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"You will find tons of fun, outrageous, wild, vivacious and inspirational products here!"
An understatement when considering Canadian artist Violette. She is fearless when it comes to her art, both with defining what is or can be art, and most amazing, defining where that art belongs.
One gander at her colorful, spirited, vibrant way of life and there can be little question that this artist is living HUGE. She maintains a website that not only hosts a blog, art for sale, but in the spirit of her generous nature a whole bevy of "DIY" tips that inspire one to look at life a little differently, let alone plunge into a "Full Monty" creative lifestyle.
Violette is the first artist to participate in, Creating Buzz, a Q&A of artists, crafters and creative types to get an insight on their inspiration, experience, successes (especially as it pertains to the Internet) and maybe some failure too. The idea is to hear first hand what people are creating, how they got where they are, advice for running an art/creative type business or profession, inspiring and uplifting readers along the way and finally, create a little Bzzzzz.
So lets hear what Violette has to say---
Q: How old were you when you picked up a paintbrush and knew that this would be a way of life?
Well my first remembrance is of drawing comics when I was about 9 years old, you know the Archies- stuff like that (please bear in mind that 'm almost 51---on June 15). Also the Supermodel Twiggy was REALLY HUGE back then and I was able to draw her well. I was a very shy kid so when I received so much attention for my art I knew that I had found my niche---I had found my gift- the gift that made me glow and feel happy.
Q: What was the first piece of art you sold and when did you know you would be successful as an artist?
The first piece of art I sold was a painting of a Mexican girl---I was about 15 years old at the time. A friend of the family bought it and I was pretty proud!
No. I never knew I'd be successful as an artist. My parents did not encourage me since they felt I should just get married and have children. They assumed that artist’s starved to death!
Q: What is the most successful method of marketing your work?
I think the most successful marketing method has been to have a website---but also to be in the news a fair bit as well as on TV. I've been on several shows "Weird Homes" Discovery Channel and Life Network, "Head over Wheels", a show about women and their cars, Sue Warden’s Creative Decor, HGTV etc. I have become known as an eccentric artist.---not so much for my art but for the manner in which I live, my home, van, lifestyle, manner of dress etc.
I think it’s imperative to have a website if you are an artist and want to be seen. It’s very easy to give out your business card wherever you are and invite people to check out your art online.
Q: By the way, what is your favorite color?
My favourite colour is orange right now.... It's in my living-room. My favourite colour used to be Purple or Violet---but I eventually got a bit tired of it.---I love it for the outside of my house however!
Q: I always appreciate people that "just go for it". Did you paint every inch of the house shown on you website yourself? And just curious---is it your house?
Yes---the magic cottage belongs to me...can you imagine a landlord letting people do what I've done to my home to a rental??? I’ve mosaiced special items given to me on the back-splash of the kitchen counter...half teacups, Kermit the Frog, hatpins, ceramic cow head, tiny beer stein, ceramic Aunt Gemmia head etc. I had some help from my Bohemian Tribe (my supportive friends)...they helped me paint it. Their encouragement gave me the courage to do whatever I wanted! For example I have written inspirational sayings on the bathroom wall! I’ve glittered counters, floors, and walls!
Q: How did you find so many clients interested in having their car painted?
Actually I have only painted my van---no one else's however I do encourage people to paint and embellish their vehicles. Like your clothing or your home I believe that your vehicle is an expression of you!
Q: You have information for licensers of you work, has this been successful and how do you market your work to these types?
Well the Internet has been invaluable in regards to marketing. I will regularly e-mail companies such as scrapbooking, rubberstamping etc. and ask them to check out my licensing page. I have received a few commissions from doing this. Also I have some postcards which I send out to various companies, book publishers, magazines etc. and ask them to check out my website. This is fairly common practise for illustrators I have heard.
Q: As you pointed out, an Internet presence is almost mandatory these days, however, have you been able to SELL a lot of your work on the Internet or has it been a better marketing tool for you?
I don't sell alot of stuff on the Internet---the fault really being my own as I have a whole whack of new items I should be posting but haven’t. Having an Internet presence has been great in getting myself known in the industry; inspiring people and generating interest in my work. I believe that my gift is inspiring folks and perhaps the best way to do that is to have an online blog but also to write/illustrate a book. You can’t make a living simply by having a blog if no one ever buys anything---I really wish I could do that all day however the reality is that in order to do so I need to make a living. That part has been difficult for me to wrap my head around. Creativity is my forte not marketing.
However, a good (internet) marketing tool is to get reciprocal links to better your google ranking and also to have new stuff on your site regularly such as a blog---since the search engines are content driven you get a higher ranking if you post new stuff---words---not so much photos or illustrations. My son who is my webmaster told me this---also he told me to do an image search on Google on my name "Violette’s art" and I came up with over 117 images. He said the reason being that I have lots of links. Go figure.
Q: Do you have a lot of friends that you meet to "create" with or do they just gasp in awe of you?
I have lots of amazing friends--we create together or just play together. I do have a Creative Group I co-founded last year called ELEVEN...we make things, put on group shows, share resource information and just have fun!
Our next meeting will be a dress-up meeting---where we wear wild clothes and go out and be slightly outrageous.
Q: I noticed you said you were becoming more like your mother (after scrap-booking). Was she a big influence on you? Was your Mom an encouraging influence?
No---I can't honestly say that my mom has been an encouraging influence although these days she is trying her best to be encouraging. If it were up to her I should be painting seascapes or landscapes which would be a deathknell for me. You have to remember that she came from a time where you were supposed to get married, have kids and that’s it. There was none of this "trying to find yourself" or "following your bliss". When I said I was becoming more like my mother I meant.---more more---Impatient---wanting to do things quickly.
Q: Who gave you the best business advice? ---and what was it?
I suppose the best advice I've received is from my friends, my Bohemian Tribe who told me to go for it and follow my bliss in terms of my art and decorating the magic cottage.
My kids Jessica and Ryan encouraged me to paint my vehicle since I was an artist. I had thought of it often but never did so because my mom would say "think of the resale value??" She said the same thing about my home too but thankfully I went ahead and did what I wanted to. Also I had a business coach for a while who helped me with my creative goals. For scattered folks such as myself i highly recommend finding a mentor/coach who can help you along your path.
I want to say which I believe is very important. It’s imperative to surround yourself with people who believe in you and your gifts. My life did not explode with colour and exuberance until I hit 40, went and bought my own little home and did exactly as I pleased. I was encouraged to do this by my friends. It felt like finally after all those years I had permission to be ME---that was the most freeing thing that has every happened to me!
Q: Is there any personal advice you would give artists in general?
Whatever you do always listen to your muse and follow your heart. When you speak from your heart creatively you can't go wrong. You are sharing your gifts with the world in only the way YOU can.---no one else---in your own voice. We need your voice in whatever way it manifests. Be true to yourself and you'll be happy.