When I first saw Clair Bremner’s abstract paintings, I was immediately smitten! So I’m completely honored that she was willing to be interviewed here on the Unlimited Creative about how she is making passive income with her art. Let’s meet Clair!
Jules: Hi Clair… let’s start by getting to know you! Please tell us a bit about yourself…
Clair: I live in a small town called Warburton which is about an hour and a half out of Melbourne, Australia. The area I live in is called the Yarra Valley, it’s the prime wine producing area of Victoria. It is very pretty with lots of rolling hills surrounded by bushland. I am a mother to three children from my first marriage, and my partner has four children from his previous relationship. So all together we have seven kids between the ages of 14 and 6. My kids live with us full time and the others visit every second weekend.
I have always been creative and interested in art. As a child I grew up surrounded by art materials because my mother was also very creative. She always encouraged me to try out new things and experiment with different mediums and techniques. After high school I wanted to study art but I didn’t really know at that stage how to make a living from painting. I studied Visual Art for three years and received my diploma. While studying I discovered the joy of photography which is what I ended up specializing in. I ran my own photography business for seven years, specializing in family portraits and the occasional wedding. After I separated from my husband, I was thrown into single parenthood and I no longer had the time, or passion, to photograph happy families and weddings.
This was when I decided to rediscover my love of painting. In 2010 I brought myself some new paints and canvas and started experimenting with different styles of painting again. I know I wanted to focus on more abstract work so I began to develop my current style from there just through playing around with techniques I found in books, online and developed myself.
I became a professional full time artist in 2014 and I haven’t looked back since.
Jules: I really loved looking through your RedBubble, when did you decide to take your art – as a business – seriously?
Clair: I decided to start taking my work seriously in 2013 when I was asked by my mum to join her in an exhibition that she was holding in a local gallery. The space was too large for her to fill on her own so I had to come up with a collection of at least twenty pieces in about four months. I absolutely loved putting together that collection, the first time I had a whole body of work since I had been at university almost ten years prior. The show was really successful, from that I made a few sales and I established my first retail stockist and I also managed to find representation at a Melbourne commercial gallery based on the work from the show. So it really started everything off and it has just snowballed from there.
Jules: How long have you been selling on RedBubble? Was that the first place you starting selling your work online? And have you tried other platforms (like Society6/Zazzle/Etsy/Saatchi/etc.)
Clair: I have been selling my art on Redbubble for a very long time.. I think I opened my first account back in 2010 under a different name, I then closed it and created my existing account In 2012. I listed a few of my earlier works and nothing really happened for ages, then I think one painting was picked up to be featured on the front page and from there it received lots of his and views so I decided to upload more newer work after that and from then on sales have been pretty steady for the last two years.
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?
Clair: As I mentioned before, it did take a while to sell my first designs, I didn’t really do much to encourage it in the beginning either though. After I began to build a bit of a following on Facebook and Instagram, I started letting people know more often that I had designs available on RedBubble and that’s when I started to see more regular sales. I always let people know the discount codes and sales that they are offering as well.
I earn an average of between $200-400 every month through sales from Redbubble. I tried society six a few years back but I found their upload system to be really clunky and difficult to manage so I gave up and just stuck with RedBubble, now don’t have my work listed on any other print on demand websites besides them.
Jules: 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? If you sell on multiple platforms, do you have a system for keeping track of what sells and where?
Clair: I try to add in new paintings every month, but sometimes I slack off and I don’t update it for ages. I have a few designs that sell on a pretty consistent basis so I try to add in work that is similar. I find the products I sell most are phone cases and cushions. I don’t offer my work on all their products, for example I don’t have it available on most of the clothing range. I try to stick with the homewards and accessories. I also don’t offer framed prints or fine art prints on most of my designs because I would rather clients come directly to me through my website to purchase those.
Jules: Do you have a social media strategy for driving traffic to your shop?
Clair: My social media strategy is non existent… lol
I don’t have a set plan or routine in place, I know if I did I would probably increase my sales but I don’t really have the time to promote it constantly. RedBubble is only a small part of where my income comes from, I like having it there as an affordable option for people that like my art but can’t afford an original. However my main focus is on selling and producing originals so that’s where I spend most of my time on advertising.
Jules: Do you drive traffic to your RedBubble shop in other ways?
Clair: I have links to my RedBubble profile on my website and Facebook page, if there is a promotion on I’ll create a post about it and if I upload new designs I let everyone know but that’s about it.
Jules: Is there anything you find particularly challenging or frustrating about selling on RedBubble?
Clair: Not really, it’s pretty much just set and forget which is fantastic for me. You don’t have to go back and relist things, all the shipping and production is out of my hands so I just receive an email when something sells and money in my PayPal account once a month. It’s a fantastic platform to create some passive income that requires very little effort on my behalf.
Jules: That really is awesome! Do you remove any old designs and/or designs that don’t seem to sell as well?
Clair: Every few months I do have a bit of a cull. My art is constantly evolving and changing. I use different colours from one year to the next, it has moved from more obvious landscapes into abstract work and then back again, so I like to make sure that anything that is too dated or doesn’t fit in with my current work is removed (unless it happens to be a really popular design).
Jules: Do you set any sales goals for your art?
Clair: I don’t have any sales goals for RedBubble, I find that now I am established and I have a good fan base I don’t really have to work hard at promoting my stuff. My monthly RedBubble income varies but it’s usually between $200-$400AUD each month, the most I’ve ever made was about $600 in one month, which was right before Christmas.
But to begin with I would only average between $20-40AUD a month. It took at least three years to build up to where I am now.
Jules: What advice would you give to artists hoping to sell work on RedBubble?
Clair: Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get sales right away. It can take time. If you already have a fan base or following on social media then that will make it much easier for you to get sales from RedBubble. Directing people that already like your work to your RedBubble profile is going to be much easier than waiting for people to just stumble across your work amongst millions of other artists on the website. Make sure you let everyone know when RedBubble are having a sale (which happens quite often, they are always offering a percentage off something) and use the photos RedBubble provide of your art on their products to advertise. Showing everyone how your art looks on a cushion or a t-shirt is going to be more effective than just showing the artwork on its own.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get sales right away. It can take time. If you already have a fan base or following on social media then that will make it much easier for you to get sales from RedBubble. – Clair Bremner
Jules: And finally, some quick and fun — totally optional — questions:
What is your favorite music/song/band to listen to while making art?
Clair: I am a big fan of Florence and the Machine, I’m almost always rocking out to them while I paint.
Jules: What/who/where inspires you most?
Clair: I am inspired by nature. I love plants, trees, flowers, rivers, hills, so much beauty all around us. I am also inspired by colour and the process of putting paint down on a canvas. I find it therapeutic and when I’m in the zone hours can go by and I barely even notice.
Thanks so much to Clair for sharing her own journey to making passive income with her art! You can keep in touch with Clair at the following places…