How To Get the Jobs You Want as an Artist

Austin-based Deisgner, Daphna Sebbane, explains the simple method for landing the types of jobs you actually want.

Good morning, and welcome to another edition of the Stay Sketchy newsletter.

Why get business advice from just one or two sources, when you can get insights from a different professional artist each & every week for free?

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This week we’ve got:

  • ⭐️ Daphna Sebbane as our featured artist

  • ✉️ Why email beats social media

  • 🤡 Sticking it to The Man (through art)

  • 📣 A community call to action

Daphna Sebbane - Designer

Courtesy of Daphna Sebbane

Growing up all over the world has its pros and cons.

On the one hand, you get to experience different places, people, and cultures that can inform your own tastes and values.

On the other hand, uprooting everything you’ve established in one home to find another can wear you down. Leaving behind the places and people you’ve become familiar with isn’t easy.

Daphna Sebbane knows a bit about these feelings - the ups and downs.

Daphna moved around a lot in her early years. Her family is originally from France and many of her relatives still live there. She left Europe and lived in South Africa for a while before her family made the decision to move to the United States. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.

The common thread through all the changes in Daphna’s life was always art.

Courtesy of Daphna Sebbane

Daphna was always creative and knew from a young age that she’d spend her life pursuing art. She studied design at University, and afterwards, worked as a designer full-time as it seemed to be more stable and provide more reliable work than if she had chosen to become a more traditional artist.

Daphna’s done print & illustration work, product design, graphic design, and everything else in between.

When it comes to building and running a sustainable art business, she had some insights she wanted to share.

Courtesy of Daphna Sebbane

Find Your Signature Style

Much like Erikas Chesonis shared in an earlier edition of the newsletter, Daphna recommends artists develop a style that’s unique to them - this is especially important for designers that rely heavily on client work.

Daphna’s style took time to develop and wasn’t something she rushed to discover.

In the beginning, she pushed herself to participate in daily drawing challenges where she would share something she created to social media everyday. At the time, her style was all over the place, but she wasn’t stressed about likes or followers. She was just doing it for herself - to hone her skills and find her own approach to art & design.

This carefree attitude allowed her to experiment with different styles, iterate over time, and ultimately achieve her goal of producing consistent work that was recognizably hers.

Why is having a distinct style as an artist or designer so important?

  • It allows you to differentiate yourself from other artists.

  • Clients can more easily seek you out and know what to expect when hiring you.

  • As you build up a body of similar work, there’s an opportunity for a snowball effect where more & more people begin to discover you.

It’s important to make sure that your signature style is one that you enjoy and comes to you naturally. If you’re creating work you’re proud of, but the entire process is miserable, you won’t be able to sustainably create for the long haul.

So find something that feels right - something that feels you.

Show How Your Designs Look on Products

Creating and sharing work that looks like it’s for a paid job is a great way to attract the types of potential clients you actually want.

This goes back to the idea of “designing with intent” that Megan Roy shared with us a few weeks ago.

What are some things that you love? Is there a way you can create art for some of those brands or products?

For instance, Daphna designed some beer can labels, created mockups showcasing the designs on real cans, then shared the posts to Instagram. Some time later, an actual beverage company approached her after seeing the post and hired her for a job.

Daphna also loves music and creating gig posters and merch designs for bands. Sharing poster designs and merch mockups on Instagram tells band managers and musicians that this is something they can hire Daphna for.

Sometimes it’s not enough to just share images of your artwork - you have to take the extra step of showing how that artwork can be applied to different products by using mockups and other creative means.

Don’t leave it up to a client to have the artistic vision needed to see your work applied in a way they’d like.

Show them yourself.

Courtesy of Daphna Sebbane

Collaborate With Accounts That Feature Artists

Some artists can get a boost in followers and engagement by collaborating with larger, curated art accounts on Instagram.

For instance, The Skull Reserve has 108,000+ followers and only shares skull-related artwork. Another one is blackworknow. This account showcases work from various black ink illustrators.

Aside from sending these accounts a direct message asking to be featured, you can use relevant hashtags on your posts and tag the accounts themselves to attract their attention.

Just note that these accounts may sometimes request payment for being featured, and while there are plenty of legitiment curation accounts out there, it’s best to perform adequate due diligence to avoid being scammed.

Working out collaborative posts or cross-promotions with other artists on Instagram is another great way to increase exposure and gain followers.

You can start by finding an artist whose work compliments your own. Engage with them. Just be human! People tend to open up to working together if you’ve been supporting their content for a fair amount of time, so it’s in your best interest to be genuine and collaborate with someone not only out of an opportunity to grow, but out of friendship as well.

Courtesy of Daphna Sebbane

TL;DR
  • Find your signature style and embrace it.

  • Show how your design will look on actual products. Don’t just post your art, but display it in mockup images on the products you can envision it.

  • Collaborate with curated art accounts on Instagram, as well as with other artists, to increase exposure.

Additional Tidbits
  • Daphna is a big believer of just getting started. This is pretty popular advice, but it doesn’t mean it’s any less true. Too often, artists wait much longer than they have to when considering taking themselves more seriously. Creating daily, posting often, listing products, engaging with potential customers - it’s all important and it all takes work, but if the goal is being a full-time artist, you just have to start. Don’t be deterred because you don’t know how to build a website or how to handle the payments aspect of commissions. Take small steps and the learning will come from the attempts you make to succeed.

  • Daphna has grown her Instagram account to nearly 89k followers almost entirely without posting Instagram reels. She’s done this by simply following the insights she shared above, being very consistent with her style, and posting very frequently.

Daphna’s Tech Stack
Why Email Beats Social Media ✉️

Imagine a scenario where the social media account you spent years growing gets hacked.

Maybe it gets suspended on accident, or Instagram changes their algorithm and begins suppressing your content.

In all these scenarios, you’re back to square one and have to start all over. If you lose your account, you’ll have no record of who your followers were, and even if you did, there’s no easy way to contact them all and ask them to follow you somewhere new.

In many cases, completely losing a social following could be devastating to an early artist or creator.

Letting the success of your art business be determined exclusively by the whims of social media companies implies huge risk.

The best way to counter this risk, is to create a mailing list of your followers’ email addresses, and occasionally reach out to them in an email newsletter.

Email newsletters are a professional means of mass communication to your most loyal customers and fans.

Better yet, there is no way for someone to take your mailing list away from you. No algorithm changes will prevent you from communicating directly with these followers of yours.

In this sense you truly own your audience’s attention, whereas on social media, you’re only borrowing their attention (which can be lost at any time).

Finally, email marketing can drive sales far more effectively than social media. It’s much easier to get new art sales by sending a message about a new drop to an email list than it is to announce it in an Instagram post and hope people rush to your link in bio to buy.

Fortunately, you can start your own mailing list & make your own newsletter on Beehiiv for free - and not for a limited amount of time, but free forever.

If you DO, however, want to take advantage of one of their payed tiers that offer more features, the button below will give you 20% off your first 3 months with Beehiiv after a complimentary 30-day free trial.

Whether you want to send your newsletter weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even just a couple times per year, adding this one feature to your business might be the lowest-effort, highest-return change you ever make!

Sticking It to The Man (Through Art)

Courtesy of Hanif Panni

When officials in Seaside, California told Etienne Constable that the boat parked in his driveway had to be hidden from view, he felt he was a victim of government overreach.

In order to comply with city codes and avoid a $100 fine, Constable built a fence in the middle of his driveway to conceal the boat from the street.

But completely hiding the boat was never his intent.

Being told how to manage his own property didn’t sit well with Constable, so instead of leaving the fence as is, he hired his next-door neighbor and artist, Hanif Panni, to paint a mural onto the fence that resembled the exact view of his boat & driveway before the fence went up.

The passive aggressive taunt went wildly viral and was covered by dozens of news outlets and social media channels last week.

Needless to say, the story provided great publicity for the artist, Hanif Panni. This is a great example of how real world opportunities from within your community can help give your art business a boost.

Read the whole story here.

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