I love illustrations, but I especially love illustrations with a sense of humor. In today’s interview with artist Barlena, we talk about selling art passively on RedBubble, as well as other print on demand sites and much more!
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Jules: First, please tell me a bit about yourself, ie. Where you live, any schooling, how long you’ve been making art, your favorite medium(s), favorite artists/influences, and when you started to sell your art online?
Barlena: My name is Barbara and I sell my artworks online under my artist name Barlena. I’m an Illustrator and Graphic Designer based in Innsbruck, Austria. The city is known for being a student-friendly town with a long university tradition. During my graphic design studies I experimented a lot with different drawing styles and programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. I’ve been making art since I could hold a pencil, but as I was getting more familiar with digital art software, I fell in love with all the new possibilities I had to create art. In 2015 I discovered print-on-demand platforms like Society6 and RedBubble and I immediately knew I wanted to join them.
I always start my artworks with paper and pen, then I scan them in highest resolution and do the editing in Photoshop. The colors are also added digitally, as I’ve never been a fan of colored pencils.
My favourite artist is Cat Coquillette, it’s so inspiring to see how she’s living her dream by travelling the world and doing what she loves every day. Her artworks are so colorful and bright – full of life!
Jules: Isn’t Cat awesome? I love her work and her life is so inspiring! I really loved looking through your RedBubble, when did you decide to take your art – as a business – seriously? What habits do you strongly believe contribute to your success?
Barlena: Thank you so much! After I started to be featured on the RedBubble homepage and my sales were increasing, I started to invest more and more time in my art.
I try to frequently upload new work and be as consistent as possible. Keeping my shops updated is significant, so people find new things and keep excited about my work. Getting involved in the artist community by commenting on other artists work is also very important. And I always say thank you if someone leaves a nice comment on my work.
Jules: Consistency is key! How long have you been selling on RedBubble (and/or similar sites)? Was that the first place you starting selling your work online? And have you tried other platforms (like Society6/Etsy/Saatchi/etc.)
Barlena: The first place I started selling my work online was Society6 in summer 2015, and shortly after that, I opened my RedBubble shop. Every once in a while I get emails from other artist platforms asking me to join them. So now I’m also selling my designs on TeePublic, Casetify, Curioos and a few others.
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?
Barlena: About 2 months after opening my shops I made my first sale. I remember being overly excited that someone bought my artwork! 🙂 Over the years the sales have built up gradually. It really does vary month to month how many products I sell. But I’m happy that now I make sales everyday, even if it’s just stickers sometimes. The most successful time for me is always around Christmas, that’s when I make the most sales.
Jules: That’s awesome that you’re selling work daily! Congrats! How often do you add new designs to your shop?
Barlena: I try to add new designs to my shops about three times a week. Right now, stickers are the most popular product, so I make sure every design I upload is available as a sticker. I also check which ones of my artworks sell the best and I keep that in mind for new artwork ideas. Print-on-demand platforms often add new types of products to their range, so make sure your products are optimized when a new product launches.
Jules: That is such good advice. I loved when Society6 came out with duffle bags, but the file sizes have to be HUGE! It’s good to be prepared. Anyway… Do you have a social media strategy for driving traffic to your shop?
Barlena: Not really, but I upload on Instagram a few times a week, share some work in progress images and try to be active in the artist communities. I just recently started to put more focus on Pinterest. Pinning artwork there and linking it to your shop is a great way to make people find your designs more easily.
Jules: I agree! I love, love, looove Pinterest! Is there anything you find particularly challenging or frustrating about selling on RedBubble?
Barlena: The upload process is something that varies from one platform to another, but at the moment I prefer the RedBubble uploader to all the others. It’s quite simple, and you can optimize a lot of products in a short time. I also like the BubbleMail function, where customers can get in contact with the artist.
Jules: Oh wow, I didn;t know about the Bubble Mail function! That’s cool! So do you remove any old designs and/or designs that don’t seem to sell as well?
Barlena: So far I only removed three of my old designs that I thought didn’t fit with my style anymore. It can easily happen for an artist to get bored with old designs, cause you’ve seen them so many times over the years. But a person who just recently discovered your shop, will see them for the first time and might like them a lot.
Jules: That makes sense. What advice would you give to artists hoping to sell work on RedBubble?
Barlena: It can be quite overwhelming to join a community with hundreds of thousands of artists and hope to make a profit. But I believe that if work is good and authentic, people will eventually start to take note. Make sure your designs are well positioned on the products, and if an artwork simply doesn’t work out on a phone case or t-shirt, just deactivate it – it’s always about quality, not quantity.
Jules: Yesss!! I completely agree. And finally, some quick and fun questions:
If you could collaborate with any other artist, living or dead, who would it be?
I don’t have any specific artist in mind, but I would love to collaborate with a singer or band to create an album cover for them!
Oh! That would be fun… So that brings me to: What is your favorite music/song/band to listen to while making art?
While making art I love listening to Bastille, Ellie Goulding, Coldplay, Years & Years, Lewis Watson, Ed Sheeran… You see I have a weakness for british artists 😉
What/who/where inspires you most?
I listen to music a lot, so song lyrics often inspire me. Pinterest is also a great place to find inspiration, as well as nature – leaves are definitely my favorite thing to draw.
Who is your favorite artist to follow on Social Media?
Camille Chew is one of my favorite artists to follow, her artworks are so magical and inspiring! She has this unique style, which makes her work really stand out from others.
Oh yes! I follow her, too! Love her work! Finally, and this is super important: How can my readers find you and your art online? 😊
Do you know any Artists Selling Art Passively on RedBubble, Society6, Etsy, etc.? If so, please send them our way! We’d love to consider interviewing them right here on CreatingBeautifully.com!
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