.
Furry Little Peach’s work has a very distinct energy, colour palette and vibe. The way she draws things is very unique. Same with Fran Nerd, another illustrator and artist who's on YouTube, and has a very distinct, cartoon, illustrative style.
These people are known for a very specific thing that you remember about them. You go to their products, website or social media to follow and engage with them, and buy from them for specific reasons. Maybe because they have a certain energy, they represent a certain thing, or they talk about a certain thing that makes them really distinct and makes you want to engage and support them.
That's what you need to work towards doing too. The goal is being known for a distinct style, a unique way of doing things, or something that's different and unique about you that people can come to know you for.
Number five is that they also have a really unique and authentic personality.
When you first start, it can feel like you have to do or say certain things to adapt to the environment that you are in so that you can start to fit in and grow. But as you get over that you realise that it's not fruitful or fulfilling to be someone else or doing what other people want you to do.
That that is something that sets these artists apart. They’re not afraid to just be themselves. They're not worried about whether people don't like them, they're focused on the people who do.
To get to this place for yourself, take some time to answer questions like:
It seems counterintuitive to try and be authentic. But do what you can to settle into being yourself and not being afraid of whether people like you. Just be yourself, show up, rock it, and see what happens.
As well as that, these artists also have a commitment to their message.
Whatever that message might be, whether it's about the art that they make or the process that they go through, or the causes that are important to them or any number of things that could be part of their message or also just about what they do, they are committed to that message.
They're showing up again and again, talking about that message, committing to it, saying like, "hi, I'm Hollie. This is what I do. This is what I'm about. That's it. Take it or leave it." You know? So they have a real commitment to what they wanna say, what they wanna share, how they wanna come across. They are committed to that, and they show up and do the thing.
Whether it means trying a new medium because they're really interested in it or just being super nerdy about the way that they make things, these artists, creatives, and makers embrace what they love. They get nerdy about the things that they do. They talk about it all the time. They rave about it. They follow their creative intuition to try new things to try new mediums and subject matter that they're interested in.
And it's okay for you to do that too. If you are interested in trying a new set of pens or a new style of painting or a new way of crocheting, feel free to embrace that, share the love that you have and, follow your creativity.
It's way better for you to do that than to feel like you have to something else because people in your audience like it and you don’t want to lose them. You will gain way more people than you lose if you embrace what you love and really go all in. The more that you're doing what you love, the more you'll want to tell everyone about it, share the process that you're going through and talk about why you love it.
So embrace what you love. Don't be afraid to get a little nerdy to follow your creativity. That's what we are all here to do.
Obviously a lot of us have had to figure out how to be resilient and adaptable with the way the world has been and is, but it is a testament of a great creative that they can adapt, change and evolve to fit whatever's happening and continue to be able to create what they do despite what's going on.
Whenever something happens or changes these artists don't let it stop them. They ask themselves, how can I adapt? What can I do to make it work for me so that I can still be happy and content with what I'm doing, but also stay relevant and engaged in what is going on.
Whatever comes at them, they keep going. They figure it out, they make changes, they adapt, they evolve their processes and everything that they're doing so that they can keep doing what they love.
These artists are always evolving and levelling up their brand to be the best version that it can be, and also to be the best version for them.
If their brand identity's not working or it's not feeling aligned with them anymore, they'll change it. They'll evolve it with them and how they are evolving as a person and as an artist.
If they improve their skills as an artist, they're gonna improve the products that they make. They're gonna improve the way they package their products with their new way of doing things.
They're always evolving and levelling up so that things continue to be interesting for them, and they can continue to provide the best things for their customers and clients.
Successful artists are also willing to try new things. Maybe they try a new style of working, or a new process, or they're willing to jump on video and start using TikTok, or try email marketing or posting on Pinterest.
Whatever happens, these creatives are willing to try new things all the time to learn from them, see what works and figure out how they can improve things. This is what makes them able to grow, pivot or evolve.
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Lucy Mutimer on rebranding your business, getting your first clients, and the advantage of not niching down.
Renata Paton on getting started as an artist, expanding into new mediums, and committing to your content.