For my fifth and final showcase this month I interviewed Lauren C. Waterworth. Lauren, aged 32, owns The Art and Creations of Lauren C. Waterworth based in Halifax, UK.
Lauren creates illustrations and designs done in traditional media such as watercolour and acrylic. She also creates custom OOAK Figures out of Polymer clay.
Here is my interview with Lauren.
When did you start your business?
I studied for my BA (Hons) in Illustration at the University of Lincoln in the UK, Since then I have worked freelance alongside my day job in a school. About 18 months ago I was offered the position of Creative Illustrator for Daisytrail.com. I worked in House for them for about 10 months covering a maternity and continue to work for them remotely on a freelance contract.
As well as creating Digital Craft Kits for Daisytrail, I create steampunk and gothic Artwork inspired by my own interests, I attend events up and down the country selling prints and gift featuring my original artwork.
What made you decide to set up your business?
I have always loved drawing and for the majority of people in my line of work, the only way to earn a living is to set up your own business.
What do you do and what products do you sell?
I mainly sell merchandise featuring my original designs including prints, cards, mirrors, coasters as well as downloadable colouring pages.
What products seem to be your best sellers?
My Top seller has always been ‘The Alchemist’, a steampunk inspired design featuring a female scientist and her feline companion, with my absinthe fairy coming a close second.
Who are your biggest competitors?
All of the many skilled Artists out there fighting for the same few opportunities. Some of my biggest competitors are also my closest friends as we are all striving for the same thing and find that working together often helps all of our causes.
How do you advertise your business?
I mainly use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, however, this is becoming more difficult with their change in policies, they want payment for people to see your posts. As many small businesses can understand budgets for this is often limited, which can be very frustrating – but these social media sites are businesses too, so you can’t really blame them for taking an opportunity!
I attend regular events taking cards and leaflets that always seem to disappear incredibly quickly! Many of my customers have seen me at these events and contacted me after with requests for book covers, logo designs and one-off art pieces.
I find one of the best ways to advertise is to network with other creatives, making sure that they know their work is valued (even if you can’t buy anything from them!) quite often they will recommend me for particular jobs when they see the opportunities come up and vice versa. The only way for us to succeed is to help each other out!
How would you recommend your business to potential customers?
My products are visual, so dependent on your requirements I would usually send samples of my online portfolio that are relevant to what you want – I have done book covers, logo design, pet portraits and wedding stationary in the past. All of these are quite diverse and my style can be quite varied so you’ll find that sometimes the way I work for one product may not work for another.
Did you have any problems when starting your business? If so, how did you overcome them?
One of my biggest issues is that many people don’t see what I do as a proper job. They assume that I create artwork as a hobby and I do quite often get asked to do work for ‘exposure’ (IE Free). Quite frankly if they found me then I don’t need whatever exposure they are offering and I encourage any other small businesses to stand up for themselves in this instance!
The same goes for the price. Due to the nature of today’s society, many people just expect products to cost them as little as possible – this only works with mass-produced items and explaining to people that their budgets are quite often unrealistic can be very tiring.
Often I will have to explain the time and cost of materials that goes into creating an original piece of artwork by comparing myself to earning the minimum wage (as an example only) – even if I create a piece of work and it takes me just one day that can be at least £50- £60 which shocks most people.
How do you decide on your designs?
I observe what my potential customer’s interests are at events. Oddly enough even though I attend what many consider to be ‘alternative’ events, quite often it will be my more mainstream imagery that sells well.
There are certain subjects that usually do well, butterflies, cats and flowers are often people’s favourites!
I have been quite stubborn in what I create for my personal artwork in the past, but working with a large company has given me the opportunity to appreciate how much I enjoy painting other subjects outside of my comfort zone. I am now more aware of what imagery is trending and I’m heading towards creating artwork that fits in with that.
What has been your favourite piece to work on?
That’s changes constantly as I evolve as a creative. I’m currently working on repeat pattern designs which are simpler than my previous works but are often more relevant to people’s needs. They are very satisfying to make.
Are there any offers on your products running at the moment?
Indeed! Up until the end of November, I will be offering 20% off orders over £5 from my Etsy shop with the code: LCW20
What has the experience of owning a business been like for you?
There are often hard times, but the rush of knowing somebody is enjoying a piece of your work is addictive! I’m still learning how to navigate selling my works online as well as the whole world of licensing.
Where do you see your business in the future? What dreams do you have for your business?
I want to expand my customer base – this will mean having more variety in the subjects that I draw and finding new avenues to license my work. I’m also going to be working on a long term project with my Husband that I will keep to myself for now.
The Art and Creations of Lauren C. Waterworth Gallery
Below you can find the store and social media links for The Art and Creations of Lauren C. Waterworth:
Thank you for answering my questions, Lauren. It has been a pleasure interviewing and getting to know you. I wish you well in your business venture.