Artist Alyssa Hamilton talks art, Society6 and branding yourself as an artist
I recently came across Aylssa Hamilton’s gorgeous abstract art on Society6. Her fearless brushstrokes and comforting color choices immediately drew me in, so I was grateful when she agreed to be interviewed here on Creating Beautifully. She’s not only a talented artist that we can all learn from, but her story is equally surprising and inspiring. So let’s get to it! Artist Alyssa Hamilton talks art, Society6 and branding yourself as an artist…
Artist Alyssa Hamilton talks art, Society6 and branding yourself as an artist
Jules: First, please tell us a bit about yourself…
Aylssa: Four years ago, I graduated with a degree in psychology, but my passion was always art. On a whim, I applied for an internship at the Denver Art Museum. I have no formal art training, but the months I spent there, around the art and the people, really lit a fire in me. I started painting, just for fun, almost immediately once I started working there.
I think the whole city of Denver in general was the catalyst for my art career. Everywhere you look there’s art – the walls, the buildings, even the people. Everyone has tons of tattoos, it’s awesome. As for other influences, I’m obsessed with the early impressionists like Monet and Matisse. They created this entire wild, rebellious style that no one had ever done before. There’s so much bravery and vulnerability there that I love.
I recently moved back to the midwest after living there for those four years and after selling as a hobby, I’ve transitioned into working on my art full time. I experiment with new mediums all the time. Right now, I’ve landed on a mixture of acrylics, spray paint, and inks.
Jules: I really loved looking through your Society6, when did you decide to take your art – as a business – seriously? What habits do you strongly believe contribute to your success?
Aylssa: Thank you! I started seriously considering art as a business about 2 years ago, but it wasn’t until about six months ago that I started solely focusing on my art as a full time career. The biggest thing for me, I think, is making art every day. Even if it sucks.
Also, don’t give up. I wasn’t sure I’d ever sell anything and then one day, it happened and it’s kept happening every day since.
Jules: Great advice! How long have you been selling on Society6? Was that the first place you starting selling your work online? And have you tried other platforms?
Aylssa: I’ve been selling on Society6 since August, 2016. It was the first place I had heard about. I have tried Redbubble and Zazzle, but they were so much more complicated for me personally. I had also originally had an Etsy account, but I had a lot of learning to do before I would be successful on a platform like that. (I’ve learned so much since then, it’s crazy!)
Jules: Did it take you a long time to sell your first product(s) there? And how many products (on average) do you sell monthly?
Aylssa: It took about 4 months for me to sell anything on Society6. I remember being SO excited about the 4 dollars. I called my roommate and my mom immediately like, “I CAN BUY A COFFEE!” I’m actually kind of tearing up thinking about it, because I’ve been so lucky how well it’s gone since then. I now sell approximately 200 products a month. Its weird, it depends on all kinds of factors when it comes to how much I will sell in a given month.
Jules: That is so sweet! I think my first commission there was like $1.78, but I was also soooo excited! How often do you add new designs to your shop? Do you find certain products (ie., prints, cell phone cases, clothes, accessories, etc.) sell better than others on a consistent basis?
Aylssa: I add new products around once or twice a month. Mostly, it’s after I’ve had time to photograph and edit my work. I think it depends on the design when it comes to what product sells. For some reason, I have this really vibrant one, (see below) that people LOVE on phone cases. But for the most part, I sell a lot of prints. I currently don’t sell on multiple platforms, but this is making me want to!
Jules: Do you have a social media strategy for driving traffic to your shop?
Aylssa: Interact! I have found that commenting on other artists’ work helps a ton. Also, pin them! If you share a piece directly to Pinterest, people are able to follow the link directly to your piece.
Jules: Do you drive traffic to your Society6 shop in other ways?
Aylssa: I mention my Society6 in my Instagram bio, and every so often I’ll remind people I exist there as well.
Jules: Is there anything you find particularly challenging or frustrating about selling on Society6?
Aylssa: MY NAME! I tried to brand myself as “blushingbrushstudio” way back in the day, and now it won’t let me change it! (Also, from my experience, keep your own name. It took people SO long to realize that I was the one who did all that work – let people know who you are!)
Then, there’s the countless hours I spent learning photoshop for it. That is SO frustrating, but definitely worth it. How you present your work matters. I have found that making a piece more vibrant is great for printing on products.
Also, I don’t know if many people realize I can’t see who purchases products, and I would love for them to tag me on Instagram so I can see my work in the “wild.” That will forever be the coolest feeling.
Jules: Isn’t it so fun to see your work in people’s homes/lives? I love it! So… Do you remove any old designs and/or designs that don’t seem to sell as well?
Aylssa: Yes. I swear I learn new buttons or tricks on Photoshop every time I edit pieces. Plus, I think my work has gotten a ton more cohesive and recognizable since I started, so I’ve taken down pieces that no longer fit my brand.
Jules: That totally makes sense. Do you set any sales goals for your art?
Aylssa: I have recently set a goal of $30 a day. It pays for my car as well as spending money for the most part.
Jules: Awesome! What advice would you give to artists hoping to sell work on Society6?
Aylssa: Read, read, read. I thought I could be successful without any help. I wish I had read tips, tricks, blogs, etc. way sooner than I did. Learn how to edit your pieces – make them big enough! (My files are usually 10,000 x 12,000 px. At 350 ppi – save them as medium quality or your computer will hate you.) Follow other artists and comment on/promote their work.
Jules: And finally, some quick and fun questions:
Q. If you could collaborate with any other artist, living or dead, who would it be?
Aylssa: I’d have to paint some flowers with Monet. I’d love to see his process.
Q. What is your favorite music/song/band to listen to while making art?
Aylssa: I have a spotify playlist called “ painting “ that’s usually my go – to. It’s a mix of things like Banks, Lorde, and Halsey: anything with lots of feels.
Q. What/who/where inspires you most?
Aylssa: Traveling inspires me most. Seeing new things, paying attention to the colors in a new place, talking to new people.
Q. Who is your favorite living artist? And do you own any of their artwork?
Aylssa: Heather Day! Her work is so free and yet so minimal. You’ve got to check her out, it’s gorgeous. I don’t own any of her work yet, but I plan to. She’s also my favorite artist to follow on social media. She has a gorgeous studio and a fun life. I’m gushing, but she’s awesome.
Thank you so much to Alyssa for sharing all of this knowledge with us! You can find Aylssa and more of her art online at:
P.S. If you’re an artist who wants to start a blog to create more sales and opportunities, check this out!
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