2016 - A review
Lately things are going here in the right direction: the one I expected and hoped them to go as in 2015 I changed the content of this, my main web page, from general illustration to fashion and style illustration.
I like to read about such little positive stories from other people, especially artists and entrepreneurs. They keep me going. So, as two days ago I did an (absolutely amateur) analysis of the development of my business in the last year, I thought some of you, dear readers, would like to know about it.
As you can read on my bio or in the interview I gave to MY Sweet Invitation: I always wanted to be an illustrator. But as a child, in the place and time I grew up, it seemed as impossible as becoming an astronaut. So I was happy enough (is there such a thing?) to call myself a general illustrator as, almost 40, I finally took that leap of faith and I would work for ad agencies and school book publishers. I was drawing everything for them (I still am). Being the region where I live one of the industrial blessings of Germany, I had the opportunity to draw from viscometers to vehicles of all sorts. And it felt right. For me, if you can draw, it meant you can draw anything. This is what I learnt during my studies at the university as I was becoming an architect. And that is the reason why, at the beginning of this new career of mine I did not allow myself to try to become "just" a fashion illustrator. I had to demonstrate myself that I, indeed, could draw anything.
I needed a couple of years at the drawing table to realise some things. Like you might be able to draw anything but, in most cases, you cannot draw everything equally well, or equally easy or with the same joy. There are specialists in all fields, in this one too. And why not to try to be one doing the thing you like the most and, therefore -because you have done it out of pleasure millions of times- you are better at? And see, the thing is, I have spent my whole spare time as a child and teenager drawing. But not drawing dinosaurs and cars as some other kids did. No, my thing was the fashion-girls drawings. Non stop. And as an adult if someone around was getting married or needing a dress for a special occasion I would draw them a dress. Fashion design was not my intention. My goal was just the joy of drawing it.
We live now in a different world than the one during my childhood and today you can see that there are real people living of that thing, whatever it might be, that you enjoy to do. So one and half years ago I decided to keep working for my existing clients and their viscometers (to whom I am S O thankful) but put all my customer acquisition efforts in the direction I wanted to go: Fashion illustration. That meant to change my whole website and my social channels profile and, above all, start to generate the appropriate portfolio.
Instagram has been a huge help in this endeavour. First of all it was the motivation to make drawings to post, almost daily, some of which made it to my web portfolio. This way I had material to show and content for my newsletter. Secondly it has given me the possibility to be part of a community that shares my interest for and idea of fashion. I have insta-met so many nice women in the past years! To them I am also infinitely thankful. And finally: Instagram has been a source of clients for fashion illustration.
That is what I realised as I did my development analysis this week: more than 50% of my revenue has changed over the last year from school books to fashion illustration, and the place it came from has shifted from active acquisition to social media and website. The funny thing is that the "big" shift happened as I thought (and even told it to my Atelier La-La girls) that it might be time to say good bye to the dream and come back to the general illustration. I guess sometimes you have to speak aloud your demons for them to disappear.
So, this is how the year went, regarding fashion illustration. First I had a job from the local agency Bruce B (drawing on the top). It was not the typical fashion illustration job but it was definitely no viscometer. They needed uniforms for a client for whom they were designing a whole new corporate identity, from interior design to graphic material. And they wanted to present them as fashion illustrations.
In the spring MY Sweet Invitation offered to buy the licence for some of the drawings I had been doing for my Instagram account. And they expressed this wish as I actually asked her founder, Sofia, to introduce me to a Linkedin contact of hers. I don't even know anymore how Sofia and I were connected on Linkedin and I wasn't intending to sell her anything as I asked. Since then they have created a bunch of beautiful stationery products with my drawings. This has been the highlight of the year. It not only meant for me that my "girls" could really solve a client's problem and confirmed me that I was on the right way: the communication with them is so outstanding pleasant that I would like to meet Sofia one day (if you are reading this, Sofia: now you know it!), even if it means flying to Greece (not that this would be a sacrifice but, you know). Making business with them has been a R E A L pleasure. The cherry on top was this package below I received just before Christmas.
The year went on and I had some jobs for private clients and small entrepreneurs in the fashion industry. All coming from the social media. Including one I am especially proud about for DressDecode. I cannot show the results yet, sorry guys. Then Instagram played a big role again: I was coming out of a pneumonia on a Saturday as I saw on Instagram that the local shopping mall das gerber was planning a fashion event seven days later. I thought it would be great if (healthy again) I could draw live fashion sketches for them. But then I hesitated: it was in one week time, they probably had everything set up already, would I feel well enough by then... On the other hand: what did I have to lose? And I still had seven days to finally get rid of my cough. So, I wrote them and two days later we had a deal. I reported here about the result and, as it seems right now, that little initiative is bringing some new jobs in that direction.
That was November and the final surprise of the year was yet to come. The Soho Publishing Company from New York contacted me to collaborate in the illustration of one book. I cannot say more for the moment. They found me on the internet. Just like that. It seems like writing this blog posts from time to time and uploading my fashion drawings is starting to work.
So, if you are reading this and are stuck in the kind of moment I was one year ago: don't give up. Do your thing. Mine is not done yet, I will keep it up. Now more than ever. As I was thinking about writing this post while listening the podcast Pardon My French as I heard these words: