I love sloths. (Okay, I’m kind of obsessed!) So it should come as no surprise that I fell in love with the art by illustrator Sophie Corrigan! So I’m grateful to talk to her today about making passive income with art.
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Jules: Hi Sophie! Thanks again for talking to me today. Please, tell me (and my readers) a bit about yourself…
Sophie: I’m a full-time freelance illustrator based in the North West of England. I grew up (and still live!) in a sweet shop run by my parents. My current favourite go-to medium is pencil – I tend to colour my drawings digitally, but I also like to use watercolour, gouache and pencil crayon when the feeling takes me!
I’m influenced by a number of artists, mainly children’s book illustrators – there’s way too many to mention! But there’s some amazing work out there and I get inspired every time I visit a book shop. As for other influences, nature and comedy are arguably my biggest sources of inspiration. I sell my art via a number of online channels (all of which are linked on my website sophiecorrigan.com), and some of my work has been stocked in big shops like Paperchase, ASOS, Urban Outfitters and John Lewis!
Jules: I really loved looking through your collection of illustrations. You definitely have a sweet sense of humor! Can you tell me, when did you decide to take your art – as a business – seriously? And what habits do you strongly believe contribute to your success?
Sophie: During my second year at university I realized that illustration was the route for me. It seemed like a natural progression – before that I had no idea what I was doing and was never satisfied with my illustrations. It was only when I started to like the work I was making that I realised I might be able to do this for some sort of living.
As for success, I think having a website and a presence on social media (Instagram, Facebook etc) is incredibly important for anyone starting out as an illustrator. It’s daunting putting your work out there, but the benefits of potential clients seeing your work far outweigh the risks! I get quite obsessive over the details on my website – I can’t stand clicking a broken link or seeing a misspelled word, for example – so I dedicate a lot of my time to working on my site and uploading new artwork to websites.
Jules: Very smart! How long have you been selling on sites like Society6, RedBubble, etc.? Was that the first place you starting selling your work online? And have you tried other platforms (like Etsy/Saatchi/etc.)?
Sophie: It’s been around five years I think. The first place I sold my work was Redbubble – I was amazed that a few of my early designs got featured on the site and actually started to sell! I can’t thank Redbubble enough for their support, as it really encouraged me to continue illustrating and sharing my work with the world.
I sell on Etsy too – mainly greetings cards – and it’s a real labour of love! I go to the post office a few times a week and get a real kick out of personally sending people greetings cards, prints, and commissions. It takes up a lot of my time, but it’s so enjoyable!
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?
Sophie: The sales came very slowly at first, but that was fine as I kept myself busy with creating new designs. I really wanted a full portfolio! There’s still so much to do, and I have a growing list of ideas I want to work on. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many products I sell a month, but it’s quite a lot! I never expected my work to be so well-received – it’s amazing!
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?
Sophie: I try to add a new piece of work at least once a month. It used to be a lot more often, but I’m really busy at the minute with uni work and other projects. Having time to work on my own one-off illustrations (‘just because’) is quite rare for me now, but when it happens it’s so much fun and doesn’t feel like work at all! I get e-mails when I sell things on most sites, but keeping track of the actual product types is quite difficult.
Jules: Do you have a social media strategy for driving traffic to your shop?
Sophie: Not especially – I just direct everything to sophiecorrigan.com, as all the links to everywhere I sell are on there. My website also doubles up as a neat portfolio, which is especially handy if someone contacts me about new work.
Jules: That is really smart, I think. If you sell on multiple platforms, it becomes kind of crazy trying to link to all of them from different places. Plus, if you send them directly to your website, you can also get them on your email list.
Anyway, I digress! Is there anything you find particularly challenging or frustrating about selling on Society6 ?
Sophie: Sometimes when uploading or adding new items to a piece of work, they can take hours to appear on the site. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s very frustrating especially when people are asking you about a specific item and you can’t link them to it right away! Also the amount of templates does get quite tedious – Redbubble really do have the upper hand there.
Jules: I had that problem with my Society6, too! I thought it was only me. 😉 Anyway… Do you set any sales goals for your art?
Sophie: Not at all – really I’m just happy with whatever I make that month. It’s interesting to see fluctuations in sales year by year, and I always get excited for a payment after Christmas! I don’t focus on what I could be making, and just try to get new work on there as often as I can.
Jules: What advice would you give to artists hoping to sell work on print on demand sites?
Sophie: Do work you like, and do lots of it! Make sure you check out the product previews so the work looks good – for example, you don’t want to be selling a duvet cover with a tiny image in the middle of it! Templates and getting them right and tidy is so important to the whole look of your shop, I think. Also make sure to use as many relevant tags as you can think of, as that helps people to find your work who maybe haven’t stumbled across it before.
Jules: That is excellent advice. I noticed a lot of artists don’t do that, so I wasn’t sure if I should.
Okay, well, that was great, Sophie! Thanks for everything. But before we wrap up, let’s do the speed round!
What is your favorite art movement / period of art history?
Sophie: I particularly like folk art and the arts and crafts movement.
Jules: What/who/where inspires you most?
Sophie: David Attenborough – he’s super-human!
Jules: Who is your favorite living artist? And do you own any of their artwork?
Sophie: That’s impossible to answer as there are so many great ones, but I do have a signed print from Chris (Simpsons artist) that I cherish.
Jules: What is your favorite music to listen to while making art?
Sophie: I’m on a bit of a Rufus Wainwright kick at the minute, but I always have music of some kind playing while I’m working. It’s one of the best benefits of being self-employed and working from home!
Jules: Who is your favorite artist to follow on Social Media?
Sophie: It has to be Seo Kim (@instantdoodles). So bloody funny!
Jules: Oh! And this is super important: How can my readers find you and your art online?
Sophie: Website: sophiecorrigan.com
Thanks again, Sophie!
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