In our last post we told you about Eli Trier, a self-made artist, author and an award-winning blogger who travels the world writing, drawing and making picture books for grown-ups.
In today’s post, Eli will discuss with us about her experiences on being an artist and on becoming one when she was a marketing business worker.
H.J.: Hi Eli!
H.J.: You went from working on marketing to start a career in the world of art. It all started with the The Gratitude Project: A Year of Saying Thank You to the People Who Changed My Life. Can you tell us when did you see that the gratitude project was becoming a real opportunity to get into the art business?
E.T: The Gratitude project grew very slowly, almost organically. It started in 2013 as something very small and private. I would illustrate one thank you message and I send a copy of it to the person that inspired it. One of these thank you messages got a reply: one day I received a lovely thank you card from the person who got my message. This person also posted it in her facebook ad that got the attention of a few people. The Gratitude project started to grow then: I started to receive emails from people who wanted some artwork from me and I was happy to do it. One day one of them suggested the idea of turning the gratitude project into a book. I asked my followers and they agreed that it would be a good idea.
I contacted a friend of mine who is a publisher and he recommended me to keep a project as personal as it out of big publishers and consider self-publishing it in order to avoid undesired changes. I did some research on it and finally released the self-published book on 2015.
H.J.: Drifting suddenly from the marketing business to publishing art is a strong drift. How did the ones close to you deal with it? Were they supportive?
E.T.: My family was very supportive. They stood at my side from the very beginning and that really helped me a lot. But for many others it was not an easy decision to accept. I had to cut down my living style and drastically change a lot of things. Making such a change in your life involves a degree of emotional stress coming from your loved ones who are reluctant to accept such change.
H.J.: Do you plan to make a living out of art? If so, do you have a plan for it? (Question by Johanna).
E.T.: After the success of The Gratitude Project, I decided to make a living out of art, but I try to diversify my sources of income: I teach online courses about defeating creative blocking and I participate on workshops; I work as freelance illustrator, do works of editing and layering and I have an off-shore that sells printings. I try to keep different sources of income at the same time, but always related with what I like to do.
H.J.: How do you see yourself in 3 years?
E.T.: I would like to have published a couple of books and to be teaching new online courses. I want to keep building on top of what I already have and get some work done on sharing ideas, both as words and pictures.
H.J.: By the end of this year you will publish The creative compass, a book focused on visual thinkers with the aim to help those suffering from creative blocking. Will The creative compass be able to help other people either than artist? For example, entrepreneurs? (Question by Víctor)
E.T.: That depends on how your brain works. Some sections will be clearly oriented to visual thinkers. The book will have 4 sections: the first will work on the getting stuck problem, the second on using your inspiration effectively, the third on getting organized and the last on productivity. I believe that the two first sections can be helpful for those not being strictly artists but the last two will be focused mostly on artist and their way of thinking and working, which is non-linear and more chaotic.
H.J.: Do you work alone? Why?
E.T.: Sometimes I collaborate with writers, but not that much. I work alone 95% of the time. I like it this way because I need to work whenever I feel like working and on whatever I feel like doing it. I need this freedom to be happy. Additionally, I am a serious procrastinator and I already take it into account when I am planning a project.
H.J.: How is your creative process from the raw idea to finished work?
E.T.: It is long process. I keep track of my ideas on both a Moleskine notebook and by using Evernote. Several ideas would be popping out of my mind all the time, but eventually one of them would keep coming back to me and will turn into a new project. When I start a new project a buy a new Moleskine just for it, I light some candles and start working… is like a ritual.
I normally work 4-5 hours during the afternoon, every day. I work most of the time in my bed. I like to work with pleasant white noise background, so I use the Noisy app to create it. I work mostly with water colours and gouache and I use Daler Rowney paper whenever I am lucky enough to find some. I believe the quality of the paper is more important than the quality of the colours, but it is not easy to find the one I like around Copenhagen. The process is long and very organic, it takes several years to finish a book.
H.J.: Do you have any advice for those like you that feel trapped in a normal job while dreaming of becoming artists?
E.T.: Make the odds! Make it possible! Use your time wisely to start working on you passion, use your break times, use your train trips, use the evenings… just make it happen! If you feel trapped in your job maybe you can look for a different job, one that really feels temporary and unimportant and that allows you to focus on your passion when out of it. Whatever you do, do not wait too long, is the only thing I regret, having wasted some years where I could have been happy doing what I like to do.
H.J.: What are the main qualities that an artist should possess?
E.T.: Curiosity about life, about people… The desire to connect through art. Art is the expression of what cannot be described by words. And the ability to wonder. You must be able to find a new way to look at the mundane. Able to take something common and find out the wonder of it.
H.J.: Answer in few words:
What is your favourite colour?
Who is your favourite artist?
E.T.: Dufy. I stared at his paintings for long time when I was a little girl.
What is the worst mistake an artist can make?
E.T.: Try to force getting out of a blocking period.
You will never draw…
E.T.: Dogs. I do not find them inspiring! hahahahaha!
What is the best gift you ever got?
E.T.: A bamboo digital drawing tablet.
What is your favourite book?
Which book would you like to illustrate?
E.T.: Alice in Wonderland.
Say a sentence favourite of yours to finish the interview.
E.T.: Don’t give up.
Finally we want to announce that Sandra Garriga is (again, twice in a row!) our lucky winner of a free digital copy of her book, The Gratitude Project! We will put her and the Eli Trier in contact very soon.